Two years ago, when I first trespassed on the presence of the man who was to become my blogging Maestro, I was as a schoolboy before his headmaster's study door, or even more like a priest's apprentice, newly rescued from the orphanage, sent to perform sacrifice at the feet of the idol.
A sense of my inadequacy filled me from spinning head to chilly feet, passing through a pounding chest, a face alternately red and white, a stomach churning dangerously, and knees that trembled so violently they could barely keep me standing. I saw myself from afar, an object of horror in my own eyes, appalled that one such should dare to enter that place. I would have turned and run, but my legs weren't up to the effort.
A 9th degree Technoratus, no less, the most highly transcended figure of that great celestial blogosphere of which most of us know nothing, preferring to believe that this poor thing we send our thoughts out into is all there is. A man, a being rather, so supremely pure that he did not blog in the way that we might understand it; he had no keyboard, no modem, no material connection to the world of the mundane blogger whose life consists of tapping out his idlest thoughts in the belief that someone, somewhere, cares what he has to say. No, the Maestro blogged in the purest, most spiritual way, entirely within his own mind, and his web site was the infiniteness of time, the gaps between the stars, the silences we mortals create by our inability to fill them, his readership the perfect and perfected creatures that inhabit those places.
Despite the gulf between us, he received me as great men do, as though I were the one doing him the favour, as though he had waited years for this moment, as though there were something he could learn from me.
'Maestro', I breathed, my forehead to the ground, so overcome I could barely even kneel, 'I would blog.'
The words were spoken; I had violated that place, the purity of the air that man respired, by my presumption that I could, in any way at all, be like him. I awaited death, which I was sure by them was the only possible punishment, with something approaching satisfaction.
'Then blog, my son. To blog is to live. To blog is to be. To blog is to become one with the universe.'
'How can I blog, in the truest sense, Maestro? I mean Blog, not merely blog?'
'You refer to readership, my son, stats.'
'Er, yes, Maestro. For it is written that a blog that goes unread is like a camel's armpit unbitten by fleas.'
'So they tell me, yes. You need a niche, my son, something only you can talk about in a particular way. What do you have to tell people about?'
'Hedgehogs, Maestro,' I replied, 'I am the goto man for reliable hedgehog news.'
'Hmm,' mused the Great One, 'not bad, but perhaps a bit too niche. Chuck in a bit of passionate and crudely analysed politics, and some whimsical humour. It'll help the hedgehogs along. Then go with whatever is making you think, whatever makes you feel strong emotion. Use words wisely and well, and transmit, my son, that feeling to others. Someone will listen. Be yourself, and don't take yourself too seriously because, lets face it, my son...'
Once he'd started he got up steam and went on like this for some time. I took note of everything he said, and have tried to be a good disciple. When he had said what he had to say he stopped and dismissed me, saying,
'Go out into the world and blog as I have taught you to blog. Return in two years and I shall weigh your worth.'
Those two years are nearly gone, and I must make my way once more to the Presence, and account for the use I have made of my Maestro's teaching.
I could lie, of course. Since he lives in a cave near the top of a particularly inhospitable mountain, and communciates only with those beings that inhabit the spaces between the lower level orbits of the hydrogen atom, the chances of him knowing my site stats are fairly slim. Or I could tell him I use the pseudonym Old Holborn or Guido Fawkes. But it wouldn't feel right. So I shall go to him bearing the truth, perhaps the greatest gift there is. And just in case, a box of the finest Belgian chocolates, which melt the hardest of hearts.
Wish me luck.
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