Mon – February 23, 2004
I had a brief email dialogue with the officer who snapped the photo that forms the backdrop for the title bar above. She told me I was welcome to use the image, and added parenthetically that she just didn’t get this whole weblog thing.
And I kind of understood – there are as many different bloggers, styles and formats as there are different kinds of people. Or maybe a trifle less, call it n-1, where 1 = the hopelessly-computer-illiterate type.
So tell me, what are we all doing here? What am I doing here? I really want to know…
I discovered the idea of a weblog through National Review Online’s “The Corner . ” Hip, conservative, educational and funny, it was also relentlessly self-promotional and somewhat self-congratulatory. During the war, during the sometimes long hours between things, it filled up space while I tried to stay awake for the next strike to launch, the next strike to land.
The Corner eventually led me to the Instapundit . The Godfather of all of us, I suppose, even if he does sip the occasional blended puppy .
And from the fecund loins of the Instapundit, well, the whole blogosphere beckoned. The horizons seemed limitless.
I clicked all, all read, and came to the conclusion that I could do at least as well as some of them. Which is a far step indeed from having to do what the others did – we might imagine that we’d make a better newspaper delivery man than the one who throws our San Diego Tribune into the verge with unerring accuracy every morning, but we don’t all go out and agitate for his overthrow, hoping secretly to supplant him.
Oh, you could argue I suppose, that this is because of economic reasons – his job doesn’t pay very well.
But neither does this.
I guess I thought, “I’ve got stories to tell – tales of the sea services, San Diego, politics and culture…” And then I saw that Lifli had created a blogging tool just for the Mac, and jumped into the fray, giving it no more thought than the scorpion gives to striking. It was intuitive. I blog because I can. Because it’s there.
I look at my first entry, way back in October, 2003 . It was pretty clear that I was sticking my toe into the water tentatively, not knowing how it would feel, in there. I am in person a rather private soul. People may know me for years, and not have any idea how I come down on the issues of the day. Unless they ask, I will not volunteer. As a result, I’ve surprised some folks over the years, who think they know me, and ask my opinion on a subject.
So why did I feel that my entries would find any resonance? Did I write for you, gentle reader? Or did I write for me?
Open question. Although I do appreciate your comments.
It quickly became apparent to me that I wasn’t going to compete with Glen Reynolds for either traffic, or prolixity. I have a real job, so I write an entry after I get home from work, before the dinner bell rings. Sometimes it is not done before dinner, and I’m forced to finish it off before Law and Order comes on at nine. This stuff is time consuming, and I’m starting to wonder whether it is all worth it. And why I continue.
There are a lot of folks I agree with out there on the blogosphere – I do not often write to say, “Me too! That’s exactly what I think!” It’s already out there. So I’ve tried to find a niche. How many active duty carrier pilots are blogging? How big is that market? What, exactly, am I trying to “sell”? Passionate civility?
Some of my readers over the last few months have written kindly about my facility with writing. They say I write well. I take a certain pride in this, always have. But it is not enough, pace Larry McMurtry , to merely write well. One must also have a story to tell.
Back in 1993 I was recuperating from a motorcycle accident. Long story, 30 days convalescent leave. I figured, “Now I can start writing my book.” In typical Neptunus Lex style, I therefore bought a book, on how to write a book. It all seemed so easy.
It ended up being impossibly hard. I couldn’t write to my own standards. We are instructed to write on “what you know.” But focus on flying fighters, and you either 1) quickly bore your reader to death with mind-numbing detail, and / or 2) reveal classified information to the great uncleared. Because it’s hard to understand, and it’s technical and most folks frankly don’t want to know that much about how turn radius increases as a function of true airspeed, squared. They want to know, “how fast will it go,” and “how high will it fly,” and “is it fun?” The answers to which are “censored,” “censored,” and “yes, very.”
Gary, from The Owner’s Manual , was kind enough to include me in his hosting of the “Best of Me Symphony .” It was a nice gesture, and I very much appreciate it. My traffic has leapt, just as it did when Greyhawk, from the Mudville Gazette , mentioned me a month ago . (By the way, G – those are all great entries, and I’m honored to have been a part of them).
But then I snuck a peek in over at the Commissar’s site , and saw that there was a dispute in the sphere over “tricks ,” such as the Best of Me Symphony, Carnival of the Vanities, etc. Seems that some of the more “established” bloggers see this sort of thing as grandstanding, like the rest of us are getting ideas above our station. Perhaps we should call them “BlogoSnobs.”
My father’s house has many rooms. Get back in yours.
But if you put the time (not hard, but extensive) in crafting the mot juste, is it wrong to try to find a way to get your message out? I mean, this is a format that has existed for what, two years? Five at the outside? Do we really already have our very own Guardian Council , to sniff at our efforts and tell us to keep our noses to the grindstone kids, and maybe one day you’ll have traffic like mine?
And do we really care, what these people think? Are we writing for them, or for ourselves, and our (however constrained) faithful audiences? It seems to me that the blogosphere, in all its many-spendored hues, is the ultimate expression of both Athenian democracy (minus the whole “tithe to the metropolitan center” thing) and market-oriented survival of the fittest. What’s not to love?
I’ve always considered myself rather highly self-actualized – but now I find myself asking, “what is it you want from me?”
Well, what is it?
I suspect I’ll re-read this some months from now with a certain degree of embarrassment. Those dern vodka martinis.