Monday, July 14, 2003

Why Do I Blog? An Apologia

I realize, now late into the game, that I've never tried to set down why it is that I write this blog. A million people have millions of reasons to write their blog: some sublime, some self-absorbed, some bad. I probably share all of these reasons.

1. I am a terrible writer. Well... not quite in that sense. But I have a deep flaw as a writer, which is that I stew and mull over prose for a very long time, much to the dismay of editors I've worked with. "No," I'll say, "I"m just not happy with it." They insist that it's fine, but I want to do another draft, although I can't quite say what it is that displeases me. Blogging, in contrast, is me spilling out my unformed ideas with no second draft. I'm hoping that this discipline of undisciplineness will make me a more agile writer. Someone said that mostly what writers do is re-write, and that's true, which is why, generally, blogging isn't really writing.

2. "Write every day." Richard Gabriel is a poet and computer scientist, and he's been writing a poem a day for more than two years. Partly it's a form of practice, and partly it's an exercise in quantity: like evolution, you create more offspring than the environment can support, and the best ones survive. He tells a story worth repeating of a arts teacher who taught a class of pottery. One half of the class, she announced at the beginning of the course, would be judged only on a single piece. They could make as many as they wanted, but only the quality of a single piece would determine their grade. The other half would be judged on nothing but the gross weight of their output for the course, with no adjustment for quality, upwards or downwards. The half graded by weight produced much better work. This blog is my attempt at being graded by weight: if I write enough paragraphs, presumably some of them will be interesting.

3. I have too many ideas. Related to point 1, above, I write slowly. Which means that for the last few years especially, I've had far more ideas than I have any useful outlets to pursue. Ideas for cool software projects, language features, random rants about technology. I plan to get to them someday, never do, and eventually someone else does it. So I put my ideas on the web for all to read and, maybe, profit by. I figure that at worst, nothing will happen, and I'm even. Maybe someone else will like an idea and run with it and get rich. Great.

Hmm. Reading back over what I just wrote, I realize that it's exactly the kind of self-absorbed, blogging-about-blogging crap that I wanted to avoid when I started. Well, so be it just this once, but I promise I'll be better. I suppose that this post is really an apology or perhaps better a warning: the kind of things I'll post in this blog may not be well-thought out, or sensible, or coherent (domain name notwithstanding). This space is my drafting board for ideas in progress. Hope you enjoy it.