“Why write?” ––Question posed by Don Rothman, former director of the Central California Writing Project, in the first minutes of its annual summer institute.
One day, without warning, all thirteen of the blog entries I’d posted over the course of a year, disappeared. On the one hand, it hardly mattered. I mostly had no idea who actually read them.
Overtime, though, I’d gained about 6,000 page views. A very small sum in internet-land but a meaningful number for me. Plus, every now and again, a dear friend would send a sweet message regarding something I’d written, and that became reason enough to keep posting.
I chose the site because it required membership of its commenters. I found this feature immensely attractive. When I started my blog, I was afraid of appearing foolish. If some anonymous someone let me know that through faulty reasoning, a self-pitying tone, or an embarrassing grammar or usage error I'd displeased them, I might stop writing all together, and I didn’t want to stop.
Still, in my more than tens years of writing for newspapers and magazines, I’d felt the keen pleasures of audience. Getting one, via the small literary journals where I sent my work, was more difficult than I had anticipated upon enrolling in a prestigious program for writers. Now that I’d earned my MFA, and lost the close and careful feedback of my advisers and peers, I began to feel if I didn’t engage an audience somewhere, the urge to write might vanish all together.
I was doing other difficult things too: dealing with the deaths of beloved family members, teaching at a rural community college, and trying to learn tango. It helped to be writing about each of them.
Plus, in writing a blog, I was able to be my own editor, which meant I could write in the nearly undisciplined manner I had always wanted to. As I’d grown older, I’d become wary of certainties and attracted to contradictory ideas, things that meant more than one thing at a time, or perhaps nothing at all. Also, I took pleasure in tangents, especially if the language arising was lively and full of mystery.
In my blogs, I let a lot go: clarity; causation; sometimes sense. I, who had once been a journalist where every piece was required to have a singular idea and be free of digression, allowed myself to experiment and play.
Then, just then––when my blog became a certain kind of space––one that held my ideas in a small but public manner, one that I could sometimes look upon when bored––well, it disappeared. Without notice. Without indication it had ever even existed.
The writer’s collective that hosted it closed shop, apparently warning no one. In place of its familiar home page, it posted a note hinting it might be possible to access old content via a spotty web archive and let the world know its domain name was up for sale.
The common statement is to post on-line with caution, for what we post will never disappear. But my work did, and it felt strange and mysterious that it had. I was reminded, all over again: in the end, nothing remains unchanged from one moment to the next, even things that seem most permanent.
Alas, I wasn’t ready to let my blog go. Instead, I’ve reconstructed it here, and look forward to posting new entries soon.
Why this blog? To push against loss, I think, or to try and reclaim it with another name. Call it change, perhaps, or movement. I write this blog to connect with my fellows and to, I hope, really hope, celebrate those changes, that movement, the transition between one thing and the next.