The first step in writing

I once had a friend who was a writer. She was a brilliant writer; passionate and artistic. She carried with her a well worn book of Catcher in the Rye and in her notepad of literary scribblings, she had written out Cavafy’s The First Step.

She wrote it out in the original Greek but I’ll stick to English for now.

The young poet Evmenis
complained one day to Theocritos:
“I have been writing for two years now
and I have composed just one idyll.
It’s my only completed work.
I see, sadly, that the ladder of Poetry
is tall, extremely tall;

He is comforted by Theocritos who tells him that

Just to be on the first step
should make you happy and proud.
To have come this far is no small achievement:
what you have done is a glorious thing.
Even this first step
is a long way above the ordinary world.

He goes on to tell him how great it is to even write one poem because it means he stands out from those who never write anything.

I read that now and think ‘yeah right’. With blogging so prevalent that just isn’t true anymore. There are 353,593 bloggers on wordpress.com, there are a myriad more on tumblr.com, blogspot, typepad, posterous and many services I don’t know about.

There are 93,251,087 words on WordPress.com. 93 million. How many of those words are spelt wrong?

I’m being petty and silly. Plenty of journalists, if not more than the average non-journalistic profession, are terrible spellers. They are indeed so cavalier with the written word that it’s as if they have become desensitized to the clarity and beauty that it can provide.

They are functional writers, these journalists. They make a point. They write to get paid. Well, by definition, obviously. But they’re content generators most of them. No, wait. That’s not what i mean to say.

That’s not even the point i want to make.

Let’s get back to my friend who I shall call Tatiana because that is her name.

She was a passionate writer and an even more enthused and sparkling person. I remember letting her down once when I told her that my boyfriend at the time was not my great love. Then why are you with him? she asked. How can you settle like that?

I don’t know how I settled.

I also settled on writing. I post things which I don’t really revise and edit. I post just so I can have something on the blog. Oh the pressure to get as many hits as possible. A few months ago I was getting about 400 hits a day. This dropped to about 200 once I moved the baby blog to its own separate space which only gets a handful now – up to 70 perhaps.

Then the rest diluted to under a 100 on an average day. The best part about having a few blogs is that I no longer worry about how many hits I get. I have one blog which I don’t actually use but I intend to. It’s where I intend to post just on books. It makes me happy that I get no hits on there at all.

I love people reading my work but I was spending time thinking about how to increase my readership rather than focusing on the writing.

I started this blog so that I could explore all different types of writing. I was going to be experimental. Re-write press releases, try poetry (not really), interviews, features, book reviews, restaurant reviews. I wanted to work on the things I found the most difficult. I never did get around to writing about sports. I don’t think a picture of a run counts.

And yet, here I am, feeling that I’m producing mediocre work just so I can get more content.

I read other mediocre work and get angry because it reminds me of my own writing which I don’t like.

Then there is writing that is well researched, creative, inspiring, passionate and so moreish that it makes me want to find something like that to write about too.

I have noticed articles about reclaiming or finding your passion.

Bloggers who call themselves food writers or researchers while journalists lose all motivation.

They will likely never equate the trials and tribulations they’ve faced to become what they are today, with the equally enormous amounts of effort required to become what you are today.

The one part that comes closest to how I feel about blogging, while still not sure about bloggers, is the following:

“If I had to sum up what blogging means to me, I would say, ‘discovery.’ Not only because of all the things I get to research and learn about, but because I continuously surprise myself by finding things in the psyche I don’t know are there until I see them on the screen.”
A year of blogging

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