Thursday, May 24, 2012

Warning: Blog Rant Approaching

A few mornings ago, I felt profoundly disrespected as a reader. I frequently click links I see on Twitter, and I followed a series of links different people shared that led to blog posts that were vapid, transparent attempts at self-promotion — basically a complete waste of my time.

There's no shortage of vapid self-promotion on the Internet. What got me was that these links were not obviously in this class. They seemed to be earnest — failed — attempts to produce something people might want to read. The links came from people who hadn't written the posts themselves, maybe motivated by the desire to help fellow writers out.

I felt really annoyed, because in all cases, the posts started with a premise I was interested in, but then avoided saying anything new or courageous and devolved into self-promotion. I am pretty sure that, in one post, the author made numerous factual errors. People are wrong on the Internet all the time, of course, but this time I couldn't let it go.

As I thought about it over the next several days, I realized I was so annoyed because as I pointed my finger at these posts — which to me were sordid examples of disrespecting the reader in an effort to sell something — three fingers pointed back at me.

Is every post I write about something I believe in and care about? Something I care about people reading? Do I sometimes try to just feed the beast, writing posts just to write them? Am I treating my own readers well — both actual and hypothetical readers? Am I wasting my own time by producing vapid copy that no one would ever care enough to read, or that, worse, would disappoint anyone who tried?

Soon, I found myself making furious notes about the things I was thinking about.

I didn't want to write a bunch of posts about blogging. It's too meta, I told myself. I'm supposed to be using this blog to write about sex. But after generating a list of ideas two pages long, I was reminded of something all sex writers know: passion is a force to be reckoned with. I'm going to go with the rant, and if the notes I've made are any indication, it may go on a while.

There are three categories of posts I want to write about this:

-- Expressing outrage about common blogging "wisdom" that I believe is terribly detrimental
-- Asking what sort of writing is interesting and valuable to both writer and reader
-- Making these things specific by setting directions for this blog

Ultimately, what I want is to make this site more interesting, both to write and to visit.

I've asked myself whether a series of posts on blogging is the most useful way to go about achieving this goal, but this has become a case of "the only way out is through." I'm asking myself these questions all the time, and I think that if I don't want to end up taking a long, possibly permanent hiatus, I'm going to have to turn toward the blog rather than away from it and use it to explore the things I'm thinking about.

Really, these questions could apply to any type of writing. One thing I'm sure of is that a person should only blog about things he or she cares about, and writing is something I care about deeply. Here's hoping that by getting this rant off my chest, I end up improving this site and possibly even helping others get more out of what they're doing.

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