The virtual world is a rapid moving one isn't it? It's embraced by kids who are young enough to be my kids. It's full of incredibly fast moving concepts and constantly evolving ideas, rather brilliant in many ways, slightly crap in a few others.
So as a chap who's now been blogging for the eternity that is, yes, over a whole year, I feel like an old hand. I also feel like a young woman but that's a side issue.
I've noticed that there are all sorts, there's a liberal splattering of every type of person that blogs. There are blogs one every subject one can think of. There are probably blogs centred around people who don't blog. Ones like this, listed on Kottu and Achcharu are primarily Sri Lankan in origin or content, but you'd probably sussed that out yourself.
I started it as something to do, I'd read many of the Sri Lankan blogs for a few months and just had a desire to give it a go. I know you'll be amazed, surprised and startled at this but I had no previous writing experience. I hadn't written anything since English "O" level. Letters and stuff maybe but nothing that required a degree of imagination or creativity. I had particularly admired blogs that were written by journos like Sach, Theena and Lady Luck. I know the good Lady Luck isn't technically a journalist but she writes like one, a medical one who can diagnose stuff and do operations and things too.
I'm not a writer, it's simple for me. There are the proper journalists, as I've mentioned and then there are the amateurs, those of us who just play around, chucking a few words and a few sentences out every now and then and hoping someone reads them. I've got total admiration and respect for professional writers, as I have for professional musicians, photographers and such. These are people who make a living from their field, that means that they have to meet deadlines and they have to make enough money to put food on the table. That's if they've made the money to buy the table.
I've also observed many bloggers who think that they're "proper" writers because they get a big readership or a lot of comments. I reckon this is a delusion, one which feeds egos but doesn't do any favours to the real writers. It's like being a prostitute, just without the sex or the money. We write crap, our thoughts on any random subject we want to. We don't rely on readership or potential readership to have to get it published, we just hit the "publish post" icon and it's that simple. Then people read it.
Up until a couple of weeks ago the whole blogging versus proper writing scenario was that clear in my mind. Then the whole Lakbimagate thing happened. All my nice thick black lines went fuzzy and blurred as the boundaries between professional and amateur went a bit mad. Something I had written in this blog got published in a magazine and I read it with disbelief. I read things written on their blogs by real writers like Pradeep Jeganathan and my head went all funny as I started to question the foundations of my principles.
I'm not a writer, I blog to fill some time when I'm at my desk. I find it interesting and I've made a lot of friends through it, but it's just a minor part of me. Coves like Pradeep Jeganathan and Sach are professional writers and they earn money from it. Now I read people saying that blogging might be changing the shape of the mass media, that it's a new way of publishing.
Wow. Journalists have blogs, bloggers write for newspapers, editors use blog posts in their newspapers and folks like us read them all. If I want to know about a recent event in Sri Lanka my second port of call is now the Sri Lankan blogosphere. My first is personal contact; phone, text, email or whatever with friends. But then I'll check on Achcharu or Kottu or look at my regularly read blogs to see who's saying what. The next day I might have a brief look at the Sri lankan papers online to see what they're saying. Only eighteen months ago the online papers would have been my number two. Now they're barely in the chart.
There are positives and negatives in this for me. A touch of discomfort when I read some blogs and realise that the writer actually thinks of themselves as a writer, but in fact they can hardly construct a sentence. Maybe I'm a snob like that, JK Rowling doesn't need to know the intricacies of grammar to be called a writer after all. But I think of the rules as building blocks and I know that proper writers have those blocks in place.
The positives loom large for me. Any idiot can have an idea or a story to tell and someone somewhere might read it. It doesn't matter if you don't know the difference between a colon and a vagina or if you talk in txtspk, someone will find it and read it. There's a whole wealth of good information that can be gleaned from blogs, there's some great writing too. Witty stuff and shitty stuff, it's all out there if you want it.
How good is that?
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