Monday, September 26, 2005

100: Never Forget the Craft.

Well, post #100. Wow. I missed my 1-year anniversary on blogspot, but I still have this.

Shame to waste it.

On Priority

I’ve always wondered what is it I find most important about blogging. It isn’t the fame (I’m secretly horrified that too many people will know who I am, and I am often horrified when they tell me that they read my blog), or the potential of freedom of speech (I spent several years in USENET, which cured me of wanting that), or the potential advance in technology in the sharing and reporting of views that blogging allows us (as opposed to every technological advance before this?).

There are those who see blogs as a form of personal expression (I do, too). Or a vehicle for a cause. Or a technological wonder. Each of these have their adherents.

The Craft

But then it hit me—it’s not about the technology, or the political, emotional, or cultural freedom. None of that matters to me. It’s respect to the craft.

Come off it, Tariq, you might say. Blogging is hardly an established medium. It’s been around, what, less than a decade? We’re still experimenting!

So what? You don’t blog an entry, do you? You write it. That’s the skill you use, and just because you’re in a newfangled medium changes nothing. The medium isn’t even all that newfangled. It’s sobering to realize that the medium is not at all new—that it owes so much to older, more traditional media.

You’re not just a blogger when you’re writing an entry, you’re a writer. You agonize over word order or sentence structure, and whether your ‘voice’ will hold the reader, or what rhetorical device you can use to get your reader (who may just be yourself) to be interested in you and not just skim through your article out of sheer boredom or confusion.

That’s why I have certain blogs in my list and others I visit infrequently. There’s no point in naming names for blogs that I don’t at all read regularly because they suck at their craft, but there are those whom I read almost all the time.

And why? Because reading them gave me pleasure. Because they were accessible, and when they weren't they were works of art. Or, in this case, craft.

An Issue of Respect.

The blogs I love may not the most popular blogs in the world. They have a dedicated fan-base, but that’s about it. They may not talk about The Latest Hot-Button Topic. They may not even be regular, which the rest of this community treats as a deadly sin.

But that’s it, you see.

If you want to be a good blogger, learn to respect the craft. Technology can compensate for irregularity, rhetorical skill can reduce the ennui of mundanity, and nothing warms cold nights like being cult and not mainstream. But nothing replaces craft. Mastery of the craft may not get you the hits, it might not get you the newspaper articles or interviews, it may not even pay the bills, but it’s priceless for one reason—nothing else replaces it.

Writing, Even For An Audience Of One

Respect your readers, even if the only person who reads this is you and a small group of friends. Or just respect yourself if you don’t have friends.

It isn’t enough to have a clever, rational argument—you’ve got to present it clearly. It isn’t enough to just have a passion for blogging—you’ve got to tighten your rhetorical voice, your cadence. It isn’t enough to be famous—you’ve got to have a balance between introspection and observation.

It doesn’t matter if your subject is mundane or dull; it doesn’t matter that the thing you’re talking about is so far away from the cutting edge people wonder why you’re talking at all.

If you can respect the craft of writing, you’re worth reading.

Screws On It All

Screw freedom of speech. Screw the sharing of ideas. Screw new technology. Screw innovative, revolutionary ideas. Return to the base of it all, and learn the craft.

There are books out there that will help, and web articles—go out and find them, because they’re valuable resources (I'm a fan of William Zinsser myself—his book, On Writing Well, is one of my favourites). Blogging is a tool of communication—learn to communicate!

Because if you haven’t got respect for the fucking craft, what else can there be?

Blogger xaph said...

An excellent reading! Now, if anyone asks me the reason as to why I blog, I'll just point them here.

You highlighted all the necessary points, mate. Kudos to you.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Jordan said...

You're just too insightful for your own good, lad. Anyway, like I've always said, there are many reasons why I blog, but the biggest is that I just like it. And perhaps the most important element in that is indeed the Craft. I'm just glad your post wasn't about a teen witch movie from the nineties. Phew! Good stuff. The post, not the movie. OK, I'll shut up now. This is what I get for drinking the cough syrup straight from the bottle and not from a tablespoon. Excuse me...

6:21 PM  
Blogger HANI said...

I like the tten witch movie from the nineties!

10:13 AM  
Blogger Jackie said...

Finally. An excellent rebuttal (Not that you were rebutting anyone). Smtg some guy wrote on some other blog about blogging really bugged me. He went on and on about how bloggers shouldn't spend too much time agonizing over grammar and obsessively editing their posts. He also advocated that we leave typo's as they are. It's supposed to be more "natural and honest" I suppose. Stupid Ass!

So yeah, just wanted to say thank you...I almost had tears in my eyes!

1:53 PM  
Blogger T-Boy said...

xaph: Why, thanks! Though, you know, really, it’s not so much “reasons for blogging” and more, “this is what I think is most important”.

I mean, people have reasons why they blog. So do I! And I haven’t really talked about it in this here post. Long story short, I do it because Hani couldn’t stand listening to me opine about everything under the sun, and told me, “Okay, so blog about it.”

Mighty clever, that woman. And devious, too.

Jordan: No operating heavy machinery for you! xD

HANI: Snerk!

Jackie: Well, craft is a little more than grammar and spelling. There certainly is a differece between being “natural and honest” (and you’d be surprised how many “natural and honest” writers write, and then rewrite, and rewrite, and rewrite, and rewrite…) and being too damn lazy to actually order their thoughts into the craft of writing.

And besides, flawed spelling and grammar doesn’t mean your blog hasn’t got craft—your cadence might be amazing and you’re a natural fucking prose poet. And of course, you can have perfect spelling and grammar and still sound like shit.

I mean, take a look at a few big name blogs. Not all of them are paragons of craft. Some are pretty lousy.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Silencers said...

Probably the basic idea that everyone overlooks. BLogging has become sucha cheap thing that people just blog as they fancy, and take little value for what they write.

While plenty take pride with what they write, a shamefully huge amount don't. It's almost dissapointing, really.

4:47 AM  
Blogger T-Boy said...

Silencers: I see what you’re saying. But the truth of the matter is, blogging does intrinsically have little value, apart from what it does to you and perhaps a few of your closest friends. Blogging is inherently cheap, what with it being a low-cost high volume medium.

You don’t deserve massive kudos for being a blogger any more. That was when blogging was small and only a few people knew how to do it. Now everyone does it; it’s worth less.

In some cases, much less.

12:54 PM  

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