I keep forgetting I have a blog. I’m sure I read somewhere that one of the first rules of being a blogger is to remember you have a blog. I expect there are lots of other rules, too, such as updating blog on a regular basis, being interesting about a variety of stuff, telling funny stories about my (non-existent) cats and so on. But I imagine the main rule about blogging is that you’ve got to blog.
A bit like writing in general, then. The big difference for me is that I have gone for most of my life without blogging. (In fact, for the best part of my life, there were no such things as blogs. There weren’t even computers for the first few years. I vividly remember wondering what the hell this ‘world wide web’ thing was that everyone was going on about. For me, blogging is a futuristic activity that makes me wonder why I’m not wearing a jet pack and eating my meals in tablet form.) In the entirety of my pre-blogging existence, I never once wished that there was a way for me to share my personal experiences and private thoughts with every single person in the whole wide world. I was more of a heavily-padlocked-diary-hidden-under-the-loose-floorboard-guarded-by-dragons kind of a person. Blogging is a whole new world for me.
Writing, on the other hand, is central to my existence and always has been. I feel like I was born knowing how to read and write. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t doing both every day. If I don’t write much for a while, I get symptoms. My mental and physical health deteriorates rapidly – I become ill and unhappy and more or less want to die. It’s not an exaggeration to say that writing is the activity that gives my life meaning and purpose.
And yes, I realise that blogging is a form of writing. It’s not one that I feel completely comfortable with yet. There is something alienating about writing directly to a reader. When I write fiction, notes, poems or anything else, I’m writing for myself. Even when I’ve got a potential market in mind, the thought of sharing and selling my work is not foremost in my thoughts. It’s just me and my imagination. Unlike a blog, where I have to think about the reader and what is and isn’t appropriate to say to you, in my writing I am free to say everything, no matter how bizarre or humiliating or painful or even boring it might be.
Which is not to say that I love writing all that much, either. When the ideas and the words flow through you, it connects you up to the universe and fills you with joy. But that is rare, and the rest of the time? Not so great. I sometimes see quotes about how writers are supposed to adore writing above all things and how if you don’t spend every waking minute obsessed by writing then you’re not a real writer. And then I worry that I’m not a real writer, because I do have other interests and loves, and quite often I have to force myself to sit down and write when there are several million things I would rather be doing instead. I don’t know if I’m a real writer or not. I wish that I loved it more, that I was less lazy, that I didn’t have to keep kicking myself into action. I’m jealous of writers who have a constant passion for writing.
I don’t know if my passion is constant. I only know that when I don’t write, my life is meaningless. So that’s why I do it. So that I don’t die.
Why do you write? Do you make a distinction between ‘writing’ and ‘blogging’, or do you think that’s just a transparent attempt on my part to divert attention from the fact that I’ve neglected this blog for weeks on end? Have at it in the comments.