Thursday, March 20, 2014

On Why I Blog

A long time ago (over 10 years!) I started my first blog -- the first one mainly about my own thoughts, at least. That particular handmade blog is mothballed now, but I'm still writing as you can see. Why? Since I haven't blogged here since last summer I thought it would be good if I revisited that subject.

Here's how I explained it back then, and it's still mostly true:
To paraphrase a famous Frenchman, "Reader, you have on your screen an honest Blog."
I got on the Internet early and have published some writing here. But not much of it was about me personally. The reason was simple: I figured, who wants to hear about me? And I suspect I was right.
But recently (this'll sound pretentious, incidentally) I was reading Montaigne's Essays. Although he's a Great Book of the Western World TM now, he began as an obscure bureaucrat of only moderate accomplishments. Retiring early to his chateau, he started writing what's supposed to be the world's first book entirely about the author as a way to escape depression. The reason this wasn't boring, I think, was because in examining himself, he ended up examining our common human-ness.
From that I learned that, although there isn't much value in reading about me, there may be some in reading about humanity itself -- into which I am one of 6 billion windows.

Montaigne, inventor of the essay
I'm blessed (cursed?) with being interested in everything and have always had a compulsion to write about it all. When I stop writing it's usually because I am overwhelmed with that question, "Who wants to hear about me?" When I start again it's because I'm overwhelmed with the thought, "So what? I really need to write."

Blog experts always say that to have a successful blog you have to concentrate on just one thing -- a niche -- and become the go-to blog on that subject. Then you'll have traffic galore and maybe write a book on your blogging escapades someday.  But this is not that. I've never been able to do that; it's too boring.

People used to keep what was called a Commonplace Book where they kept all the little bits of information they found and thought were important. This is where I put all those things I'm interested in, all those items that pass through my brain.

And now, on with the show.

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