THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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Why I blog (part II of "What is the point of blogging?")

BiroOver two years, I have devoted many hours to expressing opinions here. Just over 70 people subscribe to my RSS feed and 30-50 “regulars” actually show up at the site each day. If the even smaller group who make comments are representative, they all have quite similar opinions to mine.

Naively, I set out to light a candle in the political darkness descending on my country. Even by that unambitious standard (and, please, I do not solicit more encouragement than has already been kindly offered) I have failed. My political impact, if any, is in the realms of quantum physics.

I enjoy writing for its own sake; drafting, re-drafting, taking pains to cram meaning into selected words. My only academic prize was for an English essay; the first law student at my university to take a prize regarded the English Department as its own. I write every day for work, crafting my business communications as best I can. and trying to promote good writing by my team, most of them working in a second language. However, there is little room for anything of me in such writing. 25 years of it has crippled my style, such as it was. Business people want concise information, fast. I have prostituted my prose to that, cheerfully enough. Here, however, I can write my way. However, if you add up all the words in all my posts, I could have written my long thought-about and probably-now-never-to-be-written novel. There are other ways to indulge a love of writing.

Political blogging is also a therapy. Devil’s Kitchen spoke recently on 18 Doughty Street of its cathartic effect. He did not set out to win an audience or be funny. He was just releasing his political rage. He claims, somewhat implausibly, to be surprised that a large readership finds his writing funny. I lack his humorous skills, but have enjoyed, in my own way, a similar catharsis. At the very least, my readers have relieved the pressure on my family and friends endlessly to discuss my political concerns. Yet no audience is required for such therapeutic writing. I could have kept a diary to vent my rage.

It seems incredible to me now, but I started this blog without having read any others. I went straight to Blogger (where I began) from a newspaper article. So the most important benefit of blogging was a surprise to me. The media like to portray us as geeks in garrets, but this is - above all - a social medium. It took me a while to realise that, in my lonely preaching, I was completely missing the point. To my family, business colleagues and friends, I must now add my blogging friends. I continue now, largely from solidarity with them. The price I pay for the pleasure of reading their blogs is to contribute my own h'aporth here and elsewhere.

So my reasons to continue now are mainly personal. Nonetheless, I still nurture some political hopes for British blogging. They are realistic hopes; not based on any big breakthrough for this or any similar blog. I shall explain further in the third and final part of this post.