Blogs and other bric-a-brac
Writing a blog is much like having a garage sale. You set out your stall, with all sorts of intellectual trinkets: heirlooms from other writers and thinkers, ideas that you’re pretty sure you crafted yourself, bits and pieces you nicked from friends and acquaintances, snippets of inspiration from newspapers, books and even billboards. All the usual intellectual miscellany, waiting for the curious, the nosey, the bored and, with luck, the genuine buyers to sift through and appreciate. Those assorted aficionados of bric-a-brac flip through the wares, not expecting much and delighted when they find a gem among the tat. Some are naturally sceptical, some pointedly scornful, the latter making mental tsk-ing noises, their brains a lumpy frown as if they can’t believe that you actually kept that idea after all these years.
‘That’s sooo 60′s! I had an idea like that once but I tossed it out when I bought the Volvo.’
‘Quite right, too. Well, look at this! It’s just like the souvenir philosophy I got when we took that trip to Marrakech. Now, what have we here … this thought looks interesting.’
‘It’s a replica, dear. I should know. I have an attic full of them.’
I did actually have a garage sale once, at the tail end of the 80s. I was getting rid of everything – like throwing sand out of a balloon – so I could go travelling around the world. The experienced traumatised me, mainly because of the young couple who looked through my record collection, laughing derisively every few seconds.
Fortunately, I’m a lot more thick-skinned when it comes to what I write than what I listen to. I stand by my musical taste; anyway, no one but males between the ages of 11 and 60 takes musical snobbery seriously. Those sniggering twenty-somethings will be forty-somethings now and, if they’re lucky, they’ll have discovered the joys of Big Brother and the Holding Company and The Small Faces.
When I write a book, I do it on my terms. It’s my story and I set the rules. When I write a blog, though, I’m writing to a different set of rules: The universal rules of personal opinion. Not just mine, but the readers. Each blog is an invitation to each reader to test the mettle of their own ideas and pit them against mine. It’s a challenge. Which, I hasten to add, is a very good thing. I should be challenged; every opinion expressed is my own (with some allowance for being deliberately provocative or playing devil’s advocate at times) and is put before the public to be prodded poked or whacked like a piñata.
Response is the whole point. It doesn’t have to be an actual typed response in a comment box and posted back to me (the scarcity of those is proof enough) though I am delighted when there is. I’m happy enough even if the response takes place in the privacy of the reader’s home or mind. A blog should challenge both writer and reader, provoking a reaction from both.
Unlike a garage sale though, you don’t have to come early to get first crack at the good stuff. They’re here when you need them, as fresh as the day they were first posted. They may, on occasion, look a little worn around the edges and you can often pick those that have had the most use.
And if the person who bought my George Benson Weekend in L.A. album is finished with it, I wouldn’t mind having it back.