I was told this week that I have a hobby blog. I got the distinct impression that in that context, “hobby” meant “not read by anybody”.
Which I already knew — I see the stats after all. Yes, that’s a slight exaggeration, it is read by someone (hi, Mom!), but speaking in broad generalities it’s mostly true.
But that triggered the conversation in my head again about whether that’s OK. And then my bill for the website came in yesterday, and I had to think about it again.
I think it is, but there are moments when it’s not. I think it is because I’m not willing to do what is (maybe) necessary to make it not true. I don’t have a target audience, and if I did, the target would be really, really, tiny (people who like iced tea and reading and chocolate and good movies but not an endless parade of mediocre superhero movies and the Bible and travel and anything else that might come up). I don’t stick to a particular subject (see above), and I don’t want to. I don’t have any particularly useful information to convey. (Unless you’re a movie critic who hasn’t seen any of the seminal movies of the last eighty years.)
I have the same problem with photography, my other alleged hobby (which in this context means “not seen by anybody”). My photography isn’t “about” anything, either. I’m not a landscape shooter, a portrait photographer, a baby photographer. I don’t force myself to go shooting every day, which you should do if you really want to be a better photographer. I don’t shoot weird things just for the aesthetic beauty of them, which apparently everybody who’s a serious photographer does. (OK, I occasionally do that, and in my circle those are known as my “photographer” pictures, which tells you what you need to know about the rest of my pictures.) I shoot whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like it.
But what both do for me is make me feel good when I do them. Not surface good, like you feel when get a good parking place, but deep down good, like when you’ve just built the Eiffel Tower or eaten a pint of Bluebell all by yourself.
I discovered writing thirty years ago when a Sunday School teacher asked me to write a newsletter for the class (hi, Barbara!) and I sat down at a typewriter1 and suddenly there was an alternative persona sitting beside me. I’d never seen him before, I’d never imagined him before, I thought I was typing a few facts on a sheet of paper and making a bunch of copies. What came out was definitely not what that teacher had in mind.
I discovered photography ten years later when I bought my first camera for a vacation my wife and I were taking to England with some friends (hi, Mac & Dottie!). I thought that might be the only time I ever saw another part of the world, so I should record some of it. I didn’t know anything about photography, which is obvious if you look at the pictures, but I had fun, and so I started reading more about it and taking more pictures and eventually bought a digital SLR and traveled a lot more than I ever thought I would (mostly to the same place, though) and took a whole lot more pictures.
Maybe it just comes down to telling stories.2 I learned story telling by listening to one of the great ones for forty-one years, and maybe I just like to tell stories, aural ones and visual ones. Although story-tellers usually need an audience…
Well, whatever it is, I’m going to keep doing it. I guess I should pay that web hosting bill.