According to John Barth, one must sometimes go forward by going back, and see where one is by retracing one’s steps.
Going back and retracing one’s steps is something Hollywood studio execs seem to have enthusiastically embraced, as making remakes of remakes has become all the rage. So I thought, hey, why not writing blogposts about my own blogposts from yesteryear?
This is one such, about my very first post I wrote for the Werbeblogger back in January 2009, called Schreiben vs. Entspannen (writing vs. relaxing), when I became that blog’s new partner and editor after Patrick Breitenbach had left the building. Some passages were about topical issues but others—those about writing—were not.
As a copywriter, and a writer in general, I am a slave to a rigorous and authoritarian regime of micromanagement. Every single word and every single colon needs to be checked: “spontaneity” has no place in my professional life. Neither for copy nor for creative texts.
Now the obvious objection that comes to mind is that that leaves copy or creative texts far too “cerebral.” But no, on the contrary. Most work, and the hardest of all at that, goes into making the text sound fresh, crisp, unrehearsed, and natural. Not a contradictio in adjecto, mind, but the textual equivalent to the law of gravity: the attractive force of a text falls off inversely proportional to the strength of its formative spontaneity.
“Hudson! Relax!” is an advice my best friends have given me rather often—they know me and my M.O. very well, and also my favorite movies. An advice I was willing to heed for blogging as blogs are a conversational medium, and it wouldn’t do much good to try and seal each and every leak in syntax or argument as airtight as possible in what’s supposed to be a friendly, conversational environment.
Quite obviously, I failed miserably here, and that is true for every blog I’ve ever written for. But why? Is it that I can’t refrain from micromanaging my words, as hard as I try, or is it because blogging isn’t a conversational medium after all?
In a recent discussion, commenter Tom juxtaposed the roles of trolls and sycophants in Social Media, and that’s kept me thinking ever since about the discursive power structures that blogging both engenders and picks up upon. Not sure if these deliberations have sufficiently evolved as yet to allow a follow-up post on this topic, but sooner or later they will.