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Those words stare out at me like a challenge, needling my sides as I sit down and put my fingers to the keyboard, ready to type but nothing ever seems to happen.  They just hover for a short while before I retract them and think about putting the kettle on for another black coffee to help stimulate the mind.

It’s morning, perhaps it is too early, maybe I should go back to bed and have a nap?  Dreams are a great place for ideas to collide after all.  The afternoon is a much better time to write, perhaps even the early evening?

These thoughts twirl around my head as I set up the rest of my day with the routine tasks of living.  Soon I find I have no time to sit and write, life is falling into place and I do have to work for a living and help with the upkeep of my young family.  The joys of feeding toddlers and playing imaginary games, the book can wait can’t it, if I just take this quick break to think I’m a fish ready to nibble her little feet?  To see that laugh and that smile lights me up like nothing else could or can, even the thought of being a published author is pushed to the back of my mind.

Here then is my kingdom of heaven.  Let me turn off the television and turn down the radio, the news cannot intrude into paradise today.  We are alone in our tight family unit and we are happy here.

The book niggles at me during the night, when I am lying down trying to both sleep and to escape.  Instead the demon rises up in the form of a thousand empty pages, all flickering to the bitter empty end.

My bank account could do with the advance that I’d surely get, my name too could do with the prestige.  I could do with the look of pride and honour that would radiate from the faces of those that I love most.

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Those words haunt me so.

A Bite of Blogging

I was nervous at first at daring to enter the world of blogging.  What did I have to contribute?  What could I bring to the table?  Why would people look at anything that I produced?  These were a few of the questions that went around my head as I debated internally whether to start a blog or not.  Even if I did how would I decide to go about it and what would it be about, and why?

Of course the very fact that I knew I wanted to start one was propelled by the fact that I thought I had something to add, something to say, something different to put across.  I looked at a few of my favourite blogs, studied their style and format, and decided on the blogging provider that would give me the most freedom to design and host my own writings.  Of course there were little things that I couldn’t change, parts of the blog design that annoyed me at first but has since become more endearing to me.  So I naively entered the blogging world with a site focused on something close and dear to my heart.  I stuck, largely, to my guns and slowly the style of the blog became my own: I ‘discovered’ my voice in the blogging world by taking an active part in it.

Even as I focused my attention on the small ecological niche of the blogging world that I inhabited I couldn’t help but notice that there was a whole different blogging world out there, one that veered wildly from post to post, site to site.  I was, in a way, captivated by what I read and by what I saw.  I liked the daring-ness of it all, the sheer bloody mindedness of the numerous authors in persevering in engaging the audience and by the continuous posting of their work online, free for all the world to see, engage with and to enjoy.  I’ve been extremely impressed by the creativity of each and every blogger that I have come across, whether they have kept to their own chosen artistic medium or whether they have danced between them, twisting and turning between photography, fictional explorations, nonfiction comment, sculpture, fashion design, painting and all things in-between.  In short it has been inspirational, an educational tour de force into the brief glimpses of lives of people who I’ll never likely meet.

Still we, as the audience, can engage the individuals behind the work.  We can leave a message of thanks, we highlight what in particular grabbed us about this or that blog entry, we can help spread the word of their work, of their art forms that have helped us think anew.  What we can do, as bloggers, as writers, as artists, as the audience, is engage on a meaningful level, to swap ideas and views and to make aware that we both appreciate others and ourselves.

So even as I continued blogging at my specialist site I kept seeing these amazing artistic and informative blogs daily on the WordPress reader.  I was inspired, I wanted to be creative again and I wanted the public to see it, even if I was embarrassed by what I had produced.  Nothing is forever and nothing is really ever finished – everything is up for evaluation and interpretation.  As such I wanted to take part in the great online experiment of emotion that I saw spreading daily across the screen.  I knew that the blog I wrote currently had to be kept separate, as I wanted that site to stand by itself in a field that is fairly academic, serious and worthy of reaching a mass audience.  In short it was not the place to put my own doodlings of poetry, photography, music reviews or fictional writings.  Thus this blog was born as an aside to my original blogging self.  I try to keep it active, indeed it is probably more active than my main site but that is due to the differing nature of them both.  I can write freely here.

Blogging isn’t easy but it doesn’t have to be hard either.  It can be time-consuming.  I personally find that it can take many hours writing an individual blog post (perhaps more so on my academic site than here), and that editing your own writing can be quite difficult as you skip over mistakes again and again.  The joy is in the trying though, in the communication, in the differences and the similarities between your views and others.  Blogging is perhaps the greatest creative output currently on the web, a medium in itself that helps to show the best of humanity’s artistic side.  It can be anything and everything that you want, both as a writer of a blog and as a reader of blogs.

It would be hypocritical of me to conclude this post without at least highlighting some of the posts that have both moved me and influenced me.  So without further ado here are 6 blogs that are simply awesome!

Reveal Illusions: A fantastic site by Elin Borg which focuses on her artistic outputs.  This includes her sublime paintings, photography, illustrations and sculptures amongst other strands of art work.

Electric Puppet: A rather delightful site that largely focuses on archaeology, history and literature.  I love, and look forward to, the reviews of the books that the blogger has recently read and the round-up of recent literature purchases.

Markovich Universe: One of the blogs that I first came across is this delightful photograph and short story site where daily life in Russia is often highlighted by Alex Markovich.  A real nice touch is Alex’s Postcards from Russia project, take a look here.

Benjamin Studebaker:  Studebaker’s site is one that always engrosses me and challenges my own thinking on a number of different topics.  This aspiring political philosophical  offers essays on a range of different international topics and whether you agree or disagree with his views, it will force you to think differently on important challenges in the world today.

Retiree Diary: A lovely little photography blog based in Hong Kong.  I particularly love the fact that the photographer is new to blogging, is highlighting daily life in China, and is engaging with his audience.  It just goes to show that retiring means you can start a whole new chapter of your life.

And This Is Why I Will Die Alone Surrounded By Cats: The artwork on this blog is by Sarah Elizabeth Orchard, who has quite clearly defined her own unique style.  The blog posts are worth reading alone for their hilarity, but the artwork is simply fantastic and I am sure she will go on to be an artist of some renown.

The above are just a few examples of some of the blogs that I love (although there is, of course, a WordPress bias), but I heavily recommend you also search out your because you never know what you may find.  And, if you fancy, why not start your own?

Other Blogs That Are Worth A Read

I realise that this blog is random.  Full of ill thought out scenes that in no way make a whole, or random bits of writing that never go anywhere; that stand independently and mean, ultimately, nothing to anyone other than the author.  However, I would like to point the reader in the direction of some rather delicious blogs so that even if you think you came away empty handed from this site, in reality there are a few choice diamonds sitting in your pocket.

And so we begin.  On the subject of writing there has been many books written about how to write, what to write, and why to write.  Frankly they can be boring, pedantic, tedious and over-thought.  Sometimes though there are gems, such as Stephen King’s ‘On Writing‘.  I recently came across this wonderful blog, from the author V. H. Thomas. In particular  this post, ‘A HELL of a lot of questions answered!‘, is a frankly written and enlightening piece detailing the myriad of questions that often gets thrown at the author by curious friends and fans.  The author’s eloquently written response sets out both her experience and her advice to budding writers and interested parties, in clear precise points.  Topics include how to start writing, what to do with a manuscript, how to approach getting your work published, and which media to do so.  An interesting and thought provoking read!

Next up is ‘The Activist’ blog, one that I have been following for some time.  Focused on human rights issues around the world, but particularly in Tibet and South East Asia, the author writes passionately on important issues that rarely make the larger newspapers or websites.  The articles are often well cited and read widely across the world, and although you may not agree with the author on every topic raised, it will certainly make you think.  This blog is but one voice among many, but it is a strong voice that campaigns for justice and honesty.

Perhaps one of my favourite sites is Swinging for Compass, which offers up bite sized chunks of writing from an enigmatic author who traverses the world.  The style is reminiscent of Hemingway, and not a word is wasted.  Being able to conjure up a feeling or a scene in as few words as possible is no mean feat, and the author of this blog captures each country that he visits perfectly.  The evocative language is simply a delight to read, and perhaps most movingly, the author writes about the every day characters that are often given short thrift in most travel writing.

And last, but not least, there is this wonderful site where you could waste many hours, The Useless Web.  This site helps to showcase what the internet was made for.  A personal favourite from this random site generator is this Staggering Beauty website.  I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

Now if you don’t mind me, I’m going to listen to some Godspeed You! Black Emperor and muse over my career choice, or the lack of a career.  I cordially invite you to listen to a wonderful track that is both haunting and majestic…