New blog: what for and why now?

1 October 2007 by Jennifer

What will be in this blog (as far as I know so far)? And what’s my purpose in doing it?

In a way, this is a sidetrack from my current critical paths. And I’m wary of sidetracks (having been down many interesting but time-consuming ones in the past).

But on the other hand… I’m a writer. And if I weren’t writing here, I’d almost certainly give in to the temptation to write something else somewhere else on the web.

Flood plain or deeper channel

It dawned on me a while ago that much of my writing was happening in rather here-today-gone-tomorrow contexts – private email lists where people probably don’t read the archives that much, or in comments on a friends-locked post in someone else’s blog.

I was thinking: If I put the same amount of energy and thought into writing for my own site, I’d be building up a much more substantial and accessible collection of ideas – more satisfying to me, and more use to other people.

Metaphorically, if my writing were water, then the water’s going to flow anyway, and this is me cutting a deep channel for it to flow in, versus allowing it to disperse over the flood plain of the entire web.

The nature of blogging

Going by that argument alone, I could equally well have carried on writing articles for my ordinary web site, but there’s something about blogging that just seemed to fit better at this point.

  • Partly it’s the way that on a blog, there’s an expectation of grooving around different subjects depending on what’s hot. And that’s what I naturally do too :-)
  • On an ordinary web site, I think an idea for one article would raise all kinds of questions for me about what else belonged in that section that I hadn’t written yet. On the other hand, a blog is meant to build up organically/granularly.
  • I think it will feel natural to channel into a post here what might otherwise have been a lengthy comment on someone else’s post.
  • Blog structure has an elegant combination of “readers can easily see when there’s something new” and “archives accessible”.
  • The software will handle some of the category admin for me.
  • And nowadays there’s enough people with a blog-reading habit, I know there are people out there who’d enjoy it.

So that seems like enough reasons to start a blog of this nature. But then what was going to be in it, and what wasn’t?

Themes to write about

One thing that’s not going to be in it is much about my music projects. At some point I plan to start a separate blog for Single Bass, because I’m pretty sure there are people who’d like to be kept up to date on that while having relatively little interest in my wider musings on “life, the universe and everything…”.

So then in a way, this is the “everything else” blog. Which is the only parameter I’m committing to at this point :-)

However, I can already predict some of the things that will be in, and they’re listed in the current “strapline” at the top: “Life, thinking, communication, creativity/logistics, reality, integrity, unconscious wisdom, queer politics, activism, bisexuality, polyamory, love, relationships, parenting… and books.” That line may change and the topics may change, but those are some of the ones I can foresee.

Integration and strands

I did consider whether I should be doing several different blogs with the material that might go in this one. There’s certainly an argument for that.

But I can see already there would be posts which link across almost any two subjects I can think of. E.g. parenting and queerness and books definitely intersect, for starters – in the challenge of finding non-sexist and non-heterosexist reading material for children.

OK, some people will be more interested in one aspect than another – but luckily, WordPress (the software I’m using to manage this blog) makes it easy for readers to select only the strands they’re interested in.

(For more on this, see Category system at Uncharted Worlds.)

And I like the principle of integrating all these strands together. I don’t separate the “getting things done me” from the “queer me”, and I think there are always connections and influences among the different aspects.

Even separating out the music is a pragmatic chop-off rather than a natural division – e.g. some of the things I write songs about are things I might blog about too. But then I can always link across.

Money money money

A lot of people use Google Adsense and suchlike to make money off their blogs, but I don’t plan to go that way. I’ve turned down a fair number of requests to advertise on Uncharted Worlds already, and I don’t much fancy the sex-oriented ads which I’d probably be offered for keywords such as “bisexual” or “polyamory”.

(I’m not saying I’ll never write about sex, but when I write about bisexuality or polyamory, it’s much more likely to be in a social, political or emotional context than a sexual one. And a sexual ambience isn’t really what I’m aiming for here, or what I imagine most of my readers would be looking for.)

I plan to do some book clickthroughs, though. That seems entirely natural and appropriate, as “good book evangelising” is a habit of mine anyway :-)

I’ll also be very happy if an article here leads indirectly to people discovering Single Bass. And I probably shall make some money that way. So that seems like a lovely synergy, given that I’d probably find it hard to resist doing some of the writing for its own sake.

Who’s my audience?

To look at the purpose of the thing from another angle, I’m writing “for the people like me”.

“Like me” in what sense? Perhaps “in any sense”. But I think particularly in the context of questioning and exploring and being outside the mainstream in some way. We pioneers of uncharted worlds need to be hearing from each other.

“… to speak the truths of our lives insofar as we can, with each other’s presence and help, and cultivate carefully together those truths we cannot yet speak, truths that may be still very unformed and young.” – Carter Heyward

I know how much difference it’s made to me when I come upon a fragment in a book somewhere that articulates something I’d been thinking or trying to figure out, which I’d never come across anywhere else. And I know how often, in conversation with friends who are grappling with something, what I’m basically saying to them is “Yes, I think you’re on the right track here – your intuitions are right – it’s just there are lots of people who don’t get it, who will tell you otherwise”.

So, yeah, the power of writing, and its ability to connect ideas together and connect people with each other. That’s what I’m about here.