Friday, July 30, 2010

I Turn My Back on Fame and Fortune

When I started this blog I made a conscious decision that my primary audience for this thing would be me. I would write about what I wanted to write about, when I wanted to write it, and if I liked what I wrote then I had succeeded.

Not that I had any objections if other people read what I wrote and liked it, or at least found it interesting enough to challenge. I like telling stories, and since I already know how my own stories end it’s a wonderful thing that new people might come along for the ride as well.

And within the heart of every blogger is the hope, however unexpressed, that they will be Discovered – that eventually a lot of people will begin reading the blog, perhaps even commenting on it, and with any luck enjoying what they find. And, perhaps, that this will lead to larger opportunities to write for more people.

I was offered this opportunity recently.

Our local newspaper has a “Community Bloggers” section, where they invite people to park themselves in one of their slots and write for such masses as we have in Our Little Town. It’s not a paid position, but it is a platform that you can use to make your voice heard in the community. Some months ago I was contacted by the guy who runs this section – how he found this blog and knew to ask, I do not know – and invited to be one of those bloggers. And I said yes.

So we started working on just what my new blog would look like.

It had to have a theme, for one thing. Newspapers like to have things in convenient little boxes, so their readers have a sense of what to expect when they look for specific things. This did not present a particular problem to me on an ideological level – it’s their paper, after all, and presumably they know what attracts readers. Further, within that theme I would be given fairly wide freedom to write about things provided I kept it to PG or less.

This turned out to be more of an obstacle than I thought it would, though.

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you understand that my subject matter is rather broad, which is a nice way of saying “random.” I never know what will occur to me to write on a given day. Sometimes I don’t even know how to classify what I’ve already written. So I came up with a theme. He told me to narrow it down. I’d come up with a narrower theme. Then I’d try to write six sample posts on that theme. And when that didn’t work I’d try to come up with another narrower theme. Repeat as necessary. It got tiresome.

Also – and who would have guessed this, given that this was for the local newspaper and their section is labeled “Community Bloggers”? – they wanted me to maintain at least some focus on the community.

I know!

I don’t remember the last time I really felt connected with the larger community in which I live. It was probably my dorm in college, which was a peculiarly intense place, way off on the corner of campus. Since then I have spent the bulk of my life either in graduate school – which for all its benefits is a remarkably insular way of life – or as an academic, which is a form of migrant labor.

So after much thought, I have decided to let this opportunity go by.

It was nice of them to ask, and I wish them luck.


Jennifer said...

I completely sympathize.
On the other hand, no one can document a community quite like someone slightly on the outside, IMHO.

Katherine McKay said...

They've missed a great opportunity to hear a clear voice, articulate opinions and wry humor, from a long-time member of their community no less.

Beatrice Desper said...

Am I a space case (don't answer that) what's IMHO

David said...

Bea - IMHO is short for "In My Humble Opinion." It is an old abbreviation, in internet terms, dating back to the bulletin boards of the 1990s, where bandwidth was a premium and shortening messages was appreciated. Also, in a medium where you can't get facial expressions or tones of voice, you can use it to let people know that you're just talking rather than making Infallible Pronouncements, and you won't get offended by disagreements.