September 30, 2008

Fully-Functioning Pastime

I felt it was probably worth noting that just a few days ago marked five years of blogging for me. Paradoxically, it's always something of a surprise when an idle pastime performs as intended and one suddenly becomes aware that time has, indeed, passed. Sitting at my keyboard on the far side of those years, I find myself at a bit of a loss at the prospect of contemplating any sort of comprehensive retrospective.

I certainly don't need to recap the time that has passed. I suspect that the overwhelming majority of my readers remember them as well as I do. They've been very good years, on the whole. In any case, the use of phrases like "the far side" is a historiographical fallacy which implies that I have reached the end of something, when I'm really just pausing to make a mark *somewhere* on an unfinished timeline on which I am walking backward.

I'm still as addicted as ever to this nebulous, unquantifiable "thing" that blogging is, and I would like to think that I'm better at it now (whatever that means) than I was when I began. More relevant, perhaps, would be a consideration of what sort of effect, if any, the process has had on me. In a very general way, I believe that blogging has improved various qualities of my writing. Perhaps in other ways the nature of the form itself has reinforced or resulted in bad writing habits . . . but I don't think so. In fact, I believe the very nature of the beast has steered me in a generally positive direction.

In one respect, blogging has probably been a negative force; that is, as a creative drain. Blogging is a tempting distraction from other writing endeavors. Every minute spent crafting a line of ruminations about my blogging experience (and surely blogging about blogging is one of the ultimates in self-indulgent hipster navel-gazing) is a minute not spent on more serious fiction or non-fiction projects. That, of course, is part of the appeal, but it can hardly be called beneficial. How many volumes of unpublishable, self-absorbed dreck have I penned and posted in five years?

However, in my attempt at a moment of unpretentious honesty, I have probably overstated the case. Let's talk about the positives for a moment. Several things spring immediately to mind. For instance, to turn that last observation on its head, blogging has shown me that I can, indeed, write book-length quantities of material. Laying considerations of quality aside for a moment, discovering the ability to fill that kind of space is a daunting obstacle to have overcome, particularly for someone as lazy and often unmotivated as myself.

Furthermore, blogging often fosters creativity in that it allows me the opportunity for virtually-infinite experimentation with what works and what doesn't. What sounds good? What do I take the most pride in, looking back, and what was forgotten almost immediately? Where did the latter go wrong, and the former go right? Revision, where necessary, is simple, and input and feedback are easy to come by.

Chief among the benefits, though, is that blogging has given me a definite audience, in some form. Writing for an audience, even an incorporeal one populated in part by various aspects of myself, necessitates certain things: intentionality, a pressing desire to inform and/or entertain, and an effort at quality of composition (stylistically, grammatically, etc.). Above all, one is forced to attempt to express oneself as clearly as possible, or not at all.

The lessons I learned here, I have taken and applied with confidence in virtually every area of my life, be it academic or otherwise, with excellent results. This is perhaps most notable (at least I hope it will prove so) in the launching of my second, more topical, and (dare I say) commercially-minded blogging venture a year and a half ago. Moviegoings continues to grow in readership and exposure, provide me with both a motivation to expand my knowledge and expertise in the subject and an outlet for my interest in it, and open up thrilling new opportunities that I'm excited about pursuing.

Here's to five more years . . .

Posted by Jared at September 30, 2008 04:14 AM | TrackBack