Blogging as a Vocation

Alyssa Rosenberg on being a writer:

My experience has been, as Daniel Strauss says, that people become artists, or in the case of journalists, artisans (I wish that term hadn’t fallen into disuse. It lends a level of precision to the space between the novel and the corporate report.) because they can’t stop doing whatever it is they love: write, paint, sing, compose, act, etc. And I think that inability to stop comes from a match between talent and desire. I write much better than I draw, paint or collage, despite the classes I’ve taken in the latter disciplines, and I keep writing because it’s the way I’m best capable of expressing the ideas and capturing some of the beauty I was, um, less than capable of capturing through art.

When I first read that, I thought “yeah, that’s right.” Then I thought the better of it. Certainly I know some people who are basically professional writers but who actually hate writing. What they love is the reporting — calling people, finding stuff out, getting the story. When it comes time to actually put pixel to monitor, they find themselves full of anxiety. But maybe that’s just another way of saying the same thing; that a compulsive need to do the thing is still the driving force, but it’s just not a compulsive need to write.

But certainly for the high-volume blogger, I just don’t see how you could succeed unless you had a maniacal urge to write. And that’s something I’ve always had. Before I owned an air card, half of my train or bus trips to and from New York would inevitably result in me starting a novel of some sort. Not because I want to write a novel, but just because it seemed inconceivable to sit for that long with a laptop in my bad without writing something. Before there were blogs, I was always writing in a journal and apparently my grandfather did the same thing for decades. Consequently, I find it to be a great privilege to have a job where I can just write all the time, about all kinds of stuff, more-or-less at random. For me writing-as-such has always been a necessary activity, and trying to find constructive venues in which to do it a bit problematic. The blog solves the problem.