I write a lot of things to individuals that I sometimes regret not being able to share with the world. I wrote this letter to a friend in China who was spending too much time spinning a pen and fussing and not enough time making me happy with more of her great blog posts. I think most of what I’m saying here pertains to anyone, so with some minor edits, here’s why you should write a personal blog, even though you think everything’s already been said.
OK, I know this is long, but I can’t shut up when I have ranting to do. I’m like a chipmunk with cheeks a-puff, twitching and spinning, madly trying to find a place to spit out the seeds of truth.
Here’s my case for a blog, especially from you. Yes, the blogosphere is loaded with people’s travel journals. But are you really going to believe one person’s stories? And, once you start gathering a collection of opinions and impressions, you’re probably going to be looking for the ones that come from a person that resonates with you. The guy I found snarling about peasants being allowed onto the train or how wasted they were last saturday is not someone who’s opinion I’m going to place as highly as someone who takes a bigger view. Someone who is so academic they never dive into the thick haze of a boozy club isn’t going to give me what I want either. But I can learn something from both.
I started my blog long before I came to China or India because, like you, I just love putting words together and I wanted a way to do that more regularly. I’d also found out from years of email lists and earlier blog-like things that I really liked having people respond to my little comments about the universe. Believe it or not, you have perspectives that may not be new to a scholar, but that huge numbers of potential readers have never considered. I like to remind myself every now and then, when I’ve spent too much time around my creative overeducated friends, that there is a kid born every minute who has never heard Led Zeppelin. (Ok, feel free to replace that with your own culturally significant overwhelming first experience.) The result is that I’ve changed people’s lives with the silly things I write. And now I even have fans, people who write me because they are so moved, either to anger, passion, or thoughtfulness. That’s pretty cool. Hell, here I am writing to you. Hi. I’m Kai, your first official fan.
I should also mention how I set up my practice of blogging from the start. I knew I wanted to make this a regular, sustainable thing. If I made every blog post a “big deal” I would produce nothing. For the first several months of my first public blog, I wrote every weekday. I limited myself to one hour, so that no matter how busy my day seemed, I knew that this fit somewhere. I could think during the day, but when blog time came I sat down and immediately wrote for 50 minutes, allowed 10 minutes to edit and then, by my rule, had to hit “post” and leave it. Terrifying? Sure. But productive, too, and I’ve been learning and improving as I go. Things have evolved since then. I spend about an hour writing, five to ten editing and tack on another ten to fifteen to find and add a photo. I’m also not writing every day, and I regret that, but I’m happy for what I’ve been able to throw out into the collective consciousness.
So again I want to stress, most of all, to remember that this is a fun little writing practice for you. Don’t think about it any more than that. La la la I can’t hear anyone listening. Then know that no matter how often someone has said the same thing, the value comes when a listener who is the right person, at the right time in their life, responds to your unique way of ranting and has an epiphany. Or decides to look at their world in a new way. Or petitions their government to print plastic money.
Bottom line: I’m glad you’re around and writing and I’m happy to have found you. Keep ranting and scribbling about the world and I’ll keep grinning.