Blogs are funny things and because you are publisher, editor and author, a personal blog is always “The Number One Source For What I Happen to be Thinking About” (to use the words of one of my favorite bloggers, BradleyWright). Right now, I am thinking about writing, and specifically (because I like to think about me a lot) my writing. This is the 200th Arena-Man post. And this week, the 10,000th visitor visited. A vast majority of this traffic was since I started posting consistently in January (and, I think, this was the wrong webpage for many a poor Googler). I might meta-blog too much (i.e. blog about blogging). But it’s my blog, so I can meta if I want to.
I’ve recently been approached by a few friends and acquaintances and thanked for my thoughts or for encouragement via Blog. I’m usually not quite sure how to feel about it. Firstly, it’s a bit startling to realize that real people actually read my stuff. When I spit out a few paragraphs on this or that subject, apparently it might actually have implications. It’s also strange to know that people are in my head; by my writing, I have opened the window of my soul and let strangers peep in. This creates an unusual sort of relationship: one that is unidirectional. And I suppose this has always been true of writing. The thoughts or ideas or visions of one person are transformed into black ink on white paper (or in your case, photons from a monitor) which are sensed by the retinas of another, and translated back into an idea. You send paper by mail, data by internet, and ideas by writing.
Writing allows for worldview to be shared. It allows the eyeballs through which one person understands the world to be shared by others. But unlike conversation, the relationship is unidirectional. The reader gains something from the writer, but the writer learns nothing of the reader (except, usually, how many companions he has; that is, the number of books sold, page-views, etc). And this has traditionally been the only way.
But the Internet has allowed for a new paradigm. It has allowed for readers to directly interact with the writer, and in real time. Not only does the writer transmit his ideas, but readers can reply with their reactions. Requests for clarification, challenges, encouragements. The little “comments” box at the bottom of posts and the “share” button of Facebook allows for conversation. It allows aspiring writers to express themselves in a single line or several. It allows those who want to transmit the ideas they agree with to their friends. And it allows enemies (real or philosophical) to engage directly. It allows for strangers from around the world to sit down to a cup of tea and discuss ideas like neighbors and friends, or to debate in chivalry, like esteemed opponents.
As you might know, discussion on deep questions is one of my favorite things to do. I get so excited when I find out someone has initiated a discussion; someone has become that first commenter, that first person to step out of the anonymous crowd into the Arena. Consider the discussion that took place when I discussed Fairy Tale Romance. I was so encouraged to hear from people I hadn’t talked to in forever. And I learned something from them. What had been a theory in my head could be interpreted in light of others’ experience. A discussion on Scientific Faith and on Alexandra Wallace have been electric, and in both cases, my argument was challenged, clarified, and through the conflict, strengthened.
I realize that writing is something I really enjoy and really want to get better at. And it makes me happy that what has been a hobby of mine has been an encouragement to others. Thanks for reading! I hope to hear from you in the comments.