Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


A Year of Morning Thanks

400

The little tab on the sign-in page tells me this post is #400, and I'm wondering why on earth I started this.

I remember why--because I wanted to try; I wanted to keep myself at the word game, keep myself writing in a very busy teaching year. That's it.

Another reason, perhaps, is that my last novel is still here on my computer and not between covers. Andrew Sullivan, in an article in the new Atlantic, "Why I Blog," says, "A novelist can spend months or years before committing words to the world. For bloggers, the deadline is always now." True enough. It's bizarre really: I know--because people have told me--that I'm read almost the minute I post. Not that baited-breath readers are just sitting there dying to wallow in stuff from the basement; it's just that computers snap on for the first time, somewhere around six, and people surf a bit to start the day. I no more than type these words and they're read. Wizardry.

"You end up writing about yourself, since you are the relatively constant fixed point in this constant interaction with the ideas and facts of the exterior world," says Sullivan, and it's true, and even embarrassing. Every morning I get up I try to grab at something from the swirl all around, but it's only me doing the grabbing. If it weren't for the constant presence of an audience, a blog would be at least something like a diary. But diaries aren't meant for other people, or so I'm told. Very strange.

A blog is "colloquial and unfinished," he says--right again. Not long ago, a Michigander who says he reads my blog said he spotted spelling errors; ever since I've tried to remember to use the spellcheck. Errors abound, but then I'm run by the clock as much as anything. It's now 5:46; my soul made a pact with my head to get this all done by six.

Last night, my wife's better self stepped in to restrain her from writing an e-mail that could more reasonably be composed today. Instantaneousness raises verdant possibilities for passion's overreach. I wonder if I've hit the "publish" button too quickly sometimes. But then, Sullivan says that kind of going-off half-cocked is part of the immediacy and freshness of the game itself. Blogging is--for better or worse--richly human. Suppose so.

More than anything else, however, the revolutionary character of blogging is created by the internet's incredible democratic character: I can reach anywhere on earth with these words, in seconds. Amazingly, I do, as do millions of others. Blogs make everyone a writer; they increase the marketplace a billion-fold. There's no editor--no middle-man or -woman--between me and the eyes that are right now reading these words. And that makes a blog, at best, Sullivan says, "a conversation, rather than a production."

When Sullivan asked Matt Drudge about the medium, Drudge told him that a blog "is a broadcast, not a publication. If it stops moving, it dies. If it stops paddling, it sinks." My guess is that blogging will never produce a Shakespeare; if it does, his or her words won't stay alive. A blog is all about now.

But, having just now put my paddle in the stream once again this morning, I've gone another round and now is the time to quit. Bizarre.

And so it goes--so it went--with number 400. Strange.

No matter. Some day soon I may stop paddling and sink into internet oblivion, but this morning, at #400, I'm sort of glad I put this canoe in the water. Sort of.

Hit Publish.

3 comments:

RickNiekLikeBikes said...

I enjoy writing...immensely. I like the movement of having to find something new to write about.

However, if I were honest, truly honest, I'd admit to you that I wish I knew how many people did or did not read what I write, and that at least one of them, a simple one, might see Shakespeare potential.

Anonymous said...

I stared at my iMac monitor displaying the latest posting of my favorite blogger. What was he trying to say when he wrote, "I know more than type these words and they're read." One eye must have been shut when he composed that sentence in his basement cubicle. But then it dawned on me: the professor is oh so clever, because later he reflects on the pitfalls of publishing. He must have purposely created a homophonic blunder!
—Michigan Spellchecker

jcs said...

Nope, but you'll see it was corrected when I read it over an hour later!!! And, of course, the spellchecker didn't catch the original error.