Why do I blog?

This is a question that everyone with an online presence (replace “blog” with whatever form of social media you use) should probably ask themselves. And today, I did. Do I blog for attention? For those little notifications that someone “liked” a post or commented on one? Do I get tied up in watching the stats of how many visitors I’ve had per day, and how many posts each visitor has viewed?

Often, the answer is yes. Yes, I do these things, I admit it. But the little thrills of pleasure when someone enjoys a piece or takes the time to read multiple stories I’ve posted are the hot fudge on top of the reason I blog. 

 I blog because I write. Because I’ll be driving and an idea will pop into my head and I will be forced to cling to that spark of inspiration by its thrashing tail until I can tap out my stream of consciousness into my phone at a red light. I drip water all over my computer keyboard after a shower because I am too impatient to dry my fingers off, afraid that the scene or line of dialogue in my head will disappear if I wait an instant. 

I blog because I write, and because I write, I want to be read. Of course, if no one ever read the words I put onto paper, I would write anyway. But just as no man is an island, no writer can be, either. Perhaps there are people who can only write for themselves; certainly, there are things I have written that will never see eyes other than my own (thank goodness). But, why create if no one ever sees the creation? What if Michaelangelo had kept the David in a closet? Or painted the work that graces the Sistine Chapel in his garage? Please don’t think I’m suffering from hubris and comparing myself to Michaelangelo. 

I think anyone who creates—whether it is fiction, non-fiction, art, film, architecture—anyone who takes something that existed only in the cloudy grey cerebral cortex and brings it to life, makes it concrete, does so not just for themselves. Hiding your work from potentially critical eyes, you will be forever blind to both its brilliance and its flaws. If you never expose your creation to the light of day, you will never know whether it will be Frankenstein’s monster or the Mona Lisa. 

And so, while I may overload Twitter, Instagram, etc. etc. etc. with the mundane and the banal, I try to keep that out of this space. I avoid posting mediocre work just to get hits and make my stats go up, I (try to) avoid rambling posts about nothing, and I look forward to feedback from readers and comment-ers. After all, with all the worlds created in our heads, it is good to invite others into those worlds every once in a while if only so that they can pull us out. 

Stop Reading?!

I was reading a blog post today about how reading can actually get in the way of your writing. At first I thought: that’s cray (crazy in 20 something’s speech). Then, as I continued to read, I realized the author was hitting home.

It took me a long time to like reading because I wanted to immediately skip from “Sam can run, Sam has fun!” to REAL books–that is books with chapters. But once it clicked, I was hooked. If I could read in the shower or while I drive, I would. Don’t say they make audiobooks for that, it’s not quite the same.

As I read the post and examined how much time I spend reading, which I convince myself is a better AND more creatively stimulating use of my time than watching tv, I realized I could be using this time to write or think about writing. It seems like when I’m in class or at work my fingers itch to work on whatever writing is in my head at the moment, but as soon as I get home all I want to do is curl up and read or watch a movie. Or spend an embarrassing amount of time on Pinterest. (Where is the Pinners Anonymous support group?? )

These things are all enjoyable and none of them are “wrong” but they’re all an escape of some sort. Don’t get me wrong, writing is an escape for me. I’ll write a paragraph and when I take a breath I have to reorient myself to my surroundings. But, it’s a more productive escape. I’m creating something rather than just escaping from the world that I should be observing and experiencing as a writer, even just as a human being.

Things like books, tv, and, for me especially, Pinterest show us all these things to do and make, these places to go, but we sit there and click “repin” instead of planning a trip, or doing that work out, or even just making those fancy cupcakes. Sitting at a computer pushing a button is not the same as standing on a beach in Greece looking out over the blue water and feeling the breeze. Trust me, I’ve done both. Pinning a picture of Santorini can never replicate or fully represent the smell of the sun on the stones and the way that peculiar shade of Mediterranean blue on the doors and roofs looks in the setting sun.

Even if you don’t write–or read for that matter–what I’m saying (to myself as well) is turn off the tv, step away from the computer, and put down your cell phone.

Go out and live.

If you can’t go to Greece just take a road trip. If you can’t create a Pinterest-perfect work of art, have fun trying and failing. You learn more from failure than you do from success.

So stop reading this. Get up from your computer. There’s a whole world out there just begging to be explored and experienced.