"Every adventure begins with a small step and a giant leap of faith."
I've taken the title of this post from a music video that appears in the side-bar of John Barleycorn Must Die, which I only noticed AFTER I left a comment on their fascinating interview with Rima Staines this week. It seemed terribly apt, as the discussion this week is a lot about blogging, and my comment was regarding blogging as the building of an online village/community of creative people who inspire and support each other. That's why I blog, and I suspect it's why a lot of people blog. Incidentally, Rima herself is one of the reasons why I blog, if you haven't already discovered her marvelous Into the Hermitage then go go GO (but not right now, finish here first, as Rima's world is a little like faery land...easy to get lost amongst its marvels, and you may never find your way back!)
In the interview, Rima discusses her view of blogging as an art form in itself, how it is a way of creating a small corner of magic that is uniquely hers and her vision in the WWW, where anyone can drop in anytime and see the art she creates. It has helped her reach a point where she can support herself through her art, and her art can reach into the homes of people all over the world, an impossible feat before the internet. Rima also lives in a very REAL creative village, a beautiful small town in Devon, England, where her neighbours are such luminaries as Alan Lee, Brian and Wendy Froud, and Terri Windling (to name a few). We can't all live there, flung to the far corners of the earth as we are. But we can create an IMAGINED village, where we meet regularly, discuss what we've been working on, throw new ideas around, and share favourite music and good laughter. And we ARE creating it. John Barleycorn is worth a look any week (new posts every Friday), as not only is it documenting the development of a particular graphic novel (and all the highs and lows that accompany the birth of a new work), but it is an ongoing discussion on the creative process in general, featuring regular interviews with artists from all over, and a lively discussion from followers around the world (yours truly can easily claim to be the most long-winded!)
Terri Windling (who is married to Howard Gayton, one of John Barleycorn's partners-in-crime) took up the torch (or perhaps, being a moveable feast, it is a large cauldron full of rich stew?!) and continued the discussion about blogging on her Drawing Board. Terri Windling is the other main reason I why I blog. I first discovered her through her marvelous novel The Wood Wife, and then through the magical websites of the Endicott Studio and Journal of Mythic Arts, full to the brim (like that cauldron) of a wonderful rich mix of poetry and art and essays and stories about mythology and faery tales. An award-winning writer and editor, and a stunning artist, Terri's blog is a wonderful cornucopia of thought-provoking essays, beautiful artwork, gorgeous music, fall-off-your-chair-belly-laughs, and of course, there's Tilly the resident muse (who occasionally smells like fox poo but we don't hold that against her!) Her latest post, about why she blogs and how it can overcome the communication difficulties that suffering from a chronic illness can cause, clearly struck a chord as there is now a comment list as long as my arm (and growing).
But what I found most interesting, as I read through, is how the names on these comment lists are becoming familiar to me. Mostly I don't have faces to put to them, but there ARE words, thoughts, ideas, personalities that I recognise. I feel I do know these people in a way. We regularly meet up at places like Terri's blog, and I visit their little corners of the web world and leave comments, and they visit mine. Their comments stimulate and encourage me to keep creating, to keep challenging myself by trying new things, in a way that is almost impossible in the 'real' world. I do not live in a close-knit creative community, and I can hardly accost a stranger in the street and force them to listen to the song I've just written or look at the painting I'm working on and expect an intelligent, coherent comment. I'd probably just get arrested (I'm just now chuckling to myself as I imagine singing on the train into work, while my fellow commuters carefully move away from the 'crazy lady' and call security!)
In this crazy-busy world where it seems we are all time poor, often it is hard to go out and physically create that kind of nourishing community, find those like-minded people and get to know them, spend the time in the cafes or pubs or someone's kitchen talking and debating and laughing together. So how wonderful it is that we can, at the click of a button, no matter what time of the day (or night) it is, or if we are still in our PJs or haven't got the breakfast dishes done yet, connect instantly with people all around the world who understand what we do and why we do it because they're doing it too! And I love this cross-pollination that happens, the arbitrary yet serendipitous connections that are made. I might read 3 of my favourite blogs, all discussing different things which, on the surface at least, have no links. But reading them together CREATES a connection, a bridge between disparate ideas that suddenly makes sense and a new idea emerges.
Terri commented on the John Barleycorn post that this discussion is becoming a 'moveable feast', flitting from blog to blog across the web. I like that idea, moving from the kitchen in one house to the lounge room in another (or the attic!), each blogger providing a special dish for all to share. Sometimes we might bring a tried-and-tested old favourite we've made many times before. And sometimes we might feel brave enough to experiment with an entirely new recipe, knowing our fellow 'villagers' will appreciate our efforts and encourage and support us to keep experimenting. I've been doing a bit of this lately and I truly appreciate more than I can express the comments you have left for me. They make me brave enough to keep on doing it.
So, now that this has most definitely turned into a novel of 'mermaid proportions' (!), it's time to finish up. But I'll leave you all with a request. A recurring theme in these discussions about blogs has been the almost unanimous dislike of the word 'blog'! It is NOT a pretty word, and really cannot begin to encompass the beauty that we find in a blog like Rima's or Terri's. So...it's high time we found a new name. Here are a few off-the-top of my head ideas, please feel free to come up with something much better.....!
webtale...aethertale...aerthersong...websong...webweave...wable (web-fable, though could be pronounced 'wobble'...quite fond of this one!)
"Coming Home"...to a creative 'village' where we can all live, no matter where in the world we are.