Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Why I Blog...

An esteemed historian I used to know well, and for whom I had great respect, once told me about his philosophy on writing. To him, the written word has the power to condemn, to sanctify, to define and refine, to illuminate and obfuscate, to make light of the most tragic, or to sadden the most fantastic. Writing immortalises what the spoken tongue often forgets. But that is only part of it; the same can be said of any professional writer’s philosophy. What was most important to him was not the power of writing itself, but the connection that the writer had with his intended audience. For this particular scribe, he didn’t care for literary criticism. He didn’t concern himself with pundits or reviews. He never sought fame or acclaim for his work. Because he knew his audience.

To him, his text was the one tangible asset that he could transfer to his future generations, in the knowledge that none of his children could squander his legacy. He wrote for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, about an age that he lived, and through his words, even if never published, his afterbears would have that perpetual knowledge that printed matter possessed. They were the only readers he cared about.

When Joe Stein published his first novel, Primary Colors, he also had an audience in mind. The sensation his work created, based on Bill Clinton’s campaign to win the Democratic Party nomination for the presidency in 1992, was as much based around the fact that he wrote under the pseudonym Anonymous, than for the quality of the novel or the subject matter. Of course, it was a passable novel, nicely written, witty, clever, but not brilliant. It sold well because readers wanted to know who Anonymous was. Joe Klein, a Time political correspondent who had followed Clinton’s up-and-down campaign, knew this readership well. It was the perfect gimmick.

It was an equally intriguing gimmick that Simon Carr played out when he authored The Spin: A Novel Of New Zealand Politics, in 1996. The novel didn’t have quite the scale of Klein’s effort, but Carr knew his mischief would create a mini-storm in the Capital. Knowing his readership, it didn’t actually matter that the events and interludes that Carr described occurred three years earlier, when he was part of Jim Bolger’s campaign. What mattered was that he had successfully started a fury in Wellington as to the authorship of the book. At the time, various pundits were pointing the finger at Michael Wall, Bill Ralston, Richard Griffin, and Barry Soper. Some of them didn’t even deny it—so keen were they to be part of the mystery. Even Linda Clark associated herself with the novel by threatening to sue the publisher for defamation. It was heady stuff, and Simon mostly got away with it.

Which brings me to myself. I write under a pseudonym for the precise reason that I know my intended audience intimately. My audience knows me. That intended readership is amused, frustrated, delighted, annoyed, irritated, angered, and charmed by what I write. Not always completely satisfied with what I come up with, but sometimes surprised, and even when my audience knows if I have composed in a state of inebriation, that audience forgives me. After all, both Dylan Thomas and Byron did their best work in that state.

My “dear reader”, to whom I am writing, is myself. This is, after all, an online journal. I do not write to piss off others or annoy them, or to seek glory or retribution. Frankly, I couldn’t care less if nobody visited my blog. As my by-line states, I don’t actually care what you think. This writing is about me, and my thoughts, and my immortality.

That aside, there has been some discussion about the identity of Insolent Prick. That conjecture tends to come from pinko liberals who are offended by what I write, yet still come and visit in order to be offended. That amuses me. And still I don’t care.

Visitors to my blog do have a function. I have been writing opinions for clients, and providing professional advice, for several years. Writing is a discipline. My blog is my principal means of maintaining that discipline. If I’m absent for a couple of weeks, comments from readers for me to get back to writing something are helpful. But they’re not the reason I write.

The events I describe in my blog are not fictional accounts. They are my interpretations on actual events to which I am a party. Often events I describe possess an element of symbolism. I will occasionally exaggerate to make a point, or change the series of events, or alter slightly immaterial facts. But the substance of what I write, and the opinions I express, are strictly correct. If I do make changes at any point, that is to protect the other people involved. I don't use my own real name here, and unless I'm discussing a political viewpoint on a public figure, it isn't appropriate for me to disclose the actual names of others in my stories.

So, having explained that I am the subject of this blog, and the sole intended audience of it, other readers are still welcome to browse and make comments. But those people are merely bystanders. I do not set out to offend those bystanders, but they should realise that they are reading what is, for all intents and purposes, my journal. These are my inner thoughts. I don't have access to other readers' journals--and realistically, I don't care to read them. They don't interest me. And I'm too vain to stay interested more than even momentarily.

So the bystanders have a choice to be here. I would not ask others to censor their thoughts or ideas in their own journals, and those who are offended are free to censor themselves out of my blog.

20 comments:

Andy Soprano said...

Abso-fucking-lutely-right.

Zenskar said...

"Ruminations on the Navel" by Insolent Prick. :-)

DenMT said...

Is this diatribe inspired by your motivation to remove the 'Culturally Sensitive Prick' post from the other day?

Thomas said...

Ummm... a bit 'delusions of granduer' don't you think? I mean comparing yourself (however distantly) to Dylan and Byron? My god the arrogance and the self-promotion And, the audience is not 'you' otherwise you wouldn't have put it on the net and link every comment you make on other blogs to this one. If the audience really was just you you'd keep a closed journal. So really you are putting yourself out there to be judged and to help you get through you build things up (that one about the girl was hilarious, but obviously completely untrue). It is funny which is why us 'pinko liberals' come, not rage, but to laugh.

Anonymous said...

Well said, IP!

Cathy Odgers said...

Come on IP you blog for the same reason we all do..in the hope that someone will recognise us when we are out, like our blog and want to fuck us on the basis they think we are hot from what we write.

Witness my current lead in the About Town "eligible female blogger' poll.

They have never met me so they don't love me, they love my work. Which they should because it is good.

Insolent Prick said...

Cathy,

If I wanted to be recognised and get laid off here, I'd be less obscure in revealing my identity.

And stop frigging making comments about YOU! This blog is about ME! Note: I have, from today, started boycotting your blog.

So there.

Olly said...

Good concept - set up two blogs and engineer a sort of 'Moonlighting' back and forth dialogue to try and persuade people that you have sexual magnatism in the way you write. Look everyone is beginning to figure out that you two (Cathy And IP) are the same person. I mean neither of your online personas could actually be real people, that would be too hilarious (in a 'laughing at you not with you' way)

Cathy Odgers said...

Olly (if that is your real name)

You are too smart for us.

Perhaps if you start your own blog we could learn from you as to how a "real person" should do this blogging thing.

Olly said...

Its not about how a 'real person' blogs - I don't think many of us know much about real people, it is more that most people have a pretty good radar for picking where people are telling a story (based on real events or not)or relating actual events. I am betting that if I ever met IP or you, neither of you would be recognisable from your blogs. If its being done consciously, well done, good writing, if you both actually think that you are accurately representing yourselves when you write I feel sorry for you.

Insolent Prick said...

Olly,

Unfortunate contrivances such as yourself are never lucky enough to meet people as cool as me. Which is why you think we don't exist.

That's not our problem. It's all yours.

Cathy Odgers said...

Olly

And I don't believe those blogs that people write saying they are happily married and enjoy the missionary position, but I am sure there is an exception that there are people boring enough to enjoy that and enjoy reading about it.

I can prove my blog events are real.

If I wanted to create a fictitious character I would have created a blog with the main character a highly successful and fiscally independent professional woman who fucks older men but in her EARLY 20's. I would also fabricate myself a highly successful and very sexy older boyfriend.

Every woman knows I am not fabricating my blog when I admit to being 29 and single.

Oliver said...

Sorry IP - did you say 'cool'? (ah, chuckle, chuckle).

And Cath - you might say you were 29 and single if you were actually 42 and married to an accountant.

Cathy Odgers said...

Now you are just showing yourself to be completely stupid Oliver.

Half the NZ blogging community went to University with me.

If you had any experience reading other people's blogs you would have picked that up.

Are you calling them liars in on the "act"?

Insolent Prick said...

Olly,

This blog is not about you and your shitty ideas about the world. It is not about you and your insecurities. It is not about you and the fact that you are just not cool enough to associate with people like me. It is not about you and your concerns that people as cool as me don't exist.

This blog is about ME. I haven't invited you in as a legitimate subject of discussion. By your own admission, your life is far too tedious to ever warrant comment by me.

I don't fucking care whether you are staying awake at night, hugging your teddy-bear, sucking your thumb, and pondering whether I exist in real life. Nor, do I suspect, does Cathy care.

Anonymous said...

You could get readers without using gimmicks. I have a writers quote for you; "We will set down things seen as seen, things heard as heard, so that our book may be an accurate record, free from any sort of fabrication. And all who read this book or hear it may do so with full confidence, because it contains nothing but the truth."

(Gloria)

Oliver De La Hunty said...

Yeah, you guys a right, blogging is incredibly cool, and me not having experience of blogging shows that my life must be so tedious I don't have time to blog. Anyway, must go, my 'teddy bear' is calling. I'll leave you to go back to ranting pompously about right wing politics. Enjoy!

(oh, and good luck with the 'hot 17 yr old'..chuckle, chuckle).

llew said...

I guess the comments feature is for readers to come & offer feedback & maybe constructive criticism... even if you're writing for yourself, as you say.

but I really can't understand those who come to complain, or offer that they don't believe what they read. Or to dismiss the "ranting about right wing politics"

Who cares whether it's real? Who cares what they think? Why do they come if they hate it?

(shakes head & goes out to water tomatoes & dream about missionary position sex with dearly loved wife...)

Anonymous said...

The bible is not based on reality.

Yet it is the most widely read and critically acclaimed book ever written.

And it's author never cared that people questioned it.

llew said...

But his agents on earth care.

Although I reckon the author(s) never weighed in because they were dead.