There are some people who can’t help but write. These people all have their own styles, their own intentions, their own “demons” (which Orwell mentions in his essay “Why I Write”) that keep them going, and they’re all addicted. Despite the change in medium over the years, writing remains one of the best ways to get an opinion, get your views, your personality, out to the masses.
Didion, Orwell, and Andrew Sullivan all can not stop writing. All three are concerned with getting their views out there, whether it’s a novel that takes a year to develop, a newspaper article that goes through several painstaking rounds of edits, or a blog in which you just spat words of passion and fury onto a screen.
In their respective “Why I Write/Blog” pieces, they talk about something that keeps them going—for Didion it’s opening access to her brain, for Orwell it’s political purpose, and for Sullivan the thrill of prescience. That’s great, everyone has his or her own reason for writing. But what sets the type of deliberate writing that Orwell did apart from Sullivan’s miscellaneous postings on the World Wide Web every few hours, is the ‘unfinished’ nature of the blog.
In my opinion, neither Didion or Orwell would be very good bloggers. Didion has a more “get it all on the paper” style, which might seem like it’s good for blogging, but as Sullivan puts it, blogging is superficial—readers don’t really have the patience to take an everyday circumstance and wonder what might have been, what could have been, and for the author gradually get his/her point out halfway through the fifth chapter through some symbol that the teacher pointed out.
Orwell, on the other hand, wants to get a viewpoint out there, and put some political purpose in his writing. But as a novelist, Orwell always got the last say. When posting a blog, you’re not finishing an argument—rather if you’re doing a good job, you’re probably starting one. You’ve got to respond to comments, interact with your readers and other bloggers. You can have political purpose in a blog, but people won’t take the time to soak it up and think about your ideas for a few days like they would when reading a book. Rather they’ll probably write an illogical angry argument strewn with grammatical errors within minutes of your posting.
As for me, now I’m a veteran blogger, but I still don’t think I’ve gotten the full blog experience. I appreciate the comments I get every week from my blog group members Kit and Annika, but the blogs we’re writing are mostly reflective, and don’t elicit a ton of heated debates in the comments section. Posting something controversial, that everyone in the world has access to, and being ready to respond to the haters, is what blogging is all about. I am excited to see where my fitness blog takes me, as I think that could be a forum for some great (and maybe contentious) conversation.
One question I have, that occurred to me when reading Sullivan’s essay, is about the hyperlink. Does it limit creativity? I know it’s a great way to support your ideas, but does tethering your words to someone else’s work hamper the creative process that is so essential to writing? I can’t answer this one, but I’d love to see what Didion and Orwell thought about that aspect of blogging, and if they would like it.
Going forward, I want to be fearless in publishing my own viewpoints and ideas. Getting them out there to a large audience is possible in today’s digital age, and I have confidence that my ideas are meaningful and have a place in society. So, as Orwell said, I’m going to write with ‘political purpose’ in the broadest sense of the term, and I’m going to do it in a creative way that shows my personality in full force. That’s the only way people will listen. I think that blogs, and short online articles is the #1 way to get my views to reach others my own age.
However, connecting with young readers online has two sides, and can mean you lose a shot at getting the last say in an argument if you don’t play your cards right. Learning how to respond to online criticism in an intelligent and thoughtful way will be a very important skill for me to develop as I mature.
So far in the Minor in Writing, I’ve learned how to capture a young audience in several different ways, and I plan on continuing the use of multimodality in my personal writing, because I think it’s such a great way to connect with the reader.