Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Whither blogging?

Copyright © 2010 Parade Publications, Inc.

This Danny Shanahan cartoon was in the July 4, 2010 issue of Parade magazine, a Sunday newspaper supplement.

I've been a blogger for over four years, and have found that no matter what else is going on in my life, blogging provides an outlet. "Blog" has become an all-encompassing term. Originally it was "weblog," a diary kept online. The word "blog," nonsensical as it is, describes what I think of as a newspaper column online, written by non-professionals as well as professionals. If you travel far into the blogosphere you can find all sorts of blogs, from the most personal to the most general, and everything in between.

I've seen blogs that are nothing more than collections of photos, meaning nothing to anyone but the blog author and family or friends. I've seen blogs that have a strong political viewpoint, some that are outright rants. It's OK. I can't read them all--not enough hours in the day--but I love them all because I love the idea of them all, which is self-publishing.

When I was 14-years-old I published a magazine devoted to comics, printed on an old spirit duplicator my dad brought home. I found the idea of publishing my thoughts, my opinions, irresistible. There's something in some people that causes this, and the bug bit me early. The thing is, I never aspired to be a paying, published author. I never thought of going into newspaper work, or writing magazine articles for pay, or being a best-selling author. I just figured that was for other people who had the discipline or the ideas to work on paper. Even so, I used to study authors' methods. I remember reading that when Irving Wallace researched a novel he wrote everything on index cards and then pulled out the cards for reference. Some writers, like Harlan Ellison, could without planning sit down at his portable typewriter--once he did it while sitting in bookstore window--and come up with a salable story. I soon came to understand that whatever gets a writer going is fine; there is no set way to be creative.

It's been a long time since I was 14; I'm 63 now and retired. I was working when I started the blog, "Paranoia Strikes Deep," in 2006 and named it that because I was paranoid. I had a paranoid boss since 1988. I've said paranoia is catching, but it can go away, too, when you're not being infected by the paranoia bug around you. Retiring on January 1, 2009, made much difference in my mental health. Then I found out I had cancer and needed an operation. I got through that, and now I feel I've been through a couple of growing experiences. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. That old cliché is true.

Blogging is another thing to me: freedom of the press. When I was 14 and told people I wrote and published my own magazine one of the first questions I got asked was, "Do you need a license for that?" and I pointed out the first amendment. I was surprised, even at that age, to hear that question because I thought it was a given that Americans would know anyone can publish without having to ask for official permission.

So, whither blogging? I recommend it. I'd like to see everyone in the world who has access to a computer and the Internet do their own blog. It would be wonderful to know that everyone was sharing their thoughts with the wider world. The Internet has made it possible, and I'm grateful for it.

Get a blog!

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