I’ve got a serious case of blog-envy.
Everywhere I turn, people are producing blogs that I want to write. Ingeniously hilarious; truthful and hard-hitting; nostalgic and gentle; thought evoking and deep. Their words jump from the page, conveying whatever emotion it is they intend with pure genius. I want to write those blogs. I want to have 235 likes. I want to be a blog-star, with my name up in lights.
Writing is a funny old game. Once upon a time, the skill was left to authors, wannabe authors and hardened hacks. Nobody else wanted to touch it with a barge-pole. Now everyone and his aunt Fanny is writing a blog. And most, it has to be said, are pretty good. Which leads us to the reason for this post.
So. Blog-envy. Anyone else care to admit that they indulgesuccumb to a little every now and then?
I work as a professional writer. I am fully aware that when I tell people this, their first thought runs to creative, story writing. The slight tone of disappointment I detect in their voice when they realise that is only articles, and not Pulitzer prize winning novels, is hard to miss, too. However, most telling has to be the fact that I am using the word “only” to describe my work. Inferiority complex, anyone?
We’re a special breed, us writers. Neurotic? Yes! Loaded with self-doubt? Absolutely! A perfectionist to the point of insanity? You’re getting the picture! Another thing that resonates deep with all writers is their inability to believe they are good. In fact, if you believe your work is great, then I doubt you are a writer at all!
It’s the self-doubt that fuels us, and I do my best work when feeling particularly useless. For example, I have a client that I write for regularly; I must have written around 30 articles for her, yet every time I submit, I am plagued by self-doubt. Will she suddenly have a aversion to my writing style, or simply feel it just isn’t good enough? She never does, and if I am being honest, she probably never will. So why the self-flagellation? That is the million dollar question….
As horribly cliched as it might sound, my writing comes from the heart. I never learnt how to write (well, if course I learnt how to write, otherwise there would just be random scrawls on the screen; I mean I have never had any formal training), and sometimes it gives me a teensy, weensy bit of a chip on my shoulder. I feel self-conscious about my grammar. I know there are mistakes, that I am breaking cardinal rules that the Nazi police would have me tried, convicted and flogged for, but the thing is, I write what I feel, rather than what is grammatically correct. I use “of” and “have” interchangeably; and I can never figure out whether I should be using “who”, “that” or “which”. And commas, don’t get me started on those. No, seriously don’t get me started. If there was a self-help group for comma abusers, I would occupy a front row seat. I use them like they are going out of fashion, even though, most of the time, I know, that, there is absolutely, no need, for them, at, all. I once tried writing a whole sentence without any, and do you know what? I didn’t get struck down by lightning.
In spite of this, I find myself acting like the biggest grammar Nazi going. People confusing its and it’s will find their is a ton of trouble at there door. I am hypocrisy personified. It got me to thinking: does it really matter? Does the power of the written word diminish because you have used too many commas, or failed to find the correct preposition? I would say not. Of course it needs to make some semblance of sense, granted. But as a reader, a great story, or a quirkiness, is always so much more important to me than getting the apostrophe in the right place (well, actually, that’s perhaps not the best example, because, really? Is it that hard to figure of where it should go? No. I think not).
Going back to my original point: blog-envy. So, what exactly is it that I wish to emulate? Am I jealous of their stratospherically high grammar levels? Nah. My envy comes from their ability to seduce me into reading their whole post (no mean feat); to laugh hysterically at their nonsense or care deeply enough to cry over their poignant words. This is what matters. This is what I envy.
I have edited to add a link to a great piece by Stephen Fry, which kind of (surprisingly) sums up my feelings. Thank you, Andrea!