Blogging feels old these days, to me at least.
It feels like writing a letter and folding it up in an envelope and licking the envelope flap shut (it tastes horrible) and then running to the post box to find that you forgot the stamp and then running to the post office and buying a stamp and posting the letter…
And then, a few days letter, it comes back stamped ‘Return to Sender’.
Technology and general interest seems to have moved on from blogging. These days, people tend to give and receive their opinions and stories and fun directly on their favourite social media platform. They don’t need to be clicking some link to take them off to some alien-looking cul-de-sac-of-a-site to hear the verbalised bellybutton fluff of yet another self-obsessed idiot with too much time on his hands.
I know this because it’s how I roll myself. Although I persist in writing this blog, I don’t tend to seek out other blog posts. If I ever do (with a couple of notable exceptions) I find people trying to get away with the minimum effort in some vain expectation of the maximum gain. Rehashed content and hundred-word-posts that promise the earth and always provide considerably less than that. Maybe that's part of the reasons why blogs die. Visitors have probably been burned too often. Too many well-meant clicks have resulted in being seriously underwhelmed and constantly disappointed. There is also a tendency in modern social media to meticulously tailor the content it chooses to share and this seems to mitigate against the accessibility of the old-fashioned blog.
But it’s not just that. Who is a good enough writer to command a returning audience, week on week on week, for years on end? Not many, that’s for sure and I’d be the first to admit that I’m no Clive James. It always seems to have been the nature of the beast that people would form a habit of reading and then ‘un-form’ a habit of reading. It’s natural, nobody could argue against it. Also, with the act of writing a blog for years, some repetition is bound to creep in. I’ve probably written this same post ten times over the years and forgotten all about it.
It’s understandable that the blog would fade and flicker and naturally go out. That’s what blogs do. It’s the nature of the beast. So why bother? Why continue in being a part of what has become such a dull grey kaleidoscope?
Every few years, I’ve asked myself this question and the answers have always been quite different. Once upon a time, the blog would reach quite a respectable audience, a casual readership who would often react and respond to stuff. There often seemed to be a sort of reciprocal learning involved and a feeling that there was at least a small appetite for the work being done.
As that feeling inevitably faded, there was a replacement feeling that the weekly stories and thoughts were more of a scrapbook, to be looked over in years to come, to provide a quite colourful snapshot of how one’s mind worked back in those days.
When I ask myself today, why am I sitting here writing this, the answer is once again changed. The situation has certainly changed. With each blog post being significantly less well read than the last, the whole endeavour is now nothing more than a tiny candle stub guttering in a saucer on a draughty shelf.
So, again, why do it? Why not stop today? To continue may actually be a bad thing. To constantly rehash tropes and patterns and, in doing so, use up energy that could be valuably expended elsewhere.
Here’s what I see when I ask myself the question about why I keep going.
I see a gym.
I am not a muscular man. In truth, I have only one significant muscle. It might not matter to anyone else but it matters to me. It’s this muscle that makes me strong. It is, of course, my writing muscle. Those lucky people with lots of big muscles need to work them to keep them in shape. They put in hard hours and they don’t need people to turn up and smile and applaud them while they are doing it. If they didn’t do it, the muscle wouldn’t be ready when they needed it to haul something or to lift something heavy.
And that's the reason. This is my gym. The place I continue to come, to work out my only useful muscle.
Except it’s not. Not really. It’s really more just one key piece of apparatus in that gym. I write a lot and the blog is only one part of it. It's that scary-looking treadmill thing in the corner. The slightly dusty thing that can still give you a good work out if you push it hard enough.
There may be newer bits of equipment. Hell there may even by a sort of vegetable juicer than would provide the same effect with less effort. I don’t really care. I know I need to work my muscle and this shitty old blog regime does it as well, and sometimes better, than other more popular devices can.
Some weeks I'll have a thought that’s going to be hard to get down. Some weeks I won’t have a fucking clue what to write. But, pretty much every week, I get my thousand words down and they have a start, a middle and an end and I work to make those words as real and as thoughtful and as coherent as I can.
And if you ever come and ask me to write something, you'll find me trim, I’ll be ready. That one little muscle is wiry and good and I just need to keep working it to keep it that way. That one little muscle kind of defines who I am, to myself if not to anybody else. So I’ve got to keep pumping.
And, hey, I don’t need you to come by every week and watch. That might actually be a bit weird and embarrassing for us both. If you’re passing, maybe give me a wave. I’ll wave back and be really pleased to see you.
But then you’ll have to please excuse me 'cos I’ve got some work to so.
And the work can’t wait.