I like my blog. I really do. It’s fun. But then again, so is drinking until 5am. It’s something I like to do, but it’s not something I should do too often. Why? Well because as much fun as it is, it’s very distracting. Now, loyal readers (and new readers) that is not meant as a slur against your good taste and fine choice in character, more as a finger pointed at my own lack of self discipline outside of my regular contributions to this column.
WordPress blogs are great because they have wonderful statistics sections that one can peruse over for days, matching the number of hits against the popularity of some posts against others. This is one of my biggest distractions. Now, back in the day when this blog started I used to complain over the difference between a fourteen hit day and a sixteen hit day, these days it’s more like …eh, 34 against 36…maybe. Anyway, the hit count is a distraction. The only way I see my hit count staying regularly high is to post regularly, and that’s another distraction.
The thing about posting regularly is, for me, I struggle with brevity. So when I want to say something the post usually stretches to a thousand words, and that’s a short post. Each post usually takes up a couple of hours of my day, and that’s merely the first draft. While I can type and edit quite quickly when I need to, three hours is quite a bit of time for one blog post. And while you are no doubt musing that surely I can spare a couple of hours from my rigorous daily routine of feck all work, my biggest problem is that I’m supposed to be doing other stuff.
This other stuff is more important. One of these is an application to do a Phd back in Dublin. The other is an online writing course. I’m a struggling to get off the ground with both of these. I could/should blame blogging.
The thing is, blogging is fun and blogging is essentially my hobby. I don’t think I’ve every really had a proper hobby, aside from making Airfix models and possibly drawing pictures, both of which were ruined by the introduction of the Sega Megadrive, and later the Playstation. Incidenetally, I am not sure if I was ever any good at any of these.
I like sitting down and rattling out a big long post talking about something or another, sticking a few photos in, researching a few nonsense facts, and basically pretending to the world that, for some reason or another, I am important because my opinion has a particularly loud enough volume to be recognised as distinct. I think this because my vision is clouded by my addiction to my hitcount.
Aside from making me feel important and burning up time that could be used better elsewhere, blogging is also an important function in my daily life. For starters, since I started blogging, I’ve been writing a lot and regularly. I reckon I have lost count of the number of words I’ve written on this blog, but I can imagine that it is over 100,000, and that’s more than a novel. When I did my disertation for my masters, I was pretty sure that I would never write more than 20,000 words. Now I’m pretty sure I could manage it in a week.
On that note, I looked at my dissertation from my masters the other day and too be honest, I’d love to write it again because this blog has actually taught me how to write. I’ve learned about things like structure, style, context, the voice I should be using, and so much more. When I was writing my dissertation, I was too busy being distracted by Facebook, so I reckon that being distracted by my blog wouldn’t make a huge difference.
I wrote before for writing.ie, and Irish writing web portal, that writing my blog has given me the confidence to approach magazines and websites for articles. It has also given me the confidence to look at a particular writing challenge to be able to assess it for what it is. I’m currently going over a submission to a writing competition for a travel essay competition with The Writer Magazine. I’m realistic enough to think that there’s a good chance I won’t come close. But, I know my strengths, and if I work hard I also know that there’s a good chance I could do well. Writing regularly, and blogging in particular, has given me that confidence in myself.
The other great thing that I have earned from blogging is the connection with other bloggers. Across the World Wide Web (quicker and easier than saying WWW), I’ve found that there is a fantastic community of contributors worth paying attention to. I’ve come across many by accident and a few thanks to twitter.
When I was just getting into blogging, I had read that bloggers are a community, and that bloggers read blogs and make comments, and its because of this community that the blogging world has earned its authority. Bloggers, while known to be individuals, have been given a voice that many of us appreciate and listen to. My own little blogging adventure has connected me with a new world, and one that has helped me become a more concerned and active writer on the internet.
The blogs I read though are usually not the news/opinion kind, and I only occasionally read news/critique blogs about Korea. This is mostly because I’m too much of a cynic and I know that regardless of how much we rattle a particular cage on a particular subject, nobody of real influence is going to listen and make the changes. I don’t see the point in complaining, I just see the point in getting on with my life the best I can. Don’t get me wrong, I want to be informed and I read the newspaper/party political announcement that masquerades as the press, but I don’t see reacting as something which make my life better. Another thing that kind of annoys me about many specifically Korean interest blogs is the comments section, but I know that is some people’s favourite part.
Here are a few of the blogs that I read regularly. Expect nothing magical. Expect nothing that changes the world. Well, do expect these things, what I mean is that I am just trying to say that I simply enjoy these blogs for my own reasons and I’d like to give them a shout out. Why not give them a read yourself?
I decided to do this in alphabetical order, so as people don’t think they’re more important for whatever reason.
Bobster’s House – It’s Bobster’s House! Yeah! If you’re not reading already, then you should be. He’s cool. He’s honest. He takes neat photos. What else can I say? Oh yeah, he writes beautifully and I just enjoy his posts and I’d like you to also.
Broadside Blog – I’ve written about this blog before. It’s written by Caitlin Kelly, a career journalist. I mostly like this for the writing and work tips, but also for the honesty and thoughtfulness that she employs in her blog posting, and the fact that her posts often encourage others to comment back, or in my own case, to make my own submissions.
Come Here to Me – I came across this recently and I love it! Come Here to Me is a blog hosted by three Dublin lads, mostly with history backgrounds, who have, among other topics, basically blogged all about the aesthetic and structural past and present of the city. The blog is already several years old and has covered so much, allowing for a great dig through their archives. These archives detail all kinds of stuff, so go have a gander because it’s well worth it!
Dayv Matt – Or is it Davy Matt? Anyway, I recently came across this guy’s photos on tumblr. I must say I’m a big fan. I love looking at other people’s photos, and especially street phottography. As soon as I find a new photographer I like, I find myself copying them.
Kate Katherina – Kate Ferguson is a Dublin gal (I believe) who writes about all kind of different things, many of which involve her own life and experiences, as well as her own take on different things happening around her. She writes in a wonderfully pleasant but authoritative way. Her sentences have lots of colour and action. Again, this is just a blog I enjoy for the content, but also it’s a blog that is unique and well written. Please pay her a visit and say hello.
Korean Students Speak – I also came across this courtesy of Wet Casements (mentioned below) on tumblr. It’s very poignant to see that the students have written how and what they feel. Some of the comments are quite emotional and touching, while others are angry, naive… You can scroll through for ages. This kind of thought provoking material really inspires me. I don’t know how it inspires me though.
Seoul Suburban – This is a great blog, and probably my favourite Korea specific blog. Two people, Charlie and Liz, pick a subway station, go there, walk around the area and then come pack and write a blog post about the location. It’s simple but perfect. Charlie writes magnificently, while Liz’s photos are also fantastic (she’s another photographer who’s work I enjoy – visit her website here). This blog really is your gateway into the Seoul that the tourist office don’t tell you about. And, you better believe this one is much more worthwhile!
The Millions – OK, this is kind of cheating because The Millions is an internationally respected online literary magazine, but what I’m linking to here is the tumblr page. Of all the magazines I follow on Tumblr, like the New Yorker, Poetry, and NPR, I probably stop to read The Millions the most. They give nice teasers to their articles, and invariably I follow through with a click. You see, this works better than twitter as I get a sense for what the articles contain, and it’s almost like a blog anyway….so yeah, The Millions on Tumblr…woot etc.
Wet Casements – Wet Casements’s real name may be James. I’m not sure. He lives in Daegu in Korea where he teaches in a college or university, reads the newspaper, takes photos and does other stuff. Again, just a blogger whose posts I enjoy, from the excerpts and links to articles he reads, to just general commentary. Sounds a bit odd, but from what I’ve garnered from his tweets, I share a lot of the same opinions including the way I like to enjoy my music. Anyway, check him out.
We Who Are About To Die – This is one of the few literary blogs that I follow. I’ve lost count of the number of contributors, which is cool as it keeps the posts varied and interesting, from youtube links to interviews to book reviews and commentary. While I’m on this point one of the editors is a guy called Daniel Nestor, and his own website is quite good too. WWAATD is well worth a read, especially if you are into poetry and writing.
If I’ve forgotten anyone, or if you’d like me to think about reading your blog, make a comment below and I’ll see what I can do 😉