2010 Canadian Weblog Awards Exclusive Nominee Interview with Braden Rosner of Songs & Cigarettes

Braden Rosner authors Songs & Cigarettes, which has been nominated in the Best Written, People's Choice, and Pop Culture & Entertainment categories of the 2010 Canadian Weblog Awards.

Why blogging?

I've had some pretty rad run-ins that I absolutely couldn't write if my life depended on it; it's the real-life stuff that makes for the strangest content. I use the blog as a means of expelling the fear-and-loathing times of a twenty-something with like-minded types. It's a hell of a scary time in anyone's life to be knee-deep in this great unknowing. A lot of why I do Songs & Cigarettes is to find some order amidst this day-to-day chaos. I'm having a good time doing it, too.

Your weblog ranges from personal stories about your life to music to your thoughts about hipsters, hockey, and old movies. What kinds of topics did you choose to share when you began your weblog in 2007, and what do you choose now? How has that changed?

It originally started as a means of just writing for the sake of writing. I was working for an energy company at the time and needed an outlet to distract me when I wasn't working. So, I guess, in that sense, I just kind of fell into it.

I never really had any set theme in mind when I started S&Cs. Hell, it still doesn't have any real structure three years later. I like to think of the blog operating on a "parts without a whole" system — it keeps things interesting. Otherwise, I get a lot of questions about the Charlie Chaplin references, too. I always liked the idea of this clumsy, rambling, none-too-bright character. He's a cultural theorist, a social living social commentary, and, most notably, an idiot and tramp. I guess, to some degree anyways, I use this figure on the blog because I find it kind of reflective.

How has blogging affected you creatively? Has it helped or hindered you?

I learned very early that getting a lil' too personal can play out harshly against you.

Duh.

After a few less than stellar conversations with former flames in my early, stupid blogging days, it's been nothing but sterling since. I actually got a lot of freelance gigs as a result of the blog. I was writing for a mag out of New York, Death + Taxes, doing some column-work for Woman.ca (no idea how I managed to get that one), and a couple others that came as a direct result of the blog, which, you know, is kind of kooky.

Creatively, I think I've come a long way. I'm fortunate enough to be surrounded by some of the most brilliant, creative, maniacal, villainous, and fantastic minds I've ever known, so I sort of take things from them and use it for my own shamelessly self-promotive means.

What inspires you?

Sights and sounds. It's a tried and true answer, right? I mean I've been blogging from a few different locations over the past three years, and it's been my only real formula that I write what I see and hear. People, places, music — I get this sensory overload type-thing after a day wandering the city; like there's too much to say about everything that I came across throughout a given day.

What are your must-reads?

Becoming part of a blogging community has been a real eye-opener in terms of what amazing talent is out there and how easy it is to connect with them. I treat my blogroll as a shrine to some writers, artists, and photographers I've been fortunate enough to come across through one avenue or another. I mean, The Way The Future Blogs, LoveBryan, Destroyers & Creators, WeAreTheDigitalKids, singlebetty. Lately I've been into a lot more Toronto-based blogs like One Thing I Did Today, Not a Model, and of course, the mecca, BlogTO.

How public are you about your weblog? Is it something that you freely tell friends, family, and co-workers about, or do you prefer to keep it on the down low?

As mentioned, I'm generally pretty shameless. My Dad reads it and is generally confused by most of it, but I'm pretty open about it. I wouldn't go so far as to say I attach my URL to a handshake or anything, but it's pretty easily accessible if you happen to know me, or, you know, if you're one of those Facebook stalker-types — which is totally cool. I'm probably doing the same to them right now, anyways.

There's something about speaking honestly, from experience and misadventure alike, that is attractive to people. I try to write similar to the content I find interesting. At the end of the day, I'm good with letting readers take a look around.

If you were to impart knowledge to an aspiring blogger, what would you tell them?

Don't read my blog.

Kidding, or not — whatever. I'd say keep writing, keep reading, and make sure you reach out to those blogs you enjoy reading. Find your comfort level, the style you're cool with, and whatever you do, keep on it. It's an act of defeat having to apologize to readers for a lack of updates. Figure out a schedule as you're starting out and please, god, stick to it.

Otherwise, give it hell.

Braden Rosner has worked a string of dead-end jobs from background esthetic specialist (or "extra" as they say in the movie biz), bartender for a catering service, golf course attendant, and so on and so forth. Over the past year he's operated as a freelance writer and photographer, writing columns for Woman.ca, music-focused articles for Bring Back the Boombox, Death + Taxes, and other outlets from New York, Los Angeles, and in his current lodgings in Toronto, Ontario. Throughout all of this, Braden has maintained a blog detailing his every trial and error in work, play, and passion — Songs & Cigarettes.

From the eyes of a twenty-something facing the menacing weight of adulthood, Braden is searching for the silver lining — he just hasn't figured out what the hell that means just yet.

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Elan Morgan

Elan Morgan is a writer and web designer who blogs from elanmorgan.com and works from elan.works, spreads gratitude through the graceinsmallthings.com social network, and speaks all over. They have been seen in the Globe & Mail, Best Health and Woman's Day magazines, TEDxRegina, and on CBC News and Radio. They believe in and work to grow both personal and professional quality, genuine community, and meaningful content online.