Thursday, March 16, 2023

process and artifact

I realized the other day that I am coming up on 20 years of blogging--since 2005 here, and before that on the now defunct Xanga.  In the summer of 2003, I was just familiarizing myself with the word "blog" at all and distinctly remember learning about these strange online journals in late 2002 through someone I had met on a dating app who wrote one about random miscellany. A fiction writer with whom I had some nice flirty back and forth but ultimately nothing came of it. But a year later, I had claimed my own. I had already started creating very basic websites, including my own and a lit journal, but this more social and immediate medium appealed, largely because it allowed interaction and conversation. I think Myspace had already surfaced, but facebook was just a twinkle in Zuckerberg's eye. Blogs, especially as more poets started using them, became the place to be, especially after I moved out of the more closed community of Xanga and to blogger.  2005-2007 were kinda the golden days of poetry blogs.

Those Xanga blogs were mostly just writerly news and an extension of the print journals I had been keeping since adolescence. I don't think I had much deep-literary content, and certainly not the process-oriented posts I try to write now. There were memes and surveys done in rounds, publication news, maybe occasional opinions on po-biz. Somewhere, I have the downloads of that first online journal in my dropbox, salvaged when they were shutting down, but I've never looked them over. Maybe I never will. It still seemed important to save them somehow before they vanished. 

I was recently watching a vlogger who mentioned keeping extensive paper journals, but never actually going back in and looking at them again.  It was especially strange for me, since I am consulting my blog all the time. Sometimes it's just a temporal thing, trying to figure out when something was happening.  Other times, I just scroll through certain periods out of curiosity, to remember what was happening at any given time and to remember things I would otherwise forget. Occasionally, I even haul out my old Mead composition books, though they are a special kind of mess.  Even still, they are a record. A chronicle. 

On one hand, I understand the need to commit to the process. To the journey. The experience of getting things out as a purging or meditative activity. I tend to use the blog as a way of thinking out loud about things mostly, but also as a record. Also to foster discussions, even if they are only just for my own ears and typing fingers.

I took rather easily to pubic blogging, and for a while, was determined to keep a print journal less for other's eyes, but really, they wound up being similar. I decided that if there were posts I didn't want to share, I'd just make them private, but even this I never really took advantage of.  In some ways, making my thoughts coherent enough for other eyes, for whoever may be reading this, helps me be more concise and thoughtful of what I am saying, and by extension, thinking. I am probably far more personal in my poems than I am here, so maybe that is part of it.  Private is a whole other thing when you use it as fodder for art. 

I occasionally check the back-end stats and it does seem there is traffic, more than I would have guessed, but even writing here, like social media these days, seems like shouting into a void. So in some ways, it almost is like writing for a limited number of eyes.  Possibly only mine and the few people who still read poetry blogs. But even if no one reads it, it's still a record and a conversation. Both process and artifact.

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