This was originally posted for a feature about my blog onWriting.com but it is still fairly relevant today (some alterations made to make it WordPress appropriate). Me being me, I couldn’t just write it out. So I decided to make it into a speech. Yeah, I’m crazy like that. And since I’ve been asked a few times recently why I started blogging at WordPress, I thought I would dig this out for you and for me.
The auditorium is crowded when I walk across the stage to take the podium. The front rows are filled with familiar faces, well, the faces I have assigned to those on WordPress who I know and respect, the people on WordPress who encourage me to keep up with my blog, to continue to entertain and amuse them. And it is because of them that I am here today.
I wait as the orchestra reaches its crescendo, a thrilling escalation of sound and fury that has us all on the edge of our seats anticipating the final flourish from the horn section, or the frantic assaulting timpani of kettle drums. And when we’re vaulted over the apex only to come spiraling down with measured control by the rhythm section, I feel as if I can’t possibly add to the evening of wonderment already unfurled. But, me being me, I have to try.
“Firstly, I would like to thank WordPress for enabling us to write together under the common banner of the blog. And I use the word ‘common’ a little hesitatingly because there is absolutely nothing common about the blog.
“Secondly, I would like to thank you all for sticking around until the end of the evening to listen to what I have to say. It might not be music to your ears, it might baffle and infuriate you, but it is what I believe to be true, and that’s why I’m here today.
“Why do I blog? I have been asked that question on many an occasion, and in all honesty, the reason has changed a number of times since I first started with my first blog just about eight years ago. But there is always one underlying theme behind every reason, and I think that underlying theme is the greatest thing in the world – me.
“Yes, I write for me. I sit at my keyboard, sometimes for hours on end struggling to put something down that you might enjoy, but I will ultimately be the better for. Are you still with me?”
I wait for the audience to nod, watch a few flashbulbs pop, wave back to a few frantic fans. I can hear my mom in the back row, unable to get any closer to the front because she doesn’t have a paid membership, giggle with glee that her son is holding court for the members of WordPress.
“I first started my blog because several of the first members I met on my first writing site told me I should have one. It would be a good outlet for my sense of humor, a great way to expand on my story telling skills, and an even better way for them to learn about me. All of those reasons made sense to me, but it wasn’t until I grew tired of telling people why I called myself the Penguin that I actually started a blog. If you’re still wondering about the name, read entry one in this new blog of mine.
“I must admit, it didn’t take long before I was hooked and thought of blog topics days in advance of when I would write them. I loved, and still do, the challenge of keeping things fresh, of trying to find new words on a daily basis, or as close to everyday as I can. I also love the power I feel when I can capture my emotions and put them down on paper for everyone to see, thereby conquering what has been bugging me. I have said before that I want to make “my craft my bitch” and the blog helps with this.
“In the early days I would go days without blogging, usually spending most of my time in the chat room of Writing.com (where I first posted a blog), which has its benefits, but it is also a creativity sapper. Pretty soon, if none of you have been members of that site, the postmaster would send me wonderful little reminders about updating my blog. And I would, just to avoid getting those emails. You see, my desire to not be annoyed fueled some of my earlier blogging practices. And some of those were terrible entries as well. But they can’t all be award winners can they?
“And my blog is even more ego-centered today than it ever has been. When I found out I’d be starting a job in Saudi Arabia, I decided that the blog would be the perfect outlet to tell my family and friends about what was going on, what I was thinking, how I was coping, and random thoughts of pure insanity. And now that I’ve moved on to Dubai and am finding my feet again after a pretty awful 2013, my possibilities to entertain and inform have expanded. And, it hasn’t been more popular (My original blog is now deceased, as WordPress is my new home).
“I have found out that people want to learn about other people. We are fascinated by what we learn about ourselves from the information we learn about others. And what better way to learn about human nature than through the blog? I don’t necessarily think I’m brave by opening myself up in front of people. As I’ve said, I do this for me. I am hungry for attention. I won’t lie, I feel awfully damn good when a comment comes back and says I have talent. And I feel awfully slighted when someone tells me otherwise.
“For those who don’t know me, or haven’t read my blog, why not? You will soon find out that I exude confidence, sometimes to the point of arrogance. However, you will also find out that I am humble and will usually respond to a glowing shower of praise with unabashed humility and offer my thanks a million times.
“Why such the outlandish see-saw of attributes? Because I, like you, am a writer. More than any other people in this world, we are in tune with our emotions and usually encourage the frazzled nerves that can sometimes keep us down. On days when I can write a thousand words without blinking, I can do anything I want. And I let people know. And on those days when I can’t write a word, which does happen, I also let people know.
“People fuel my stories. Common interactions are never common to me. Inside every meeting, every conversation, every subtle glance from a stranger lurks a story. Getting to that story is the hard part. But I find having a blog helps with that.
“An Olympic athlete will train his whole life for one shot at glory. The hours spent at the track, working on form, style, power and posture are countless. Why wouldn’t a writer spend the same amount of time working on style, substance, structure and imagination? The blogs I read, and unfortunately I can’t read all the blogs on WordPress on a regular basis due to time constraints, all appeal to me for a variety of reasons.
“I see a wonderful style in them, an author who is confident with his or her words. The cadence of the sentences leaves me wanting to come back and read more. I am drawn back by the intelligence, the humor, and the brutal honesty at times. I see a confidence behind the words, even if it is like mine, slightly jilted and layered with a bashful admittance that there is some talent. Reading the works of others, my peers, the writers among us who have not been afforded the luxury of owning 7 homes in 7 continents, the writers who, like me, write because we have to, not because our contract states we need to publish 5 books in 10 years (although that would be a great problem to have), inspires me to write to inspire them.
“As much as I blog to introduce myself to the world, and believe me, I think everyone should know me cause they’d like me, I blog because from every comment I receive I know someone took the time to read what I wrote, and somehow, I managed to move them enough to respond. It might not be a happy response, but moving someone with your words, forcing a reaction out of them is the ultimate sign of approval for a writer. I need that recognition in my life. I need to know that I do have the power to stir emotions, to make people sit and think for only but a second. I need to know that I can do what other people are doing to me.
“So you see, my blog is done for selfish reasons. It all comes down to how it will make me feel. It makes me feel good when I know I have induced thought when none was there before. It makes me feel good when I’m told someone could actually smell what I smelt. It makes me feel good knowing that I may not have mastered this craft, but I am learning more about it every day. And I’m learning because I blog, and because I read blogs. After all, I find it impossible to write about people, even fictitious ones, if I don’t understand the “real” people around me. My blog will help you understand me, and yours will help me understand you.
But, you’ve got to be prepared to ruffle feathers, have yours ruffled, and bask in the glory when things go well. Soak up the praise, you deserve it. Just like you’ll have to learn that you deserve the abuse.
“And as writers, we shouldn’t want it any other way.”
So, why do you blog?