A cautious return to content creation

My stop-start-splutter-halt efforts to write more about the things I think about have failed recently. I’m increasingly wary of a culture which demands that everything must be shared; that there is no purpose in creative output if that output doesn’t create “content” which can be dispersed to interested parties looking for bite-size chunks of intellectual stimuli on a rainy day.

I recently finished A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit, a wonderful exploration of different ways of getting lost, different processes of knowing, the importance of the senses, and full of eloquent ideas about the nature of wandering and the self. I turned the final page of the book only to be struck with an advert for the publishing company which informed me that if I visited their website, there was loads more “great content” at my “fingertips”. Actually, content wasn’t what I wanted when I finished this book – I wanted to reflect and process, not ingest more.

However, in the Internet age, we have become overwhelmingly content-focused. A friend told me a story recently of being at a wedding where a book was being passed around for people to write messages to the bride and groom. Two teenagers that she was sat with immediately took out their phones to Google examples of nice things to say to somebody on their wedding day. This article by Charlie Brooker, I think, sums up my wariness of creating more content to share.

So why start writing again? A few reasons.

  1. I think anything that speaks a counternarrative to current society is worthwhile of being shared. I try and speak a counternarrative, and the act of publication is somewhat similar to the act of floating ideas in conversation: I hope that people will engage and challenge me on my ideas, or perhaps challenge their own presuppositions as a result. Grand aims, I’m sure.
  2. I’m privileged enough to currently be studying for an MSc, which means I’m constantly in communication with new ideas and perspectives, and sometimes it’s hard to keep up and process them properly before I become fascinated by the next thing. Writing is a way to explore some of these ideas and concepts outside of the Ivory Tower and its limitations on form and substance.
  3. The platform of a blog acts as motivation to write more than half-finished pieces of prose in notebooks, and provides a space where I’m forced, or force myself, to write coherent pieces of work. This is an entirely selfish way of developing my own skills – but you don’t have to subject yourself to reading. I just want to get better at writing – Jeffrey Lewis is pretty good at explaining why.
  4. I’m excited by life. I’m excited by hope and by people and by stories and by the prospect of something different to what we hear day in, day out. I’d like to share that excitement.
  5. I don’t currently create as much content as Charlie Brooker does, I’m nowhere near as good, and have nothing approaching his public platform. So I can stay hidden in this corner of the Internet and probably don’t have to worry about muddying the waters of content.

Anyway, this is a babbling public promise that I’m going to spew more words over the Internet, and a warning to step away now if you’ve had enough words for one day. Go and have a cup of tea.

Published by

Miriam Dobson

PhD researcher at the University of Sheffield. Soil, urban food, allotments, ecosystem services.

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