Sunday, March 31, 2013

To Blog 2

Well, another month down, it's a good time to reassess what I'm doing here. I had no specific plans or goals in mind when I started this blog, because, in general, I don't ever enter into anything with a conscious plan in mind. I don't believe in plans. Or method. Or structure. Though if you operate by plans or method or structure, I don't believe there's anything wrong with that either. I've never been one to insist on a "right way" to do something. I will admit there are plenty of wrong ways to do things, but it's the results alone that tell the difference; I make no judgments on how one gets there. Me, I like to fancy myself a trier, by which I mean, not that I try lots of different things, but that I learn almost exclusively through personal trial and error.

Up to now, I've just been throwing up as much as I can as quickly as I can, hoping to figure out along the way what identity will emerge for the blog and what kinds of content work best for me and for my readers. So far, it's hard to tell what works for my readers, since they're imaginary, and, as for me, well, nothing is really working.

I have basically three kinds of content: 1) personal stories, 2) news stories from elsewhere that I want to share while also responding to, and 3) responses to pop culture entertainment that I'm consuming. The lines between them sometimes blur, and I try to bring something of my own life or personality to anything I write, but clearly the third kind of content has emerged as the bread and butter of the blog, only without the reliable income that that colloquialism is supposed to signify. Games and movies become my go-to because they provide an endless and easy supply of topics for writing about, for when I don't have anything arising organically out of my day to discuss (which, most of the time, I won't). I also imagine that, for the reader, they make for more interesting topics than my day. But those posts also typify the issue with my blog as a whole: I don't have very much substantial or original to say.

What exactly does it serve for me to spend a post discussing the third or fourth season of a TV series, which is not even its current season? If there's any recommendation to be made, it would have been made in a post on the first season. Who would even read a post concerning a later season of a show they're not watching? Or if they are watching it, then they wouldn't need the recommendation anyway. But am I writing reviews here, or merely sorting out my own thoughts on the material by putting them into writing? Do I avoid spoilers (because you never know who might be reading), or do I just say whatever I want to say (even if spoiler talk is usually associated with plot summary, which really doesn't serve anything)? Or what if I realize, halfway into composing my post, that there isn't anything I truly want to say about the topic, but I don't have any backup topic to turn to? Then it becomes an exercise in stringing together banalities to meet my self-imposed deadline, which is not interesting for anyone to read. Or, worse yet, when I don't have any thoughtful points to make but still feel like I should say something, the surest sign that I'm in trouble is that I'll start speaking in dramatic yet vague decrees, as though bestowed with biblical authority, about a work's surpassing quality. Which is exactly the tone of writing that I myself loathe in sports editorials, where, week after week, some jackass will take LeBron James's most recent performance in a meaningless regular-season game and conclude from it that he is (and shall henceforth forever be!) a greater or lesser player than Michael Jordan. Furthermore, journalism, criticism, analysis—truthfully, those have never been my area. As a wannabe writer, I always took more naturally to fiction and narrative (probably why my commentaries are always threatening to degenerate into plot summaries).

On those self-imposed deadlines, it's simply an unfortunate reality that, although the content tends to suffer when I begin to write out of obligation rather than passion, obligation has proven the more reliable engine for productivity, without which it would be too easy for me to descend into lethargy. Even so, I don't expect I'll keep updating daily. For the first two weeks or so, I was just trying to get as much content up as quickly as I could, partly so that, in the event anyone I knew ever found my site by Googling me, there would be enough innocuous crap on my blog that, after skimming through a few of my hopefully merely banal posts, they would see that it would not be worth their time to delve further into the archives, and so they would never stumble upon the really bad stuff. Afterward, even as the daily updates continued, I kept promising myself that I would never force it. But I was inspired upon reading that Shigesato Itoi, creator of EarthBound, has managed to post new writing on his website every day for over fifteen years, and I thought, for once in my life, I really ought to try, by which I mean, not that I should sample, but that I should make an honest effort. And what I've come to realize is that it's actually quite hard to keep up, especially as this is not my full-time job, but rather something I do in my free time alongside having a full-time job. Besides, who wants to read my daily updates talking about things I have nothing to say about anyway?

Finally, a lot of my writing is me responding to the media and entertainment that I consume, and so, in a way, it's like a dialogue. Except that, after I say my thing, the thing I'm responding to doesn't respond back to my thing, so, actually, it's not a dialogue at all. Really, it's me getting on a soapbox, speaking by myself and to myself, which is also not something I normally do. I'm actually much better at dismantling other people's arguments than presenting my own. The latter usually leads to me making those vague, dramatic statements. My point is that this blog is, in essence, one big, running monologue. Which is maybe not out of the ordinary for a blog, but I don't find it interesting. I don't find my voice in monologue to be interesting. Now, as this is a one-man operation, and I obviously don't have other voices writing for me, I'm actually considering inventing some other characters for me to post as, just to mix things up. Well, it's something to try, anyway. It may fail spectacularly (or, more likely, uneventfully). Or if not that, there will be other changes, in any case, gradually.

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