Why do you write or blog? If you don’t write or blog, why not?
I finally called off my blog project yesterday after reading the Pew’s Report on teens not blogging and twittering. (Summary in Mashable) The reasons given for the lack of interest which I, too, have experienced in the group of people I approached are very interesting: A lack of something to say to fill a whole blog, and a lack of an arena of friends, and only friends, to say it in. Facebook serves those needs perfectly. For learning writing, it seems it takes a classic walled-in student-teacher setup, after all.
Still, motivation outside those walls is key, including my own motivation in carrying on with this blog, and it’s time to think that through today. Alice and I had a lovely e-conversation yesterday about writing, and I remember being very impressed by another Alice’s summary of what writing does to us as sentient beings.
In blogging, there is a dichotomy between the process and the product, between the blog as a way of thinking out loud and as a service to others. I tend to value process more in all areas of life – and the “process” nature of this blog may cost me standing among my blogging teacher colleagues – so I have instituted the discipline of rubrics to keep my original goal, writing for learners of English, firmly in focus. But process is what I like my students to focus on, so I think it’s ok to “live” that principle.
So why do I blog? It serves some need, doesn’t it? Is is narcissistic? Of course. Is it a clarifying meditation? When I’m honest, yes, or when I’m preparing a lesson or an article. When I’m trying to join a smart conversation just to be a part of it, no, and it feels gawdawful after I’ve pressed “send”. Is it self-promotion? Of course, though I’m quite good at shooting myself in the foot. Note to self: No comment. Is it still a part of my teaching? Frankly, I’m not so sure anymore. It’s not a “product” in the sense that a lesson is.
Why do I write online essays and exercises for learners? That’s a lot easier to answer. It’s fun work, producing products I believe in, and even if it’s less well paid for the time I spend on it than any other work I’ve done, including cleaning toilets, I love it. Which goes to show that money isn’t everything, but the job mix needs rethinking.
Here is SpokenVerse (who recites and uploads classic texts, refreshingly enough without spoken commetary) reading Charles Bukowski’s classic “So you want to be a writer?” Setting the bar very high, Bukowski was. SpokenVerse’s excellent commentary? “Don’t buy it. This is Charles Bukowski telling Charles Bukowski how to write like Charles Bukowski. He’s guilty himself of all those sins he’s admonishing you against as an aspiring writer.” Nice.
PS: Sorry, I’ve been editing this post for about an hour since I mistakenly published it prematurely.