Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Why blog?

OK, so this topic has been thoroughly masticated over the past few days by people more noted for the reason of their arguments than me. In particular, Sandra chewed it over nicely today, but since I am at a loss for anything to say, I thought I might add my own toothless offering.

I set up Sir Benfro in mid-December 2004 on the express instructions of Mr Stuart. Prior to that I didn't even know that there was such a thing as a blog, let alone what it might be for. My naivety is amply shown in the choice of blog-title. Stuart used Halfhead, which whilst it might have amusing connotations for most people, is also the title of one of his more gory SF novels. Thinking this whole blogging game something specifically geared towards literary endeavour (and the struggling unpublished writer in particular), I named my blog after the eponymous hero of my WIP - Sir Benfro. It didn't take me long to realise that blogging is for anyone and everyone, not just those weird people engaged in the writing of detective fiction. I blush a little when I think how silly I was back then, but Sir Benfro isn't a bad thing to be known as.

In the early days I blogged mainly about writing and my lack of progress. But pretty soon I cottoned on to the whole 'anything goes' ethos and branched out into rants and moans about pretty much anything. I've wittered on about trying (and failing) to build a house; about the trauma of boarding school and how it shaped me into the dysfunctional adult that I am today; about the menagerie of animals with which I have surrounded myself; even a protracted series of posts about my travels in the antipodes. And mostly it has been to a small, but I'm sure appreciative, audience.

But why do it? Apart from keeping Mr Stuart up to date with what I'm doing, the rest of it comes right back to self-indulgence and narcissism. And let's be truthful here; why else does anyone really blog? They do it to get noticed. Sure, a lot of blogs have good and worthwhile things to say. Many are very helpful, others provide an endless source of free entertainment. But they're all there because each of us bloggers has decided to stand in front of an audience and take up the microphone.

This isn't a bad thing. I've met more new people on-line in the last year and a bit than I've met in real life over the last six years. OK, so this is partly due to living in the middle of nowhere, but also due to my naturally reclusive nature and spirit crushing shyness (two other things I've blogged about in the past).

Before breathing life into Sir Benfro, I was at a creative crossroads, seriously considering jacking in the whole writing lark and trying to get a proper job. I'd been writing for over ten years without success (as measured in managing to attract a publisher or agent) and the whole thing just wasn't very much fun anymore. When I started writing Sir Benfro, it forced me to do a bit of self-analysis (and with an honours degree in Psychology, I ought to have been able to do that years ago). I realised that the first and foremost reason I wasn't successful was because I wasn't being seen. I'd let myself get to the point where I was writing, but never submitting work. I had three full length novels, finished and sitting in box files on the shelf in my office, that only Mr Stuart and I had read. I had a stack of short stories that were just finger exercises.

Blogging changed that. It got me writing for an audience again. And once I'd started doing that with two or three silly little ramblings a week, I began to feel better about my more serious work (if fantasy can be considered serious). I rewrote and submitted a novel to an agent who had turned me down ten years earlier. She liked it and agreed to represent me.

OK, so I've not got a publisher yet - but I'm trying. I don't think that I would have got even this far without blogging, though.

And that, in the end, is why I think people should blog. Sure it's self-indulgent, but It gives you a sense of purpose, an identity in an otherwise crowded and uncaring world. It doesn't really matter what you write about. Hell, it doesn't even matter if you can't spell properly (though that does niggle sometimes). It doesn't even matter if nobody comes to read your words, though obviously it's nice to get the attention and adulation of the masses.

Why blog? Because you can.


Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

James, your ending was a damp squib. But only the last line.

Seriously, nicely done. I think you strike the balance perfectly. And for those of us other people who live in the sticks, you've hit on the social aspect of this that is also beneficial.

And just think. You're known as Sir Benfro. I'm known as Sandrablabber. So who wasn't thinking when they picked their name?

I have no problem with blogging or the benefits, but I really wish that people would stop posting their novels on their blogs. I don't read any of it any more. Not just the 'contractual' thing that I've experienced, but also the 'theft accusation' thing - which is all too real and I've seen it happen locally.

But every time I talk about that the writer's who do it tell me I'm wrong. They have no reason to back themselves up. I'm just wrong.

It will take some big case of theft accusation via a blog before people really stop and think about it.

And the other thing is, you don't want to talk your project to death. It's one thing to talk about what you're working on, even generic themes. But intimate details of books 2 or 3 along in a series, like who's screwing whom, is not a good idea, IMHO.

Oh, gee, sorry. I forgot I already had my rant on this...

April 11, 2006 8:27 pm  
Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

Hello, James!

There wasn't much I could do about my choice of blog name either, my parents having already chosen my name and all.

The Sticks is a state of mind. If I didn't blog, I'd be even quieter than I am. And boy, am I quiet.

Except around the Bunions.

I left you a comment in your bird flu thread, by the way.

April 11, 2006 11:08 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

Sandra - yeah, real cop out. But I had to cut myself off from descending into a rant, otherwise supper was going to be very late;}#

M.G. - welcome to the strange world of Sir Benfro. I did see your earlier comment but I was having trouble getting into blogger last night. It's something to do with my ISP and is very frustrating - I get the comments through email, then I can't respond to them because I can't get into any of the blogspot blogs, including my own.

And the sticks is definitely a state of mind, but it's also mid-Wales. I'm not complaining, mind you. I chose to live here.

As for quiet, well, I'll reserve judgement on that...

April 12, 2006 8:23 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.

November 29, 2009 12:10 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes... thanks for style ))

December 13, 2009 10:29 pm  
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January 24, 2010 2:36 pm  

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