The Characterization of a Blog


I’m feeling a bit reflective on this Northern Vancouver Island, mixed weather day – a patch of blue sky, snow low on the mountains, a bit of rain, a touch of wind.

I’ve been blogging for ten months and I recently put up my 100th post. If I Google my name, I find a whole world of me out in cyberspace that never existed a year ago. When I was out tramping the wet trails in the rain and cold yesterday, thinking about the blog, an analogy came to me. The blog has become like a character in one of my novels. It is me – yes (even more so for the blog than any of the characters I have brought to life), but at the same time it has become more than me. It’s now a fully formed, three-dimensional character out in the world. If I listen closely, the blog has a voice and it isn’t always what I would call my voice. It has a personality that has gone beyond me.

Before the reader begins to think I’ve take leave of my senses, consider what Paul Ricoeur has to say about the act of fixing anything in text – it is the beginning of the text’s journey away from the meanings the original author may have intended. The text is freed from the one who created it and the time and context in which it was created and enters the field of interpretation. I’ve written about this before – the idea that the writer writes – the reader interprets. Neither controls the process of the other. Once in the hand of the reader, the text takes on a life of its own that is beyond what the writer may have intended. Over time, with an accretion of text out in the world, the blog has entered into its own life. Part me, part readers, part who knows what.

At about that stage in my thoughts of yesterday, the wind and rain picking up and even the dog starting to lose enthusiasm with the idea of a walk, I had an aha moment – as the creator of this blog/character, I owe it a level of consistency. The blog cannot begin to act in ways that the readers would not find fitting to the character they have come to know and maybe even care about. If it does, there better be a darn good explanation or the reader will not be stopping by again.

For example (this is in no way a judgement of others who have created a character for their blog that is different from what I have set loose in the world – vive le difference, as the French would say) my blog wouldn’t start putting up advertisements. I know WordPress can do this and our only alternative is to pay them to stop, but this blog wouldn’t willingly participate in third-party advertising. By the same token, the blog would never begin a campaign asking readers for money. That would not be consistent with the character the readers have come to know. The blog would not start to scream vitriolic into cyberspace related to current events, people, places or lifestyles. It would not, out of the blue, give the readers a sampling of x-rated content – they wouldn’t be prepared for such behaviour and the blog has no right to take them by surprise.

This blog, much like any of the characters I have created, strives to speak with a consistent voice. The reader should not be thrown for a loop without a good explanation, or be nagged by loose threads.

Not to say that the blog should get stagnant – there needs to be character development over a story arc. No dull blogs or interesting character/blogs caught up in dull life events – to quote Alfred Hitchcock, “A great story is life with the dull parts taken out.”

I’ll throw out a good research term here as well as a personal opinion – a blog worth sticking with should have validity, which simply means the reader deems the content plausible, credible, and trustworthy. The blog, like any good character, will rarely say things exactly as the reader would – but the voice should still make sense.

Enough reflection – perhaps the weather will be a little less wet at walk time today. I know the dog would appreciate that.

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A rare view of the cabin from the water. Maybe you can just see me through the window with the light, sitting by the kitchen table writing while the fire in the wood stove decides to smoke away in a crazy fashion, totally ruining this photo. Well, at least in Bruce’s opinion. I say it is totally plausible.