I have a had a deep sense of malcontent for a while now over blogging. It does not—in its current form—stimulate me much anymore, and more so, I have found there are less and less original voices on the blogging platform right now. Writers that have been mainstays for me for a long time are peddling out the same mundane crap on a weekly basis, just with a different banner on top. There is one Christian author, very well known, whose books I have read and blog I fervently followed until recently. The guy started to promote all these other things that just seemed to not fit in with what made him a great writer to begin with. That's totally cool for him but it gave me a kind of “I'll try to please everyone” vibe that I couldn't get with. That's when I really started to reflect on where I was taking my own blog. When I was about thirteen years-old, I started to write things down. It was more a method to keep my brain at bay than anything else. A canvas on which to vomit my hyper-speed thoughts and make some room for the barrage of daydreams that seemed to perpetually inhabit my mind. It was a simple process. Thought arrives, it goes in the journal. No filter. Over the years, I have filled note books in the same manner and took joy in it. It helped me process and deal with maturing and it helped me hone my craft.
The culmination of a lot of this was the release of my book this year. One would think that this major step would lead to certainty and security—not entirely true. I have been very fortunate with not only the sales of the book but also with the feedback. I have received so many encouraging emails and had countless discussions—both face to face and online—with people who have told me how drastically it has changed their lives and their perception of faith or addiction or something else. I try to take it all gracefully and I genuinely am moved by it (can't fathom it most of the time). The hard part is not letting it influence the way I approach my writing. This blog is a prime example. For instance, since I relaunched the site it has no longer been a blog but a journal. Originally, that was just me trying to be cool and setting myself apart from all the others. That and the fact that the word blog is like a cuss word to me these days. With the book being out and my most personal details exposed in the rawest manner possible, this blog and site started getting a lot more traffic. So much so that I started to get really fixated on it. I began to look at the content of other blogs more than the actual creative process of what my own mind was saying. Essentially, I started to follow rules and a formula. The first person who ever read The Second Lap in it's entirety was the guy who ended up editing it, my dear friend Clif. I was so nervous over that first 24 hours he had my manuscript. He mailed me the next day and told me I had an original voice and style and not to change it. Man, I was so thrilled that day because I knew he meant it.
When I say I started following rules, what I mean is that I started to target what people wanted to hear from me. I agonised over what to post and when to post it. I became a fake. That's not to say that I have been dishonest in what I have written online, it's just that the popularity of the posts had taken precedent over the purity of intent. And even looking at the word “journal,” a journal is supposed to be honest and raw. It is not supposed to be filtered or edited or sheened to a gloss. Blog posts do not change the world, really. They can influence people, start movements, and light fires etc., but that all happens when we shut down the computer and take action. I am a storyteller first and foremost and if anyone chooses to read those stories, then I am grateful. I would feel like a fraud and an egoist if I started spouting my thoughts like I had some sort of esteem because I type words on a screen (poet and I didn't know it).
For my future posts here, I aim to be as real and authentic as I can and get back to my inner voice. Some people may say “Dude, who really gives a crap?” That's a very valid question and the answer is most likely “no one,” but that also includes me in not giving a crap and embracing the freedom in being able to pursue what it is I want, without the fear of conformity or trying too hard.
[As a footnote: two weeks ago I was at a conference in London handling logistics for some friends of mine from Colorado. I met an amazing guy named CJ who runs a company that looks at movements and messages and how to belong in this world that seems to scream “branding” everywhere we go. At first I didn't quite get it, but after we hung out for coffee, I was a convert. The reason I mention him is because he has a brilliant mind and uses it in many ways—check his site to see what I mean. Podcasting is one of those ways and on the commute home today I was listening to him talk with Seth Godin. It's well worth twenty-five minutes of your time and I'll finish this post with a quote from Seth on blogging]
“The act of writing something down everyday that you believe, making an assertion, sharing something generously, teaching something. If you do that every day, you will quickly discover it's not fatal. You will quickly find yourself connected to fellow travelers. You will quickly force yourself to be more honest about what you're thinking and why.”