I read an article on singer/songwriter Jimmy Webb on Saturday, in which he said:
“Music, for me, has always been the medicine for some of the unpleasant things that happen in life,” he says. “And when we feel bad, we like to know that someone else understands where we’re at, that it’s not some isolated experiment that we’ve been selected for. I must have heard people say, ‘That song is exactly what I was going through’ about a hundred thousand times â€“ so there must be some truth in it.”
It reminded me of why I started blogging, and some early contacts when all I was writing about was me and what was going on in my head. It also got me wondering if blogging is the new songwriting?
Lyrically at least, the process must be similar (any songwriters out there? Feel free to contradict me here!), you take your life experiences, or those of others, and start writing. You may try and romanticise them, embellish them and make the story your own, you may expand on a simple idea or pare down a complex theme to the basic raw emotions, whatever the process it’s very similar to blogging.
I remember being told once that “writing it down will help” and I never believed it until I did it. I’ve never kept a diary, or written stories or poems, until that day. I remember going home, stopping off to purchase pens and paper, then sitting down, a blank sheet staring up at me, virginal and apprehensive. I had no idea what to write about (although the topic was obviously me) but started anyway.
I remember that pause as I sat there, trying to catch onto one of the many thoughts flittering through my head and then suddenly one leapt to the front of my mind and the pen started to move across the page. Like most things at that time I felt like I was watching this happen, that it wasn’t really me sitting there, frantically scribbling away, nervously unsure at the words and sentences being formed. Then, all of a sudden, I was at the bottom of the page.
So it continued, the rest of that night, and many others afterwards were spent at the dining table, hunched over a notepad grabbing random thoughts and focussing on them. Sometimes I wish I’d kept that notebook, and whilst some of it does survive here on this website, the symbolic act of burning it, putting it to waste was most definitely required at the time.
The next step, putting some of these outpourings, the rambling nonsense (nothing new there then) that had spewed so easily from my brain, online was purely a coincidence. It was content and it was something around which I could build a website, the rest, as they say, is infamy. As I started reading other personal sites, I realised that I wasn’t the only person thinking these things, and that prompted me to write more. Links were formed, and emails started to arrive. Some simple, short and emotive – “Thank you. I’m so glad I’m not the only one.” – others were longer, detailed and personal.
Initially it felt uncomfortable, strangers opening their hearts and minds, but I soon realised that that was why I had written these things, why I had gone through that process. It was to solidify the thoughts, validate them for myself and allow me to validate them against others.
These days blogging, for me, is a far different beast, but that article reminded me of why I REALLY started, why it became part of my life, why I was thrilled to discover Blogger, and to this day it thrills me that I can meet people who share a similar goal. It may be a hobby with a crap name, but we are all just emptying our heads, and in that finding solace and friendship with similar souls.
In times gone past that kinship was harder to find, and songs often the only way to realise your own self, to understand that you are not alone in what you go through, that others have and are going through the same experiences. Songs pervade our culture, emotional attachments are easily forged as you project your own desires and dreams into the lyrics of a favourite song. Those same desires and dreams are now written down, electronically stored for times ahead, and we take solace in that whilst exploring the thoughts of others.
We go to concerts to share the feeling with others, to discover if the connection with the songs extends beyond ourselves, and we are constantly in awe that so many can be touched by the same lyric, the same songwriter. We read blogs for the same reason, to find that common thread. We may not expect to find it as readily as we do in song, and it may not exist in the form we once considered but we can still find that validation, that confirmation that we do share these thoughts with others, and the discussions start and we understand more.
On Saturday I mentioned, jokingly, that I was going to get a laminated card made up with the answer to two questions written on it: What is a blog? and Why do you blog?. Instead I think I’ll direct them here.