If the voice in an essay is interesting, it almost doesn't matter what the subject is. I read them for the personality, the sense of the author that lies behind the words, and I think that's what I enjoy about blogs too. I want a sense of a personality coming through.
I agreed then, and I was forcefully reminded of her point recently when I realized that I could recognize the voices of many of my favourite bloggers even when I encountered them without their names attached.
There are a couple of blogs that I visit several times a day, not because I greedily anticipate more than one post, but because their authors have a genius not just for penning interesting posts but for provoking interesting comments. Commenters respond to the post and, as comments accumulate, respond to one another’s comments, and a lively conversation develops. I keep checking back to see if more people have weighed in on the topic under discussion, and what they’ve said about it, and whether the author of the post has resurfaced in the comments section to respond.
It’s in these comments sections that I found I could recognize bloggers’ voices out of context. Well, not entirely out of context. Communities of litbloggers develop around shared interests and it’s not at all surprising to repeatedly encounter one another visiting the same blogs. But when you visit a blogger at home, you know whose post you’re reading. Whereas in the comments section of someone else’s blog, you often read several sentences before you scroll down far enough to see the signature.
Not long ago, I was reading a comment and thinking to myself, This must be BlogLily. I’d recognize that voice anywhere. When I got to the signature, sure enough it was. Since then it’s become a bit of a game with me—like trying to identify the song that’s playing on the radio from the first few bars. I’ve found that within a sentence or two, I can usually recognize Dorothy W., Litlove, BikeProf, Ella, Stefanie, Danielle, or Victoria, as the author of a comment. And, given the opportunity, I’m quite sure that I could similarly identify the voices of other favourite bloggers.
There are a couple of listservs to which I have belonged for several years. In that context, as I get to know people that I’ve never met in person, I develop a visual image of them. I’ve realized that I don’t conjure up visual images of bloggers the same way; rather, I imagine what their voices sound like. Identifying the authors of comments has something to do with content—familiarity with their literary tastes and preoccupations through regular reading of their own blogs. But it also has much to do with tone; I feel as if I can recognize the sound of their voices.
I’d love to think that this phenomenon demonstrates my fabulous powers of deduction but of course it’s not that at all. What it demonstrates is the distinctive, compelling quality of these bloggers’ voices.