To be a writer, you only need one reader. If you google “literary blogs” you will find those which gossip about literature, rather than consider themselves as literature. I am not interested in gossip, and abhor the clichéd thoroughfares of discourse. But I think blogging is my kind of literature, at least for now. . . .
First published on August 8th, 2006 as “Manifesto”
The post below disappeared at least 6 years ago, I don’t know how, never missed it till now. But the other day I was idly browsing a feature of Michael Peverett’s blog, his Index of Botanical Entries, of which he lists more than 500. One of these is on the Carline thistle, where he says “Sometimes it does look scruffy and a disgrace to its surroundings”. This immediately jogged my memory of a non-scruffy photo I’d once taken, but it took a long time to find. Now you can see it was merely a decoration, with no connection with what I wrote in the piece.
I find it heartening that the links to blogs of that era remain unbroken. Seth Godin posts every day: this is what he said recently, in marketing prose
The most important blog post is on the most important blog. Yours. Even if no one but you reads it. The blog you write each day is the blog you need the most. It’s a compass and a mirror, a chance to put a stake in the ground and refine your thoughts. And the most important post? The one you’ll write tomorrow.
Some of which echoes what I used to say, and still believe…
. . . Crawford Kilian is one of those who consider that blogs are a new literary form capable of the heights. Seth Godin, giving Advice for authors, strongly recommends a blog as a trailer for a book, starting three years before its publication. He also counsels against the mean-spiritedness of keeping the ideas for the paying readers:
Understand that a non-fiction book is a souvenir, just a vessel for the ideas themselves. You don’t want the ideas to get stuck in the book… you want them to spread. Which means that you shouldn’t hoard the idea! The more you give away, the better you will do.
The book as a souvenir—that’s a lovely idea. You go into a museum or art gallery full of priceless artefacts, then on the way out you purchase souvenirs: a bunch of postcards or a poster. And here we are not speaking merely of ideas, but of experience. Possess a book, and it languishes on your shelves like something washed up on a lonely shore. A blog remains on the public shelves of the world’s greatest library, available to every borrower.
For years, I “wanted to be a writer”, without considering what it meant. Not to be a journalist, not to write best-sellers, but once in a while to move others as I have been moved. It sounds so vague. More than anything else in life, I have treasured the magical anticipation when raw creative energy builds within me. What does it want to shape? Not till it manifests do we know.
In the paintings of Van Gogh, the novels of John Cowper Powys, and in music from Senegal and Jamaica, I find the very essence of what I want to do in . . . in these blog posts! I’ll give it my best.
As a young man, I was aware of intense pure impulses to feel and share. But I did not know how to deal with a magnetic force which tried to pull me away from the common world; an excitement which reached its peak in solitary contemplation but frustrated my attempts to bring it forth.
Now, Darius says: “You are extremely fortunate – and fortunate enough to know it.” Oh true! And how fortunate to spend the rest of one’s life sharing that knowing, so that others too can see that they are—can be—equally fortunate. It will be enough. It will pay my share of the tax that we each owe to this world—to give something back.
I used to be vaguely inspired by nuns in enclosed orders, “praying for the world”—an action with unprovable effect. But now our bright silk prayer-flags can flutter in the deep blue of the blogosphere, for all to see.