Having a voice


So, I have a lot of tabs open at any given time in my browser. I normally use Mozilla, but am slowly switching to Firefox. At some point soon, I'll switch over cold turkey, shut down my Mozilla, and join the Firefox movement.

My normal browsing includes leaving tabs open with interesting content, bookmarking all of the tabs at once and coming back to them when I have time. Problem is, I run out of browser-top real estate, having more than 20 tabs open at once.

Best to process them more quickly than I would normally.

Take, for example, Messina's post about finding/having his voice in his blog. It's been the second tab in my browser since the sixth. I found it interesting because (damn, I really wish I were writing this with flock, and I'd be able to quote Messina easily...) he comments about writing his posts as if he were talking to his four readers ("his mythical four readers"). Before, he didn't have a well-defined, well-known audience (he has lots of readers, he didn't know who they were), and so may have not known who to write to:

... and I’ve realized that my blogging voice so far has been somewhat forced, a bit too apprehensive, much too self-conscious (this is an offline issue I’ve got as well) and I think that’s because I didn’t know who I was writing for.

The idea of “conversations” from Cluetrain has liberated me to write more freely and openly, I think, since I now feel like I’m only talking to a small, close, tightly-knit community of readers.

I can believe this technique works, but it ultimately means his blog is for those people, and no longer for himself. Instead of being a place for him to put down his thoughts, things that are interesting to him, observations, conclusions, puzzles, plans and artwork, the blog becomes a more of a, darn, I'm not sure, a political (in the proper definition) chore of catering to the whims of others to please them. It's no longer a personal site, and more of an assigned task; less of a passion and more of a job.

I've said again and again, this site is for me, so it's full of things interesting to me, about me and for me, but much of my original content is an imaginary conversation to someone. 70% of the time, the conversation is with me (I'm unable to explain that one well, but, basically, I write as quickly as I can the thoughts in my head, then drop out and edit the words later), and the other 30% of the time the posts are conversations with someone else (usually Kris, though often my mom, Jenny, Jessica, Mike or Doyle).

Every once in a while I write about something when I'm not particularly in the mood to write, much less write about that topic. When I go back to read those posts, the writing style is different. It no longer feels like my thoughts. In this vein, I think people find certain authors appealing because the writing style mimics the construction and style of their own thought processes. The similarity and familiarity breed enjoyment and comfort.

I also found it interesting that Messina recognized the vulnerability that comes with an open journal like this site:

And I imagine that this will become pretty obvious the more I blog. I’m sure I’ll get burned for this at some point, but that’s part of it. That happens offline too, as Ben pointed out. You just gotta roll with the punches and know that the more you make yourself vulnerable and on a level with everyone else out there doing the same thing, the more likely you’ll have friends to back you should the need arise.

Still struggling with that one. Can't say I'll ever be completely comfortable with it. I want my family and friends to be able to see what's happening in my life, but it has to be easy, or it isn't going to happen. At this point, I have no plans on running for office, but, who knows what I'll be embarrassed about in ten years.

Or what pages I'll be tabbing.