When I was first introduced to the online travel community more than a year ago, I was confused as to why everyone expected me to start an amateur blog . Who would read it besides my mom? What would I write about? And WHAT was the purpose?
I’d been working in magazines since college, so writing just for kicks, for my new friends who I’d never met across the world, seemed a bit ridiculous. And self-published, free eBooks? Give me a break. It’s not that I looked down on all of it… I just didn’t get it. I was in a period of my life, after losing my job, where I wanted to slow down – not add extra projects that appeared to take a lot of time for little or no monetary profit. And so I stayed far away.
Twelve months later, I have changed my mind. In fact, not only do I think the amateur blogging universe is extremely important to the future of professional writing, but I also think that even journalism snobs should have a lot more respect for it. Here’s why.
A grammar dork who writes and edits for a living, I’m often frustrated that other professionals don’t see the value of good writing, whether it’s in emails, memos for work, or god forbid, something like… books. But as certain circles lament the decline in the average person’s writing ability, blogging is all about improving those skills. The blogs I’ve followed during my year have greatly impressed me; I can literally see the writing improving before my eyes. We all know why: practice, practice, practice. These bloggers write more often than non-bloggers; sometimes they write almost every single day.
Not only that, but many bloggers make efforts to work on improving those skills, actually educating themselves via online resources. As I Stumble, I come across so many sites dedicated to writing, posts that are read by many, many bloggers. I’m still sort of shocked at how many there are! So as the educational system struggles with sparking writing interest, those out in the blogging world are working to improve those very abilities – on their own time. I wish some of the teachers who’d taught these future bloggers could see where they landed! I for one would’ve never believed it if you told me when I was in school that in ten years a lot of my classmates, even some who would groan at every essay assignment, would become enthralled with learning how to write.
And… eBooks. At first, I thought they were absurd. Yeah, yeah, I supported the people I met who had one, but I didn’t really get it. But as I started to compare it to my own life, how frustrated I’ve been trying to (unsuccessfully) get a book published, I realized this was one way to fight against a system that is ridiculously publishing almost exclusively celebrity books, even if they’re painfully juvenile, and forgoing any sort of “gamble” on new authors. Between social media and apps and online everything, self-starters are finally getting the attention that used to be saved for only those with a good agent could offer.
So, at first, I thought all of this blogging was amateurs’ way of pretending to do something I’ve spent my life studying and working on. It was very frustrating. But now, I’m in love. And the fact that a lot of my favorite bloggers are monetizing and profiting in other ways from it? Even better. And on top of THAT, there are huge blogs out there that transcend all of this? It gives me hope for the next phase of journalism and writing.
Instead of the decline of writing, something I’ve been dedicated to literally since I was five years old, our generation’s eBooks and blogs are our way of keeping the appreciation alive. Writers everywhere are finding their voice online, even those who have never written before. And some of us journalism snobs who were late to the party? On our blogs, we get to write about whatever we want.
That makes me so, so happy.
If I didn’t have to go to work soon, I would go through everyone’s archives and find every single one of my favorite blog posts. But I don’t have the time. So here are some favorite online pieces of mine (I picked out all different kinds) that you may have missed, but please know I like about a million more:
A Year of Letting Go, CityGirlBlogs
The Time My Liver Hated Me, DTravelsRound
One Elphantastic Day, FreedoniaPost
2011, The Year I Give Life the Middle Finger, CandiceDoesTheWorld
Garmin and Me, TravelBelles
2010, My Year of Packing Light, SkinnyDip
How to Have the Worst Day Ever in Phuket, Twenty-SomethingTravel
How Not to Pitch a Travel Book, Fevered Mutterings
Why Having a Baby is Like Traveling, Travelogged
Beware of Writer, Terrible Minds