The internet vs. procrastination. Is it really a contest, this one? The internet is an addiction, and the time I spend surfing is often time that I could be spending doing something more fun, or more useful, or more meaningful, or more something else which is better for me. Except when it isn't a waste of time. The mystic power of the net has also enabled me to keep to one thing which I have never successfully been able to do consistently before off-line. Writing.
Specifically, I've always kept diaries or journals, ever since I can remember. Ever since I knew what a diary was. Or rather, I have always started them, kept them for a few days, maybe a week or so, and then given them up. I have the remains of a lot of them somewhere. The first few pages torn from a variety of different notebooks, of different shapes, sizes, colors. The longest stretches are from times when I've travelled alone...not having a steady conversation companion, my journal becomes that companion. But I've never been able to keep it going. When I started this blog, I predicted that it would last about a month, or less, and then I'd just never get around to posting anything else, and that would be that. However, that doesn't seem to be happening. When there's a gap (like in December/January due to school commitments), I look forward to getting back into it, and then I do. And I can't quite figure out why. But I have theories, of course:
1) Having readers. This is the obvious reason. I can remember the thrill of my first comment. And especially the thrill of my first comment from someone I'd never met. And I like the idea of having 'regulars' (and of course it's nice to be a regular for others as well). But, it's double-edged. Once I started getting comments, I went through a phase where I would get a bit down if I didn't get any comments. It was like the 8th grade all over again, and wanting to be one of the popular people. And I don't feel that is enough by itself to keep me coming back for more.
2) Having an audience. This is not the same as having readers. Generally, the key unifying feature of all non-academic writing I've done is that no one ever reads it. Here, it's public, which of course changes everything. Although I don't think about it too overtly, I do assume that anyone can and does read what I write in my blog. Both my parents read it (Hi Mom! Hi Dad!). My brother reads it (Hi Bro!). Some very good friends read it. I don't think my bosses read it, but they could do. I don't think any of my students, former or current, read it, but they could do. This steers my thinking quite a bit. Though I'm still clearly me in these posts, I'm me the writer, rather than me the diary keeper. Or diary not-keeper, to be more precise. Just as well really, as me the diary keeper has never written long enough to really develop much of a style.
3) Being part of a community. After a while, circles are clearly formed, and some visitors become virtual friends. At this stage in my life, when none of my closest friends are anywhere near me geographically, maybe I have more of a need for this. But I don't think so. One thing that I didn't expect, but should have, is that I am just as bad at corresponding off-blog with people I know through blogging as I am at corresponding in general...those old friends who are reading this now, you're doing it because it's the only way to hear about what I'm doing, isn't it? This is of course a rhetorical question.
4) Being on the internet. As Thor said to me just now, 'you're addicted. If you could clean the house on the internet, you'd do it'. He does have a definite point, but there must be more to it than that (I hope).
5) Presentation. I didn't know anything about HTML when I set up the blog, and know very little about it now, but have had great fun playing with my template. When I feel the blog is too ugly (like now, for instance), I can find ways to change it. The image needs content, and the content needs image. Maybe it's the whole package which attracts me and holds my interest.
The overall results of my theorizing are inconclusive, which is perhaps the way it should be. Blogging is a mystery, but if it keeps me writing, then I'm not complaining.