Blues, Blogging, Boehner, Orwell, Yglesias, All in 348 Words

July 16th, 2010

After years of slogging away at a multi-volume narrative poem to which nearly nothing human is extraneous because its subject is the moral universe, it’s an interesting challenge to learn to write in the blog form.  Almost every idea seems to want to blossom into a tome of ramifications, illustrations, sources, anecdote, and argument.  Obviously, that won’t do.

One solution would be to blog on a single topic, say “poetry,” developing the theme a paragraph or two at a time.  Or let events take control, as in “politics.”  Just take the headline of the day and say something snarky about it: my god, John Boehner’s butt looks big.  Either of those strategies may work for others, but I’m a Gemini – couldn’t stay on topic if my life depended on it.

For someone of my generation, the natural inclination is to think in terms of the essay form they drilled into us in high school, and take George Orwell as a mentor.  Not even Orwell, though, could have churned out a well polished essay on a weekly basis, which is what blogging demands, and anyway, staring at a screen for long enough to absorb my entertaining and judiciously phrased 2500 words on the subject of anything could be injurious to your health.  Not to mention, there is something more jittery and casual about this digital medium than would suit the classical form.  No; but the “paragraph at a time” idea seems valid.

My favorite blogger, Matt Yglesias, generally holds himself close to that standard of pith.  For a poet, that’s like learning to write lyric verse all over again; a single idea artfully articulated.

Or maybe the more productive analogy for me is musical.  I play harmonica, and the nicest thing anyone ever said to me about my playing, apart from a friend who told me she liked my “spittle-flinging, emotive style,” was when a guitarist whose band I used to sit in with told me, “You know, Seth, you keep on getting better and better all the time at saying what you need to say in twelve bars.”

This entry was posted on Friday, July 16th, 2010 at 1:28 am and is filed under Blogging. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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