Monday, June 07, 2010

Voyage to the Centre of My Navel

Okay, so this blog has been devoid of real content for a solid month now. Part of this has been due to writerly funk, part is due to a dearth of ideas, and part is due to the following:

Recently, I had the slightly-creepy realization my blog has similarities to those evangelical Christian newspapers you can pick up for free. If you've ever rustled one of those open by mistake, you know the articles start out sounding concrete and relevant to the modern world and then wriggle themselves into a sermon. That's not necessarily a bad thing, provided you're feeling open to some spiritual inspiration that day, and are sympathetic to the Christian worldview. The problem is, I'm pretty humanist and geekish, and I get suckered in specifically because the headline implied the article was going to be a lot more worldly than it is. Thus, I tend to feel let down as soon as I realize the article is essentially an opinion piece about religion.

And therein lies the reason I started feeling disturbed by my own blog. A bunch of my posts are essentially opinion pieces about publishing and writing, and I do have a tendency to start out talking about one subject and then twist it around until I'm talking about writing. Again, that's not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a form of bait-and-switch, and I wonder if my audience (o hai, u guiz) occasionally feels annoyed by it.

The reason I do all this is because I'd like my blog to be genuinely helpful and informative to other writers, but oops, I don't necessarily understand that much. Frankly, I'm grubbing for topics here. And what I do understand is specific to me; the more I learn about writing, the more I realize there're a thousand ways to do it well, and everyone has to figure out their own personal method. Employing other people's techniques is, at best, a character-building exercise to help you achieve your own unique style a little faster. Thus, my views are--by definition--of limited utility to others because they're mine.

I don't know how to sort this out. I could relax my criteria for what I blog about to include personal stuff, whimsy, and unfinished thoughts. However, then I worry about what Kate In The Closet said in her very useful series of posts regarding creating an author website. She said: "[T]he purpose of your site is to get your user to perform a specific action".

What's my intended action for you? To have you keep coming back. Yes, I'm out to ensnare your minds, my sweet unsuspecting pretties. And I want to do it with quality content.

However, personal stuff, whimsy and unfinished thoughts aren't necessarily quality content. They're better than no content, and not-blogging is the thing I'm struggling with lately. Nevertheless, I worry that blogging about stuff that isn't specific and thought-provoking could be more harmful than helpful to my aims.

I probably shouldn't overthink this. It's just a blog, right? The bar isn't that high.

So I'll wave the standard white flag and just ask: What sort of things would you guys be interested in talking about? What topics do you think it would be cool to read about? What kinds of fluff would you enjoy?

Author website: J. J. DeBenedictis

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