Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Blogging hard, or hardly blogging?


"You think I made your life hell? Take a look around this dump. You're just a tourist with a typewriter, Barton, I live here."
--Charlie from the movie Barton Fink
That is my favorite line from Barton Fink. John Goodman says it to John Turturro at a pinnacle moment near the end of the film as the hotel they are staying in burns around them. John Turturro plays Barton Fink, an artistic writer sucked into Hollywood scriptwriting. John Goodman plays Charlie, a traveling salesman and serial killer who inhabits the hotel room next to Fink. It's a Coen brothers film and either you like them or you don't. I love them.

I always thought the quote pretty much described writers who write without actually having lived. And it describes a great deal of working press. They are tourists with typewriters (or computers) popping in to capture a soundbite and then toodle off living the subject of their article or new story to flounder about in whatever living drama they are mired in.

That's where I think blogging is different. Most of us who blog on a regular basis actually live what we write about. I think of my blog as a "work" in progress (or I suppose you could call it a piece of work...many have called me that). Though I really don't think of it as work. I enjoy doing it. And I don't spend a great deal of time (obviously) thinking about intriquing topics. Sometimes all I need for inspiration is a fleeting thought or a random digital image.

Notice I didn't say a work of art. I don't claim to produce great literature with deep meaning. If you want to dissect something, I'd suggest a fetal pig or a rat. I don't spend a lot of time creating hidden metaphors or symbolic subjects. What I write is what you get. And you get what you pay for.

I worked with a guy years ago at the Boise Public Library named Kelly McFadden. Kelly was several years older than I was but we were both circulation clerks dilagently checking books out and in to feed the general public's thirst for knowledge. Kelly was also a talented (if unpublished) writer. I asked him once why he was working there. He looked up at me, smiled and said, "I'm just gathering data, Tim, just gathering data."

So to my 34 million fellow bloggers out there, I urge you to heed Kelly's words of wisdom as you work in your day jobs that pass the time between blog entries. Just consider it fodder for the blog mill.

It keeps me going.
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