Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Raison d’être

Why am I here?

Don’t worry, I’m not about to go off on some existentialist rant about the nature of reality or the meaning of life (not in this post, anyway). This is about why I’ve decided to blog, and why now.

I’ve been a professional writer in some sense for most of my adult life. I’ve worked as a journalist, an editor and a corporate communications flunky. And now, as a grad student in history, research and writing is a major focus in my life. I’ve been keeping a research journal for a couple of years now, noting down ideas and questions and recording the odd particularly well-turned phrase or paragraph for future use (“here’s one I prepared earlier!”). So one purpose for this blog is to give me an outlet to articulate some of those ideas, and hopefully, discuss and debate them with other like-minded people.

I also love fiction writing and harbour that secret ambition to produce a novel (yes, I have a number of chapters already saved on my computer and several notebooks full of wine-fuelled 3am scribblings). I hope the self-imposed discipline of blogging will get me into a pattern of writing more regularly and that this can also become a place from which I can reach out to other writers (since we tend to be a rather introverted bunch at times). I find it incredibly useful to read about how others approach the research and writing process, including (maybe especially!) how they get over, around and through the inevitable struggles and disappointments.

And, to be honest, I don’t want to become one of those people. You know, those mad old creatures that write endless raving letters to the editor and sit on the bus muttering to themselves. Like most people, I see incidents of incompetence, rudeness, intolerance, injustice and plain old weirdness every day. My immediate reaction is to start composing those outraged letters in my head, and I tend to stew over them with steadily increasing (but probably unhealthy) levels of passion or vitriol until I get the opportunity to take them out on some poor unsuspecting friend or colleague. So this will be a place where I can unleash the odd random rant as well.

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