Okay, here's the thing. My blog has disappeared before and no one noticed. I appreciate the support on FB, it's really nice, but for most of 2016 I posted nothing, absolutely nothing, and most posts were invisible. No one messaged me or commented about my silence.
The first time I took a break from posting new essays a couple of years ago, a dear friend commented that she enjoyed reading my posts most every day—but I had not posted a word in two months.
So I appreciate the kind words, I really do, but until I figure out what my purpose is, other than shouting into the void, I remain conflicted about whether it is worth my bother. It is actually depressing. I mean, I know people mean well to say they enjoy my writing, and I hate to be one of those people begging to a response, but the feel-good stuff is not what I am after. I want genuine readers engaging with my text. That used to happen. For the past four years or so one or two people read my post unless I link it to FB, and then the only response is a half dozen people clicking like.
I began my blog on the suggestion of fellow students after we completed our MFAs. My mother had died a week after our graduation and then there was a year of dithering and grieving before I realized I was not writing new fiction at all. I came to a halt. A couple of friends from my program suggested I start a blog and a Poets & Writers listing. I did both and found that I could write nonfiction. It was, in fact, the writing I was most familiar with, the sort of writing I had been doing since I was a child. While the fiction came to me very late in life, writing nonfiction, particularly persuasive and creative nonfiction, had been my bread and butter. I wrote so much that I took the skill completely for granted.
It is interesting to me, looking back, to recognize the shift in my attention from one art media to another. My own mother would dive into a media, reach a level of proficiency and move on without pushing that media past that basic level. I recognized this pattern as a mistake for an artist when I was still a child. I have the distinct memory of understanding the need to choose a media and push it and push and push it to excellence. I would have been eleven or twelve years old.
At the University of Washington I began in ceramics during its golden age to complete a BFA, moved up the hill to metals for a second BFA, and ended with a BA in education. It was the last that earned me Phi Beta Kappa, ironic since the education degree (if not the actual teaching practicum) was the easiest work I did in college. The essays, of course, were a breeze.
I taught art in a private Washington prep school for three years before moving home to Oregon. Here I thought I would teach Social Studies since I brought a broad range of undergraduate coursework and a passion for History, Philosophy, and Anthropology to the table. But it was made clear to me that I would not be hired to teach Social Studies unless I could also coach (literally true—the principal called me at home to warn me that he could not hire me unless I said I could coach).
Instead, I was hired a year or so later to teach English, mostly on the basis of my broad reading and experience as a graphic designer (sideline freelance work I had done for years).
There is a pattern here.
I threw myself into teaching English and into figuring out what students needed to know and be able to do to succeed in college. I used portfolio assessment beginning in 1992, developed writing assignments that included analysis and persuasion, comparison and on-the-spot response.
I went back to complete a graduate degree in fiction. Two years of writing hundreds of thousands of words. And then Mom died and I lost my focus.
For the last nine years, the only fictions I wrote were short pieces written with my students. I wrote no new stories longer than 275 words. But I did not stop writing and my poems and essays (and a few old stories) found recent publication.
Last November, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and completed a 76 thousand-word draft. Some chapters are rough and some polished. Here is the summary I posted on the NaNo site:
As soon as it was complete, I wrote a fantasy story about owls and children. It has undergone a dozen drafts and feedback from two writers I respect a great deal.
So. I am writing, and that is the important thing. Writing here uses up time and is barely read. Only one post shows before this one and no one is commenting on them here. What I want is a book, but books are hard, hard work. Nevertheless, if I am going to write in a near vacuum, do I want to have a blog to show for my hard, slogging effort or a book?
I think the book is the better choice.