Sunday, March 27, 2011

Why Do I Blog?

It has been quite a few years now since I started blogging. Hardly anyone reads my blog. Maybe a dozen people on a good week, and most of you are close relatives or longtime friends. So why do I do it?

One very good reason is that as a working professional writer, it’s simply a good workout to produce a weekly column. Some weeks I put more energy into it than others. For awhile, a few years ago, I tried to write a funny blog every week. Wow was that exhausting! Humor is much harder work than serious prose. But no matter the style or topic, the mental and creative exercise of writing a short piece each week is a discipline to which I am committed.

Another reason why I blog is that, as a writer, I am compelled to communicate in words. Writing the blog fulfills my crazy need to send my words into the world. Blogging helps me cope with the fact that my books are not published. It feels like someone (even if just a handful of die-hard folks who care about me) is reading my words. I feel vaguely or occasionally useful. If I give someone a laugh or an insight, a shred of information or a moment of recognition, then my craft has purpose.

The thing I like the most about blogging is that my words are out there in cyberspace somewhere. So I have the sense (albeit an illusion, yet comforting) that even if I dropped dead this minute, my words would continue to live forever. Or at least for as long as there are satellites circling in orbit and the physics of life as we know it continues. Last year one of my good friends was following the blog of a woman who was dying of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (or ALS). The woman was a performing artist. Before she got sick, she cut several jazz CDs. She had a beautiful voice. She also wrote drama, acted, and directed. She did stand-up comedy. Someone made a documentary film about her and her performances and the progress of her illness. She lost her fight with ALS last year. Many artistic tributes to her life and her genius remain in the form of recorded music and recordings of live performances she did, as well as that documentary film. But perhaps the one thing she produced that will stand out as her greatest contribution was her blog. She blogged for several years while she was dying. And the blog was funny and tragic and a window into her world and a testament to the awesome strength of the human spirit. I have heard several people say that when they discovered her blog, they went back and spent hours reading the whole thing from the beginning. She is gone, but her words remain. People can find her and get to know her even though she is no longer among the living.

So maybe I ascribe to that fantasy. If I died tomorrow, the books I have written that remain unpublished would never go out into the world. All those lost words, lost hours. It frightens me. So I blog. At least a handful of my words, and maybe not even those that I have put the most energy and thought into, but something, will live in the mysterious ether of cyberspace for a time. It comforts me to know that a few of my words are wandering in the wide world where they might perhaps connect with people I have never met.

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