On Writing

Over the last three years I have (in the public sphere) reflected upon nearly every human emotion associated with happiness and well-being, with the result that I have met and befriended many new people, gradually emancipating my thoughts toward paradigms that put the collective on an equal footing with the individual. It might be thought that a solitary activity such as writing would be less affected by the thoughts of the collective, but in taking my writing public, a new principle of meaning, namely the global collective, has risen within the links of the thousand or so posts penned by one individual. 

In fact, this experience has resulted in my reorganizing my thoughts from the top down, while at the same time opening up new dimensions in them. This series is devoted to writing as an educational form of art and will explore that which opens 'from within' while doing so. The intimate aspects of knowing oneself combine in areas that are, each in their own way, the marking of a turning point of the individual toward the collective. 

Living in the Age of the Second Humanism 

Before going down the rabbit hole, I'd like to make two preliminary remarks. They are necessary, in my view, if I am to avoid creating the conciliatory impression that everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds, which is of course largely untrue: as for happiness, even if we rate it as the highest of all, happiness raises at least as many problems as it solves, if not more. 

Happiness raises as many questions as it solves 

Happiness, as I have written many times over, is what drives my writing and writing is the main cause of my frustration with writing. Furthermore, and I would emphasize this too, the happiness I derive from my writing is easily transformed into its opposite, unhappiness. In other words, I find tremendous happiness in writing ~ writing articles, writing letters, writing short stories, writing poetry, writing technical bulletins, writing manuals, writing lesson plans, and so forth ~ but tremendous unhappiness in the act of editing, formatting, and publishing traditional hardbound books. The freedom associated with self-expression appeals to me, while the contrived nature of work, i.e., the business of writing, disinterests me. 

Invoking self-expression as the new principle for the writer is no reason for relapsing into naivety and deciding that activities allowing for this ease of expression make everything wonderful and easy. In many respects, blogging and similar paradigms associated with modern publication makes the lives of writers much more complicated, and in the pedagogic domain this complexity is perhaps becoming more and more evident. Here writing plays a role that is at once essential, almost vital, in terms of contributing to the collective knowledge of the world and making that knowledge easily accessible, but it is also tremendously disruptive, less "good books" will be published as a result. In short, instant publishing, such as blogging, is as much the difficulty as it is the solution. 

From Blogging to Publishing Books

My second remark is this: it is crucial, when discussing these questions, to draw a clear distinction that is, at best, ambiguous: that between blogging and publishing. In principle, blogging is the business of publishing in a digital format. "Blogging" dates back to the 1990s and is an abbreviation of the word "Weblog," a personal website or web page on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, or, in the case of educational blogs or commercial blogs, disseminates information. A blog is also the digital meeting place where writers and readers can engage. Publishing, on the other hand, is the task, occupation, business, or activity of preparing and issuing books, journals, and other material for sale. It is aimed at readers who select the book according to their personal or professional interests. If a book is successful in terms of sales, it can also serve as the catalyst that brings writers and readers together, though the space is not interactive in the same way as can be a blog. 

While not all published authors blog, many bloggers do publish books. The two, combined, can offer a writer a space for self-expression as well as a career, assuming they sell enough books to support their lifestyle. It can of course happen that bloggers take over the responsibility of the publishing activities, opting for self-publishing instead of seeking out a traditional book publisher, but this makes no change to the principle at stake: blogging and publishing imply different types of relation between the writers who write for self-expression and the writers who write in order to engage in the business of publishing books. Of course, the problems of blogging and of publishing respectfully are closely linked, and we must not forget that blogging is publishing, according to the new paradigm of modern publishing. Sometimes they overlap, with bloggers occasionally publishing, and vice versa - but this does not mean they are the same. The principle difference is that blogging offers the writer and reader a digital meeting place where they can engage. The tipping point that inclines one toward blogging or publishing can be perceived as a social one. Whatever the personal inclination to write, the inclination to engage and share in real time can often times lead a writer to blogging, whereas the inclination toward economy leads writers toward traditional publication, which includes self-publication.  

Most of the problems I encounter in writing stem from the confusion between these two registers, or, to put it more clearly: writing suffers greatly if a writer's end result is misunderstood before they start writing. The social mores associated with writing dictate that a writer must publish traditionally if they are to be considered a professional writer. This is a defective start to the writing process. This defect is largely linked to the rise of an excessively sentimental love of artefacts so intense that it destroys the spirit of writing, the inclination that leads one to express oneself in written form. Hence it is obvious that writing, when compared only to publishing traditional books, is sometimes a problem rather than a solution. 

Let's see why.

Still Life Writing Table 
William Michael Harnett (1848-1892)
Private Collection

The three dimensions, Writing for love, economy and artefact

We succeed in writing (as opposed to blogging or publishing) when we manage to transmit something of value to the world. I have categorized the three main values as being associated with genuine self-expression, the benefits associated with utility, and the tangible production of objects of worth. Notably my opinion is that of a western writer living in the 21st century CE. If I were eastern in my mindset or writing from the vantage point of another time period, I'd find other examples to convey my inner sentiments, but as I am a "me" operating from this specific set of attitudes, I am focusing on I approach writing as it is understood in our current era, and am using examples from this point of reference. 

As far as writing for love is concerned, I am drawing on what psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, and world leaders skilled in the art of well-being are saying: when individuals do not feel that they have an outlet for genuine self-expression, which is an act of self-love, they are more vulnerable to the negative effects associated with low self-esteem or low self-worth. The love that we express toward ourselves, that we pass on to one another, enables us to acquire 'self-esteem' - a type of resilience for life, without which we cannot as capably engage when life's unforeseen events arise. Resilience in physics is the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape. For living beings, it is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties or tough times encountered in life. Even though the principle of physics does not always apply to the complex emotional states associated with being in human form, the general validity of this principle seems similar: the more endowed we are with a certain level of self-esteem, the more we express love for ourselves, the easier it is to overcome setbacks and obstacles, and the easier it is, perhaps, to progress forward those things for which we strive as we gain momentum in overcoming preconceived impediments. Here we find a fundamental element of love: genuine self-expression. And this lies at the heart of my writing in which, in the vast majority of cases, not only have I written from a state of happiness and well-being, I actually wrote while in a state of love: for myself, for my children, and for the notion of existence in and of itself. In this respect, one could stay that writing an act of worship. 

The second element, just as fundamental, is economy. This is what one might call the dimension of the 'symbolic', of which economy is, to some extent, the archetype. Culturally speaking, economy, the system associated with the production, distribution or trade, and consumption of limited goods and services, is first and foremost the glorification of money, which we are raised to respect because it is associated with the means by which we might live "the good life". Economy or, rather, money, is that substance with which we cannot live without if we wish to safeguard ourselves against the harshness of living in a world of limited resources. It's hard to argue with the value of money, as it is difficult to negotiate with the reality of biological needs. In this case, the principle of "have" and "have not" is a very profound motivator of action, which enables us to live that good life, fulfilling our needs and our wants. To put it more simply, most of us must work or invest effort in obtaining those goods and services we need to maintain our health and lifestyle. Unless we are born into circumstances in which this need has been met by our parents or custodians, most must push forward into the world in a way that results in these needs and wants being met. In this respect, publishing can serve as the means by which people meet those needs and wants. 

Finally, there are artefacts or objects of worth. This is what I would relate back to the ancient mindset, for it was the our ancestors, who, essentially, invented objects of worth. Henceforth, this is how we have learned to associate our productions. Whether these productions are literary, artistic, or scientific (i.e., utile), they are one way in which we pass along knowledge to others (including future generations). This transference of knowledge is the catalyst by which we grow and prosper as a society. Without these tangible productions, we would be continually forced to reinvent the wheel. 

Love, economy, and artefacts are the three categories related to our success in the endeavor known as writing. Recall again that I am talking of writing, not of blogging or publishing, even if artefacts are associated with success directly derived from the writing process. 

The Rosetta Stone, 
Egypt, Ptolemaic Period, 196 BCE
Currently: British Museum

Self-expression imperils respect for economy and the value of objects

Stemming from the ideals associated with the French Revolution, self-love comprises the very heart of western ideals. We love ourselves enough to stand up for ourselves and for others. With such a passion and sentimentality pulsing through the veins of modern western society, far too often are these taken to the extreme, or to points that make it difficult to focus on the real needs associated with economy and the transference of knowledge via objects of worth. Think of the 90-page essay Nietzsche wrote, at the age of fifteen, to his fellow students in high school, in Greek, no less, on the comparative merits of Sophocles and Euripides, to gauge how much our children, however intelligent they might be, have lost the capacity for hard work when compared with the good pupils of bygone centuries. Writing in Greek today, or even during Nietzsche's time (the nineteenth century), is essentially an incomprehensible amount of work. Few western children at the age of fifteen, however brilliant, would be able to write a fraction of what Nietzsche, Schelling, and other literary geniuses wrote by the time puberty hit. One can't help but wonder if we are seeing a decline in the capacity for economy and in the production of objects of worth given our cultural preoccupation with self-worth. 

This is a fact directly connected with the ideals stemming forth from the French Revolution. While one could argue that more is being produced then ever before, thanks to our living in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, this does not necessary denote that items being rolled off the assembly line are of the same calibre as those produced by the master craftsmen of any given enterprise, writing notably included. We love ourselves so much, and sometimes to the point that we want others to love us too, that we lack the minimum authority associated with understanding economy on a large scale, as well as the importance associated with producing objects of worth. 

Marie Antoinette in Muslin dress (1783)
Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842)

Self-love is a problem but it can also be a good thing

Loving oneself is tricky business. It undermines our desire and our capacity for economy and for production, but it is not by economy and production alone that we grow and prosper as a society. To live one's life in pursuit of economy and production only, indifferent to the inner need for peace and serenity, is akin to adopting a stoic mindset: a mindset that promotes the endurance of pain, hardship and effort without a display of feelings and without complaint. On the contrary: it is loving oneself from which stems our ability to love others, and by doing so, we are genuinely inspired toward self-expression, which includes the activities associated with cheerful participation in the world economy as well as with those thoughts and sensations that ignite our innate desire to produce artefacts of worth. Truly loving ourselves arises within us an awareness of our own needs and interests, just as loving others allows us to perceive theirs. Both aspects of love are vital for overall progress and growth of the world community, her economy, and her legacy.

Ghent Altarpiece (1432)
Jan van Eyck

This triptych of value associated with writing is present throughout the history of western culture. The Ghent Altarpiece, or Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, completed in 1432 by Jan van Eyck, is considered the first great painting of the Renaissance and is the world's most coveted masterpiece. Scholars argue that it is is the single most important painting ever made. Standing before this altarpiece, one cannot help but feel overwhelmed by its monumentality. By the details, the strands of hair, the richness of its artistic realism, and by the truly masterful display of what oil paints, in the hands of a master, can become. These effects dazzle the mind and eyes alike, permitting a whole new level of intricacy to invade our subconscious. Basking in the beauty of its complexity, is akin to basking in the beauty of our own complexity. Self-love, in similar fashion to our nostalgic love of objects of worth, connects us to the world and provides for us a sense of cohesion despite the uncertainty that lies just below the surface, an underpainting, if you will, of life's grand production. Our appreciation of objects of beauty and worth is as dynamic and provides the pillar upon which we build each successful society. It is how we apprehend life, how we learn to recognize which items are of value and which are worth preserving. Yet, we would not be faced with the question of what to preserve if there were not individuals creating items for our discernment in the first place. 

This is exactly how self-love corrects itself. We recognize in the masterful works of others the value of production, the worth associated with the work and toil we invest in creating objects rather than just building sandcastles on the beach. Here, the western mindset notably differs from the eastern mindset. Unlike the Buddhist and Hindu practice of creating beautifully impermanent mandalas and objects of worth, only to whisk them away once they are finished, the western desire to hold onto all the beautiful productions we create results in an equally powerful mindset that instills within us the desire to preserve our common global heritage ~ and to create more. As I mentioned earlier, I am of a western mindset, but I do recognize many values associated with the eastern mindset. In this respect, blogging, for me, feels more like an eastern activity than a western one. While there is an undeniable virtual footprint, there is nothing tangible to hold in my hands unless I publish these articles into something tangible.

Today, as the world grows more connected by virtue of the virtual world, the two mindsets, western and eastern, are drawing closer. Of course, we can always come up with counter-examples of how we remain separate, but the overall observation remains true. Those primarily focused on the production of wealth will point out, correctly, that each society continues to take on a larger share of the world's resources. The fact remains that, since the beginning of time, the ways in which we find ourselves living and interacting in the world, the beliefs we hold, and the desires for which we aim, are largely associated with our culture and the era in which we are living, more so than with our own innate talents for any given activity. 

The first thing we need to take care of, however uninteresting this may seem, is the business associated with self-knowledge and self-understanding so that we are positioned in a state conducive to learning. Our ability to become autodidactic learners, a trend on the rise with the advent of easily accessible knowledge via the Internet, directly aids us the skills associated with exercising our minds. By learning and understanding more about the world, we can turn that microscope around and examine ourselves. In doing so, we naturally strive to solve the problems of self as ardently as we strive to solve the problems of the world. By solving our own problems of character, of morality, and of virtue, we invariably interact with others in a way that results in less conflicts and, ultimately, true global progress. 

Vladimir Kush

Just as illusions are meant to confuse the eyes and senses, summoning the brain to make sense of things, so too can the respective roles of blogging and publishing confuse the writer. I wouldn't want serious authors to give up publishing in favor of blogging, not because I do not find value in blogging, but because I am of the opinion that crafting a book (including eBooks) produces a valuable resource. Of course, it would be unenlightened to say that blogging doesn't have its place in the world. 

There is a watertight division between what comprises blogging and what belongs to publishing; there is always an overlap between them as blogging, in the technical sense, is indeed publishing, only virtual, and often times, though not always, for free. Just as it is annoying to see writers endlessly disputing the authority of blogging and its legitimate pedagogic aims, the latter must likewise keep any initiative they take in blogging within the limits of the most elementary rules of writing and the principles of publication. 

A writer isn't here to give authority about the value of how readers receive their information, though many can write on the subject. Ultimately, it is up to readers to decide the ways in which they will receive their information. Many individuals I know, including myself, read the news online, research online, and yet, return to books, some old and familiar, others new, for detailed information on specific subjects, in particular on subjects pertaining to our professions or personal interests. Reading books versus surfing the web for information is essentially a matter of ease and convenience, and perhaps a matter of habit. As younger generations, raised on the Internet, begin building their libraries of knowledge, traditional books may represent costly, burdensome objects that take up space and are difficult to transport. In the same respect, even eBooks, unless they are textbooks, might seem too long to bother reading. Digital reading overlaps with the psychologies involved in digital surfing: less is more.

Antiquarian booksellers cater to an older audience for a reason; they are more accustomed to holding a book in their hands than they are reading a book on an electronic device, such as their phone or tablet. Initially, I had difficulty transitioning to reading books on my tablet, but once I started downloading more of my favorites, which were often times free of charge, I soon discovered how much easier they were to transport and how much easier it was to read at night. No longer was my nighttime reading interrupted by poor lighting. No longer were the pages of my book crumpled when I adjusted reading positions. No longer did I need bookmarks. No longer did marks from my highlighters and writing instruments bleed through the pages, as I can highlight with a swoosh of the finger - and remove it, just as easily. 

Let me make myself clear: I'm not arguing for one approach over the other. I'm convinced that, within the new framework of modern publishing, that both approaches are valid, albeit different. What is required is for the writer to know themselves, to know their audience, and understand which approach is best suited for their writing goals. We need to ensure that what we write is positioned in the space where it is most likely to be read. While some authors may disagree, I am still of the belief that the purpose of writing is to be read, even if only by the writer, themselves. 

It is the little shadows of doubt that plague writers and undermine their authority to publish. Questions like "Should I publish this?" and "Is my book any good?" and "Will anyone read my book?" are always at the forefront of a writer's mind. In this respect, blogging helps to answer these questions. While the statistics are never fully indicative of what people think about a writer's writing, they are an indication of what the general population is searching for - and reading. Even those who publish in a specific field will find readers flocking to their sites if their writing is easily accessible and reader friendly. Even sites built by the aesthetically challenged find readership if the information is of value to enough people. Here, blogging serves as a reliable testing ground to help authors (and publishers) gauge interest in written material. Of course, there are some blogs, such as mine, that offer a lot of visual feedback, i.e., pictures and artwork. Many visitors find their way to my blog searching for images. While this might skew statistics in the sense that visitors come for the pictures and nothing more, there are many who linger (according to the statistics of how long visitors remain on the page or click on new pages while they are on my blog) that read. When a visitor visits a webpage, for any given reason, and then clicks on another link, often times it is because the written subject matter caught their attention and piqued their curiosity. In any rate, blogging gives writers a chance to test out their material prior to undertaking the arduous (traditional) publication journey. Admittedly publishing is not as difficult as it used to be. With the advent of self-publishing, it is easy to publish books. However, the impetus to publish a book (eBook or traditional) is more than mere ease, it also brings into question one's motivations; be them economy, the desire for an object of worth, or general philosophies one holds associated with global sharing. 

I would like to take a moment to discuss eBooks, which are electronic versions of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device. While many eBooks can be downloaded for free, others are for cost. Sometimes the cost of an eBook is the same as a traditional book. Many authors write with the exclusive intention to publish eBook readers rather than have their books appear in print. One advantage to this is that eBook readers can include hyperlinks, they can be more interactive in terms of readers having the ability to highlight text, as mentioned above, to look up words with a simple touch of the screen, and also to have videos or gifs embedded within the text which can bring the text to life. In this series, I am not limiting traditional publishing to printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together and bound in a cover. In this series, when I use the word publication, it also includes eBooks. 

All of this information is so commonplace that it might be found a bit silly to dedicate a series to exploring the differences in writing, blogging, and publishing: but I think it touches on some profound issues in the writing process. Many writers do not arrange the type of writing they do into any kind of hierarchy, so they often put arbitrary, whimsical or pointless refusals regarding the different types of writing on the same level as the most essential aspects. For example, you don't publish full-length chapters in a single blog post (though some of my articles test this theory) because most readers won't read for longer than 90 seconds (the average online attention span). With this being said, it is crucial to understand which venue should be used for various types of writing. 

The basic principle of writing is this: it is out of love, and not some traditional form of communication alone, that we write - however much we wish to profit from the enterprise. This is not a return to the romanticized pastoral sensation evoking purity, it's really just out of love that I believe most writer's write. 

There are some individuals who believe that a writer can simply show up to a job and work eight or nine hours a day writing, forcing their craft onto a blank screen that makes a writer want to throw up. I absolutely fail to see why some individuals impose something on a writer that they would not impose on themselves. 

One of my greatest joys in writing is telling myself that no one can tell me what or when to write. Often times the more pragmatic think they are doing the right thing. They want writers to turn their craft into a profession - a dreaded phrase that I can still hear reverberating through my mind as one of my professors paced back and forth across the classroom passionately telling us that we would never become writers unless we could harness our skill and behave as professionals. While many writers might laugh at this statement, stating that professional writers write according to their own personal schedules, there are some individuals who clearly believe that writing is no different than entering data onto a spreadsheet. Granted, these individuals are few and far between, but it just so happens that I bought into what this professor said, and for years was under the belief that I could never become a writer because the idea of "writing on demand" made me ill. 

Fortunately I did not have to concern myself with becoming a writer because I already had a career in a different field (I maintained a career while attending university), but the private dreams I had of someday becoming a "real" writer were affected because I imagined writing for a living as something quite dreadful. 

What I mean to convey by giving this example - which few people might relate to, I think - is that if someone who truly loves to write operates from an misconception related to writing - on what writing should be, or how writer's should work - they are losing sight of what motivates writers to write in the first place: a love or affinity for the written word. This is an excellent illustration of the fact that we too often hear of writers who write well, but cannot seem to finish "that novel" they've been working on for a decade or so. Forcing art onto a blank screen or piece of paper isn't writing, it's dictation. 

On the other hand, it's entirely beyond me how some writers indulge themselves in playing "the troubled writer" role: self-absorbed, thoughtless, distant souls who "in the name of their craft" (the same goes for artists) indulge in behavior that is so far removed from the normal arrangement of a functioning human being that other human beings oft-times mistake their madness for brilliance when they simultaneously produce a literary work that begs us to question life in ways never before questioned. We may deem that insight "brilliant," but their behavior, at least for me, is barely tolerable and it doesn't bode well in a space of civility. This lack of respect for others manifests itself towards one's friends and family, as well as one's colleagues. It's this lack of civility that affects the mindset of aspiring authors who buy into "the troubled writer" stereotype; waiting for their big break so that they too can indulge themselves in erratic behavior under the justification that their "noble craft" demands it of them. This might sound ridiculous, but I actually had a couple of classmates remark to me that they couldn't wait until they became famous writers for this very reason. 

As a guideline in these considerations on writing, the principle of love is excellent. We just need to think about what we really want to write, how we wish to convey ourselves, and which venue is best for our needs and style, and on the basis of our love for writing just go for it. This is the minimalist adage of doing what you love: 'Don't let others tell you what or how to write, just write for yourself.' If someone else enjoys what you write, they will find your work. This training in effort, civility, and listening to oneself, this training in calmness, hard work, and concentration, is part of brining words to life.

The Internet has considerably enriched and diversified our relationship with writing, and this has opened the way we deliver words to the world 

The way in which we write today has changed in directions that involve not so much the traditional limits our predecessors imposed on writing but the positive development of its potential. This is clear in the wider range of ways we write, in how we share those writings, and the many forms writing can take: from blogs and "tweets" to ezines and "pins".

Until the Internet, we treated writing as a preliminary to knowledge, in other words, what information the elite thought should be shared with the general populace. This is why I have taken into consideration the question of blogging, or better put: virtual publishing; if not negatively, at least mainly from the point of view of traditional writing elitism. Indeed, our societies have become hyper-consumers of information. There is a real risk of future writers becoming constantly tempted, irrespective of their familiarity with or ability to produce quality writing, to become boundlessly desirous for more rather than better, for novelties and page views, rather than masterful production. Instant publishing offers a sort of deceptive thrill, or even an addictive buzz, in that it allows writers to publish and re-publish, over and over again, in a restless pursuit. Each day, we are literally inundated with online articles of which a considerable number will be lost within seconds in some corner of the Internet, already cached or abandoned.

Here, too, I don't believe in breaking away from the marvels of the Internet in some pretentious, snooty way. To cut writers off from the Internet in favor of old-fashioned writing and publishing paradigms, only confines them within the narrow scope of traditional writing, living artificially on the margins of contemporary life. It is difficult to imagine a worse way of writing in the modern age. We need other means of navigating the online and offline world to develop a richer public writing life that speaks to the vastness of the inner life while not compromising quality writing.

So, if we are to raise writing above the sphere of mere production, we need to inculcate in ourselves the feeling that there are "orders of writing" and that they are not all equally valuable. Writing is enjoyable, of course, but we need as it were to prove to ourselves, in our craft and not just our words, that we can do better. I realize that this is very difficult at present, and that perhaps I am not the writer to expound on this given my own disdain for editing and challenges with traditional publishing, but the stories I can tell Readers when I don't have to worry about traditional formatting and the like far surpass the stories I would share if I had to invest all my time editing and worrying about perfection in my writing.

Whether I am rewriting fairy tales, creating fanciful tales of my own making, or twisting, for my own arcane pleasure, books into unrecognizable garb, I find virtual writing and instantaneous publication far more entertaining, as a writer, than following the purveyors of stodgy scribble down the pedagogic rabbit hole. I want to give my writing a dimension of culture that is - forgive me for saying so - as often as I can the complete converse of what is usually being written by writers. I don't want to write pop songs, nor avant-garde garb, nor internationally recognized contemporary fair, nor even a monumental novel. I just want to write and see where my own writing can lead without scripting its journey ahead of its becoming. I want gravitational penmanship to pull and tug at my words in directions never before recorded, registered, or inscribed. I want to communicate, to correspond, to stay in touch, to keep in contact, and to drop the world a line from every conceivable direction of wherever my metaphorical pen takes me.

Before beginning this blog nearly three years ago this April 17th, my experience with writing was primarily focused on commercial writing (to help market products our company launched) and in technical writing (creating training manuals, forms, policies and procedures). But my true passion lies in writing about other, more fascinating subjects, such as mythological tales that speak to our interests in life, love, death, our relation to the cosmos, justice, passion, and extraordinary adventures, I am particularly fond of the latter of these subjects.

I want to write stories from all corners of where human is, and where it is headed. Stories full of suspense and excitement and that make wonderful topics of conversation. I am a storyteller. I am one of those people who naturally entertains their friends and family with a multitude of stories and anecdotes that incite further or deeper conversation to follow. I am naturally predisposed toward philosophical inquiry. My questions run deep and far, and more often than not, run away with my thoughts; in fact, they eloped years ago.

Growing up, I told my younger brother stories until either he or I feel asleep. I never knew what the story was going to be about, which made the act of storytelling all the more delightful. The words just magically came to me and we both went along on the journey. As the years went by, I became more skilled in choosing my words, which greatly enhanced the imagery associated with my adventurous tales, but never did I script out my stories. I just let them flow. This is perhaps key to understanding my love of instantaneous publishing associated with blogging. My ability to kick back with laptop on my desk or lap, as it so happens to be positioned right this moment, next to a warm fireplace, sipping my early morning beverage whilst ruminating on the subject at hand is, from my perspective, a skill different from planning out a writing project ahead of time. Between this paragraph and the next, I do not know what words will follow. Yet, when there is coherency between the paragraphs, or when they follow a specific order, in terms of building up toward a climax - I tend to end on high notes - I find myself pleased and take it as a sign of an orderly mind or, at the very least, a skilled mind indicative of years of educational brainwashing.

Irrespective of my own personal inclinations toward writing, when a writer can merely sit before a computer screen and instantly share stories with Readers, there appears to be a transitional occurrence: an everyday exchange. This everyday exchange in writing is what makes modern writing so unique. It is less scripted, more spontaneous. Similar in nature to storytelling, blogging (or instantaneous virtual writing) is intriguing. Rather than degrading blogging as being a "lesser form" of writing, it becomes instead a blank canvas: Steven Pinker's "Blank Slate", if you will, that allows a writer to simply "write" without worry about editing, about formatting, about page numbers and indexes, about book covers, and marketing paradigms, about number of books sold, and profits or losses from the whole enterprise.

I'm not saying that we should abandon traditional publishing, on the contrary, but blogging is akin to taking our children to another corner of the globe to instill within them the idea that there is more to life than what they experience at school, on television, or online. I am not suggesting we deprive them of the mass consumption associated with life in first world nations; I am advocating that we lead them toward a higher world. A world where culture is not understood as a product of consumption or of constant innovation and upgrades, but as a place of great works of art insofar as what nature and different mindsets can offer.

In this respect, I see blogging as a type of journey that takes a writer down a dirt road, off toward a new horizon. What we see while we're there is our own and largely indicative of the landscape, within and outside ourselves, but it is away from the standard platform upon which most writers write, and this, at least for me, is of value.

Blogging is the souvenir the writer brings back home. Blog posts are the snapshots the writer takes along their voyage, the receptacle in which they pack the thoughts they had while in a space independent of their daily life concerns (in this case, with the concerns associated with traditional publishing). Once the writer returns from this voyage, if they return, they have plenty of material with which to begin their magnum opus, should they decide to write one. Of course, rather than material for a great novel, the writer may instead find reason for leaving off on another adventure, writing as a way of capturing the journey much like how individuals take photos to record their vacations and explorations. The line of demarcation between staying home to write the world's next best novel and heading out on one of many adventures awaiting any of us might be more associated with that tour de force that leads some individuals out on extraordinary adventures of their own making rather than staying home to write about the adventures they imagine (or perhaps already had).

In this sense, writing in a blog suits the lifestyle of an adventurer who just so happens to have an inner compulsion to write, whereas writing books fulfills other needs and desires. The question of which is right for the writer is as much a matter of taste and lifestyle as it is a matter associated with orders of writing.

Belshazzar, the last King of Babylon, is famous for holding an banquet at which a disembodied hand wrote four words on the wall of his palace. Unable to understand what the words meant, he called for the prophet Daniel, who told him that the Babylonian kingdom was coming to an end. That night the Persian army entered the city of Babylon and Belshazzar was killed.

Like with Balshazzar, instantaneous writing found in blogging and other such virtual writing platforms represents the global version of writing on Belshazzar's wall - literally. What people share in their blogs, the matters about which they "tweet", the thoughts they share in their status updates, which post to their walls, are all indicative of a changing paradigm in which the masses are now writing. Writing is no longer the exclusive domain of the professional author. The Internet has changed and will continue to change how we view writing for generations to come. What comes of it all, we are just now exploring.

Exploration is the essence from which this blog arose. Personally I find existence to be the funniest subject of all, which is why I incline toward more humorous expressions of self. Ultimately, though, this platform serves as a receptacle in which my posts become literary snapshots of my thoughts, random or otherwise. Whether these posts are straightforward and can be taken literally, or are encoded in some arcane language for a specific audience, is for the Reader to decipher or wonder about. Irrespective, I hope the thoughts I capture here are entertaining, and that by being entertained, Readers might think deeper about what which entertains us all ... and perhaps, just perhaps, undertake a literary journey of their own.

You do not have to publish books to enjoy writing. That's the beauty of modern technology, and the opportunity that comes along with it.

Belshazzar, the last King of Babylon, depicted here in a painting by Rembrandt, was killed after he failed to read the writing on the wall.

Fairy Tales

When I said that I wished to rewrite fairy tales or create fanciful tales of my own making, I wasn't talking about 'bourgeois' or 'refined' culture, but about popular culture. What counts is the transitional character of works: I mean the fact that our characters act as moral, emotional and intellectual guides for our inner child. It is this inclination which has been present since the emergence of my own journey into writing. 

Writing requires meditation or quiet contemplation, and needs transitional elements within the work on the basis of which our emotional and intellectual selves might grow. We can write and write to our hearts desire, but there seems to be a natural requirement of sorts where we need to articulate a concrete growth in our writing, be it in the development of our skills or in the maturation of our ideas. Fairy tales and myths are brilliant from the literary, psychological and metaphysical points of view because they provide this type of growth as the adventurous story unfolds. 

Castles in the Sky
Greg Olsen

In many modern day stories and writings, there is a type of puritan prohibition and censorship occurring. We water things down so as not to dual with our sense of morality. While not everyone, myself included, must write as did the Brothers Grimm, there does seem to be a need for a type of writing that is not so euphemized to the point that the story line cannot develop in a way that frees the mind to explore that which lies within and to seek in fiction ways of answering our most secret ponderings. 

This style of literary freedom, in my opinion, is often times best suited for a traditional book writing and thus reading experience whereby we can cuddle up with a book (hardbound or ebook) on the couch or lie reposed, placing the Reader in a restful state where the mind is not competing with outside stimuli and can fully immerse itself in the reading experience. 

This is exactly what occurs when stories offer us that transitional experience on the basis of which our mental life can be varied, become more particular and concrete. We can't spend all of our time writing nonsense in a blog, as some call it ... we need to 'articulate' concepts. 

I've chosen fairy tales and myths, not out of any 'bourgeois' mindset, not so I can show off a 'refined' classical culture - even though there's nothing so wrong with that! -  but above all because fairy tales and myths enable us to have with ourselves, if not adult conversations, at least conversations on adult subjects with fewer inhibitions than is often times the case in modern literary works shared on virtual platforms. In all reality, it is difficult to do justice to character development in an online blog story as Reader attention spans are shorter than they are, typically, for printed material. 

Heir to the Kingdom
Greg Olsen

Without taking the Reader through the transitional exercises in a developmental fashion, it is only the writer that is growing from the writing experience, rather than the Reader and writer both. While there are some occasions in which blogs develop a following, allowing Readers to naturally grow and transition along with the writer, this is not the norm, and thus not the platform for this type of growth or experience. 

In blogs, the writer grows more than the Reader. This is, in part, a differentiating aspect of the virtual vs. traditional writing experience. In a traditional writing experience, both the author and their Readers progress with the development or transitional phases of the writing. In a blog or virtual platform, it is primarily the writer that succeeds as most of the time Readers arrive to an Internet address by means of a 'Search' for something specific. The Reader rarely, if ever, then goes back to the first blog entry post and continues reading forward in a consecutive fashion. In fact, this is one of the reasons that I have taken this series of posts 'On Writing' and placed them in their own page: making the reading experience more natural and fluid, rather than requiring readers to continually click forward and backward, reading in a yoyo-like motion. 

The fact remains that there are different types of platforms for different types of writing. It is my opinion that transitional aspects or developmental aspects of writing are best conveyed utilizing the traditional publishing paradigms as Readers tend to bring to the experience a longer attention span than they make time for in the virtual world. 


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