‘I shot an arrow into the air.
It fell to earth I knew not where.’
As I sat down to write, I recalled these opening lines from Longfellow’s poem The Arrow and the Song. In the second stanza the poet ‘breathed a song into the air’ with similar uncertainty. Had he been heard?
Blogging is a curious activity. We write or, in the case of photographs, show whatever we have to offer, then with a click of the mouse away it goes. Like Longfellow’s arrow, we have no idea where it will land.
Presumably all bloggers at one time or another ask themselves ‘Why am I doing this?’ Many will have good reason: for some it provides a profitable income; for others it is a journal documenting their activities; while some see it as a vehicle through which to express strongly held views. Indeed, there are probably as many reasons as there are bloggers.
But why am I doing this?
My photos are an invitation to others to see the world through my eyes. I am fascinated by patterns, shapes and texture, especially in natural objects – grass, rocks and pebbles, seaweed, the play of sunlight on water etc. Often such natural phenomena are passed by without a second thought. I search them out and enjoy playing with an image to capture and enhance the character of the original. The aim is to create a picture about rather than a picture of.
The written pieces are more diverse in purpose. A few introduce the photos; some are autobiographical in the sense of recalling incidents and events from the past; others offer thoughts based on personal experience. But most use the opportunity to draw together and crystallise my own thinking on the chosen topic (as in this case). None are intended to pontificate, although in some instances they reflect personal opinion and conviction. Quotations are used liberally because (a) they are usually succinct, and (b) they are often memorable.
I derive considerable pleasure from the process of creating, but I readily admit that the anonymity of the ‘audience’/the ‘recipients’ (is there a collective noun to describe a group of blog readers?) frustrating. Musicians and actors meet their audiences; writers have their books reviewed and rub shoulders with their readers at book signings, talks and other literary activities. Artists usually sell their works to people who appreciate their skill and style. But the blogger lives in a bubble, adrift from the real world.
Yes, it is pleasing (sometimes exciting) to see the number of ‘views’ grow by the day, but wouldn’t it be nice to know more about the people behind the clicks? Who are they? Where are they from? What are their interests? What do they think? How did they stumble upon my blog? I am sometimes tempted to put a piece in a bottle and cast it into the Channel, just to see if there is life out there.
But before I sound too disillusioned let me return to the last stanza of Longfellow’s poem:
‘Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroken;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.’
Clearly there is hope yet!
See also About My Photographs, Hello And Welcome, Introducing the Dune Grass photos, The Water Abstracts