Why Do I Do This?
You may not know this, but this week is Metablog Week. As the founder of Metablog Week, Schmutzie, puts it, "Metablogging happens when a blogger blogs about blogging on their weblog." As it happens, this event fell at a sort of serendipitous time for me, since I've been thinking a lot lately about why I write, and why in particular I write for this site. (In a box with a fox in socks.)
It turns out that I don't even remember why I started this blog in the first place. The story I've been telling myself is that it came out of my high school English teacher's parting suggestion that we keep a reading journal, but when I go back through my archives, it turns out that my first blog post (about which I am now truly and deeply embarrassed) predates my first review by over a year. Of course, I'd had a web site for almost five years by that point, but what was it that made me decide to dip my toe into the blogging pool on that spring day eight years ago? And with a trite political op-ed piece, no less? I don't know.
Of course, other than the reviews, blogging was a pretty occasional thing for me until two summers ago, when my son was born. So maybe I should start there. That was obviously a momentous time for me, what with all the changes entailed in becoming a parent, and the desire to have a contemporaneous record of my life through that transition was definitely a big part of it. But, if I'm being honest with myself, how much had to do with wanting a journal and how much had to do with the fact that I'd been reading Dooce regularly?
See, I've always thought of myself as introverted and uncomfortable with attention, and that's certainly how most people think of me. The single most common reaction this blog has gotten from my family and friends has been surprise at how open I am here, and at how much goes on underneath my staid demeanor.
The truth is, I've always wanted to be famous, though it pains me to say it. Not the kind of shallow celebrity that our reality-TV-obsessed culture is so fascinated with these days, true, but I do have to admit that I've dreamed about getting the kind of respect and admiration that I have for a really good writer or artist. When I was young--the kind of kid who told his boss "I don't want to be in the newspapers; I want to be in the textbooks"--I probably wanted to be in the same pantheon as a Mark Twain or a Gabriel García Márquez. These days I'd settle for being a John Grogan.
(Man, that is so arrogant. "I'd settle for being a beloved international bestseller." Sometimes I strain even my own credulity.)
I tell myself that what I really want is not actually fame, but rather I want to have created something wonderful. My life having been so moved and influenced by great art and great writing, I want to try to give something like that experience to other people. And all that is true, but it's incomplete. I want to have done something great, but I want the recognition for it, too.
Which raises the question: if no one read this blog, would I still write it? It would be facile to point out that practically no one reads it now, so there's my answer, but at this point I'm still working toward the goal of a wider readership. What if I came to the point where I knew that would never happen? Would I still write? After all, I'm always telling people "I like having written but I hate writing."
I like to think I would. Since I started keeping to a schedule over the past few months, I've been finding that the more I write, the more I think of to write. Maybe it's still just the enthusiasm of a new project, the whole "I'm going to become a writer" thing. But more and more I'm finding that the words and topics are flowing more easily and it's harder not to write. There's just so much I want to say!
I don't know if I'll ever achieve any kind of fame, or whether any fame I do achieve will be lasting. I can't deny the desire, though, and maybe that means I'm coming at this writing thing from the wrong angle. I can't help feeling that I'm doing something good here, something meaningful, and maybe that's enough, even if nobody is reading it.