Sunday, July 29, 2007


A.D's thoughts on blogging, one year on. As published by the Australian Journalists' Association Scoop magazine, Winter 2007 edition. Photo of A.D courtesy of Demo Bob.

I began writing my blog, known to avid readers as the nerve, while stranded in the wilds of the Great Victoria Desert. Finding myself in the Blackstone Range, south of the Giles Meteorological Station, I cast about for something to do. I was in Papulankutja, a dry community with no alcohol, smoking, drugs, or petrol - and thus my options were limited. There was, however, broadband. So I got on, went to, and started a blog.

I was carrying with me a longhand journal filled with observations, gum leaves, printed ephemera, sketches and diatribes. But after my first electronic post, it dawned on me that while my blogging style was just as inimitably personal - solipsistic is perhaps more apt - as my private journalistic rants, there was one major difference.

The little button I pressed to upload my post. The little button that said, simply, “PUBLISH”.

And therein lay the magic. The power inherent in clicking that button was strangely addictive. I watched that vaguely miraculous little rotating wheel appear alongside the legend “PUBLISHING IN PROGRESS” and thought: that’s more like it.

It was in July of 2006 when the editor of Yarn magazine, former Rolling Stone journalist Barb, convinced me to start a blog. Yarn flew me to the Alice to cover the Beanie Festival. Why not, I thought? If I can play lawn bowls, I can surely write for a knitting magazine. I grabbed my Nikon and left. At the Alice’s famous Casa Nostra Italian restaurant (Casa Nostra being Italian for Nostril Castle, apparently so named for a local custom of consuming fettucine via the nostril) Barb regaled me with stories of writers who secured book contracts, after having innumerable offers thrust upon them, all as a result of writing blogs. Well, it got me thinking.

After the Beanie Fest I was nabbed and driven across the desert, down Aboriginal “business roads” not shown on any map, to photograph the spinifex papermaking in Papulankutja. And it was here I realised the innate portability of a blog. If I can blog here, I thought, I can blog anywhere. Later I would plug in at a net cafĂ© in Bangkok, publish my photographs, impressions on the military coup, and blog my thoughts on living the Thai life - all for the cost of a few baht. falls loosely within the ambit of what is termed the “social media”. MySpace, for instance, is a cross between a high school clique and One of the first places visited by journalists and police after a mass-murder/suicide, MySpace is popular with musicians, serial killers, and people into online dating. Apart from your favourite music and films, MySpace lists your age, marital status, star sign (oh, please), whether or not you want kids, and whether you prefer “dating” or a “serious relationship”. Thankfully, Blogger is less like personal pages for egomaniacal wannabes.

But one reason I blog is, admittedly, for precisely the kind of benefits the social media bring. A way to keep in touch with friends and associates, or, rather, a way to put myself out there for those friends and associates who may be interested. Don’t you sometimes feel writing unsolicited emails to friends is uncomfortably like spamming? And sometimes it is: personally, I can’t stand being included in those bulk emails alleged “friends” send with those attachments they find so endlessly amusing ... just stop it, ok?

But the main reason? Blogging is an easy way to publish creative work. With newspaper writing, particularly news writing, there is very little room for creativity in expression. With digital photography, most images languish on my hard drive, rarely to be printed. Uploading them to a blog, or to a Flickr site, makes them seem more real, more visible: more like a print.

To write a blog and get picked up by the mainstream media, or to garner a massive readership and thence a book contract, you need to find yourself a niche, and then go for it. You need to be highly specific in what you choose to write about. Unfortunately I am not yet that pragmatic, focussed, or obsessed.

The nerve is, ultimately, all about putting the me in meandering.

And the “comments” button underneath each post? Its true purpose is neatly summed up by Bette Midler’s character C.C. Bloom in Beaches: “But that’s enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What do you think about me?”

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