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“Hungry Bird.” Why Write a Journal or a Blog?

I finished a new painting yesterday, “Hungry Bird.”

“Hungry Bird” oil on canvas, May, 2014, 18” x 24”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

I like how he’s about to eat a yellow square from the underlying pattern of squares and rectangles. Maybe he’s come into this abstract world from the funky analog world and he’s eating it. I did that background pattern a couple of weeks earlier, and then one morning I saw an article in the paper, with a photo of a hungry baby black-crested night heron. Some bird had been evicted from their nests near Merrit Lake in Oakland.

I saw this nestling on the local TV news last night, doing well, saw him gulp down a whole big fish in one bite. Followed by a yellow square…


[Photo by Paul Chinn, SF Chronicle.]

This week, among other activities, I’ve been looking through my 25-years-long collection, Journals 1990-2014, which I might try publishing next year, like in 2015. I’m in my fourth full revision of the thing, wrestling it down to a more reasonable size, and revising it for better flow. I came across a bloggable entry on the topic of why I would enjoy writing a journal at all. And these reasons could just as well apply to why I blog. I came up with seven reasons.

Identity. After my roles of husband and father, the most essential thing about me is that I am a writer. For me to write is to be myself. When I’m writing, I feel I have a reason to exist.

Companionship. I don’t speak as clearly as I write. And it’s rare that anyone wants to listen to me talk at any great length about my arcane interests. A writing page is a patient conversational partner.

Self-discovery. In writing, I unearth thoughts I didn’t know I had. And then I rewrite, organizing the thoughts into clear patterns.

Social utility. The journal or blog writings can seed commercial works. If people enjoy reading what I write, I’m performing a social good. And I can get money and recognition for this.

Transcendence. I become an observer rather than just a participant. I get out of myself. I see things from a broader perspective. I forget my quotidien worries.

Craftsmanship. I enjoy honing and exercising my craft. Writing a journal or a blog works at multiple levels: choosing the mot juste, building balanced sentences, forming paragraphs that express well-formed thoughts, writing posts or journal entries that have an essay-like cohesion or perhaps a narrative zap, orchestrating the flow of posts or entries into a developmental arc.

Immortality. When I record what I’m thinking and doing, I’m making a temporary barrier against my eventual obliteration by time’s flow. On a more practical level—I tend to forget things, and looking back on my journals or my blog brings back the past.

I’m having some success with my current Kickstarter project: Transreal Trilogy + All the Visions. Many thanks to those of you out there who are backing it.

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