A couple of nights ago, I saw Russell Crowe’s rendition of Robin Hood. A good movie for those who like serious, rugged prequels to their favorites, the film takes us through Robin Hood the English soldier who fought alongside the King of England in defense of his country before the jealous king pronounced him as the outlaw archer we know today. The humble courage he demonstrates throughout the movie has an underlying phrase handed down to him from his father: “Rise and rise again until lambs become lions.” Without giving away too much of the movie, I’ll say that this phrase keeps him on the right side of his constituency, even when he’s not on the right side of the convoluted law.
In the same way, there’s a certain courage it takes to put our thoughts and person out there 4-5 times a week, edited or otherwise. Nevermind the multiple calls from random people about how they saw us on Google Images, or the administrators and bosses who are both terrified and intrigued that we’d write about our lives this often and this publicly, or the random people who find our sites indirectly and feel the urge to write entire epitaphs that have nothing to do with the post itself. It’s about the act of blogging and the strange social implications of blogging amongst other writers and bloggers (I differentiated that here).
It’s an act I take pleasure in, and love whenever I get a great idea to put down on blog. It’s also something that constantly shoves me to think about myself in a different light every time I put an idea out there. It’s more than simple reflection: it’s a great way for me to start a conversation when, more often than not, I don’t like starting conversations. I’m the one in the room that’s listening intently, waits for the right moment, and then chimes in with an interesting point of view about an otherwise tired subject. I don’t speak out of turn, but when there’s a need for a shift in conversation, I also provide that. (I also tend to be the only Black / Latino guy in the room, no matter what dimensions the room takes, another side of things altogether.)
It’s the same sort of thing I see in the blogosphere. Social media, more than other conversation platforms I’ve taken a part of, has exposed some of my writing favorites in the most infuriatingly human ways possible (side note: if you’re a great writer and you’re not on Twitter, please don’t get on. I might start to not like you), but given me plenty of people to fill their spots (if you’re already in my networks, stay good). On one end, it’s made plenty of print heroes look like jealous hermits and regular people look like superstar evangelists. It’s made tons of money for people who can hustle their way through a ton of hastily assembled posts and opened doors for those rarely get a chance to express themselves. These spaces are great for people who want to read the same thing over and again without letting their personality in it, and great for people who want to hold onto a handful of passionate and invested writers.
This is especially true of the latter in all these examples. Despite Darren, Brian, and Chris all saying that blogging is about consistency and honesty, the latter groups often get overshadowed by the former groups. This is where lots of people trip. They see the successes of marketing blogs, celebrity blogs, relationship blogs, and LOLCats and feel hopeless against that deluge of bloggers, many of whom have diluted in favor of the commercial. They get a set of invested readers, but the numbers of lack thereof, discourage them. They squint trying to see through the thin slit where writers try to get published through. They barely know anyone within these circles that “matter,” and try to find themselves in these people.
I’m one of those who fell into that trap too, until I felt the urge to not speak like everyone else, and re-conquer my voice. Blogs like this help amplify my voice in ways other places couldn’t. We are lions in wooly cloth, bombs unlit, fires unset. Some of us are in different stages of speaking in the language of the elements. But to not speak up, speak to the truth, and act accordingly devalues everything you’re saying and doing. My blogging has less to do with promoting since I have nothing to sell, and more with pushing the conversation where it never gets taken.
I’ve shot too many arrows in my lifetime to miss my target. And I won’t miss.