Ten years ago today, on June 11 2003, I began blogging at this site.
My motives were not clear, at least to me. I told myself, and whomever might be reading, that perhaps the story of an obscure songwriter trying to get his work out there, at a modest level, in his early thirties, might make an interesting document.
But like so many factual-sounding things I’ve said in this space, that wasn’t really true.
Looking back I realize I started blogging (a word I disdained at first, and still find distasteful) for the same reason I’ve ever done anything creative: because I was compelled to. I just had to get stuff out there. I write; I hope to be read. It was pompous to pretend otherwise. I’m not the strong silent type; I’m the sensitive blathering type.
At first I had a whole lot of nothing to say. But I kept going, always encouraged by the small but supportive group of people who chimed in from time to time to let me know they appreciated what I was getting at. Over time the audience for my writing outgrew the audience for my music, and my subject matter grew too.
Carpentry, gardening, canoeing, and other endeavours that fed my songs began to crop up in my posts. Eventually there were photographs and podcasts, song lyrics, videos, live feeds, a forum, and other gewgaws cluttering up the place, but it was all grist for the mill. Show me a journal that isn’t full of junk.
For the most part in the early days I avoided discussing the things that were too personal—my close relationships, my struggles with depression, my demons and distractions. Over time, though, some of that has slipped out. You can’t really stop it.
Still, blogging on this site has been an act of hiding in plain sight. I put it out there, it goes on the record, it sounds like a frank statement and I seem to be on top of it. Nothing to see here, moving on… God forbid anyone should dig into what I haven’t said.
Well, what of it?
In the past ten years my writing has grown enough that this workshop, as I used to refer to it, for my occasional doodles, thankfully does not represent the whole of my work. A lot of my best work has been written elsewhere. Keeping a blog of my own has helped me in my professional writing; it remains useful to me as a forum for saying things I feel like saying, and for keeping myself in writing shape. It doesn’t need to be more than that.
Most of my insecurities about this vain and foolish endeavour have vanished along with the more callow illusions of my youth. One remains, however. As Truman Capote said of Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road': “That’s not writing, it’s typing.”
I’m pretty sure this isn’t writing, it’s blogging. I write, too—fiction, poetry, opinion, memoir, not to mention songs—and I think blogging deserves and requires in its own category.
What makes this blogging is the precious and potentially dangerous conceit that speaking in the first person, about oneself, in a roughly factual fashion, is a truthful endeavour. It’s a good exercise, but take it from me: it’s in no way guaranteed to produce truth. Too much falls between the lines for that. You wouldn’t believe the lies I haven’t told, in this decade on display.
Some days I think I ought to take Mark Twain’s advice, and just become a better liar. A believable one. Isn’t that what great writers are?
Maybe that’s what the next ten years are for. And if nothing else, I might at least become a better typist.