Hit another (b)logjam on a tough part of the essay - basically I lost my voice (an euphemism for "writing crapola"). (And the new stuff needs a lot of rework.) Re-reading the first chapter of The Journey from the Center of the Page (highly recommended) and going for a run contemplating "What am I writing for?" produced this:
Design is the first signal of human intention. – William McDonough
The blogosphere was designed for creating and expressing. And then with each dawning day, we are invited to create anew. It drips with freshness: the present moment fleetingly captured and then dissolved into the next moment.
It builds on the resilient infrastructure of sharing and linking we call the Internet. And adds a rich earthy layer. The ethos: immediacy, express, create, produce, participate, engage, voice, choice, real, raw, scratching for truth.
Before I saw the Grand Canyon it was easy to envision a contiguous cavernous monument. Once you are on the edge of the Grand Canyon it is obvious it is layers of amethyst, vermillion and caramel canyons within canyons within canyons without end. Descending further you are defined by walls of an intimate labyrinth you have stepped into and the "Grand Canyon" disappears; you know of only this canyon nestled within.
And in the same way, it is easy to believe that the blogosphere is one single entity. Reputation, citations, ranking and rating definitively provide the snapshot of what has bubbled up in importance, in popularity, in urgency, in merit as a whole. But have you ever tried to photograph the Grand Canyon in its entirety? Descend within the blogosphere, and canyons within canyons and rankings within rankings emerge.
For those who have desired, it is always been possible to create and express. And so what is different now, I wonder.
You see children scurrying in the backstreets of Calcutta armed with cameras. They are the children of prostitutes. And they express their world through their eyes in the images that they capture. One black-eyed girl, eyes downcast, says she cannot attend the gallery opening displaying her signed photographs at the local Oxford Bookshop. I must baby-sit my baby brother. It would cost 25 rupees to find another sitter. She frowns. They only understand about money here.
This defies everything the almighty pyramidal hierarchy of needs says about climbing up the ladder towards self-actualization. Perhaps expression of our soul is needed most in a soulless environment. I like to paint my thoughts into colors, says the boy-artist dipping the brush into the watercolors in the nondescript room tucked in the brothel. The boy-artist is invited to an exhibit to interpret photographs for visiting children. And this photograph is important because… Because it shows us truth. A photo can capture a glint of the symbols of truth: the ugliness, the beauty, the sublime, the grotesque. What Is.
Perhaps, like many, we create and express in order to make sense of the world and ourselves.
We write to taste life twice, in the moment, and in retrospection. – Anais Nin
What are you writing for? Author Jeff Davis asks us to consider this question before a writer puts pen to paper, fingertips to laptop.
When you privately ask “What am I writing for?” the ego can rest (and it’s rare for our writer’s egos to rest). You don’t have to impress anyone. In this space, you can be more honest with yourself about what leads you to write. Recently, my father-in-law (a retired stockbroker), my wife, and I were talking about books and writers. My father-in-law said, “Well, you know, most writers publish books for one reason: to make money.” My wife immediately disagreed. He looked at me and said: “Well, all right, Jeff, why do you write? When you’re writing, aren’t you thinking about making money?” I grinned and told him that I ask myself every morning why I write and never does “to make money” surface; otherwise, I would’ve stopped writing long ago. He smiled back and said, “You known, you’d make a lousy stockbroker.” I didn’t detail to him exactly what I write for, because sometimes the reasons are difficult to articulate, but I should have told him about my father’s journal.
When I was five, my father gave me possibly the most important gift he’s ever given me: one of my grandfather’s datebooks that my father had used as his own daybook. In contains my father’s scribbled boyhood descriptions of mowing the lawn and walking to the lake with his friends as well as such sketchy observations of my own as I saw a hobo by the tracks today. I wonder where he goes. What he sees. I want to ride a train someday. I’ve been riding the train of language and imagination ever since…
Fiction writer Ellen Gilchrist says there is next to “nothing the outside world gives me in exchange for my writing that is of value to me. I do not take pleasure in other people’s praise, and I don’t believe their criticism.” - Jeff Davis, from The Journey from the Center to the Page
So, what are you writing this essay for? What are you blogging for, I ask myself. The echoes of psychological motivators swirl: prestige? belonging? expression? unity?
I blog to establish my reputation and build credibility (yes) so that…
I blog to draw others in to share and commune with (yes) so that…
I blog to express the wholeness of my being (yes) so that...
I blog to experience that Thou and I are...
When water joins with water, it is not a meeting but a unification. - Swami Prajnanpad
I blog for the one person seeking this invitation to stretch beyond their edges and dwelve in possibility and is, ultimately, my own reflection.
To 'dwelve' defined: The experience of simultaneously deep delving and grounded dwelling.
More: And I've finally answered the question above I said I would in this post. And next week I'll email all the contest winners (there were numerous ties - I'll just send a 800-CEO-READ gift cert to each and every one that reminded me clearly of my own intentions). Speaking of dwelving into possibility, I'll announce details of Dwelve 2005: The Personal Innovation Advance coming up April 8-12th next week. (A heads up in case you need to book flights, etc.)
Bonus: Go see the Academy Award nominated documentary film Born into Brothels.
[T]his is a work of art so deep and resonant that it puts most narrative films to shame.
Taking pictures may be the first chance these kids have had to express themselves.
The kids call [photographer and teacher Zana] Briski Auntie Zana, and witnessing the love she brings to them, which they return, is like experiencing a clearing in the clouds.
Bottom line: A labor of love on every level. – Hollywood Reporter