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In Praise of Blogging
emily
catvalente
I was accidentally linked to one of my own entries last night, and found myself doing something I never do--reading old bits of this blog. I generally don't look back much unless I want to link to something I wrote before to clarify something I'm writing now. But I found myself flipping through old posts and thinking thinkerly thoughts.

And other than: wow, last year was crazy and awesome and hard and crazy, wasn't it? What I mainly thought was:

Holy shit, blogging is awesome.

I mean, I've been blogging since 2000 in one form or another, obviously I like it in a I-don't-want-to-be-just-friends way, but it struck me hard looking at the old posts I never think about. You could know me really pretty damn well from this blog. (Not perfectly, ever, of course everything online is some level of performance--but pretty well. This is pretty much exactly how I talk, with more flaily Active Hands and goofy faces.) I overshare a lot. I record just about every professional thing that happens to me, and most of the personal ones. It's so amazing that you can follow a person like that, through their whole life, and shit, this is how I met almost everyone I love. I guess I'm addicted to it. My whole life is kind of captioned: Blog Or It Didn't Happen.

And beyond becoming a professional essayist, a gig even more mysterious and baffling to me than "science fiction writer," I can't think of another way to make something of these pieces of writing, of self, which are essays or monologues or both or neither, which are speaking to a big room whose population drifts and changes, and we're all like these little Twains and the internet is the San Francisco Chronicle, and it's so unique, this form we chose, this thing we do. Some of us do it differently than others and yeah, it's passed its heyday (meaning people who never cared about blogging to begin with and only wanted to bandwagon are off to the next thing) but it's...peculiarly new/old and there is the chance of so much, the chance of everything in that little text box we fill day in and day out. The mass of what I read on the internet is blogs, it's what makes the internet for me in a very real way, makes it worth coming back to.

(I remember making my first website, a geocities page with terrible graphics, which for us olds--yes I know you're older/cooler and were on some other ur-service--was a rite of passage. Mine was lime green with an Egyptian crane motif, I believe. Oh yeah, baby. And I put up some of my favorite quotes and books I liked and an email address and I was all: but this is boring. Why would anyone ever come to this site? I wish there was some way to write on it every day like a diary and have it show all those entries in a nice way. And then, because I was a classics major just learning about the frightening computer-fire thing, I shrugged and went back to translating Greek with a paper and pencil. A couple of years later I was forced at cute-girl-point to get a Diaryland account. Even before I was a blogger I wanted to be a blogger.)

Back in the time known as the day, people used to make fun of me because I was a blogger and that was weird and new and out-there and uncool, with its lack of privacy and social filtering and geekiness. Now people make fun because blogging is so passe and old-fashioned and two thousand and late. They give up more personal info on Facebook in their profiles than I gave up on my blog for years. There was only ever one moment when blogging was both cool and popular, and it's long gone, vanished into respectable journalism's blurry lines and microblogging and animated gifs. When I think about it, I both feel that Mira Grant's Feed was terribly, heartbreakingly accurate in its portrayal of bloggers and their world and also terribly dated, because even now, the revolution will not be blogged, it will be Tweeted, and whatever is after Twitter, and whatever is after that. Trademarks, eating their own tails.

But you know what?

Blogging is still fucking awesome.

And, spoiler alert, it's still my hope to do it right up until the day I die, to have most of a life written out in these invisible pages, because when I was sixteen I found Anais Nin's diary and I was staggered with the power of that kind of self-record, I desperately wanted to follow her, but never had the discipline to keep a paper journal. I think there's a solid segment of early bloggers who wanted to be Nin.0, who wanted to be cybernetic Anaises. Who knows if we managed it. But fuck, I am so glad to live in the future, where all this can happen, and I can (with the great and powerful privilege of having a blog that is read, that is commented upon, so that I have the interaction I want instead of speaking into an empty room with a megaphone pointed the wrong way and don't think I don't know, strongly, what a privilege that is) say anything in my head and record it and have others know it as soon as I say it.

We are living in the Galaxia of the end of the Foundation series. We know what our loved ones are doing at all times, we can know the thoughts of beings a planet away with a good deal less effort than making a cup of tea. The lines between here and there are blurry to the point of total confusion. When I first finished those books I was horrified by Galaxia. But you know, it's actually rather amazing, living in it.

So why the hell do I hide from my blog and not post for days and feel like it's so much work and I'm not up to it? I gotta knock that shit off and get on with it.

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Yes. I've been keeping diaries since I was 12, but it's only when I started with LJ in 2002 that I wrote every day, sometimes multiple times per day.

I'm working on getting the money to print all of my LJ. I've got the first 2 years printed and bound at Lulu and PDFs of the rest, waiting for a little extra cash. I like having the diaries backed up like that, all hardbound with my friends comments in there. My first marriage and divorce, meeting Dave, dating S, marrying S, having J. Losing my father.

I don't kow if anyone is reading me anymore - but I am still writing. And maybe my community here will shrink - but I hope I still have one even if it's small and slow.

LJ has saved me so many times. I am loathe to walk away from the people I love.

N.

I love LJ, I do, but it's not the platform, it's the Thing Itself, at least for me. I'll blog elsewhere if I have to. I did before LJ and I will after. But blogging is my backbone--can't stand up without it.

The only thing about leaving LJ that worries me, if finding people again. I've been chewing on your community post in my head a lot.

The other thing is that I do a lot as friends-only. I'm liberal with my friending policy - but I don't know enough about other platforms to do that. I dunno :/

So, it's the Thing Itself, and also the platform for me.

:/

N.

Those filters are why LJ is still here. None of the other platforms have it.

I don't really use them at all, but many of my friends do.

I don't have (or have not yet learned) the dedication and skill to transform my life and stories into words and blogging - but I am so, SO, grateful that you do, and have, and are willing to share (even overshare) with the vast faceless horde that I'm a part of.

Thank you.

This is so great! I kept a paper journal for forever, so the switchover was easy a few years ago... Because, damn, I love to write for an audience, even if it's just a smattering! That said, it's amazing how the journal process changed for me. The things I am now willing to write, and which ones I allowed to be public, which ones I'll lock. I never knew blogging was passe, because I never knew it HAD a hey-day. But for people who like to write about things that never were, might have been, could be yet, it doesn't really matter what's cool, because in a way, we NEVER were cool. Except, you know, to each other. Which is cool.

I love your blog. It constantly amazes me.

Oh, definitely, for awhile there, everyone had a blog, and news channels regularly reported random shit "from the blogosphere" and it was just a given that you were blogging somewhere. It was a brief moment, but it happened.

My Grandpa kept a daily diary from the time he was a young man till Alzheimer's took away the ability to do it when he was in his 80s. I love being able to pick up one of those books and read about his life, and it's one of the things that's prompted me to keep a diary of some sort since my teens (which are considerably more angsty than my Grandpa's diaries, I must admit :P ).

I don't look back much over my LJ either, but when I do I'm always struck by how much I've forgotten, and how nice it is to be reminded of things I was doing or feeling or thinking. I'd hate to be deprived of the ability to record my life in some way. I feel a bit ridiculous saying this, but it feels almost essential to my survival.

No, I totally understand. It's vital to how I process everything, from joy to crises. That feels like I should apologize for it, but I don't think I should, in the end.

I agree! The urge to apologise is strong, and I'm mystified by it.

There was only ever one moment when blogging was both cool and popular, and it's long gone, vanished into respectable journalism's blurry lines and microblogging and animated gifs. When I think about it, I both feel that Mira Grant's Feed was terribly, heartbreakingly accurate in its portrayal of bloggers and their world and also terribly dated, because even now, the revolution will not be blogged, it will be Tweeted, and whatever is after Twitter, and whatever is after that. Trademarks, eating their own tails.

I love this bit.

I loved this. I've been blogging since 1999 in one form or another, and I've met most of my tribe this way. I think being on the autism spectrum makes the blogging medium particularly appealing to me, because it's a lot easier to leave all those social dances on the cutting room floor and see through to the heart of people, if they choose to share it.

Wonderful.
I've been here since 2002c(so technically still a newbie)--and I still love seeing, reading and interacting with folks here. There are parts I can't look at because it hurts too much; I've locked away all my entries from Boston (0) and almost everything till 2009.I don't know when or if I'll be able to look at them again, but I am glad they are there. I'm glad for what I wrote and all the friends I've made.

I'm still here, still blogging even if it is little bits--now I want more. Thanks for bringing the strength to blog again! Excelsior!


(0) Leaving in 03 was one of the worst things I ever had to do. I want to come back with all my heart.

And good on you for using "Excelsior!" It's an encouraging word.

Cat, thank you for this entry.

(Also, by the way, whatever got you and greygirlbeast in touch, I'm glad it happened.)

Somehow I managed to look at GeoCities and click away before I set up my own horrid looking page. (grin) And did some rants and essays in hand-rolled HTML on my university website for a couple of years before I started on LJ. (double-entry-grin)

Dr. Phil

When I was in my early teens I wanted to be rich enough so that I could write what I thought was important and somehow get it published and distributed. I didn't want fame, I just wanted to be able not only to express myself, but to reach out with my words to those who wanted to receive them, engage in intelligent correspondence, and maybe help people occasionally with an insight or personal story.

Then the internet happened, and I find myself 20 years later able to do all of that for free.

We do live in extraordinary times.

A couple of years later I was forced at cute-girl-point to get a Diaryland account.

~warm grin~ That, I think, was my first crystal realisation that someone I liked really wanted to keep me around. She said, "Here is a place I go; here is a code so you can come there too," and helped me set up this account.

What I really like about blogging is that I can point people to old blog posts rather than rewrite all the same old points on a topic. 0:)

I am so right there with you. :-)

Thank you. Please don't stop.

This is incredible, what you do. This blogging thing. It's very powerful, and you're better than many at making it moving, disturbing, enlightening, provocative. All those things good conversations do. With the frenetic handwaving and goofy voices.

...that said, I am suddenly wondering how many of us signed up to the bloggery world "at cute-girl-point". I keep feeling I should really make something of my LJ or GTFO.

I second it all !
Though the blood may flow so thin @ times.....blogging is in our veins, it's our soal's live's blood, if that makes sense. By my own standards: I am vastly anaeamic. (I know, I need a spell-checker)
:-)

I only started blogging, LJ'ing, whatevering recently, but I quite enjoy it. I like being able to share my thoughts with an audience, hey it may not be much of an audience, but as long as it's out there, there is the possibility that someone may read it.
The worst thing about going over old entries for me is that I sometimes encounter a typo that I wasn't previously aware of and it bugs me until I can go and correct it.

I often flip back and read through old posts of mine - back from when I was in college, or having just graduated. There are all of the thoughts and feelings I was processing, when my LJ was the only place I had to process things - but also the fun things that I was doing, and the happy moments I had. It makes me sad that I so rarely write like that now. Now I'm lucky if I post once a week, and I'm usually so focused on remembering what happened that I don't write about how I felt about it, or what it made me think of, or the small joyful moments.

So why the hell do I hide from my blog and not post for days and feel like it's so much work and I'm not up to it?

I do this, too. Maybe I should do that 30 days of posting thing.

I have so many issues with blogging. I probably have subscriptions, it's that bad. When I first started, it was an escape from grad school and mothering. I was just some writer on diaryland who felt all literary and shit. And then the move towards blogging about personal stuff happened and that was where I got tripped up. I've had literally dozens of blogs because I just can't figure out how to blog myself properly.

I do remember when all the Nin-girls from diaryland started making the jump to livejournal and I was all "OH NOES!" and then I'd get pissed when I would comment on livejournals and then not have you go to my diaryland account and reply. Like, you replied on your own lj and I was like "NO! I came to your house, now visit mine, damnit." And then I just eventually buckled under and got a damn lj.

I am, however, really good at making new ones, deleting, and then coming back. This is, what, my seventh lj?

Oy to the vey.

"There was only ever one moment when blogging was both cool and popular, and it's long gone, vanished into respectable journalism's blurry lines and microblogging and animated gifs."

Indeed.

There was a NYT piece a few weeks ago about how blogging is on a downward trend:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/21/technology/internet/21blog.html?_r=1&hp

But I think those of us who keep up blogging/journaling aren't exactly concerned about keeping with being as cool and popular as possible.

p.s. I preordered The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland to read on Kindle! So excited. :)

I agree with you about it being not the cool thing to do anymore but still so enamored with the idea of being able to do it. I love my blog, even though very few people read it and even fewer people comment, I love it for the instant gratification of it, as well as the record of a time in my life. I love it for the constancy of it always being there, even when I've forgotten those things happened, it didn't. And it has changed so much over the years and I still am the same person, but I go back and it is as if I am almost reading a stranger.

This. Totally. Since I was very young (single digit ages, or at least low double digits) I wanted to be one of those people who kept a diary throughout their entire life, but keeping a paper journal just never "did it" for me. After a couple of earlier attempts at blogging, I joined LJ in early 2004. So much of my life is here, and so many of the people who are important to me are here, that I can't imagine not doing this.


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