Three Reasons Why I Blog

Bryan posted a link to Jeanne’s post “Why I Blog” in the Book Bloggers Google+ Community as discussion fodder–and it worked there, but it’s also a topic that warrants an in-kind response. I’m starting to feel like the longer you do this, the more important it is to revisit your reasons periodically, and with 6.5 years and close to 2000 posts here, I think I qualify as having been at this for a pretty long time.

You should go and read all of Jeanne’s post, but here’s this:

“In the last year, a lot of book bloggers have been writing and talking about how much quieter it’s gotten in blogland. Sullivan compared 2008-style blogging to jazz—’jazz and blogging are intimate, improvisational, and individual—but also inherently collective. And the audience talks over both.’ I think that 2013-style blogging, though, is more aptly compared to a solo in a classical concert. There are people in the audience, and they enjoy the music, but some of them are nervous about clapping in between movements, so it’s very quiet in the house.

“Because of the diminishing sense of audience, some bloggers have gone back to the old model of a blog as a ‘commonplace book,’ something a writer keeps for herself. Not a bad model; it’s how I began. I’m not sure I’m ready to go back to it, though.”

commonplace books, via Google Image Search

I started blogging for a similar reason, although I wasn’t familiar with the concept of the “commonplace book” at the time, and so I wouldn’t have characterized my blog that way. It was a place to record what I read and my thoughts about it, since without such a place, most of my reading was quickly becoming forgotten, and most of it didn’t deserve that.

(Sidebar: The flip side of having such a place is that there’s a living record of books you might prefer to forget you read–but fortunately, I haven’t encountered too many of those, before or since. Although I’ve been described, by myself and by those who know me well, as someone who would read anything she could get her hands on, the truth is that I really am fairly selective–usually. And when I fail to be selective enough for long enough, I eventually have to remedy that with a large-scale book purge. When “Will Work For Books” stops becoming an amusing motto and starts to feel like what your reading life actually is, it’s time to acknowledge that “free books” really aren’t.)

If I were starting out with those same reasons today, I’m not sure I’d be blogging; a Goodreads account offers just about everything a reader needs to keep a record of what she’s read and her thoughts about it. However, I started out with those reasons six and a half years ago. They brought me here, but after all this time, they’re not the only reasons I stay here. Here are three more:

  • Creativity. There are plenty of places to find “rules for successful blogging,” and those rules been surprisingly consistent over the last half-dozen years, so I guess they’re pretty effective. I’ve tried to follow many of them over the years, with varying amounts of consistency and degrees of success. But this is my blog, and when it comes down to it, I get to make my own rules for it, implement them in any way I like, and change them on a whim. And I don’t have to blog exclusively about books in order to call myself a “book blogger.” There’s no one right way to do this, and I think every blogger can appreciate that.
  • Connection. That “diminishing sense of audience” Jeanne mentions isn’t imaginary; much of the conversational aspect of blogging has gradually migrated away from blogs and over to Facebook and Twitter, and without comment conversations, it’s hard to know for certain whether we’re reaching anyone. I’m not sure the audience has truly diminished, though; I think sometimes we’ve just fallen into companionable silence, when we’re not having our conversations elsewhere. Granted, if you’re not keeping up with all the “elsewheres”–I’m getting worse at it, and less bothered by my failings–it might feel like no one’s around any more. But I still believe in the authentic connections I’ve made with other readers and bloggers, and I don’t want to lose them; I can only hope those with whom I’ve connected feel the same way.
  • Confidence. Everything that blogging involves–the reading and learning that feed creativity of thought and expression, and produce communication and connection–continues to help me grow as a person. It’s enriched my life in ways I couldn’t have foreseen a decade ago, and strengthens my sense of my self. Why would I not want that?

At this stage in my blogging life, this is why I blog. I’m sure you have your own reasons. I hope you’ll revisit them…and blog about them.

Cross-posted to 9/12/2013

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