Why don't I write about (take your pick)
I often get emails or comments asking me why don't I write about this or that or the other topic. Every now and then I do take people up on one of these suggestions (for example, this post was written after someone recommended the article in question to me). So I'm not trying to discourage suggestions; not at all. But I only write about things that happen to interest me. I'm funny that way.
A different kettle of fish entirely are comments that challenge me in a very hostile way to take up a certain topic. I get such "requests" rather frequently. They remind me a bit of being called out for a duel; I expect to see the seconds come around any minute with the pistols. There's certain macho quality of "I dare you, and if you don't take me up on it, I feel free to consider you to have conceded my point by inaction."
Same answer to those challengers: if interested, I write. If not, I don't. It's really quite simple.
I'm not here on assignment. That's one of the nice things about blogging, as opposed to being a journalist or a student: I really only have to write about what I happen to want to write about.
Oh, some topics are more exciting than others. Sometimes I think I'm interested in writing about something and then run out of steam halfway. Some of those posts never see the cyberlight of day; some do.
I often don't quite know where a post is going when I begin it; sometimes it's only at the end that things come clear (or at least as clear as they're ever going to get). But I usually start out with an idea, or a series of linking ideas (often a great rush of them), or a question, or a mystery. There's some sort of spark, some "aha!" or "hmmm, I wonder" moment that begins the whole thing. I find myself writing on those little notepapers, and/or ruminating while doing other things (especially exercising). A little monologue starts in the brain, and sometimes it can be quite insistent and demanding.
You may have noticed I don't always write on the topic du jour. I like to do research and look at things in-depth, and I'm especially interested in stories of change. I like to look at things broadly and make connections, sometimes even in ways that (if I may say so) are surprising and original (I think those are often my favorites, although they can be hard to write). I enjoy uncovering some piece of history and trying to connect it to things that are happening today.
So when I get an e-mail asking me why don't I write about such and such--for example, the port controversy--my answer is that I don't write about certain things because they just don't grab me. That's not to say they're not important, or that I have absolutely nothing to say about them. It's just that it all takes a lot of time and effort to research, and I have to feel some sort of inspiration to do so--and, more importantly, I need to believe I have something fresh or unusual or personal or meaningful to say about it.
About that port controversy, I don't. And it's not a topic that's exactly been crying out for want of attention. Nearly every aspect of it has been aired in the MSM and on the blogs, and I just don't have anything to add that seems worth taking the trouble to say. I've read on both sides and, although at first I was against the deal, I now see some decent arguments that go in the other direction.
So, I'm skipping it--and many many other stories as well. I'm not running a wire service, and I'm not a newspaper trying to give readers an overview of everything that's happening. I'm not even Instapundit, although sometimes I wish I were.
I walk fast for exercise, and if the weather's not good I go to the health club and use the treadmill. It seems very conducive to thinking about the posts that do interest me. It's almost as though my thoughts go round as though they're on a treadmill, too (the treadmills of your mind?--I song I've never liked, by the way). When that happens, I know I've got my topic. All I have to do is write it.
[ADDENDUM: Dean Esmay, same subject.]