The world of the blog is varied. Hot and humid one moment, just a short few steps away and you're in a temperate zone utterly suited to your tastes, and then a quick reconnaissance in another direction and the temperature drops, leaving you unable to decide whether you should stay and explore or scurry back to more comfortable environs.
It was a strange experience in those early, embryonic days.
You make a little camp in that woodland with no maps, no native guide, no bushcraft skills other than your inherent foraging abilities which may or may not be up to the task. You choose a name for your blog. You take about five seconds because you have to put something on the sign, and it's not as though it's going to be a permanent fixture in your life for the foreseeable future is it? You'll probably be deleting it in a day or two anyway.
So, you've named your blog. Job done. You're now ready to get posting! Let the creative juices pour forth!
Er . . .
What to put on it? You try and recall what they taught you about blogging when you were at school in the eighties, but the lessons on blogs must have been boring because you can't remember anything. It's like home economics where you vaguely recall coming home with a chocolate refrigerator cake that one time, but have no actual memory of the lesson. Or the teacher. Or the classroom.
You need ideas.
You sneak through the woodland and peer at other peoples set-ups through the (sometimes quite literal) bushes. What are they like? Are they interesting? Have they got any advice? Would they share it with you? Some sites are actually designed to help you with blogging, which is lucky. You creep up to them and, when no-one is around, snatch a few nuggets of information and then scurry back into the undergrowth to unpeel the nutty loot you've nicked.
You discover that the subjects covered by blogs can be encompassed in just one simple word, which should make things easy.
Unfortunately that word is 'everything'.
You search some professional sites for more info and they obligingly give it up for your perusal.
You need a topic, apparently. You need to sell stuff. You must categorise your blog, so people know what to expect, so like-minded explorers can find you amongst the chaotic ecosystem that is the blogland. It's all about planning what you do, then doing what you plan. It's dynamic. It's proactive. It's about taking incentivisation out of the box so you can action it to the next level. Their blogs are all stainless steel and black marble and healthy looking plastic plants.
You have no idea what they are talking about, and slink back to your little blog camp, which is made from metaphorical driftwood, some randomly placed moss and a shell.
You come to the conclusion that, to be a successful blogger, you must be incredibly organised with an innate sense of direction and a iron-clad self image.
You search a bit more and, happily, discover that there is a sub-division of blogs which appeals to you.
You shall class yourself as "miscellaneous"!
Now you've got an idea, you set out your stall and hang up some of your wares for other people wandering the trails to have a look at. You try and keep them as fresh as you can, and see what comes blundering past. You smile coquettishly and bat your eyelids in a 'come hither' fashion.
The blogging begins.
Flash forward one year with wavy cinematographic time-travel lines and sound effects that go "scuddly doo scuddly doo scuddly doo!".
Name of blog: Still the same.
Category of blog: Still miscellaneous.
Stuff in blog: Still just your witterings.
Plans for the future: Er . . . carry on regardless.
The other critters in the woodland have turned out to be, not only approachable, but outright friendly and supportive, and there exists, depsite huge variations in form and function, more uniting similarities than differences. I'm not saying there aren't bloggers out there who are beyond liking or even understanding, but if you come in and look around, maybe make a bit of an effort, you will without doubt find someone who shares your interests, or your sense of humour, or your hatred of ginger and fingerless gloves. Or bobble hats. Or the French.
So, here I am, still at it. I was thinking of getting an ID card with "BLOGGER" written on it so that, when I inevitably get caught taking a photo in a public convenience I've got a
Bloggers tell it like it is. Or at least like they think it is, and because history is written by humans and doesn't depend at all on nebulous concepts like "facts" and "truth", this amounts to the same thing.
As Socrates said when he wrote Spiderman, with this great power comes great responsibility. Blogging has an effect on society, very much like walking through a crowded shopping mall whilst wind-milling full nappies at arms length and shouting "LISTEN TO ME!" at the top of your shrill, shrill voice.
It gets noticed.
With this in mind, I manfully shoulder the burden of the blog, and bring important issues to the fore. Things the ordinary man in the basement might not notice.
For instance, I was in Sainsbury's recently and saw that the cafe had one of those wooden shields given out as prizes displayed proudly for all to see. I approached, expecting some sort of Jamie Oliver prize for best carrot and coriander soup, or an award for mopping up aisle three in record time. I snapped a pic:
Turns out it was for the Most Improved Department.
Is it just me or does that simply make you wonder what they were like before they improved? Especially when they seem simply average now?
All the little shields on it were blank as well, and even the fake silver scroll in the middle is bereft of congratulatory wordage, which begs the question of whether or not the shield is simply passed around the various departments in the supermarket in an attempt to boost morale, like giving everyone an "Employee of the Month" certificate at some point regardless of their abilities, even if their productivity is on a par with navel lint and they spell 'customer' with three Zs.
Or maybe it was simply stolen by the cafe supervisor to throw the Environmental Health Officers off the scent.
"Cockroaches? Well, that's impossible because we're the Most Improved Department I'll have you know. Got a shield and everything look. Now, do you want legs in your mulligatawny?"
This post is a celebration of my one percent of a century of blogging, and reflects on the sorts of things I like to incorporate into this digital tome. Such blue-sky thinking is useful because it allows me to non-sequitur another picture I took into it.
One of my favourite topics is the out-of-context drawing from childrens books, which I am subjected to on a regular basis and so must amuse myself in other ways, as they tend to lack plot twists and surprises.
I've done it before, and I'll do it again. From a recent sojourn to our local library with my sprog:
You see? Bringing the important issues to life is the essence of the kernel at the heart of blogging.
No need to thank me. It's what I do.
I'm a blogger.