I know what you’re thinking, if you go by my example, then you don’t need to know all that much at all. And you may have thought that was one of my self depreciating jokes which really trouble some people (you guys are such sweethearts, really!) but it’s not. It’s my actual answer. Some base knowledge just so that you can actually figure out what you want to say is useful but beyond that, I don’t think you need to be an expert to discuss a subject.
Now let me be clear, it is great to listen or read someone discuss something they are very knowledgeable about. No doubt there. But I find there’s value in the novice’s point of view as well. If for nothing else than fresh eyes bring on new perspectives. Not to mention that anime specifically is art and art is just not all about facts. Impressions and speculations have an important place in artistic discussions and you can have those even if you know next to nothing about anime.
This is all theoretical. How about I take it down to a more personal level.
I am occasionally told by new bloggers that they “don’t know as much about anime” as I do. This is of course false in most cases as I am by no means an anime specialist or anything. I approach anime very much like a hobby and a merriment? I’m not sure what word I’m looking for. Basically, anime is an emotional experience for me. I watch it, I take away an experience, I occasionally discuss it here and that’s about it. I do love to learn about anime and animation but I don’t have the drive towards researching it the same way I have spent hours reading all the biographies of the authors BSD characters are based on. I’m not sure why.
What I’m saying is that my knowledge about anime as an industry, anime history and the mechanics thereof, is not that impressive. As for my knowledge of anime “culture”, as in the happenings in the fan community or public opinion and the like, that’s downright dismal. Half the time, I don’t even know when a new season of one of my favourite shows is scheduled to air and I have a delightful surprise.
And this is me now. As in this is my current knowledge of my base subject matter after years of writing this blog. When I started the blog I probably would have been hard-pressed to name more than a few studios off the top of my head and I had never even heard of Natsume’s Book of Friends. Was I ever that young? And you know what, some of my early posts are still some of my favourites.
Sure they were a bit naive and there was clearly some pieces missing in my information but that was part of the charm. Since I wasn’t writing a scientific or journalistic blog, my purpose was never to teach people. I took it for granted that my readers would be at least as informed as I was, if not more so. Instead, I was having a conversation. I expected to be corrected (or ignored if we’re completely honest) and what I wanted to do was bring up questions not give answers. Or share weird tidbits I had noticed that were of no particular import. That’s still true today. But of course, that’s just me.
This said, I do read a lot of blogs and I enjoy those that give me details on personal experience or that relate anime back to the writer’s own life, just as much as those that go through detailed production backgrounds and technical explanations. Of course that’s a question of personal taste.
Still, I think there’s something valuable in learning together. When someone who is not an adept in a field talks about a subject, they approach it differently than a master would. When one doesn’t have all the answers, then all the possibilities are opened…or something like that. I know that basic writing tips and just general advice for presenting anything to an audience is to talk with authority and confidence. And maybe I’m way off on this one. However, I think you can have confidence even when you are discussing a topic you aren’t that versed in. I can confidently tell you that I know nothing about the financial situation of a particular production and just as confidently tell you whether I enjoyed it or not. But even then, I sort of like uncertain writers from time to time. There’s something charming about a blogger that wants to know what you think and not just wants to tell you what they think…. or at least I think so….
Basically, this is a very unnecessarily long winded way of saying, you don’t need to know everything there is to know about anime to write about it. If you ask me, you don’t need to know that much at all. You just need to have something to say about it. That probably applies to most topics. So if you have been thinking of starting a blog and are worried about your personal expertise, don’t be. It’s fine to start off a little more superficially. It can be really interesting and rewarding to learn about a subject alongside your readers. As long as you’re not selling classes on it or anything.
As usual, this is only my very personal take on it. What do you guys think? Is it better to write only on topics you’ve mastered? If you’re here I figure professionalism is not something you look for in a blog but I may be the exception and you usually like more knowledgeable authors. Once or twice a year I do research a post, do you like those?