Monday, December 04, 2006

Interview with a vampire...

...the vampire being me, since I've gotten into this habit of getting up unreasonably early even on my days off. Future nurses, be warned: Your circadian clock will be an early career casualty. Right after your social life and waistline.

Anyhow. I had a fun interview with a writer for Nurse Week/Nursing Spectrum yesterday. We went over the whole "how to get started as a nurse blogger", "how to protect privacy", and "tips for new bloggers" thing, and then she asked a tough question:

Why start a blog?

Not only that, but she asked it three times, in three different ways. This, by the way, is one of the cardinal signs of a good interviewer: restating a question in order to get a slightly different perspective each time.

So why blog? Why write, for that matter?

I subscribe to the theory proposed by Isaac Asimov: that every writer is, at heart, a cheerful monster of ego. You *have* to be, to write anything; your assumption is at the outset that somebody will read what you're putting out. More than that, you assume (if you're published) that they'll pay to read what you're putting out. If you blog, the assumption is that they'll ignore the rest of the World Wide InterWebWonderNet and click over to your site to read what you say.

Sure, you start blogging to vent steam about work, or to share stories you think are important. Or you start out as a person who gathers nifty links from hither and yon and puts them into rational order, but before you know it, you're commenting on those links, and then on others, and then you're actually writing.

So the thing that starts a person blogging is usually specific. For me, it was Beloved Sister (who is actually a *writer*, as in, that's what she does and she's been published, and stuff) saying, "You know, you really ought to write some of this stuff down."

But what keeps me writing is my own cheerful self-regard.

Would I write if nobody ever commented? Probably. I went for a year with no comments enabled on the blog. I'm not looking forward to the day when people quit reading, though; it's valuable to have feedback in comments and in email.

Would I write if what I was putting down turned out to be absolute dreck? Oh, hell yeah. Because, you see, (and this was part of what we discussed in that interview) nine times out of ten, the stuff I dash off without thinking that I later regard as absolute slop is the stuff that rings the loudest bells with other people. It's the stuff that people comment on, that they email me about, that they say touches them.

(This is not because people who read this blog like junk. It's because my mental editor is turned off when I dash something off, so maybe the voice is different. More honest, less contrived.)

At the end of the day, the answer to the question "Why write?" is "Well, 'cause I gotta." On some level, life is better now that you're writing, be it in a journal or on a blog or for a Major National Publication. Things may not have turned overnight into Caramel Apples and Puppies For Everybody, but they're *better*. When you don't write, things aren't as good. You end up with a lot of things to say, all backed up in your head, and your thoughts get all tangled and weird.

Writing, be it on a blog or on paper, is the mental equivalent of a nice hard workout. You do it at first because you feel like you ought to, that there's something you ought to be saying. Later, once the endorphins take hold, you do it because you have to.


Anonymous said...

Well, Jo, whatever the reasons you write, I'm glad you do it. I read a bazillion blogs (mostly nursing related) and yours is my favorite.

joan said...

just wanted to say thanks, cos I was on the point of giving up blogging, dispirited after about 2 months, but now I am going to keep going. Maybe I need to, and maybe I'll reach that point where I have to.

Anonymous said...

You put that very well, Jo!

And a big thanks from me, as your blog (and Geena's) were the main reason I got into blogging in the first place...

Janet said...

Well said, Jo! A book you might like, if you don't already know it, is "Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg.

Jo said...

You guys are such flatterers! Thank you.

I've never read anything on writing. Perhaps I should, now that it seems like I'll be blogging for a while yet.


shrimplate said...

I complain, therefore I am.

Cartoon Characters said...

I used to write when I was in my 20s so I could sort out my thoughts.

I now blog because I am losing my memory....and there are some things that I want to put down before I lose it altogether.