I have been blogging at this location for the last twelve years and it is with pleasure that I continue to so -- but perhaps with a much changed mission. When authors I know first started blogging, it was a way of communicating with people. I look back at the posts from five -six years ago, and I am surprised to see how many comments there are, sometimes a rich on-going discussion inspired by something in my post, or sometimes an exchange of very useful information. But such community is rare now on a blog. We have switched our allegiance to Facebook, where an announcement of a post does not actually mean someone will follow the link and read it, but they will express approval for the general idea by clicking the "like" button. And then we move even farther out, to a mere 280 characters in a tweet, to announce our blog post and receive a few "hearts" and maybe a re-tweet -- but still rare responses on the blog itself. Those kinds of conversations are pretty much over. And when I went down my list of bloggers, I was surprised to discover how many had packed it in for the nimble, quick-release variants of Facebook and twitter. And then there is Instagram, where the totality of an idea must be summed up in perfectly constructed images and hashtags.
Don't get me wrong -- I am not really complaining, just observing the transition and what it means for dinosaurs like me who still love to blog, even if it is for an audience of one. When I started blogging, I did so for the Journal of Mythic Arts and the Endicott Studio. We wanted to be a resource of myth, art, and folklore goodness. We wanted to share the wonderful work done by so many talented people. So the posts were always aimed outward. When we archived JoMA and the Endicott Studio, blogging finally shifted to the personal. I set up my own blog, In the Labyrinth in 2007 and wondered where it might take me.
What I discovered was a profound shift -- from promoting others to promoting myself and my work -- and it took a while to figure that out. How much personal information to share, family photos, events, favorite meals -- all the early posts that now seem so much better suited for Facebook. And somewhere along the way, I also wanted to review books I loved, write short critical essays on literary culture, folklore, my own writing, and what inspired me. I am pretty eclectic, I know that -- a magpie who is happy to post on the intellectual roots of Garcia Lorca's "Duende" to theatrical work with trance-inducing masks, to Medieval bad-boys who wrote pornographic poetry, deconstructing a brilliant sentence by Joseph Conrad, Balzac's treaties on Coffee drinking (which bordered on the hallucinogenic), Russian artists, Medieval Manuscripts and Irish poets, and The Voynich Manuscript. I do try and promote my work by sharing my research notes and excerpts, my struggles sometimes with getting a story right, and the ever important announcement of a completed new work.
I understand that I am writing a journal, and that actually pleases me. I am less concerned with how far a post of mine travels, but rather that I can call up the evolution of my ideas over time -- a long time -- and revisit past ideas. A body of my own thought. But...in the interest of not feeling quite so lonely, I go every day now to other people's blogs that I find interesting and I make a point of responding to the post, to asking questions, sharing my own thoughts on the subject where appropriate. And I am planning once a week to share (on facebook of course!) the best of the blog posts for the week that I found, and encourage you if interested to visit them and respond.
Art credits: The inestimable Edward Hopper.