‘Blog not on writing,’ the experts say, ‘there’s too darn many writing blogs out there already.’
That may be an overstatement, or at least an over-paraphrase. And if the experts said it, you can be sure there’s another set of experts urging everyone to start writing writing blogs. It’s less the message, even less the statistic, than the idea.
What is a writing blog?
A quick Google search on that question pulls down a few generic ‘So You Want to Write a Blog!’ websites, and then—surprise! A list of writing blogs.
I pull up one website, and discover a book review, some vague social commentary, and a gripe about editors. Another has a report on the writer’s vacation, a discussion of verbs, and information about contests.
I realize I may be on the fast track for wasting my life, so I go to another link that did my trolling for me. Still on the first page of my Google search (academic soul that I am), I discover a presumably subjective list of the Top 100 Creative Writing Blogs. The list divides into several subheadings—General Writing, Aspiring Writers, Published Writers, Grammar, Poetry, and so on.
This helps somewhat by giving a rough categorization of the types of writing blogs out there. But there’s no explanation for how the blogs were selected, of what makes them ‘Top’—quality, popularity, ideology? My inner academic grows frustrated, and I leave.
Thus stymied, I attempt a definition of my own.
A writing blog is a blog about writing.
This seems to work, but requires some further definition of terms.
A blog, the abbreviation for ‘weblog’, is a website presenting an ongoing series of somewhat disconnected writings, images, thoughts, and information.
Writing is the verbal preservation of sound and idea, speech and sonority, captured with hand and eye.
These seem to work, as definitions go. But to then say:
A writing blog is a website presenting an ongoing series of somewhat disconnected writing, images, thoughts and information about the verbal preservation of sound and idea, speech and sonority, captured with hand and eye.
Am I having a fit of existential paranoia? Am I thinking far too much about the obvious? Am I coaxing the cat down from the wrong tree?
We know what these things are without thinking about them. When we start thinking about them, we get ourselves in trouble. Not the ‘uncovering a hideous cyborg conspiracy to turn the human race into zombie slaves’ sort of trouble, but intellectual trouble. In other words, we know what we’re doing as long as we don’t know what we’re doing.
This could be the Ski Syndrome. I’m fine on skis, until I start thinking about how to ski. If there’s any sort of crust on the snow, it become suddenly and painfully un-fun. If there’s not a crust, it’s just sudden.
That seems to explain the phenomenon of writing about writing. Even (as I appear to be doing at the moment) writing about writing about writing. Just do it, don’t think about it, you’re on your way down.
Except for the tremendous muddling of metaphors that assumes that writing is a skill like skiing, and athletic feat whose goal is simply its own performance and personal success within that performance.
But if writing is an art—if writing and writing about writing is reaching somehow towards a state of wonder and beauty that reveals truth, if writing proceeds ‘from a place of passion in the human soul’ (to quote Parker Palmer) to a place where we can know as we are known, if writing is an act of healing and restoration and consolation and courage–
–then we’d better know what we’re doing. And we’d better know why we’re doing it.
My hope with Paradoxes is not to give practical advice on the mechanics of writing. There are many, many excellent sites out there with many different philosophical and aesthetic values and ideas from writers more qualified to write about how to write than I am.
My hope is to start thinking. To start understanding. To continue, as it were, our search for why we do what we do, what power and hope and wonder and despair lies in what we do. To step away from assumed meaning and glib answers and glimpse, if just for a single ecstatic moment, the beauty that draws us restlessly onward in this strange and wonderful journey of words and story and music and sound.