Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Greatest Sin (as a writer)

I give myself a task. I try not to over-complicate things because it's a perk that I am able to bestow upon myself as both boss and grunt. I can dictate the relationship at both ends, so in the the end, I give myself a task and I try to make that task reasonable.

That means that the task assigned is one that is easy enough to be accomplished but not so terribly dull that I get bored and uninterested.

By now, you, my wonderful readers, are probably wondering, “What the hell?”

That's fair.

My point is that I think of this blog in terms of a two dimensional affair when I should think more of the third dimension. The third being you, the reader. Reading through my posts, I see too much of the 'I' and not enough of the inclusive 'you'.

This past week, especially in the previous few days, I have struggled with the notion of what this blog should look like, what the purpose is and if that purpose is achieved. You have to have constant reassessments, or, as I seem to state every other post, you risk stagnation. So now, for this particular post, my task is to puzzle over my purpose.

I have done a spreadsheet (as suggested by my wonderful wife, with color coordination, too), filled that spreadsheet with planned blog posts for the two plus weeks I will be out of the country starting next month, and seen a potential flaw.

I write lots of personal posts. In multi-hued excel format, I saw clearly my tendency to write about my life, far more than I write strictly about writing.

I mean, the title of this blog is Fifty Book Quest, and yet- When do I actually get around to writing about the actual book part? Right? Lots of meandering quest stuff, not so much book stuff.

So here I am, looking at my pretty spreadsheet, my plan all worked out for my New Zealand trip and I see, writ like a blazing message from the land of Zeros and Ones, My Great Sin.

Or is it? Is it My Great Sin?

I write about my life mostly within the context of writing, but when it isn't all about writing, is it still okay? I thought about this yesterday and as I was driving home in the afternoon, I was reminded of a post I wrote about the ocean a short time ago. I can see more of the ocean now because the trees are mostly nude, the leaves dropped brown and dry on the ground, and the views of the ocean are unobstructed for far more of my trip. So I see the ocean, I think of that post I wrote, I make a connection with this tendency I have to write personal shit.

I feel much better.

Anything internal is shaped- gathered/ found- from external sources. If I write a story about the ocean it will be because of my life spent living beside the ocean and if I write about some landlocked place, it will be from the perspective of a person who grew up with the ocean as a constant companion. That post about the ocean is part of the story of me as a writer. It explains me internally by explaoning my external surroundings.

Perhaps I exclude the third participant in this blog relationship too much but if so, I do it because I'm honestly trying to chronicle the quest I experience. Without the quest, there are no books. Everything in life is intertwined. Everything in life is fair game for a writer, opportunities for stories.

The new writing dynamic, as I see it, must include process. Process is chronicled, for me, here, every day. It isn't enough to have a static, bound and printed, book. The digital nature of publishing demands fluidity, and I think what that means is that simply providing readers with a completed book no longer is the goal. The reader demands process, demands a level of interactivity; e-books with links, note taking ability, book message boards and fan pages and maybe well-done book trailers.

And I think readers want to know the whys and the hows.

Most important, though? My blog, my rules. Selfish and potentially alienating toward readers? Yes. But- and here is the deciding factor, the main point I kept coming back to in my head:

I enjoy writing this blog. As it is, in the manner it is, and I feel no compulsion to change.

Sometimes, readers, you make decisions, not based on best practice, but based on passion and love. Then you have to make the business choices that make passion and love work for you financially.

So. Here is my mind at the moment. I set a task for myself, I try to make that task reasonable, I move to the next task...


Julia Rachel Barrett said...

A. I'm glad I found your blog.
B. It's interesting.
C. I don't read your blog to discover 'me', but rather to discover you.
D. Don't over think it.

MT Nickerson said...

I appreciate your words, as always. I often feel that what I should be doing with the blog is not what I am achieving. Of course, that is over thinking my blog, my place on the interweb. I use this blog space to try to work out in words, my place. It is the uncertainty that I struggle with.