Saturday, February 13, 2010

Born to Blog

~ The following essay is the one that recently aired on our local PBS station, WVTF, and it appears in its entirety here. You can listen to me reading it at the WVTF website.

When I first started blogging in March of 2005 many people asked, what’s a blog? Less people ask me that same question today; I like to think because my answers have been informative, but I know it’s more because blogs are in the news, everywhere these days.

The word blog, short for web log, is a web page that’s updated daily. Sometimes referred to as citizen publishing, blogging appeals to my sense of self-sufficiency. It’s like having my own online magazine that I post an editorial to each day. As a writer, it allows me to hone my skills, build a readership, and create a time-capsule record for my descendents, all at the same time.

Although I have some computer savvy friends who have helped me out along the way, most of my computer skills are self taught and ongoing, which is why I was at the Floyd library recently checking out a book on blogging. While doing so, the librarian looked up from her task and asked me, “Have you ever read a blog?”

“Yes, I actually have one, I confessed.

“Isn’t it tedious? There are so many of them,” she continued.

“You find the ones you like; in the same way you’d check out only one or two magazines,” I said, gesturing to the magazine rack. “You don’t have to read them all.”

On the ride home from the library that day, my conversation with the librarian continued in my mind and went like this: “Let’s say you check out a gardening magazine,” I said to her, “and in it find an article you like. Wouldn’t it be great to have instant access to its author? With blogging you can, because it’s interactive.”

My imaginary librarian was listening and nodding her head now.

“As one blog discovery leads to the next, before long networks and communities are formed,” I told her. “Blogging friendships are often based on what bloggers have in common, but sometimes they are based on differences. This past year I’ve made some unlikely blog friendships that have given me glimpses into lifestyles very different than my own.”

“Tell me more,” the expression on the librarian’s face seemed to say.

“Well, there’s the pony-tailed artist, chemical magazine editor, who works in New York City and lives up the road from where the Sopranos is filmed; there’s the performer, playwright, and composer, living in Los Angeles, who has an engaging personality and lots of famous friends; and a free spirit raising twin daughters in Istanbul who’s blog mission statement reads, “trying to save the world before bedtime.” Some of my blog friends live near oceans and post seacoast photos that ease my homesickness for the Massachusetts peninsula I grew up on. Of course, regional blogs are on the top of my daily reading list, and there are several good ones right here in Floyd,” I told her.

She was smiling, with her eyes slightly widened, and so I continued.

“After two of my brothers died a month apart in 2001, I wrote a book about it,” I explained. “Some readers come to my blog to read my writings on grief and loss, a subject I continue to explore.”

“And you’d be surprised,” I went on, “how many people follow my Scrabble games at Café Del Sol via my blog. More than one reader has commented that Floyd is like the acclaimed TV show “Northern Exposure,” Southern style, especially after the entry about the deer that crashed through the Café Del Sol window and thrashed about, wrecking the place. There was a photo included with that entry of the boarded up door, bearing a sign that read: Café Del Deer Crossing, and Bambi Was Here.”

She laughed before getting more serious. With a slightly wrinkled brow, she posed a question, one I had heard before. “Don’t you feel exposed putting your personal writing on the internet?” My imaginary librarian asked.

“Sometimes, especially in the beginning, I did, but then I asked myself ‘What difference does it make to a reader whether they read a commentary I wrote in the Roanoke Times or on my blog?’ I consider every posted entry to be a published document and keep that in mind.”

“Mostly, I blog because I love to write, and I know that when you share what you love to do, it grows larger in you. I think I was always a blogger just waiting to happen,” I said in conclusion.

By then, I was pulling into my driveway and up to my house, anxious to get to my computer and check my blog comments for the day.

~ Originally posted on loose leaf notes on November 18, 2006.

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