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A new friend writes,

I am glad that you are living in a time when, even as you are holed-up in deep and soulful contemplation, you have this amazing internet as a resource! The whole world, in all its complexity and richness, a mouse-click away. And the ability to share your thoughts with so many people...

Not a day goes by without my thanking the powers that be for allowing me to live into the age of Web logs. Please pardon the immodesty, but I believe that blogging is what I was born to do. For decades, I cast about unsatisfactorily scribbling away. That I was a writer, I never doubted. But a writer of what?

Blog entries, that's what.

I am not a "creative writer." Over the past nine months I have finally acknowledged that I have no ambition to be a novelist, or to write fiction of any kind. I tried to write a haunting thriller in the Eighties, but the parts never quite cohered. Different people liked parts of it but nobody liked the whole. While I'm glad that there are novelists willing to do turn real people into characters, but I'm not ruthless enough. I have no genuine impulse to write a novel. I'd never have given it a thought if the form were it not so "privileged."

In short: it's possible to love novels and to want to write without writing a novel oneself.

At the same time, I am no journalist. I don't do research; I just try to get the dates right and the spelling correct. I would hate assignments and deadlines if I didn't set them myself. Almost everything that I write is moved by some actual event. Sometimes, it's true, the events are almost manufactured, in that I go to things in order to write them up, but I'm still relatively passive, waiting for things to happen. And why not? Life happens, especially in Manhattan, at a clip brisker than the nimblest hand can track. And when something does happen, there's so much within me that resonates with it! To switch metaphors, I don't think that I will ever get to the bottom of this well.

My dream is that a core of people who enjoy visiting this site will eventually start their own blogs, and that, as I said in an earlier entry ("Palaces"), we will all visit one another and comment on our different thoughts. It's going to take a while. Thoughtful people are often shy. And there is an age factor: older people who could really make a contribution are as yet inclined to dismiss blogging, while so many bright younger people are the victims of the Cultural Revolution of the Eighties and Nineties - they learned nothing in school, and everything that they really know, they taught themselves. So the soil is pretty thin, and I am very disheartened sometimes. I never think of giving, up however.

There are two objections to blogging that I can appreciate. You don't get paid, and the entries are ephemeral. As to the first, I believe that I will get paid, in the future, some small amounts, whether because I've joined a group of blogs that collects revenues in micropayments and then divides them up - easy as pie if computers are doing the work. (Perhaps I don't know what I'm talking about, though.) As it happens, I don't have to do this for a living, which of course is another factor working for rarity. But I don't worry about it much. As to ephemerality, I worry about that even less. I'm awed by the task ahead of me, and I think about it obsessively, but here's what's going to happen in November, when I go into the thirteenth month of doing this: I will dismantle all of last November's entries, and either fold them into pages at Portico or discard them if they can't stand on their own. So what I'm writing isn't, for the most part, going anywhere but across the hall. Since this involves almost doubling my work, I shall have to become mighty efficient!

But I'm so grateful for the chance to do this. You, gentle reader, are part of the blessing.


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We're grateful for your eloquence! A (rare) civilized oasis on the Web. Thank you for saying it so well.

I concur!! What a delightful post.

And as one of your less-than-gentle but very dedicated readers, I'm very grateful that you found me, and I in turn, found you.


Oh my grammar is atrocious. Proof that I am indeed less-than-gentle. [Ed. note: fixed. Twas just a typo.]

The internet is marvelous, too, for those of us who don't have enough time to read as broadly or deeply as you do, much less organize ourselves to meet and speak. Your blog provides us a wonderful forum, and I look forward to reading it every day.

The marvelous Ozma has said all I could say perfectly. Thanks, RJ, for all of it.

Thanks RJ, this is a thoughtfull ode to blogging here, but I don't agree on the matter of archives. I like sometimes to peruse the archives of a weblog, particularly when I discover it, which may be more than two years after its creation. Hope you reconsider, but do as you wish...

You and I have had mutual blogs, in essence, for over ten years, wouldn't you say?

Anonymous: I'd love to answer your question, but I don't know who you are! Thanks for the kind words anyway.

Everyone else: THANKS A MILLION! Had to shout that.

I have thought more about DB and archiving. I agree with JR above, you should keep as much active as site capacity will allow. Many times I encounter a blog that I would like to read back into as far as possible just for reference. Occassionally I even find a dead blog, or one that hasn't been posted for years that is very interesting. Another aspect of DB that hasn't been mentioned is finding other blogs through DB not so much through the links in the sidebar but through the links in the comments. Think about JR, patricia, Joe, Elisabeth, ..., I could go on for a long time here. Cull out what you consider disposable, but keep as much active as you can, please.

I am a kottke.org micropatron

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