Friday, 8 January 2010

Other People's Blogs

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.


KC said...

Thanks for this post, Brian. It's very reassuring. When I started my own blog at first I was thinking 'Right! Self-promotion!' But it feels very unnatural. I'd rather talk about the quirks and struggles of life/writing too.

Brian Keaney said...

Thanks, Kelly. Good to hear from you.

Derek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Derek said...

If failure's your meat and potatoes then I should send you my CV - the one that I don't send out!

Marvin K. Mooney said...

We are the literature of may join us...

easilydistractedwriter said...

Hi Brian,

Thanks for quoting from my blog. I'm very flattered that you read and enjoy it. It's difficult sometimes, because I want to blog in a way that's honest and true, without being insufferably self-indulgent. Not sure I always get the balance right!

Thanks again...

Brian Keaney said...

Pleasure, Easily Distracted Writer.