Homo scribens

I have been writing as a form of creative expression for some time. As a child, I created stories to amuse myself before bedtime. A story I wrote for English class was published in a school feature section released by the New Zealand Herald. The story was a science fiction short about a conscious plant arriving in seed form from space and adapting to life on earth. As I wrote it I was aware that it was derivative in that it was influenced by Le Guin’s The Word for World is Forest. When I discovered it had been published I was annoyed. I knew I could have developed the idea further.

I’m by no means in the very first round of bloggers. I was very active on bulletin boards and USENET in the late 80s and early 90s but none of those activities involved writing for an audience* or personal journalling. It wasn’t until receiving an invite to Livejournal from friends that I started using that site to blog in earnest.

That’s when I started blogging as seanfish, and that’s when I started really connecting with other people online outside of a gaming environment. I discovered how to discuss and share vulnerabilities in a safe space, leaving some posts for the general public (whoever they were) and using LJ’s sophisticated friend grouping tools to control how and with whom I shared more private reflections. It’s fair to say that my ability to weather the mental health difficulties previously alluded to was supported in large part by the group of friends I gathered in my time on the site.

WordPress was where I started blogging for an audience in earnest. Writing was a way to manage excess mental energy and paying attention to the craft – doing something I felt was done well – had become important to me. I transitioned away from the closed circle of livejournal and chose the banjosinthestacks domain name to reflect my use of the banjo in my library work. This blog became a space to vent, to create meaning, to define the world and in some ways to hide from it.

The hiding from it didn’t work. My writing style – overly varied, sometimes too wordy, often obsessed with minutiae – is in some ways designed to try out the reader. I’m not interested in gaining wide readership so much as seeing who will stay along for the ride. I’m interested in writing well for a particular reader, but also in finding out who on earth that particular reader is, and perhaps in doing so finding out who I am.

In 2011 I joined #blogjune. During that time I gained a number of friends, but one in particular. She’s sitting at the other computer in our office doing some marking work, and knowing her has changed my life completely and irrevocably for the better. We got to know each other as friends and developed in that process a communication capable of more honesty than any I’ve known, even though we’re simultaneously given to nearly unending flights of fancy.

One of the themes of this year’s #blogjune has been blogging about blogging. The question has been asked – is it still relevant?

My answer is that we live in a massively plural world. We live in a world where dressing up as a plush animal is relevant. We live in a world where waiting in line for a new phone is relevant. We live in a world where participating in a fandom based around ongoing updates released free for a 20 year old videogame with a miniscule user base is relevant.

Blogging has sustained me in dark times, and changed my life in light. Is it relevant? It’s entirely up to you.

*unless trolling is writing for an audience, which perhaps it is.


About seanmurgatroyd
Library (Shared blog): http://diligentroom.wordpress.com/ Personal including infoculture, book reviews: http://diligentroom.wordpress.com/ Music: http://seanfishmusic.wordpress.com/ Last.fm band page: http://www.last.fm/music/Seanfish @seanfish

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