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Posts Tagged ‘independent writer’

Mazda under coverA wet day yesterday, plans for an Autumn outing scuppered by weather, so the car stayed under cover. I spent the day also in refuge, whiling away the time looking at blogs, and thinking about blogs, and making the mistake of trying to understand my own blog in relation to the blogs of others. It doesn’t work.

But anyway, I followed the trails of tags that I tend to tag my own work by. “Writing” and “Self Publishing” led me to aspiring writers touting their wares, like me, though I note most other writers and self publishers are still doing it for the money, or at least trying to, still desperately following the tired old model of chasing the money, and “recognition” of their own self worth, so I find little resonance there.

Other tags lead to blogs offering ten-step programs on how to turn your life around, be it mentally, spiritually or materially. And I note, slipped into the small print, there is usually a way of charging money – for a book or a prop – so little resonance there either.

The “spiritual” tag brings forth an evangelical fire and brimstone, while “blogging” itself hooks up all the so called life-style blogs, a well known phenomenon and oft encountered; they’re low on words, while rich in photography, a photography that depicts a romantically affluent “aspirational” life, of beautiful people wearing fashionable clothes, living in fashionable houses, doing fashionable things with a wide circle of beautiful friends who never say embarrassing things. They are the latter day equivalent of the life-style magazine, basically selling décor, and designer shoes to the unwary, equating worth with stuff. They do have a certain fragile, fictional beauty to them, but we do well to remember life is always messy out of shot, and even beautiful, designer clothed people go to the toilet like everyone else.

No resonance there either then. So what am I doing? Am I mad? Should I be chasing the money, the recognition, the mythical lifestyle too?

I think of basic linguistics, the analysis of which reveals when we speak to others the ordinary human being is doing one of three things: we are asking a question, we are answering a question, or we are making a statement. But the blogsphere, like the rest of the online world is not the real world, obviously. It is a medium through which pictures of life are presented in varying degrees of authenticity; it is a partial fiction, which makes it open to a more recent and peculiarly materialistic form of communication: selling a myth, or in other words: advertising, so people will buy stuff they would not buy ordinarily.

It wasn’t always this way. Online I mean.

I still have a website – http://www.rivendalereview.co.uk. I keep it for sentimental reasons, but it’s looking old fashioned and amateurish now, and has not been updated since 2011. It began life in 1999, so I’ve been writing online now for 16 years, which pre-dates the birth of many of today’s social media users, for whom this cheap myth-manufacturing medium is now such a given, they do not even know with each click they are being analysed and served advertisements. And perhaps it is my memories of life before the internet that so colours my own approach to it. Adverts were once anathema to the pioneers of the medium. We wanted it to be kept clean of the tawdry salesman. The internet was for the tech-savvy, for the engineers, the artists, the liberal anarchists who were going to change the world with openness and honesty and fellowship. I set up the Rivendale Review to be ad free. Now, like commercial TV, we just accept it. We accept the lie, and we all shop on-line, our wildest dreams just an idle click from never coming true.

I remember writing in the 80’s, sending stories off to publishers and magazines – and even the ones that didn’t pay wouldn’t touch my stuff. It was a poor state of affairs for an aspiring hack, but if you wanted anyone other than your wife or your mum to read your work, you had no choice but to do battle with it. So the internet was a miracle, that I could put words on-line, self publish them from my living room, and they would stay there, for ever, and anyone could see them, all over the world. I lost interest in the battle after that and began to really enjoy my writing. Self publishing for me has always meant something quite different to other online writers.

I suppose I’m still too caught up on that early vibe of liberation to care much for how the medium has developed, how it can now be controlled, analysed and exploited by the corporate net-savvy to turn the mega-bucks from our pockets, to read our thoughts and serve us ads even about the things we’re not yet thinking. But it keeps the internet running, I suppose, so people like me can free-load our non-commercial writings on the glossy, user friendly services of Google or WordPress, or wherever, so I’d be wise not to get too uptight about it.

My blogging is a little old fashioned – still about posing that question, then trying to answer it, or it’s about giving information, say if I’m talking about experiences, travels, places, books I’ve read. I do this for myself, condensing an experience into a more pleasingly crafted shape for future reminiscence. My blog is mostly fact with just a light sheen of anonymising fiction.

Our reasons for blogging are many and personal. I still don’t know why I blog, or why I even think what I have to say is going to be interesting to others. It’s certainly no more important than the thoughts or opinions of anyone else, and I’m hardly in a position to pedal an aspirational lifestyle. I prefer to keep mine private, as anything else just seems undignified, but I can at least assure you, both out and in shot, my life is a chaotic, designerless, unfashionable muddle. I suppose the thing is that we all think, we all have thoughts and opinions, but not everyone writes. So it falls to the writers to say what we think, whoever we are, whatever it is, and through whatever medium is open to us, and we must do it whether we believe anyone is interested, or even listening or not.

And we do it because it’s what we’ve always done.

It rained today as well.

The world is turning to water.

wet leaf

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