Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Toughing it out

So I'm noticing among some of my northern blogging brethren the lament that they have nothing to write about or are finding it hard to keep up with the updates now that they're here. When you are in the process of moving to Nunavut and when you first arrive here, there's no shortage of things to write about. Everything is new, exciting and, in some cases, deeply weird. It's not hard to write because its like picking the low fruit off a tree (as it were, as there are no trees here, but you get the point). Dead simple. Fire up the computer, open blogger and away you go.

But after a couple of months, it becomes "well, now what?" You've settled in. You might be in a small community and there's not much happening. Also, one of the potential things of concern when in a small community is the worry about talking too much about the place, especially in a negative light. Because people there might read your blog and you don't want to get a reputation as someone who complains a lot.

I understand, trust me. Blogging is not an easy thing to keep doing. Most blogs under the best of circumstances die a few months after starting anyway. The internet is littered with their corpses.

The thing is, writing about your northern experiences is just phase one of your blog. There are two ways of looking at this - do you have a northern blog, or do you have a blog located in the north? If this was just a northern blog, it would have died nearly four years ago after I ran out of cute observations about my new home.

But I can't do a one track blog. So, fortunately, I have other interests. Sadly for some of you, I love curling and will subject the unwary to it from time to time. I have a deep love of comic books and will occasionally mention that. I follow politics - Canadian, Newfoundland, American - and will write about that. I like movies and TV shows and write about that.

So when you find yourself running out of northern things to talk about every day, starting branching out. You are more than a person living in Nunavut. What else do you like? Write about it. I'm not saying never write about Nunavut again. I am saying that instead of every post being about Nunavut, maybe one in every seven posts is about it. Spread your wings a bit. Write about kids, dogs, knitting, music, whatever it is you want to write about.

Good. Now, that will buy you another six months to a year. And then you're going it hit a wall. It's going to be a big wall and very solid. You're going to open Blogger, stare at the ugly Goddamn white space and despair.

Cathy asks me many evenings what I'm going to blog about. I think once I said, "My obituary because I'm fucking dead. I have nothing."

Not everybody has to be a lunatic like I am try to write every single day. I do it because it's a disciple thing, where I make myself sit down and write every day because it's the only way I'll ever get better as a writer. I want to be a good writer one day (there's no need to write and stroke my ego and say I am one. I am a decent writer and painfully aware of my limits). The only way you do that is to write every day. Even on the days you don't want to. Especially on the days when you don't want to.

It might be crap. You might loathe looking at it, but sometimes that's the price you pay. You write. Even when it's crap, you write. Because the sooner you get the crap out of your system, the sooner you'll find that little nugget of someone good and interesting buried that you can dig out, shine up and post.

So hang in there, my northern brethren. Don't give up and let your blog fade away. It's a great community we have here and it would be a pity to lose even one voice. Tough it out. I promise, it gets better and easier.

Last Five
1. (Ready or not) Omaha, Nebraska - Bowling for Soup
2. The Mesopotamians - They Might Be Giants
3. The shadowlands - Ryan Adams*
4. Nobody but me - The Pursuit of Happiness
5. Addicted - Hawksley Workman


The pale observer said...

Great inspiration! Coming from the founder of Nunavut blogging, I hope they heed the advice!! :)

Hallett said...

The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and all time.

George Bernard Shaw

...and, you have often said how unsociable you are; I disagree. Like all good ones, this blog is one half of the conversation you wish you were having.

Way Way Up said...

A good point. When I first started blogging I had already lived in the territory for 3 years so it was hard to blog about things that - to me anyway - seemed pretty mundane but which to an outsider would seem strange in many ways.

As time went by I tried to focus on northern issues but often found myself hamstrung by the simple fact that since I was technically a government employee (but really in the end,the majority of Nunavut bloggers are I suppose), there was a limit on what I could and couldn't say as I know you yourself are well aware of.

I doubt that my love affair with the North will ever dim. I've spent too much of my career up there for that to happen, but it's nice to be in a situation where I can still comment on Northern issues more openly.

I lost track long ago of the number of blogs that have come and gone. Most of the original ones from when I first started blogging have now left Nunavut. It's nice to know there are still a few voices around from when I first started blogging.

indigo said...

Interesting advice to newbie bloggers.

I keep coming back to your site hoping to catch a glimpse of the poignant, well crafted style you wrote for your grandfather and am usually rewarded with your newfie politico rants, comic book art obsessions, blatant consumerism and curling mania. Like "trucks in the city" I am now passing.

Jordan~Stephanie said...

This whole post was a lie . . . it's TB's Ipod that creates his writing engine . . I can hear it from here!