For the past few days, I’ve had the nagging feeling that I’d forgotten something, or that some important date had come and gone without my realizing it. Then it dawned on me. As of this past Thursday, I’ve been blogging for ten years.
Ten years — what a long, strange trip it’s been. Needless to say, I had no idea what I was getting myself into at the time.
I remembered it when we started talking about Parker’s upcoming 11th birthday. I had, after all, started blogging a little over a month before Parker’s first birthday. It was around that time that I even heard about blogging for the first time. I started reading a few blogs by friends of mine and started thinking to myself, “I can do that!”
I was already working on the web at that time, as a web editor for a non-profit in Washington. I’d learned HTML and started doing light web editing while working at my first job in Washington. It became something of a hobby afterwards, as I built small websites here and there for various projects (like the gay men’s book group I ran on AOL for a while). So, I was primed and ready for blogging in that regard.
We were just about to wrap up our first year of parenthood, and I was looking for an outlet. I’d always been a writer at heart. For better or worse, the writing bug bit me as early as middle school, and I’d been obsessed with it through high school, and into college.
I’ll never forget my comparative literature professor in college, an Indian American woman whose name I can’t remember. We had to write a paper on a book of our choice — that also met with her approval — as part of our final grade. I got permission to do my final paper on Giovanni’s Room, by James Baldwin. Only, instead of writing a paper about the book, I decided to write an epilogue; a “final chapter,” told from Giovanni’s point of view.
I was intrigued and captivated by the character of Giovanni. In fact, I found him more interesting than the protagonist and narrator. (In fact, I was probably more than a little turned on by Giovanni.) I missed Giovanni’s presence once he disappeared from the story, and was only referred to by other characters. So, I decided to write about Giovanni’s final moments, from his point of view, doing my best to capture what I felt was his voice.
Only years later did it occur to me that it took unimaginable hubris and audacity — not to mention pretentiousness and vanity — to presume that I as a mere college freshman had anything to add to the work of a writer of Baldwin’s stature. It did occur to me at the time that I was taking a risk. I might fall flat on my face.
My professor would have been within her rights to advise me against it. She might have laughed in my face. But she didn’t. I waited nervously to find out my final grade on the paper. I was relieved not only to find that it had earned an “A,” but that my professor’s written comments praised it beyond all my expectations.
The paper is long lost, but I remember the gist of her comments. “Kid,” she wrote,” you’ve got it! The gift of gab, the kiss of the blarney stone, a silver tongue, etc. Nurture it, feed it. Read far and wide! Use it! Write, and write, and write, and write. But never lose it!”
Writing was as necessary to me as breathing. It always had been. But sometime after that — sometime after college, sometime after graduating into the “real world” —I lost it. I let myself get led away from it. Blogging led me back to that part of myself.
Whatever unexpected surprises and occasional headaches came with it, I am grateful for that much. For ten years, I’ve been writing almost constantly. Even when I might not publish a post for days, I’m almost always reading, or working on a post I’m planning to write. I’m lucky enough to be able to get paid to do so, but the truth is I’d do it even if I never earned a cent at it.