A little space
I almost never blog about blogging. I've been doing it for almost eight years and nearly a thousand posts, so it must be something I take seriously — if you want to know what you believe about your life, look around you — and yet I'm seldom tempted to talk about it here. The meta talk tends to turn me off; reading it, it's hard for me not to imagine a snake swallowing its own tail. And then blogging about it, and then automatically issuing a tweet saying, "Look! I swallowed my own tail!" with a link and a photo that's been hip-ly retro'd, and then retweeting that 12 times in the next six hours, like, I mean, Jesus, snake, either we subscribe to your blog or we noticed the link in our Facebook news feed or we saw your tweet the first time or maybe we don't much care so you can stop promoting your orifice now yes please okay thanks.
I...just kind of hate snakes, I'm suddenly realizing.
But I read a post, a meta-post, last week that struck me. Over at Stirrup Queens, Melissa offered some advice on how to build a large following online. What she said was, "Need your space."
I've been sitting with that idea for a week now. I don't know the secret to finding a large audience, but then when so much — luck, timing, a gripping event — is beyond our control, I'm not even sure that's the right question. What I do believe is that it's essential to writing a good blog, and — and this is where I come in now — it's essential to writing a blog we hope to sustain.
Tautological, right? You need to do it to do it.
There have been times in the last couple of years when I've felt like I didn't much need this space. Sometimes it's because things have been going well and I haven't needed a sounding board; other times it's been because things haven't been going well and I've felt reluctant to commit it to words. And then I come back because of habit or vanity or, occasionally, embarrassment, sometimes with great difficulty. And time and again, I'm surprised: Invariably, I learn again how much I need it, and how grateful I am to have it.
You are all so generous. Your comments on my last post and your kind e-mail have been so helpful to me. Thank you. I wonder if you know that the things you say stay with me.
I meant to write and say so sooner, but at the moment we're near the end of the winter school break, eleven glorious days of it, and, God, I know other writers — better writers — can do very good work surrounded by noise and upheaval and people, but I can't do even bad work unless I'm alone and it's quiet. And Ben advancing on me with a brace of toy hammers, grinning bloodthirstily and droning a sinister little tune he picked up at day care — "Ben hammers with twoooo hammers! Twoooo hammers! Twoooooooooo hammers!" — is kind of the opposite of alone and quiet.
(Have I told you my computer is in the playroom? Gosh, we have loads of fun!)
But unless Ben finally manages to brain me before then, once he and Charlie are back in school, I'll be back, too. I need my space. I'm so glad and grateful to have it, and you.