Back in second or third grade, a teacher gave me a spiral-bound notebook, whose cover was an oddly unattractive shade of blue. (Yes, I know grammarians shy away from using “whose” for inanimate objects, but “the cover of which” is just so…stilted.) I remember it all these years later because who the hell gets a gift from a teacher? She said she wanted to encourage my writing.
I struggled with academic writing, oddly enough. I breezed through high school just fine, but then I found myself at a top-notch liberal arts college, and their standards for research and composition were not compatible with extreme procrastination and weekend partying. So I failed the “writing requirement” the first time around. Eventually I caught on well enough.
After college, I worked in publishing. My bosses praised my excellent writing…in memos, reports, and business correspondence. In a few years, I was promoted to a writing position that offered scarcely any more creativity than the memos—writing 250-word abstracts of health-care journal articles.
When I became a freelancer, I avoided writing assignments in favor of copyediting work. Why? Because writing is so much tougher and so much more vulnerable to the procrastinative urge.
I’ve never felt called to write The Great American Novel, and I don’t do poetry. I could sort of envision writing essays, though. And hey! Blogging is like small essays, and without publication deadlines, procrastination is less of a problem!
So all I had to do to finally make use of the ugly blue notebook (figuratively speaking) was wait for blogging to be invented. The first blog I read was Eric Zorn’s Notebook. (I would link to it right in this paragraph if I knew how to do that.) Not a typical blog—it’s edited by the Trib, and there’s no typical comments section. Eric pointed his readers towards flea’s One Good Thing, which is often funny, sometimes moving, and inspirationally well-written (as in “inspiring you to write your own blog”). Flea’s blogroll led me to Bitch Ph.D., who has a lively group of commenters riffing on her wickedly good posts. Together, these clever folks have led me to most of the other denizens of my blogroll.
Snarky bloggers, thank you for showing me the way.