Tuesday, June 29, 2021

little windows | on blogging

 When I first took it into my head I might want to start one of these strange things called a "blog," it was 2002.  I'm pretty sure I'd met a guy online that summer (in those days via the Salon,com personals), who'd casually let slip that this was what he did for a living, writing a blog about music. (He turned out to be wholly disappointing when we met for coffee, but it did, in my cluelessness, force me to look up what such a strange word was.) I was about a year in on publishing my first poems in online journals, and a few months past the first issue of wicked alice, so the web was not a totally foreign place. I had already started doing some very simple coding and webpage building for the journal and my own homepage. I was, after looking it up,  intrigued by the idea of journaling online--having kept years of marble mead notebooks on my own. 

On one hand, the eyes that could be potentially reading it would form it differently than a private journal, but also make it better and perhaps a bit less navel-gazy. Also, so much of life goes undocumented and unremembered if you don't note it and write it down. So in late 2002, I started a blog on Xanga, which was mostly cool in that you could, like with Livejournal or later, Tumblr, follow folks easily.  At the time, I didn't even had a computer at home, so most of my entries were brief and newsy and written when I had spare time at the circ desk in the evenings. Over time, I made some writer friends there who remain friends as we all moved through social media platforms. Some, even local enough that we became real-life friends.. By the time they closed the site, I'd long moved to blogger, but somewhere in my dropbox are the old files. 

By 2005, poetry blogs seemed to be where all the conversations were happening and all at once. There were frank discussions about publishing and insight into my favorite author's lives, Writing tips and advice. We commiserated on rejections and writer's block and it was probably more like a long-form facebook in those days. It was where we shared news of publications and readings.  How we kept track of what our friends and favorites were doing and thinking about in the literary world. Not to say it was all all roses--there was a lot of pissing contests and trolling, particularly if you were a female blogger. Many people left entirely because of such unpleasantness.  As shorter, easily maintained platforms arose, many abanadond longer form writing for shorter. By 2012 or so, over 70 percent of my blogroll had ceased publishing. Even my own entries had changed..most of the newsiness I would have shared there having moved onto facebook where everyone seemed to be at the time.  Now, as facebook dwindles, most are using instagram or twitter to engage the way they once did with blogs.

While many of the poets had left blogging, it was still flourishing for other things in other worlds--lifestyle and fashion and decor blogs replaced the writing ones in my bookmarks. Fiction writers seems to still be going strong blog-wise, maybe because they are more comfortable in long forms.  There was and still are still some poetry blogger holdouts-those of us who still like a more open space to occupy. We blog about writing but also about other things in our lives. I remember an argument in the mid-aughts, incredibly sexist, that the reason male authored poetry blogs were more well known & respected  than women's was because women tended not to limit their content to reviews and discussions solely about poetry and po-biz, but becuase their lives and personalities were too much in the blogs.  They wrote about their children.  About what they were reading.  What they were struggling with.  What they had for breakfast.  But these were always the most interesting things about these little windows into author's lives.  While your review of the latest releases might be a cool skim through, I wanted to know what you were writing about, thinking about.  What scared you, because I was was probably scared of that too.  

In truth, my greatest opus, even with those earliest three years under lock and key, is this very space you are standing in. It's not all genius or valuable.  Some of it's insecure and whiny and cringe-worthy in retrospect.  Some of it helpful in guaging how my opinions have changed over time--my routines and general mood levels. Some of it useful for remembering things--almost like a photograph in words. The way the moon looked or the color of the lake. Sometimes, when I read old entries, they make me also think of what is not there--what was going on that I didn't write about happening in the wings. Good things and really bad things. Things that I was too afraid to talk about lest I jinx them. Things I was too afraid of to put into words. But even still, so much is here--my giddiness over my first book being accepted. My MFA rants. The first photos of the empty studio space I spent so many years in. Readings and publication woes and notes for projects I was working on. Books I was editing and assembling. My first zine projects and collage exploits.  Snippets of poems in progress here and there. 

One thing that my couple days off these summer weeks is the chance on writing days, to spend a bit of less-interrupted time in this space, and be a bit more varied and intentional in what I write about.  There were years where much was just dailyness journals, though I love these parts. But I also like a little more serious literary & art content sprinkled in. Maybe some snippets and advice from my experience in the writing world (I have, it feels sometimes, been at this forever. ) Sometimes I forget things I wrote and rediscover them with delight.  I've even, when writing certain things, mined my blog for snippets for poems. There are, in the annals, poems that exist nowhere else but the blog. 

No comments: