I was thinking today about what it is I enjoy when I read other people’s blogs and I realised that it was more or less exactly the same thing that enjoy when I read other people’s novels. First and foremost I like a distinctive voice.
It seems to me that a voice is sometimes clearest when the writer isn’t even consciously trying to sound unique – when they are just being themselves. A voice shows itself in the small details. For example here’s an extract from someone’s blog that I really liked:
I wandered past Tate Modern recently, and there was an open mic thing going as part of some kind of art installation/performance type thing. It was very nice:
A group of Egyptian tourists got up and did some dancing.
A cool New York hipster did some very nice singing (to some awful sub-Alanis Morrisette song, but you know, excellent voice).
I stood by the side for half an hour - genuinely, half an hour - listening to songs on my ipod and trying to work out if I dared to get up and sing.
I really, really wanted to.
There was a moment when there was hardly anyone around, and the compere was entreating people to come up and bring their ipods and perform in some way. And there was this golden opportunity to get up and sing some obscure Broken Family Bandsong and it would be this really brave, interesting thing to do.
I paced. I listened, again, to various songs to see how caterwaulingly bad it could be if I tried to sing. I paced a bit more. I got within about 10 metres of the stage.
And... I didn't do it. I walked away.
This is a description of someone failing to do something. For me, that’s so much more interesting than when people use their blogs to publicise their triumphs. Obviously, people like to talk about their triumphs. I do it myself and, in fact, my publisher seems to think that’s what a blog is actually for. But I disagree. In my opinion, failure is often more interesting than success.