Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Zen and the Art of Satisfactory Blogging

Pirsig's thesis is that to truly experience quality one must both embrace and apply it as best fits the requirements of the situation. According to Pirsig, such an approach would avoid a great deal of frustration and dissatisfaction common to modern life

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, on the novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.Robert

M. Pirsig's first novel holds a dubious record: according to those nice folks at Guinness, despite selling five million copies worldwide, the original manuscript was rejected by a massive 121 publishers. It's one of the stories my Creative Writing teacher trotted out when he was trying to convince the class that not only a) is persistence a good quality in a writer, but also that b) believing in yourself is vital. Knowing WHY you write is as important a specification as what you write. Someone asked me why I do that yesterday, in an extremely internet-specific context. Why bother if your website isn't showing up as the #1 hit for your domain? He couldn't see me as the top return in his wee internet search box, so he couldn't grasp why I was bothering with this to begin with.

It's a really good question: why bother writing on a medium if people can't find you?

I also had a discussion with another friend yesterday, which takes me back to the days of the New Blogger Initiative early in the year: what should you write when you begin a blog? Both these questions have a lot of internal resonance with me, especially in reference to the work that goes on here. When I began my journey three years ago it had pretty much nothing to do with people finding me, and everything with the need to write, which those of you who follow my ramblings reguarly will know is of some significance. At no point did I feel the need to wave my blog in people's faces, to make sure that if someone looked for me they'd automatically get me as their #1 Search Result, because I wasn't writing for a popularity contest. It was, and always will be, just me publishing what I think is important. If people choose to come and read that, then so be it, but its not about making it easy to find me. In fact, if I'm honest, I kinda like the idea that people have to work.

A lot of that has to do with my own confidence in ability, and this is where the second point come to the fore: writing should be about making you happy. I will never understand someone who bemoans having to write something 'because they have to' (apart perhaps in the context of an educational project on a subject they're having to do not by choice) or getting upset about a piece they don't want to write. Even discussing difficult subjects has the potential to make you happy, simply by the process of externalising the problem. Dragging this back to the game for a moment, I know how hard it was to sit down and admit my failings concerning gameplay a couple of weeks back, but the benefits of making that a post has been well worth the effort. I didn't say that in public so that I could link it to seven different gaming sites and be the #2 most retweeted post that day, I said it because I wanted it said so that I could ask for some help, and I got that. I also gained a great deal more besides, none of which I would have garnered from random web searches. In the end, you guys have become a new set of friends, and that was never the plan, it just happened.

However, there is one last point to be made before we go back to the actual point of the blog: relevance. It's a word that gets thrown about a lot in the world of internet-driven sales, because those people who market and target all those lovely adverts you'll never see on this site ever, who understand the need to present you guys with stuff you'd want to read/buy/adopt as your lifestyle. I talk about stuff that is relevant to me, that matters when I'm playing the game or when I see stuff in the World that relates to it. I have no desire to start writing articles I know would gain favour with certain sites, or indeed would raise my profile by doing so. If, like yesterday's mention on WoW Insider someone comes along and feels my work is deserving of a wider audience, then so be it. I write from the standpoint of hoping that who I am is more important than pandering to anyone else's perception. This is why I'd make a lousy journalist, because in the end there are some lines I just will not cross, however good the 'story' might be. In the end, you guys take me as I am, and that's probably the most satisfying part of this entire process.

Writing should make you happy, and this is the best place I've been in for a very long time. Long may it continue.

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