The blog is an unsatisfactory form. This flows from the fact that it is, basically, a do-it-yourself-newspaper. It forces a crude chronological structure upon you, even if that is not the most suitable for what you want to say. It is essential to be timely, so it favours combative shooting-from-the-hip rather than thoughtful beard-stroking. It is entirely your responsibility to find readers (how sad those two words:“0 comments”) and having got them you must resist the temptation to pander to them by becoming pointlessly shouty and sweary. The structure of the thing is a standing temptation to oversimplification, and I very much doubt if I will be able to resist that temptation.
So blog writing is just not my type of thing at all, but it does have the overwhelming advantage of being available. If you want to publish, then there it is, a few clicks away, you don’t have to get past any commissioning editors, you don’t have to fulfil any external deadlines. And just as much as the blog form pushes one towards oversimplification (bad), it also applies encouragement towards concision (good).
The structure thing does bother me though – what I actually want to write is not a diary or a newspaper but a short book. The blog form can, rather grudgingly, be bullied into doing something like this, using the wordpress’categories’ as an equivalent to chapters or major subsections, with tags as the index. So, in a year’s time, when I have got rid of most of what I want to say (and will be feeling much better for it no doubt) it will be possible, by working through the ‘categories’, to read this blog as if it were the very rough first draft of a conventional book.
Who is my audience?
Now there’s a question. A trick I’ve played, in order to overcome gravity and get myself launched on this, is to say to myself “I’m doing this because I sort of have to – for the relief of mental constipation. Therefore I simply don’t care if no-one else reads it. It’s basically a writing exercise. I am writing it for myself”.
This is, as I said, a trick. You cannot get rid of the question of who the audience is. If it really were just myself then I wouldn’t publish it on the net. Realistically, I know that if anyone reads Psychobikeology, it will be a handful of cycling bloggers – and probably just those in Bristol and London. But ideally, it would be nice to also reach a few people who haven’t thought much about the problems with our current arrangements for personal transport – and why should they have thought about it? It would be good to maybe persuade a few people, clear up some common misunderstandings, provoke a bit of thought. I honestly can’t see that such persuadable people would even come across this blog, let alone read it, but for this imaginary audience I am going to describe and explain a few things that, to me and the usual suspects, have become obvious and taken-for-granted. In other words I want to present the argument, and to do that I’m going to try and adopt a tone that is slightly calmer (and duller?) than you tend to get on the net. Please don’t mistake this for a lack of passion … look at the blogs I link to and you’ll see plenty of very forthright people. For the most part I agree with them.
Right then, enough of this pomposity, here we go. The personal is the political (and vice versa, of course) so let’s lay the foundation with a bit of personal transport history.