Friday, March 14, 2008

Why I am starting a blog

It is funny I haven't blogged before. In fact just as the internet was getting started, way back in the late 1990's, I had the fantasy about creating a website with all of my philosophical musings, provide a way for random people to take potshots at them, and then have this heated, virtual on-line debate. I never did it, mainly because I just never could pull it together...

But now everyone is blogging, even my low-tech wife. I resisted for several reasons. Did I really have anything to say? Ok, yes, I had plenty to say, but did anyone really care to read it? I was afraid of narcissism. Mainly, I was afraid of being too obsessed with it, or maybe I just didn't want to follow the crowd, now that the crowd was doing something I wanted to do for the past ten years. Maybe I was jealous that everyone beat me to it. I resisted.

But then I read this article just today and I read this article just yesterday, and they both reminded me of a quote from a book I read a few years back. This quote came from the book, Mind Your Own Business, by one of the founders of Harman/Kardan, Sidney Harman:

"Writing is discovery. Anyone who has done serious writing has experienced the surprise that comes when reading in the morning that which he wrote the night before. The reaction is often, 'This is remarkable. I did not know I knew that.' As I noted in the forward the great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas spoke of 'the blank page on which I read my mind?' The person who invests in writing, and who uses it frequently, will possess a matchless instrument for discovery, clarity, and persuasion."

So writing is about discovery. I also love the description of writing from the second link referenced above. That it's like a river meandering through a valley with one rule, follow the path that leads downward. That occasionally you may hit a wall, at which time you turn around and start again.

Many blogs I know about are either a person's venue to vent, or maybe they have a passion for politics or sports or technology and focus primarily on that. But both blogs referenced above are more like a collection of essays. In fact the second is really just that, a collection of essays. That is what I want to do, write essays. Essays that I come back to on occasion and edit. And the best, those that are still relevant remain linked up at the front of the page. I do not want anything chronological or journal-like. I'm not sure if blogspot is even the right venue for this, but it's the easiest, so here I am.

And yes, I need you, imaginary reader. I need to feel like there's at least a chance that someone is reading this. I can't just write for myself because I am never motivated enough for that. Something about sharing something with someone else is a motivator. Really, I need this to be a conversation with someone or it doesn't work. That's what the author in the second link above says, and that definitely resonates with my own experience. I need to write to an audience, so I'm shelving my journal, and starting a blog.

Just a little background. My job is in computer science, and I suppose it's more than my job, it's my craft. The one thing I am good enough to get paid reasonably well to do. I do have a long way to go to feel anywhere near like I have mastered it, though. My biggest fear, to be honest, is that I will never make it. That before I have a chance, I will be pushed out of the industry, like my dad was pushed out of his. This blog, then, is to partially address that fear. I want to use this as a forum to work on my craft. Maybe as a forum to connect with others. At the very least, I have some desire to be more like those guys up there who wrote the articles I linked to. Maybe this is just a fantasy, but I really like the idea that through writing I will be able to generate ideas that will be helpful for me in my career and in my life.

On that note, about a year ago, I interviewed at Amazon in Seattle. The interview did not go well. I came in not knowing whether I really wanted to re-locate there. I was definitely not prepared for it.

Well, I had an interview with the manager. She mentioned how one of the engineers there was a regular contributor to the Ruby programming language. Intimidating. I'm doing nothing like that in my spare time, so I said so. I told her that I had many interests other than programming that I enjoy participating in outside of my job. She said, great, I like my employees to have other interests, and she asked me what they were. I hedged...

My passion is politics in every sense of the word. I love it, I obsess over it. Like many people out there I want to change the world, if not the world, my community, if not that, well, at least I want my family to have a great experience possible. So I obsess, health care, education, wars, you name it... But this was an interview. Should I really mention to my potential manager that my passion lies in one of the two topics you should never bring up in idle conversation? I hedged, and I meekly mentioned something about how I was currently involved in Scouts...

Why do I mention that? Well, politics is a classic interest of mine because everything is political. And I have an interest in practically everything. So, I want to write about computer science, I want to write about politics. I have a desire to get more involved in the city of Tempe politics. I see a big void in local politics. Nobody knows anything about what's happening at the local level. Maybe I can help to fill a little of that void. We'll see.

At any rate, this is my blog, so I will blog about what's on my mind, and I'm not sure there will be much coherence in it. But know this, imaginary reader, I will write, edit, and publish what is on my mind. I hope I can do a decent job at it. I hope I can improve over time. But most of all, I hope it will help me improve as a person.

Here it goes, I am starting a blog.


April said...

I didn't know I was imaginary. Hmmm. I think you're right. This blog will be about discovery. You'll love it, but by the looks at the length of the essay I just read I'm not sure when you'll have time to eat dinner. Best of luck!

Writermama said...

S, this is so exciting! I've been wanting you to do this for such a long time. I'm glad I get to go along this journey you outline with you.

Helena said...

From the 2 entries I just read I think I know more about you than from the 3 years you've been our home teacher. That is a compliment on 2 levels: 1) as our home teacher, it's about us, not you; 2) you're a good writer and not afraid of letting us know who you are. I hold back, sometimes.

btg said...

I look forward to your future blogs and will enjoy them. I'm sure I will learn much about both politics and computer science. Don't be fooled, my wife NEVER, NEVER holds back.