“It is, in many ways, writing out loud.”

There’s a lengthy and fascinating article by Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic on why he blogs [Does John Waters know? – Ed] which is worth adding to our occasional series on the topic – and related post and here. I’ve quoted a couple of paragraphs from the start of the article below the fold, where he introduces an interesting historical reference.

From The Atlantic article

As you read a [ship’s] log, you have the curious sense of moving backward in time as you move forward in pages—the opposite of a book. As you piece together a narrative that was never intended as one, it seems—and is—more truthful. Logs, in this sense, were a form of human self-correction. They amended for hindsight, for the ways in which human beings order and tidy and construct the story of their lives as they look back on them. Logs require a letting-go of narrative because they do not allow for a knowledge of the ending. So they have plot as well as dramatic irony—the reader will know the ending before the writer did.

Anyone who has blogged his thoughts for an extended time will recognize this world. We bloggers have scant opportunity to collect our thoughts, to wait until events have settled and a clear pattern emerges. We blog now—as news reaches us, as facts emerge. This is partly true for all journalism, which is, as its etymology suggests, daily writing, always subject to subsequent revision. And a good columnist will adjust position and judgment and even political loyalty over time, depending on events. But a blog is not so much daily writing as hourly writing. And with that level of timeliness, the provisionality of every word is even more pressing—and the risk of error or the thrill of prescience that much greater.

No columnist or reporter or novelist will have his minute shifts or constant small contradictions exposed as mercilessly as a blogger’s are. A columnist can ignore or duck a subject less noticeably than a blogger committing thoughts to pixels several times a day. A reporter can wait—must wait—until every source has confirmed. A novelist can spend months or years before committing words to the world. For bloggers, the deadline is always now. Blogging is therefore to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud.

I’ve previously described the process, for me on occasion, as being more akin to a Baconian history.. extreme sports being.. well, dangerous..

ANYhoo.. Go read the whole thing.

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  • Mick Fealty

    It’s an excellent piece. And one I plan to come to myself. It runs to 7 pages in print out, so better read on the sofa than on the screen.

  • Pete Baker

    It is, indeed, an excellent piece, Mick.

    Particularly in its description of the various influences/pressures on the individual blogger.

    Personally, for me it’s more thinking out loud, albeit it cautiously, rather than writing out loud..

    But then, extreme sports and all that..