Tuesday, February 14, 2006

On Blogging

New York Magazine's cover story the other week was on blogging. Reading the article, I couldn't help thinking over and over that blogging is the kind of thing that, if it were to vanish from the earth in an instant, it would hardly be missed. This is not to say that I don't cherish my own blog, or champion the lessons, posts, words, ideas, love, that I've written here -- but I still wonder sometimes, who cares? It's like when I went from having cable to not having cable. Sure, you miss lots of entertaining TV, but what are you actually missing?

I get about 20 hits per day (about 3,500 since the blog began back in July 2005,) a lot from people I know, but also from people I don't know. Some of these strangers come back every day to see what's here. That's particularly nice to see.

I said once in a conversation that blogging taught me how to write. What I meant is that blogging taught me how to think about my writing -- and how to think about something and writing about something are, for me, really the same thing. (You write to figure out what you think about something.) Blogging has taught me how to give something to read to the world, and then not have to always hear back about it. One thing that's hard to do as a young writer is NOT look over everyone's shoulder as they're reading your work. You want to watch their faces as they come to the line that you think is funny, or sharp, or perfectly devastating. And posting things quietly whenever I find a moment, then actually forgetting about them has given me an entirely new perspective on trusting the sentences to do their work.

After Meg died, blogging about it helped me move through whatever phases of bullshit I was going through, and helped me translate the experience. Tell your story, they said to me in Northampton one night, several years ago when Meg and I were having tea and talking with some of her friends. I thought of that when I wrote about her death. None of what I wrote was therapy. Things you write to make yourself feel better aren't necessarily what you want people to think of as "your work." I have separate files for those other writings. But I'm especially proud of what made it here.

One of my favorite writers, and human beings, on the planet, Sarah Vowell was once asked "If you had to choose, would it be Sinatra or Elvis?" "I don’t have to choose," she answered. "That’s what’s great about the world." That's also what I love about blogging. What (and who) I choose to read up on just enriches my experience. And whatever I miss -- like cable TV -- Oh well.

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