Saturday, 23 June 2007

Blogging On

Well, we were sitting around at the Diogenes Club again last night, as we do on infrequent Friday evenings, and the subject of blogging came up. I might add at this point that I am a blogging virgin, while two of my fellow club members are blogging experts with plenty of advice to offer. It was decided that I too, must have a blog.

But what to blog about, though? Tim was quite insistent that I must have a niche. It is no use blogging on about the world or politics or the latests deficiencies of the government. There's thousands doing that and it'll be stale in a couple of weeks. You need to have something that lasts, something your grandchildren will want to read about in a hundred years time - or it's useless. Well I am by no means convinced that there will be 'a hundred years time' to write for, but that's besides the point. And I understood the point well. Tim is interested in the eternal verities: innocence, purity - but nothing too dangerous. "You're passing on the baton to the next generation, you're not aiming for the mass market, you are trying to create a niche, and in your case you create your niche by what you can hand on to your grandchildren in a hundred years time."

It's good advice, but it's no closer to finding me a niche.
Tim is fortunate in that he already has a niche of his own. He is a beachcomber by temperament, and I sneakingly feel would like to be one by profession. He is master of his world (by which I mean Google numero one in his chosen field) and from the domain of his beach hut has command over all he sees. There is a great advantage to being a beach hut man like Tim. Not only does he have a niche, but it's the kind of niche where the whole world can pass by along the shore, and there are plenty of jewels to pick up and polish.

Likewise David. He is another founder member of the Diogenes Club and a veteran blogger with an encyclopedic knowledge of film, literature, local history and a dozen other things. David doesn't just have one niche, he has a number of them. His advice on "finding your niche" is a little on the existential side. "It will just come to you in the middle of the night. You will wake up and it will be there." I'd like to believe it. Like the Holy Blood and the Holy Grail it's a quest to find something that is hidden deep in the psyche - something that is revealed by dreams in the mystic moment. Not that I've believed any of that sort of thing either.

So come on guys - what should I write about? I need some better advice if I am to enter the blogging world.Tim was insistent. "Don't let anyone tell you what to write." It's good advice, but doesn't help one to get started on the thing.

And here's something else, according to Tim's rules of Blogging: "Don't say anything behind people's backs that you wouldn't say to their faces." That's a lesson I discovered a long time ago now and is an essential rule for protecting yourself against all kinds of hypocracy. It's also one of the reasons I admire old Diogenes. Call a spade a spade and damn the consequences. Just tell it like it is. Of course that kind of attitude will get you into trouble and it is a strong man who can carry such a burden. It's likely that no such people exist anymore - and maybe never have existed. It is said that Diogenes used to stroll through the
Agora during the day carrying a torch while the sun was bright in the sky. When asked what he was doing, he answered, "I am looking for an honest man." He reputedly found nothing but rascals and scoundrels, but he made his point well.

But back to the niche. Was David right that it would just come to me in the night? Well it was about 5.30am this morning and, believe it or not, I awoke with it all clear in my mind. Stories from the Diogenes Club. That's a niche setting if anything is - yet the whole of human life is here, as one Sunday newspaper use to subtitle its offerings. It's my very own beach hut from which I can beachcomb the little nuggets along the Diogenes shoreline and maybe polish up a few for those coming after. Here everything comes and goes, the warp and woof, the eternal verities, the good, bad and ugly - and nothing too dangerous.

1 comment:

beachhutman said...

If your blog is successful it will be taking us on a journey that you have not planned,

I've already followed where my nose is being led by looking up overnight Diogenes, the Diogenes Club, Sherlock Holmes, Mycroft and Kim Newman.
That lot is material for a six month sabattical to start with. I need a sabbattical now.
David as our own eminence grise will already have "visited" these subjects and will have probably written more books (in gestation) on them than I could ever read. But the links are there for you to find or follow and your blog will quickly take on a life of its own independently of any conscious planning. All you have to do is follow YOUR nose. Likewise any reader looking for a vein to puncture.

As I said in my own blog "the world is more complicated than my...conception of it. I value that diversity." That is labyrinth law, older than Diogones, and something celebrated by other candidates for the Diogenes Club; see the Dorset Earth Mysteries Group at for more in that vein.
Without going every mile indicated, though.

The Diogenes Club's potential range would threaten the indolence of any Mycroft-style contributor and if it grows organically it suits me fine since I need not write much more stuff as the blog grows legs of it's own.

As David said it will begin taking its own form in your mind whether you think you are in charge or not.

In the labyrinth, in the domain, you are but a cork tossed on the waves of chance.

Welcome to the escalating trials of the domain.

I hope David from his corner comes up with his own "footnotes" to our musings and will lead us who knows where else in conversation and thereby give us all actual or subliminal clues for additional future topics?

Me, I am not really that compus mentis, living in a different world from most others.

I might be the happy fool such as Lear enjoyed consulting when trying to make sense of his own orbit.

Even a fool can have a contributory role in your sphere. Not so much visual ballast at a meeting making up numbers but a little literary effervescence, pointing out alternatives and diversions like a joker in the pack.

It will probably be impeneterable or off-message and require severe editing and distilling down for the ordinary chap to see the relevance.
Or rather than any ordinary chap keep those great grandchildren in mind. Write and edit for them. Lead them off in directions they would not have thought of by themselves. Directions we would not think of by ourselves, without the prompting of others and ithe ncredulity of ourselves.
Diogenes would be proud of you.