I’ve been talking about doing this for a while. I’ve been thinking about doing it for like a year and a half. But I couldn’t start a blog just like that; I needed some sort of focus, something to keep it from turning into a laundry list of my daily activities or a whiny rant about the rude people on the bus. There are a million people out there blogging with a focus – moms, joggers, cooks, bird watchers, people who think it’s charming to write from the perspective of their dogs. Maybe it goes without saying, but none of those categories really work for me.
I work at the Commonwealth Club, a speech organization in San Francisco that brings in hundreds of famous/knowledgeable people every year. A few weeks ago I was transcribing a speech given by an author, Mary Doria Russell. She was talking about her new novel, historical fiction set at the 1921 Cairo Peace Conference. The transcripts wind up in the Club’s magazine, abridged but completely straightforward, peoples’ words without any additional commentary. But some of the things she was saying begged for further discussion. It wasn’t the first time I’d felt that way about a speech, but I realized that I’d found a focus.
So the goal, at least for right now: I want to use these speeches as a starting point, a springboard to talk about things. Big issues, little details, whatever. I mean, it won’t be that limited. I’m calling the blog “listenbetter” because that’s what I’m trying to do, whether it’s speeches, interviews, radio, music, or the rhetoric echoing throughout the media. And of course, I’ll be listening to the gamblers whenever I go back to work at the racetrack. The tips tend to improve when you do.