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.
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.
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?