A little while ago, Paul semi-tagged me with the ‘five reasons why I blog’ meme that’s been doing the rounds of some parts of the blogosphere. It’s taken me a while to get around to answering, in part for the usual real-life reasons that usually get in the way of blogging, and in part because I’ve had to think about what the answer is.
For starters, for me at least there’s both the question of why I blog, and why I blog here. Torque Control isn’t set up as “Niall Harrison’s blog”, it’s set up as “the Vector editorial blog”, and in the back of my head there’s always been the hope that when I step down as editor, whoever takes over from me will take over here as well. Part of the reason Torque Control exists, at least in theory, is to promote Vector and the BSFA, and ideally to provide some sort of forum for BSFA members. How well this is working, I have no idea — not well enough to get Vector into the drop-down list for the “Best Magazine” category in the Locus poll, at least, though Foundation makes it; on the other hand, there have been some good discussions here over the past couple of months, and the website gets a healthy number of inbound links.
On another level, of course, Torque Control is “Niall Harrison’s blog” — I have a livejournal, but deliberately don’t use it for any kind of formal blogging any more — and on that level, several of the reasons Paul cites for why he blogs apply to me too. I also like sharing cool stuff with other people (for somewhat idiosyncratic values of “cool stuff”); I too see blogging as a way of engaging with the wider sf community, and have made a number of good friends along the way; and, yes, it’s nice to have an audience. I like thinking out loud, or at least have got into the habit of thinking out loud, and I like thrashing out ideas in the comments section. Quite often, if I just post a quote, it’s because something in that quote has piqued my interest, but I haven’t quite pinned down why yet; seeing other peoples’ responses to the quote helps me to think more clearly about my own. Paul’s point about using blogging to maintain a writing discipline sort of applies to me, too. As with the comments, it’s all an aid to thinking; writing about things I’ve read or seen or done helps me to work out what I think of them (not to mention helps with remembering what I think of them, and why) — although now I’m shading into a separate post about why I write reviews.
Thinking about this, though, has made me wonder exactly where “Niall Harrison’s blog” stops and “Torque Control” begins, or vice versa. Matt Cheney made a post recently about how and why he uses The Mumpsimus in the way that he does. Some of what he says doesn’t apply to me — I do feel some pressure to be consistent in my thoughts, for the more “formal” posts to be quite fully worked-through before I post them; I feel more comfortable writing through that filter, rather than writing more directly, as in this post — but quite a lot of it sounds familiar, particularly the part about posting frequency, and the effect of other writing commitments on that. I try to aim for at least one “content” post a week, but it doesn’t always work out that way.
And I like Matt’s point about finding connections, “talking about sf, but not only sf.” To date I’ve resisted posting about non-sf as much as I can, because Torque Control is what it is; but I think I’m going to start waiving that rule, because I suspect it strikes everyone else as completely pointless. This is not to say that you’re going to suddenly see a flood of posts about, for example, ten-pin bowling (on which topic I can be surprisingly boring). This will still be a blog about things I read and watch, and most of what I read and watch is still sf, and even for those parts that aren’t I can still usually find a way to bring an sf reader’s eye to the proceedings. But hopefully you’ll see a little bit more diversity over the next few months.
Are there five reasons why I blog in there? I think there are, somewhere.