Thursday, October 26, 2006

Like An Atmosphere Without Oxygen ...

How's that for dramatic?

Blogging etiquette suggests that if you don't have anything to write about, you simply shouldn't write. People don't care about why you haven't written, the reasoning goes.

And maybe that makes sense for some bloggers. People who blog about video games or cats or soccer.

But it's a very weird feeling for a writer to feel as though she has nothing to write about. And sometimes, the best thing to do is to write something - anything - just to be writing. In the same way that exercising gives you energy, the act of writing - typing, longhand, whatever - seems to wrench the writer in us back into action. Spray a little WD-40 on me and I should be good to go.

When I was a junior in high school, I spent the first semester with English Teacher Dave (who I've written about before, and who is a good friend to this day). I spent the second semester with a woman whose grasp on reality was slipping. That's not me being mean, it's the truth.

She was in charge of the school literary journal. (I went to high school at a time when there was actually money in the budget for things like a literary journal; these days, schools seem to be lucky if there's money for football.)

One day, we spent our class period collating. She had laid out the pages on our desks, and we walked up and down the aisles, picking pages and putting journals together.

That semester, I got a B. I was furious. I went to see Dave. "How did I get a B in collating? Weren't the pages in the right order?!"

My grade didn't change, I remember that. But I do remember this:

One of my classmates once wrote (and read aloud to the class) an essay on creativity, and the line that has stuck with me to this day is, "You can't be creative on cue." Kevin Frommer wrote that, and it couldn't be more true.

When your job relies on creativity though, that's a problem. Steel workers can continue to make steel. Accountants can do whatever accountants do. But a writer who finds she has nothing to say? Uh oh.

Having a blog means writing. Nothing irks me more than blogs that go unupdated for weeks at a time. I feel a connection with my readers, and it's rude to leave them with nothing to read if they take the time to visit. Otherwise, it's as though they've dropped by for coffee and I have nothing to serve them. How inhospitable.

But now it's time to start my work day. Happily, inspiration often strikes at the most unexpected moments. Being able to break from my job to write is one of the perks of working from home.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Ethan said...

"Having a blog means writing. Nothing irks me more than blogs that go unupdated for weeks at a time. I feel a connection with my readers, and it's rude to leave them with nothing to read if they take the time to visit. Otherwise, it's as though they've dropped by for coffee and I have nothing to serve them. How inhospitable."

Conversely, I'm feeling like my site is updated too often. Specifically the "articles" section, which can be most likened to a blog (without being a blog). The food and wine stuff, on the other hand, is an endless supply of material.

I suppose partly it comes down to what your expectations you have for the blog, and if you're playing to the stands, what the readers expect. Some sites don't bother me if they're updated sporadically as I have over 100 feeds to keep me occupied. If they really do go months without a peep, then yes, I get out the pruning shears. In the case of your blog, if that were to happen, I'd "phone first" and find out why the site has been dormant for so long.

As for my expectations of your blog, it's about you, and I figure you'll write something when the spirit moves you.

9:12 AM  
Blogger Jeff Hunter said...

Great, now I feel guilty for not writing for a few days. Thanks.

9:19 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

: o )

Oh, I'm sure my sense of obligation to blog is part of my latent OCD.

And Eth, thanks for your nice comment.

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read your blog (and several others) daily and I am so grateful that you write each day. There are several others that don't and it's almost a disappointment to "show up when they have nothing to serve." Your blog always has something to offer. Thank you.

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Ellen said...

Now I feel guilty as well.

11:45 AM  
Blogger OneMan said...

Kev was right you can't be creative on cue. I guess she only made her honors students do the colating, not level 5....

8:33 PM  

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