"Why do people blog?" a friend asked me. He seemed fascinated that I actually own a Linkedin group consisting of 25,000 members worldwide who do this thing called blogging. I did what I usually do when people ask me for something personal, I told him why other people do it but never told him why I do it.
It's certainly not for the thrill of seeing my name in print. I got over the thrill of being published pretty early in life . At the urging of Nancy Williams who was my high school newspaper advisor, creative writing teacher and journalism teacher. Ms. Williams and I spent a lot of time together so she had a lot of opportunities to hound me until I wrote and submitted my first article to a nationally published magazine when I was 17 years old. To my surprise, I got paid and my article was published. Yes, I was thrilled but I was 17 years old and had lots of testosterone and caffeinated soda in me so a lot of things thrilled me then that don't thrill me now.
I was on a roll for the first few years of my semi-professional writing life. I wrote and submitted articles to a lot of magazines before I got my first rejection. I was incensed and offended more than I was disappointed.
Over the years I thought I was a writer only because I sold articles to newspapers, magazines, journals and such but recently I realized that , to some extent, I have been making my living as a writer even when I wasn't sending query letters to editors.
My 10th grade English teacher, Tom Morgan, sort of predicted this. Sort of. He once told me that, because I can write and most people can't, I would get jobs, promotions and do better at whatever career path I chose simply because I can write better than most people. He was half right.
Half right because I hate to write and didn't gravitate to the kinds of things writers often gravitate to. And even when I did, I sometimes hated the job and looked for something else to do. If I really do have a gift as teachers have been telling me since 8th grade, I don't deserve it because I really hate writing.
So I'm not sure why I do this disintermediated blog thing. I haven't tried to monetize my blog so I don't do this for the money. I lost the thrill of seeing my name in print after I sold my third or fourth article so I don't do it for validation or ego.
I think I do it to discover who I am - or maybe to recover who I used to be when I was young and fearless and didn't have that little self-editor sitting in my ear telling me "You can't write that, you'll make somebody mad" or "you'll get sued."
I recently discussed this with Mark Wolfe at the Macia holiday party and Mark seemed to understand exactly what I was saying. I need to discuss this with him some more.
Sometimes I write to find out what I'm really thinking. I have sometimes talked myself out of something - changed my mind about something mid-article which meant that I had to start all over and re-write the whole thing. But that's OK. In fact, that's great because I'd rather be right than to just think I'm right so if I can change my mind just by poking at this keyboard with two fingers then I need to do it. Most of the time I don't even bother to edit my posts, I just write them and hit the publish button. I tell myself I'm just using my blog as a placeholder for stuff I'll develop later. Sometimes I actually do that but most of the time I'm sick of writing after a few paragraphs and just want to click publish and not think about it anymore.
I hope some of the members of The Blog Zone on Linkedin see this post and ask themselves why they do this disintermediated thing. And then I hope they tell us why they do it.