On Blogging: William Safire style

Safire receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2006.

William Safire was not a blogger. But he sure knew his way around words.

A passionate lexicographer, or as some labeled him, a “grammar-nitpicker,” Safire was the genius behind “On Language” in the New York Times Magazine, a column on etymology, new or unusual usages, and other language-related topics. The great American author, columnist, journalist and presidential speechwriter wrote until a month before he died at age 79 in 2009. I’m guessing, however, that Safire was not tech-savvy. To captivate, a blogger in the Gotham-sized blogosphere babble needs to be a watchword and kingfish of digital media – words, audio, video and pictures – to rely a compelling story.

Webster’s doesn’t define tech-savvy, but it does designate blog as: “a website containing a writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions…” It was Safire who once said: “Have a definite opinion.” I adhere to that philosophy, to a certain extent. Opinions mirror our beliefs, attitudes and points of view, a blog’s DNA. I like to know where a blogger stands. More often than not, if he or she similarly opines, they got me at go. I listen. I read.

The B-side of having a definite opinion is it can turn people off.  What’s another moniker for opinions? They’re like a____s;  everyone’s got one. From TV to the Internet to books and magazines, we are inundated with opinion overload in twenty-eleven. One needs peep no further for gluttonous conjecture than online, television and the media racks at supermarket checkouts.

So as my blog debuts I strive to limit my posts to what I understand. Or at least think I do. Not surprisingly, like a prudent scriber, I will pitch from my ballpark of interests: people, palaces, politics, books, music and art. I will blog on news accounts and personal anecdote. I have political leanings, a morsel to the left, but I will attempt to stay as centrist as possible. My blog will be a mix of personal and professional, news and gossip [You love it].  

If Safire were alive and blogging today you bet he’d likely fireside, if not precisely on language, then on words, the use and misuse. I love words. And images and a good narrative too. My blog will provide a chance to combine all three. More selfishly, it affords the forum to hone my craft. To become a better writer. For writing, genuine ace writing, is not cooked up on spouting opinions. It accords affection, illumination, persuasion. And the best opinions and blogs fuse history and facts. I may not have definitive opinions all the time, but I’ll strive for balanced assessment, historical certitude and good English. If not for the you, for William the Wordsmith.

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