“The heart and soul of blogging is the individual and/or the group of individuals opining on the fly and responding post-haste to one and all.”
~ Michael Conniff
Let’s talk about blogging while I’m still an inexperienced novice wandering through the medium. It’s the blogging and not the writing that makes it different since I’ve actually written before. In fact that story is probably worth telling.
Way back in the early days of personal computers, I had bought my first computer by mail. It was actually a plastic bag of parts and a circuit board and when competed had a whopping (hold on, please) 256 BYTES (not kilobytes, megabytes or gigabytes, BYTES) of memory. It was programmable in hexadecimal, and could be expanded to a whopping 8 kilobytes of memory, connected to a mechanical teletype and its programs saved on cassette tape. There was a booklet available for this computer, back before there were many computer magazines or real personal computer books, and I was so impressed I wrote a thank you note to the author. He suggested that if I really liked it, I should write a review and submit it to one of the three (3) computer magazines for publication. I figured, what the heck, and did just that.
Seeing my name in print emboldened me, and about a year later, as the first computer magazines began to hit the mainstream (Dr. Dobbs Journal, Byte & Kilobaud) I wrote an article about how I had used a computer with my oldest daughter who is profoundly handicapped. I figured that with a published article I had reached the zenith, but two things happened. The first was I received (are you ready for this?) a form letter looking for books for the computer Book of the Month Club by Tab Books. The mailing gave a list of possible topics, one of which was pocket computers. Now this was before PDAs, BlackBerrys or such – in those days there were a few computers that could accept tiny programs written in BASIC (Beginners’ All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) that actually fit in a large pocket. I expressed my interest, they accepted, we had a contract, and I found myself staring at a tremendously large stack of blank white paper.
I began to work on the book, albeit slowly. I took the advance and bought a Squire (by Fender) electric guitar and practice amplifier. The guitar gave me something to amuse and challenge me whenever I hit writers’ block. In retrospect, I think I claimed writers’ block whenever possible. I don’t know if this was due to a desire to learn to play the guitar or an adult version of wiaitng until the last minute to write a term paper.
During this same time my day job was managing a Radiology Department in a hospital. One day I received a phone call from Rick Martinez who told me that he had heard I did some writing and would I be interested in writing for a new magazine called Administrative Radiology? I wrote a serious article or two, and then, spurred on by this success I pushed to write a satire column based in a fictional hospital called “Pandemonium General.”
Bottom line is I finished the book. Several people bought it and I wrote both occasional serious articles and a monthly satire column for 18 years for “Administrative Radiology.” Later, I also wrote a monthly column for “73, Amateur Radio Today.”
Now that I’ve dragged you through all that, the question remains, “How does this compare to blogging?”
So far, I’m not quite sure. When writing for a published magazine I had an editor and he or she would make changes to help the article flow better. As a blogger, it’s just you and me. On the other hand, when I write something today, you read it today – not months later. The other part that is very different is that when I wrote for the radiology journal, I knew it was healthcare managers to whom I should aim the article since they were the most likely readers. Likewise for the ham radio magazine or the computer book. With a blog, it’s an open door to everyone; I can either try to write to please everyone, or just write as I always have and hope the people who like that style stop by. If I were a good enough writer to please everyone, I’d be writing exciting stories to be turned into blockbuster movies. So I guess that means I’ll just write as well as I can and hope it’s thought provoking or entertaining.
The biggest appeal in deciding to blog was the chance to see people interact. My hope is to plant a seed of thought and watch others help it grow. It’s an opportunity to brainstorm with the whole world. In traditional brainstorming, someone in the room throws out an idea. Someone else may say, “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard, but if you turned it this way, it would work.” It’s a positive experience for all involved and no one takes offense at having their idea changed. My goal is to make this blog is like brainstorming – with a heck of a lot more participants..
Setting up the blog was far more intimidating in thought than in actuality. Once I actually got started it fell into place fairly easily. Having said that, I have no doubt that I’ve left pieces unattended that may come back and bite me later. If so, I’ll be happy to share with anyone who’s interested. In the meantime, I’m sure there’s a good laugh or two at my expense coming up.
By blogging I’m looking for others who like to share thoughts and the thinking experience. I know there are a whole lot of us who are looking for a place to share ideas. Here’s the place.
“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”
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