INSITEVIEW- - tom shugart's weblog

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Crunch Time?

Shelley, in her provocative comment to my previous post, sparks a thought about why writers--or others struggling with the demands of other endeavors—may be moving toward crunch time—why blogging seems to impose such a fierce competition for our energies—and why there may be so much difficulty with keeping a balance.

Perhaps it’s the phenomenon of the intoxication of audience feedback. And perhaps my attempt to make a parallel between blogging and a writer's correspondence and journal-keeping is off the mark because of this factor.

While I wasn’t a literary writer, I was a business writer and I kept a journal for nearly twenty years before I began blogging. Like the literary writer's journal, it was strictly a conversation with myself--no wider audience involved. It wasn't an attempt to speak to anyone--just an exercise in trying to make some sense to myself out of my experience of the daily vicissitudes of life—and to keep my observational skills and writing chops honed.

Some editor might get hold of these later on, if one happened to be a literary talent, and whip them into some sort of coherent work--which would then be distributed to a wider audience. But that's a far cry from what's involved in blogging. It's not what you were feeding on as you scribbled in your journal.

Blogging is like a hit of crack--providing instant gratification from audience feedback. Never mind the hangover of projects deferred.

Shelley implies that the hangovers may be catching up with us—leaving some hard choices to be made. Do we venture out from the crack-dens of popularity and audience feedback and pursue the projects that, originally, may have been more important to us—projects to which we said we were committed?

Can we develop imperviousness to the intoxication and go in both directions at once without deleterious effect to either? Is a reckoning looming as Shelley seems to suggest?

On the other hand, why not look at it from a more joyful angle—one provided by Elaine. One of the greatest gifts of being—as I am-- in Elaine’s age group is that our childhoods coincided with the Golden Age of Radio. To quote Elaine:

“Part of who I am today is because of radio – of those times when, eyes closed and mind open, I would spend hours creating other realities inside my own head, guided by distant voices and imaginal yearnings. . .

In my life, it all began with the magic of radio.

And it continues with the magic of blogging.”


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