‘All art is quite useless. So is a flower.’ Marlene Dumas, Oscar Wilde, oil on canvas (2016).
I started this blog earlier this year after a friend encouraged me try it for just three months. I wanted to record the ideas I’d been coming across in podcasts and books that have had an impact on my life. I’d scribbled notes in journals but I wanted to bring them together in a more coherent way. I also wanted to share the links I’ve found useful. And connect with people interested in similar things. It wasn’t so much about writing – I think I’m better at story-telling than essays – as about sharing. Except I wasn’t sharing the posts. I hadn’t found the courage.
So recently, I made them public, and after years of working with writers, as an editor, I found myself on the other side. Though I’ve had work published a few times before, I’d forgotten how it feels to put your ideas out there. There were moments when I started to lose sight of why I was doing this. I forgot about how much I’d enjoyed writing over the past few months, when it was just for me (as it should be). Also, I’ve always felt some ambivalence around blogging, and still do. I often think of this line from Milan Kundera’s Book of Laughter and Forgetting, published in 1980: “Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding.”
So this past week I’ve been rereading and listening to some of the things that initially inspired me. Like this brilliant article by Maria Popova, where she writes about why we should do what we love and offers a balanced perspective on writing in the age of likes and follows. (You can hear more on this episode of the Tim Ferris Show.) Then this morning, I listened to the interview with Seth Godin that finally convinced me to give blogging a try. I can see how writing these posts has made me a more attentive reader and listener, has helped me to form connections between ideas, and encouraged me to review put into practice things I’d forgotten. This is what Seth has to say about blogging:
Even if no one read it, I’d blog every day. I think everyone should do so. Here’s the reason. If you know that tomorrow you have to say something about something you noticed, or that may help someone else, an opinion that might stand the test of time, you’ll form the opinions, you’ll notice those things, you’ll invent that idea.
If day after day, week after week, you leave this trail behind you of thoughtful examinations of your world, you can’t help but get better at whatever it is you do.