why I (key word I, me, my) write- Madelaine Mitchell-Ward


“Why I Blog,” by Sullivan, changed my belief that blogs are often solely a way to delve into self and garnish personal attention from the masses because eventually, “you end up writing about yourself”(3). However,  Sullivan considers a blog to be more of a conversation between the blogger, the links and the Internet audience. The links provide more information and, “greater accountability, transparency and punctiliousness”(4). Sullivan focuses less on writing fueled by self interest and personal attention and more on the need to enter into a conversation about a given topic.

Sullivan is not exactly objective when it comes to comparing writing or reporting to blogging. Sullivan writes that blogging is “exhilarating literal liberation”(3), stating that bloggers have to “walk the walk of self- correction”(4). He distinguishes differences between the two but also enjoys putting the blogger on a pedestal; as someone “splashing gamely into a subject and daring the sources to come to him”(7) and writing that “blogging is therefore to writing what extreme sports are to athletics”(3).

If bloggers are more daring, George Orwell may want to try blogging, describing his struggles with political accuracy and opinion while keeping within his stylistic aims. Orwell’s blurb about the chapter full of quotations, a reviewer asking, “Why did you put in all this stuff?”(4) could have been solved in blog format with hyperlinks. Out of Orwell’s “four great motives,” three apply to blogging quite clearly, which surprised me, as I hold Orwell in a different category than a blogger. “Sheer egoism,” “historical impulse” and “political purpose” seem to drive blogging as well as writing and the “desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts” seems to be a common thread. Aesthetic enthusiasm at first didn’t seem applicable to blogging, however, in writing to an audience (or to “friends,” as Sullivan describes his readers), a certain aesthetic is most likely used to attract that audience. Aesthetics might also be apparent  by just the natural differences of stream of consciousness between bloggers. However, Orwell writing about the “pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story”(2) highlights what a blog is missing, or what makes it different. The thoroughly thought out prose, rhetoric and story seems very important to Orwell and lacking in the blogging world.

Another variation is the difference between the writing processes. Sullivan discusses in-the-moment thought, while Orwell plays movies in his head to make stories on paper. Joan Didion takes a very different approach. She sees pictures “quite specifically…images that shimmer around the edges”(1). Sullivan’s ability to manipulate images by the structure of sentences is form working with content, interdependent on one another; “the picture tells you how to arrange the words and the arrangement of the words tells you what’s going on in the picture”(3). Didion’s story is shaped by her mental image and how it is described, and that creation is different than the political aims of Orwell and the stream of consciousness of Sullivan.

Writers begin work differently, which is something I never really paid much attention to. However, Sullivan, Orwell and Didion all write because they need to express themselves, as Didion writes, “…three short unambiguous words that share a sound, and the sound they share is this: I, I, I”(1). All mention doing work to share their thoughts. So blogging isn’t the only thing that is driven in self-interest, self-expression; writing is too.  In writing, maybe self interest is necessary.

2 thoughts to “why I (key word I, me, my) write- Madelaine Mitchell-Ward”

  1. I love your connection of the blogging-sphere and old-fashioned Orwell! All I could imagine for a paragraph or two was Georgie Orwell in front of a Mac hating the digital footprints he was leaving – 1984 The Sequel: starring Big Apple (Big Brother unfortunately moved on to bigger totalitarian roles).

  2. Madelaine- I found it very interesting how you were able to connect all three of the writers’ beliefs together. In fact, how you ended your blog still has me thinking! Bringing all types of writing together and under this idea that “in writing, maybe self interest is necessary” is quite an intriguing theory to explore.

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