When asked a few times recently, ‘If you could do any job, what it be?’ my habitual answer is always ‘I’d like to write’. Which got me thinking: writing is something I never actually do. Yes, I update my Facebook status. I tweet nonsensically. I write cake ingredients on the back of my hand and scribble down lists of cultural places I really should visit. I write vast emails on dry topics like schedules and budgets and word-counts and page dimensions. And I’m surrounded by other people’s writing every day. Hell, I even tell some of them how to write. But I never take the opportunity to write for myself.
And why not? If it’s what I want to do, why shouldn’t I just do it? Par example, look how easy it just was to get on here and type 150 words. But here’s the rub: what the hell does one write about?
With that inhibiting question mark hanging provocatively before me, at least these days the question of ‘Where?’ is easier to answer. No need for a publisher (dare I say it!) when swathes of empty internet space beckon like a blank white refill pad, waiting to be blogged across with lines of Times New Roman (or better, Sylfaen!). Where? On my ancient Acer laptop in a tiny corner of Shepherd’s Bush, that’s where, my words tangled and private the one moment; the next, semi-straightened out and available to the world for scrutiny.
Let me now return to the ‘Why’? Many would say No Reason Needed! Their adversaries would shout back, Why Bother? There are millions of blogs littering the net, few worth stopping by, even fewer worth reading. So what need is there for another? And what will it say? Its USP? Its theme? Its tone? What premise, what excuse? And what needs to happen to spur this blogger to blog? ‘Oh, this could be a blog about food/dating/Coronation Street!’ But what if tomorrow I want to write about music, or next week I suddenly feel the need to opine on the latest episode of Gossip Girl? Can a blog be about more than one thing? And aren’t there 50 thousand other people already blogging about Blair and Serena, with yet more choking the forums, and uber-fans uploading trivia to the series’ Wikipedia page?
I reiterate: Why Bother? But then, does any of that actually matter when the only person reading is yours truly? Don’t most blogs start life as self-indulgent little corners of the web, tawdrily decorated by their authors with limp hypotheses and pointless musings , never daring to believe that anyone is actually reading ‘this collection of crap by little ol’ me’?
Is there anything wrong with just writing for one’s own benefit? This medium, the blog, is it just a new approach to a journal, a 21st-century Dear Diary, where one can paste photos and links, and feel safe in the knowledge that the words will remain forever immortalised on the internet: un-deletable, un-losable, indestructible? Or is it some tiny fragment of affirmative action by would-be writers, an only-just-definable movement towards actually writing, ‘Look mum, I told you, I could be a writer, my words are here for all to see,’ but negating the need to painstakingly map out a clever, reasoned plot, or to waste time shaping believable characters. And the potential is there for all to see: 2009 in publishing was dubbed the year of the blog, with the luckiest contestants snaring agents, being selected for book deals and, in the rarest cases, like Julie of Julie & Julia fame, even being turned into semi-successful movies. (Now it’s 2010 and most are being pulped, as publishers realise the unsold stock is clogging up their warehouse.)
What I’m wittering on about here is that I know this is just another blog on another indeterminate subject. So what? I need to do it. I need to get my hand in. Snub me if you like, but this is just going to begin as my self-indulgent training ground where I brandish every cliché in the book, invent non-funny headings which are more irrelevant than irreverent, post waste-of-space photos of slightly stale cookies, reveal to stalkers my exact route to and from work whilst waxing lyrical about that really cute grey cat with the big fat face that I always see at the end of Amor Road, get myself into trouble with work and friends when I can’t contain my rants, and finally, at last (reach the end of this sentence?), take that aforementioned scrap of affirmative action towards doing what I actually want to do.
The next hurdle is to ‘publish’. Bizarre feelings of bashfulness, despite the fact I’m my only reader. For now….