Thursday, February 16, 2006

Dance, monkey, dance...

"Blogging is like prostitution. First you do if for love, and then for a few close friends and then for comments."
--Moliere (sort of)

This quote fits the dilemma many bloggers face these days. Do we blog because we enjoy it, or are we hooked on the comments.

I tell myself I write just for me. If that was truly the case, the best thing to do would be to just turn off the comment function and just blog along without worrying about it. But this interactive writing we've plunged ourselves into can be very seductive.

Most of the time we don't think about the person behind the words we read. You'll read the newspaper or a magazine and, unless it is a columnist with a byline and photo, the writer is no more relevant than the paper the things are printed on. And forget about the copywriters paid to write cereal boxes and instructions for electric razors.

So just imagine what it is like to finally write something where people suddenly acknowledge that there is a person behind the curtain. As a professional copywriter that is both exhilerating and terrifying. It's like standing naked on the Interstate (not that it has ever been proved that I have done that).

Everybody wants to be acknowledged. There is nothing wrong with that. But blogging opens the door for more than acknowledgement. Allowing comments on your blog from total strangers can be the electronic equivalent of wearing a "kick me" sign on your back. I personally have been fortunate not to have attracted trolls -- the online version of a heckler. I suppose it is a matter of time, however, when one will wander in here and think everything I am writing is directed at them. I'll deal with it when it happens.

The real downside of comments is not getting them. There have been times when I've posted what I personally have thought was Pulizer Prize winning material and sat back to bask in the compliments. And humiliations of all humilations, no one says a word about it. It is a humbling experience. But it has also taught me not to take silence or positive feedback too seriously.

What I like about blogging is the freedom to experiment. In the real writing world, you don't get that opportunity unless you are a well established author with financial freedom to back up your whims. Stephen King is a perfect example (and he/she reads my blog to get new material). He writes whatever he wants now.

Blogging allows unsuccessful writers such as myself the luxury of playing around with words AND graphics. I am also a frustrated artist. But if you visit here every now and then you know that by now.

The biggest challenge for me is blogging despite comments or lack of them. Anyone who has ever undertaken a creative endeavor understands that there is a certain amount of discipline required to force yourself to produce material on a regular basis whether you feel like it or not.

Those times when I've produced something I really like and no one else seems to respond are discouraging. I have been tempted to throw tantrums and just not write. "I'll show them," I whine to myself. "I won't blog anymore until they appreciate me." Then I gently say to myself, "Tim, you are full of shit. " I like to write. I like to post photos I create. If I didn't blog, I would only be depriving myself of something I enjoy.

So comments or not, I'll write and I'll post photos. Because this monkey dances whether he gets a banana or not.
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