For my inaugural Thought Leader blog, I thought it appropriate to explore what exactly a blog is, as opposed to what a column is, or a feature or other form of journalism, and how I come to find myself here.
After the demise of the failed Newstime site, where I authored the Bush Babe column, M&G Online waded in to mop up the survivors and invited a select few to write for them.
I instantly experienced a flash of déjà vu. It wasn’t the first time M&G had offered me one of its infamous non-paying gigs.
The first time it happened, Vincent Maher was trying to look down my cleavage at the Saxon Hotel during the launch party of the failed Empire magazine.
I turned the offer down in frank disgust and wandered away to squeeze onto a sofa next to David Bullard and a faintly dronk, angst-ridden Sarah Britten who was angsting much better to the room at large about her impending immigration to Australia.
At the time of the second M&G offer, everything is different but little has changed.
Both Empire and its sister magazine Maverick have been and gone and are largely forgotten. David Bullard, more properly known as “The Disgraced Former Sunday Times Columnist”, is however still going strong and has the gall to look richer and happier by the day, much to the bitter ire of his enemies.
The Sarah we all know and love came back to us from across the big pond, relatively unscathed by her brush with a better life in the First World, and resumed sharing with the entire blogosphere the intimacies of her sexually deprived, insomniac diary.
I, meanwhile, am still asking myself what possessed me to slog through several decades in journalism, shored up by an MA in Journalism & Media Studies, for the uncertain pleasure of producing free content for a variety of media houses that can well afford to pay.
This is a discussion the media needs to have among its members rather urgently if we value a quality press as we so loudly claim to do, but from which I shall, for the time being, steer gently away.
That’s a topic for a day when I’m not frantically preparing for a trip to India, which is what I’ll get back to doing the moment I finish re-working this post at the behest of an M&G Online web person, who suggested my previous effort was unacceptably fluffy, too personal, too lightweight, for these venerable pages, and whose notion of what a blog is differs rather from that of people who have been in the profession somewhat longer and more successfully than she.
Like Nora Ephron, for example.
The gloriously irreverent journalist and blogger — who first became famous for her book about being cheated on by her slimeball husband while immensely pregnant with their child, and who then went fabulously onward and upward to become deservedly stinking rich writing the scripts of numerous Hollywood blockbusters (When Harry Met Sally, Silkwood, Sleepless in Seattle, Julie & Julia and others) — really gets what blogging is.
“It seemed to me shocking and tragic,” says Ephron, “that my immortal words were anything but. But then I saw … blogs weren’t meant to be polished, they were informal, they were temporal. The blog was a soap bubble, meant to last a moment or two.”
See? Informal. Temporal. Blogging is soap bubble media. It’s not meant to take itself so seriously, lovies.
Ideally, a blog is a flavoursome morsel.
Sometimes just slightly chewy in the middle, the way a very good meringue should be.
Reading the blogs of the most gifted writers and erudite thinkers is like nibbling amaretti with your morning espresso. A blog is not a full meal.
While the blog topic may lead to the sort of nine-course debate which journalism interns (bless!) mistake for critical thinking, blogging is not meant to be encyclopaedic in its scope.
At best, it may hope to spark a conversation then walk away. In keeping with the internet’s rat-a-tat, speed-reading characteristics, this is as it should be.
So, in answer to the opening paragraph, I find myself here because I, like other independent journalists, wonderous beings that we are, live on our trust funds and are thus a source of free (but never cheap) content and we contribute because of our deep respect for and love of our noble profession.
And because writing a blog is meant to be fun.