I remember making a decision with myself a while ago. I was trying to decide: do I make writing books, articles, and other “mainstream” writing my main writing avenue… or do I devote myself to blogging?
It was back when I was first getting started, just starting to get attention, and I wasn’t sure if I was devoting myself to the right avenue of expression.
So many people told me to stick to blogging on the side, and make writing books and articles for “mainstream” publications my main goal.
But I made a decision then (a decision I’ve come to love) to make blogging my “job”. My personal form of artistic expression. The way I paint the world.
Because I could see, even then, that my skills with writing happened to fit in so perfectly with the new-fangled world of internet expression.
I enjoyed finding the kind of headlines that would get people talking and clicking. I enjoyed building and engaging with an audience. I loved and was addicted to social media.
Everything about blogging just fit me.
And so I decided to devote myself as fully to it as I possibly could while still working fulltime.
And it’s been over the course of this year and a half or so since I made that decision that I’ve been slowly developing what I guess I would call a “manifesto” of blogging. My view of what blogging can be, what I want it to be, what I want to elevate it to.
Because I believe with all my heart that blogging is an art. An art just as powerful as any other, from painting to movie-making to novel-writing.
And I know that I won’t be going on any “blogging” tours (unless I write a book), and I know no one is going to put my writing up in a gallery and have fancy people in fancy clothes looking at it and examining it and saying, “Ooooo, yes, I like this. Do you see what he did here? Oh, wow, what a master.”
No. That just won’t be me.
Because blogging is this young thing. And people have a tendency to see new things as toys.
And because the vast majority of the people that have used this form of expression have cheapened it (“10 Reasons Your Blog Isn’t Art!”), have used it as an offhand way to get hits to the more “important” parts of a site… most of the world hasn’t even thought that blogging could be art in the first place.
But to judge blogging in that way, in my opinion, is like judging all magazines as trash because of the National Enquirer. Or saying no book can be art because Twilight exists.
In fact, it could be argued that most new forms of art, like television, were seen in much the same way as blogging is today.
I don’t think anyone thought a TV show could truly be “art” until very recently. Shows like the Sopranos, Lost, and Arrested Development paved the way, but it was only very recently that shows like Breaking Bad and House of Cards displayed just how much a television show could compete with any other art form, from movies to novels.
In fact, the unique nature of television makes it able to be even more effective than movies as an art form in so many ways: the length of a show’s run means its characters can develop more than any movie could allow, for example.
Blogging is no different.
Blogging, in my mind, is a singularly unique art form, one that has yet to be utilized to its fullest potential.
Among its qualities that make it so very different from any other form of writing:
1. It’s Ongoing
Unlike books, or even magazines, a blogger’s story never ends. It ends when he quits or when he dies. It is an ongoing story, one that can never be defined by one post, no matter how popular or controversial. It is a story that is told one tiny piece at a time. In this way, it is similar to a television show. You could never define a TV show by one episode, and you’ll never be able to define a blogger or his blog by one piece he’s written.
2. It Has A Community
I love this part of blogging. And it is the one thing that makes it more unique than any other art form in existence. Unlike other art forms that create “fans”, a jumble of random people who form their own communities when they love a piece of art enough, a blog is directly shaped and formed with its community. A community, in many ways, is the blog.
My blog is continually shaped by the reaction people have to it. I am always talking to them, responding, reading what they have to say. They are my artistic partners. I have developed personal relationships with many of them and have even gone to some for guidance when trying to decide what and how to publish.
In other words, a blogger doesn’t have fans. He shirks the very notion of people worshipping him for his success. Rather, he has a community.
3. The Blogger Is The Art
Just as the community is part of the art of blogging, the blogger himself also becomes a part of the art he creates. Of course, this is true with any piece of art a person puts himself into. But it comes out in a more revealed, more ongoing, way in a blog.
Because a blog is inherently personal, and is written from the perspective of a blogger, as well as being ongoing, it means that the blogger must constantly be putting himself on the line when he writes. His blog, in many ways, reflects him. His continual, ongoing relationship with his community makes his true personality come out even more.
And while it is all still, at the end of the day, a performance, a big part of his soul is bared in this world. In a way that no soul is shown in any other art form.
And, of course, there is so much more. There is the unique way lists have a power over readers. The way multimedia is becoming more and more woven into a blogger’s world. The way a blogger needs to adapt to (and take advantage of) the unique way people read content on a screen. The fact that the blogger has complete control over his work, more than any other art form (including traditional writing).
There is so much to this world. So many aspects. Such a beautiful menagerie of options, tools, and forms. A palette of colors that have only now become introduced to the world.
To me, blogging will always be my preferred art form, whether I ever write a book or not. One that I find absolutely beautiful. One that I hope to make others believe can be just as beautiful as the Mona Lisa or Anna Karenina or Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.