First past the post


A great deal is made of first lines, first pages, first chapters – first novels and first albums, even – but it struck me the other day that this same importance cannot be applied to the blog. The opening scene of any Bond film; Jane Austen’s famous line about it being a truth universally acknowledged that a woman of a certain age and background is bound to be in need of a husband (or however it goes – I’m paraphrasing); the first song on any album being the Big Hit Single; Shakespeare comparing his boyfr…er, I mean wife to a summer’s day. These are renowned because the media in question are linear (or at least were linear – albums in particular are in the process of being mutated into something distinctly non-linear by the digital age), and in the event of an old fashioned paper-based diary being published, its first entry may also become either famous, important or both.

But the first entry in a blog may be the least read of all, because the longer lived the blog becomes, the further away from its first page or most recent entry that first entry will inevitably move. Even if said blog goes on to become the Most Read Blog In The World (I wonder who that accolade currently belongs to? Britney Spears? Barack Obama? Timmy Mallet?), or buzzy, as I believe the current web parlance has it, or extensively Tweeted, Facebooked, Digged (Dugg?), very few of its readers will ever take the time to trawl all the way back through the archives to the very first time the blogger in question decided to make use of his or her free WordPress account.

Moreover, because blogs – by and large, at least – do not get re-written, the first entry is likely to be tentative, and particularly if the blogger is not already an experienced writer, poorly written. Not that I’ve done much research into the matter, but I suspect that a lot of blogs begin with something like the following: ‘Now that my boyfriend has left me / I’ve been diagnosed as terminally ill / my stamp collection has become so vast that the attic floor has collapsed, I’ve decided to start a blog. I don’t really know what I’m going to write about, and I don’t really know how often I’m going to write it, but I’m hoping that it will be therapeutic, and act as an outlet for my innermost thoughts / mentally unstable ramblings / painfully geeky obsessions.’ Well, you get the idea.

So, now that I too have decided to write a blog (my second attempt – the first having petered out after life and laziness got in the way), here is my own rambling, inconsequential but hopeful first entry, and here are my reasons for rejoining the blogosphere:

1) I’m moving to Japan with Mrs Muzuhashi this spring.
2) I managed to earn a living as a writer for a while before the recession hit, but haven’t done much since, and need to get back into practice if I’m ever going to…
3) …make some kind of impact in Japan as a journalist / travel writer / foreign correspondent / translator / cultural commentator / ninja assassin.

The aim is to try and avoid too much navel gazing, and – given my ongoing efforts to become at least semi-fluent in Japanese – to get out, meet people, hear their stories, experience cultural, er, stuff, and generally use my linguistic ability to get beyond the usual ‘I like sushi! / Isn’t Hello Kitty cute! / Japanese people do the craziest stuff!’ clichés. Whether I manage to achieve this is very much open to question, and finding the time to write entries – even more so than not being good enough at Japanese – is likely to be this blog’s worst enemy, as it is with every other blog that’s ever been written in the history of the internet.

Which is all a rather roundabout way of saying, who cares what I’ve just written, because no one’s ever going to read it anyway. Give me six months or so and I’ll have readers coming out of my ears (if that’s the right phrase), and if you happen to be one of them, congratulations for trawling your way this far back through the archives. For now, it’s time to get on with the hard work and stop navel gazing.