Okay, I get it—there’s a ton of blogs out there. I know because I read through dozens before launching my own, just to be sure I had something to add to the virtual multi-logue. Everyone’s a writer these days, and everyone clearly believes they have something to say.
Does anyone pay professional writers anymore? or has the Internet outlet leveled the playing field and made everyone a writer?
As they say, talk is cheap. Except it’s not: I invested 11 years of my life and thousands of dollars (well, my parents’ thousands of dollars) in Ivy League higher education in the belief that some talk is just better. I thank the numerous professors who shed light on dark corners of our world, whose words taught me not just how to listen but how to see and to think—and eventually how to write.
Way back before I devoted myself to teaching yoga, specifically from the ages of 19 to 34 or so, I wrote articles on art, architecture, design, and literature for dozens of magazines, books, and exhibition catalogues. Lots of editors pored over and revised my work, adding the humbling reminder that not everything I turned out was solid gold. Lacking a personal staff these days, I do my best to weed out the dross and only go public things that hold together and make a point.
Probably the most valuable training I gleaned from my experience was a clear vision of what makes good writing worth reading:
1.INFORMATION: People really do want to learn new stuff! We are curious creatures who want to expand our horizons. It makes life sizzle and makes you the most enticing company at social gatherings!
2. INSIGHT: This is more than just personal opinions and preferences (I like this, I can’t stand that). Skillful writing plumbs the depths, explaining why something matters and what’s at stake by positioning it in our shared social and cultural world, where a cacophony of voices and a dizzying parade of images besieges us daily. Good writers have to know the big picture as well as the little details of their field. They need to be grounded in the past, in history, as well as be adept at zooming in on the present. Each of us has a point of view, and obviously this gets personal, but writers who can’t see beyond their own experience can’t make the bridge to stir deeper awakenings in their readers. Astute chroniclers also filter out the insignificant, trivial, and downright pointless stuff swirling around out there, so you don’t have to, saving you precious time.
3. AVOID “I” AND “ME.” I admit this is going to be a challenge as I roll out these blog entries, but if I ever start to sound self-absorbed, self-satisfied, confessional, or anything purely personal, please call me on it! The blogosphere is already dense with people doing just that, sharing the intimate and sometimes trivial details of their daily inner and outer lives. Let them carry on—I’m aiming for a different, and hopefully higher!—ground.
My promise: every blog entry here will be infused with knowledge culled from my rich educational background and continuing perusal of the world around us. I’ll choose what matters most and run it through the mill of my ever-active mind, rifling through my mental filing cabinets, scanning my internal hard drive for context and relevance. I will strive to be the attentive observer less interested in herself and more committed to what we share.
And of course, I welcome responses from all of you. I’m starting the conversation, but it goes nowhere without your input. There’s genius in each of you, and I look forward to seeing it shine!