Monday, February 05, 2007

Why I Blog

I blame St. Howard, who has challenged a few of us bloggers to explain ourselves. Apparently, he was already tackling this question himself but it naturally came up in conversation the other night at HDW's birthday festivus, pictured at left. His query today posed a simple: "Why blog?" Here is what I came up with:

Not Old Yet: A few summers back, our office had us a batch of brilliant interns – all girls – who gave a terrific presentation on a new trend called "blogs." At the time, this was still a fairly fresh medium for the generalized adult human and it was just barely starting to show up in the business world. One of the interns, Maria, was eventually hired and has since become my friend and young, plucky sidekick - the Gabrielle to my Xena, minus all the heavy lezbo tension. She assured me that setting up a blog was the easiest thing to do and all the cool kids were doing it. That was enough for me. So, on August 9, 2005, with the catchy headline, "Hear That? It's My Blog Cherry Popping!" ClizBiz was born. (When I recently lamented to Maria that I feel old and out-dated with modern technology, she said: "Yeah, but the blogging saves you." Whew!)

The Writing Gym: I quickly realized that the new toy could help me reverse a dangerous habit. I had recently written a cover story for the Santa Barbara Independent about Monty Roberts, "the horse whisperer", and it was excruciating to create. After years of corporate work, my prose taken on a horrible Velveeta texture with perky sentences and clipped, guarded descriptions; my own writing style had gone weak from lack of use. Used to being a hired hand for multi-national corporations, the Heather voice had become weak and distant. Zoinks! The blog became a place where I could just go and work out, "a place to bench press 10-lb. verbs or outrun dangling participles." What a delightful idea - writing for no one but myself without assignment or deadline, a playground of sorts. As I'd restated on my 100th post on 1/17/06:

"This blog is more like throwing personal jewelry into a black ocean - not only do I never know if the trinkets will hit bottom, be swallowed by a fish or be discovered by some wayward explorer, it is actually not even the point. The goal is getting my fingers around something internal, articulating it as a thought and flinging it outward - letting it go whether the world cares or not."

Self-Challenge: As Howard's friend, Lorne, pointed out recently, the pressure to think of something relevant and/or witty to say can be self-defeating. Every writer wants to believe they offer a unique voice to the world and some days, I am one of those cursed warriors. Other days, it's all I can do not to fling my cell phone into a snow bank and suck my thumb in the corner. Like most bloggers, I've got a folder of great post ideas that are somewhat evergreen – bits and pieces I grab from the news. Occasionally, I force it out (and it shows) but most posts these days feel pretty dang natural. Some come roaring out of me like a post-feast belch, others start with a small seed, germinate, sprout, grow and bloom over several days after much pondering, looking up to the sky, stroking my long beard and so on.

Ego (Legacy): There is a distinct sensation that writing comes naturally to me and for this, I am grateful. (If I could sing well, I'd never shut up so just be glad I got the quieter of the gifts.) Still, it is hard to keep the ravenous ego monster at bay and I lose this battle often. I had recently gotten down on myself after a few posts where I received very little feedback. I tried not to take it personal ("Um, Heather, people have lives, you know?") but failed.

Furthermore, I also receive weekly reports telling me how many visitors, page views, etc. the site receives. Readership has been a healthy three-digit number for months but all of sudden, it was down to two. Could I blame the new version of Blogger? I sure as hell did! Truth be told, I was mad at myself for losing sight of the original point. Bad, bad, bad Heather. Writing for a specific audience reaction is not the goal here; self-editing is the enemy. I am now forbidden to read these reports.

Nevertheless, I moped for several days about this and finally got my blog groove back when a colleague told me that a quiet, mild-mannered fellow in our office had become a regular reader. I hardly know the guy and yet he found something entertaining. Why anyone - let alone an acquaintance - would choose my little world over The New York Times or YouTube at any given moment is amazing to me. I remain unquestionably thrilled by this and have been riding high ever since. Also, I think my family – who read only on occasion – may find these posts endlesslessly fascinating immediately following my death in a bizarre gardening accident.

Fantasy: My dream job has always been newspaper columnist, a job I actually held for brief time. I wrote about food and restaurants for my hometown paper but ultimately, I resist sticking to one topic. I mean, I hate Dick Cheney with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns 24/7 but I only get the urge to mention once in awhile, otherwise, it's boring. I could never be a political columnist for this reason. I get distracted too easily …oh, look! A butterfly ….

Community: Strangely, this last one only just now occurred to me. When I got dumped on my ass upon arrival in Denver, I was so, so alone. The blog was my only outlet and ultimately, it became the major conduit for most of my Denver social life. Not only have I met the coolest people (all stemming from the amazing Kath) but it has become a ready-made support network that I never expected. Words of encouragement, topics for discussion and some damn funny writing - all to be shared - makes me feel like I am a part of something. The first time I met HDW, I believe I may have kissed her because a) she actually is really, really HOT and b) because after reading her wickedly funny posts, I'd already decided we would be friends. The topic was not up for debate. Same thing with Howard. (In fact, I feel compelled to post this photo of my two fellow bloggers, who are hilarious in person as well. Photo credit: The Amazing Kath.)

... and just like that, another long-winded post is born!

14 comments:

Howard said...

I can't believe you used that picture! I'm glad I tagged you, this was so worth it.

hubs said...

great picture of hdw and howard and an interesting take on blogging. i'd probably comment more if my comments received a bit of feed back.

hubs said...

i wanted to email this to you but don't see a link:

"My dream job has always columnist." isn't going to help you land that job ;)

ClizBiz said...

Howard: Thanks for the inspiration! Never realized all that stuff before.

Hubs: Hmmmm, good point. Howard mentioned this as well. I'll try to work on being more responsive.

So HILARIOUS that you pointed out my poorly-timed typo. As always, I blame booze and Blogger.

hubs said...

i know, me of all people pointing typos. i surprised i even noticed it. i guess i'm just trying to keep a dream alive.

Maria said...

Yes! I love shout outs!

In the first paragraph too...I wonder what the ad equivilancy would be of that...

Shmeder said...

Cool.

HDW said...

I just adore you to bits and pieces, and your first kiss? Yeah, you rocked the platonic-house.

And ohmygod, forever that pic will crack me shit UP.

"WOOK!WOOK!WOOK!WOOK!" - ha ha ha. Good times with more to come!

Keep writing. I love it all, and love you lots!

Kath said...

My world is rocked on a daily basis by all the buddies I have met thru my blog.

May touch on this in depth over at my place, for now I'll just say that my blog has been my lifeline to a funner (English teachers everywhere cringe) and richer life.

This is life at its best, thanks to blogs and my buddies that write them.

Fang Bastardson said...

I blog because it's the only way I can masturbate in public without drawing unwanted attention from the local constabulary.

Splat!!

Fang Bastardson said...

Speaking of masturbating in public, have you recognized the band singing the theme behind the new American Expresss campaign?

Spinal Tap. I shit you not. Check it out. "Gimmme Some Money."

Rosie said...

I never ever EVER thought I would meet anyone through blogging. But I have been pleasantly surprised :)

ClizBiz said...

Wow. Whouda thunk it? Love all these great responses, even Fang's, which I'd like to apologize for. (I've been doing this for years, it's in our Friendship Contract.)

So glad ya'll are in my world now! Can't imagine it otherwise.

Lil said...

Regarding your article about Monty
Roberts: can we read it online?

See 'Horse Whispers & Lies' at HorseWhispersandLies.com; the Feb. 1999 issue of Horse & Rider magazine's article, 'Horse Whispers or Horse Feathers?'; San Francisco Examiner Article: 'BIOGRAPHY CALLED UNBRIDLED FICTION' January 11, 1997; "Horse of a Different Color" by John Skow & James Willwerth, Time Magazine Dec. 14, 1998; "Now! Read the True (More or Less) Story!" Tuesday, February 24, 1998 The New York Times; and "A Peddler of Court Gossip May Pay the Piper" by Jonathon Turley.