Oh just write something, dammit

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Entry spins out of control and strikes telephone pole. There were no survivors.

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This starts in Of typos

The email on my typos was a good corrective in its way. Not that I’m going to be a more diligent proofreader. Whatever candle is burning as I write an entry will eventually gutter and dim. I’ll get restless, responsibility or hunger will call and I’ll quit and go.

There’s no way to say this without suggesting that I have to strong a sense of self-esteem. (And I do have considerable self-respect but it is in other matters.) I get kind private emails saying: “I admire they way you write” or “I’m not as good a writer as you” or “I can’t write a paragraph.”

I’m not a writer. At least as I value the word. OK, there are many senses. Too many: the editorial writer out in Littleville, MN, USA who frets about the liberal agenda. The slick pop journalist whose celebrity profiles appear monthly on clay coated paper stock. The academic jargonist desperately hoping to prove to his peers that he’s at least as post-PoMo as they are. In one sense if you get paid for your words you are a writer, even if you are sub-literate contributor to Rural Rape Monthly.

Faugh on those folks. They aren’t, cough, real writers. Anyway, they aren’t writers I value. Among the living my idea of a minimal author is - well that is a question - I’ll pick Christopher Hitchens. As journalists go he always writes with a distinctive vehemence. By my own standards he’s a fine but ephemeral writer. Staying with the living, Martin Amis, when he is good, has flashes or genius at which you can only marvel (and when’s bad he’s horrid).

I think I’m killing my own argument. So I’ll abandon it.

People write weblogs for many different reasons. I have no interest in the mere linkers so we’ll forget about them (if not forgo to exploit them). There are weblog subcultures. The blo.gs elite mostly write about web technology, standards and design. There are huge subcultures of political webloggers. Porn bloggers, photo journal keepers, business promoters, now that weblogs are so popular if there’s a whatnot there are whatnot weblogs.

I’m just, it isn’t just an apologetic ‘just,’ a personal weblogger. You could say that I practice the epistemology of personal truth. My interpretations of life are all seen through my own history. Hoping to put it plainly: when I write about anything I’m just writing about myself.

My weblog is about me.

I suspect I fool people by the confidence with which I write. If we could invite Richard Dawkins to drop by he might explain why self-confidence is a good genetic meme. In any sane reading of a sane writer “I think,” “I feel” has to be taken for granted. A regularly reference to one’s own uncertainty is tiring. As one writing manual says it if you aren’t sure of your ground “Say it loud!”

While I wish self-doubt were more common trait you don’t see it in weblogs. As in any part of life most people are sure the world would be a better place if only they were consulted.

I’ve been giving into my enjoyment in bypaths. Many of which would be an entertaining subject by it self.

What I wanted to say, rather, the encouragement I wanted to offer:

If all you know is yourself. Write about yourself. I’ve done that for tens of thousands of words. If you are really honest you’ll find you express yourself well and clearly enough. Don’t let imaginary critics weigh on your words.

Given the billions of people alive today there’s not a big hope of being amazingly individual. Many commonplace people don’t let this deter them. Nor should you.

Before I lost my way I was going to simply say that people who fret about how they write in their weblogs should echo Joe Grossberg: “I don’t blog because it matters, I blog because I enjoy it.”


Weblogs are a party, damn it, and sometimes they’re publications too, or instead, and sometimes they’re diaries, sometimes they’re pieces of art, sometimes they’re tools for self-promotion, sometimes they’re money-maknig ventures, sometimes they’re monuments to ego, sometimes they’re massive wanks, sometimes they’re public services, sometimes they’re dedications of faith, sometimes they’re communities. Always, they are a public face, one chosen and crafted to varying degrees, of the people who write them. They are avatars, masks, or revelations of our deepest selves. They are political or philosophical, merrily inebriate or sententiously sober. Do not listen to those who would tell you what they are not.

Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Wonderchicken


Journals, by definition, are personal. If in doubt, read The Orton Diaries. You can’t get much more personal. That we can share our journals with the populace prior to death, is only a minor facet of the Information Age. To question another’s inability to perform at your standards in something that is personal to them and not necessarily provided for your enjoyment, is tantamount to picayune extremism.

I think that journals are definitely personal. Blogs on the other hand are different — for many people in the tech community (the “blo.gs elite” I think Richard called us ;-) ) they are also self-marketing in an assertive way that most geeks would not manage in the real world. We would rather someone offered us a job based on the great observations we’ve been making about standards compliance than have to go into a job interview and sell ourselves (and our skills) — heaven forbid.

I also think that there are many different reasons for blogging and that mutual respect is all we need. After all, no need to read it if you don’t want to ;-)

Of course I mostly read the blo.gs elite, or the folks who’d be in it if there were more than twenty weblogs listed. I’d forgotten I made that crack but went and made it into another entry elsewhere. There seemed to be an odd run of tech people that I read that were looking for work lately.

That entry was supposed to be about encouraging unconfident people to just go ahead and write but too many tangents crowded into my head.

Your feelings?

Please share your feelings about Oh just write something, dammit.

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