The blog & the book

The first thing they tell you when you’re thinking of starting a blog of your own is – “Don’t!” Reminds me of that sign on the wall behind a fire hydrant in downtown Ottawa: ‘Don’t even think of parking here!’ And then they tell you to go and check up on other blogs, find out what other bloggers are doing – and thinking.

Because blogging is basically a social & a communal activity – like football. You can be Ronaldo or Messi but you’ve got to play by the rules. Blogging says we are all about as clever or unclever, as educated or uneducated, as biased or unbiased, as prejudiced or unprejudiced as the rest – of us.

Communal, not individual. Blogging is like a football game with one player scoring own goals both ways while the stands are packed with fifty thousand referees – if you’re lucky! ‘Foul!’ we all cry and Macbeth trembles in his grave.

The unwary blogger will find out soon enough what the price is for being – different. You can be vulgar and kinky and outrageous but not – different. A community is based on common principles, shared beliefs, shared emotions and sentiments. There can be two communities bashing each other’s heads in – I won’t go into that, but think of religion! But be different and you’re open game for both sides, for all sides. It’s that fundamental, almost Newtonian opposition between the herd instinct and the nerd instinct. The days when the herd used to applaud the nerd are over (except for The Big Bang Theory). These days, the herd tends to go on a stampede and trample down any & every form of intelligent life when they are dissatisfied or angry. But why are they so angry?

Little things, like not having enough photographs on your page, or not changing them as often as you’d change your underwear. What about video material with that triangular click button in the middle? All you need is the video function on your smartphone, what’s that for, d’you think? How can you invite people to your party – or to your blog – and not have enough to eat and to drink, to watch and to hear (all the audio-video, multimedia stuff), generally have fun, in short? Not going to lecture people on an empty stomach, are you? Give them some belly laughs, at least, be a stand-up comedian or his gag-writer. If nothing else, hain’t you got a grumpy cat? A surfin’ rat? A roller-skatin’ dog? All those critters are better’n youse, even if we’re talking YouTube now. You’re still a lousy blogger.

Writing a book is of course a very private affair, mainly because you can’t afford to talk about the Work in Progress to anybody. So you walk around mentally pregnant and smiling like Mona Lisa (latest theory of the Gioconda smile: she was thinking fifty shades of grey). While people wonder what’s wrong with you.

Writing a book is like Antoni Gaudi working on his Sagrada Familia in Barcelona (couldn’t even finish that one, poor fellow, they’re doing it for him now); it’s like Michelangelo working on his Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel. It requires time, grit, vision and infinite patience. Writing a book is like a love affair whereas a blog is like a one night stand – and more fun at times, some people claim.

Writing a book is like building a palace or a bridge; takes mindlessly long to complete – and even longer to be satisfied with. Let me give another example: ever written a love letter to your girlfriend? Haven’t written a letter in your life? Just sent mails & messages or called? Even better. Now think of writing two hundred and fifty love letters to your girlfriend, all sequential and inter-connected and non-repetitive and with a story-line to boot – only that you can’t send the love letters one by one to your girlfriend; she – and you – have to wait till the whole bunch is finished, paginated, printed and bound, finally published – that’s when you can give it to her, while putting it up for sale at every bookshop and every newsstand in the vicinity. The whole world – including your girlfriend – is reading that open love letter of yours – to life and to living – and either laughing, or being reflective, or sad.

Or is a blog just that first act of love which sets the whole process in motion? I hope it is.

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