July 04, 2004

happy journalversary to me

We interrupt this vacation to celebrate an important Ė nay, astounding Ė anniversary. What? Birth of country, signing of some piece of paper, fireworks and rockets redglare? No, no. Far more navel-gazing, this.

Today is the fifth anniversary of my first online post in the web journal / web log / online diary format. The nature of my writing here has changed since then, the nature of here has even changed, but it remains public personal writing. Five years with no real break. Visions and Revisions slid into Hidden Laughter, which I then supplemented with pictures on Postcards from LA, which allowed me to circle back to near-daily words on this blog. Iím amazed. Shocked. Amused, even.

I almost didnít do it. I spent a week or two that June learning GoLive, drew a picture of the stained glass lamp in our living room and made it background to a splash page, set up an archive format, all ready to go live indeed and then stopped. ďWhy the hell am I doing this? Online? Personal? Exposed? Me? My life? What the fuck?Ē And that was nearly that. But Dan said ďJust try it outĒ and ďit seems like it might be a good thing.Ē I trust him. So I held my breath and uploaded an entry.

The world didnít end.

People didnít laugh at me.

People read my words. A few at first, then a surge when Diane mentioned her friendís brand new journal and some readers stuck around. Others came. Never huge numbers, three digit and never four, but hey, thatís something, isnít it? Thatís real. Tangible. People I didnít know beforehand. People who came back for my words. And that felt Ė and feels Ė good.

Even now, after five years, Iíd prefer if you donít ask why Iím doing this. I have answers, both pat and complex, but I canít articulate the true, underlying answer. I fumble at answers. Iím not sure anyone ultimately knows why he or she does it. But more and more people are doing it. The explosion of blog software choices and journalscape-diaryland-blogspot-dreamhost hosting sites makes that clear. It satisfies a need. A need to connect? A need to write your life? A need to write your thoughts, dreams, share stories and snippets of information. A need to reach out and be perceived by others. A need to have a record of yourself. An online reflection of a part of you, albeit never all of you. Itís all/some/part of that and sometimes, somehow something different too. And five years later, Iím still and again doing it.

Back then, I was on an email list for journallers. Bloggers and journallers were different beasts, never the twain shall meet, and so we had our disparate worlds. Things change. And I digress. So yes, back then I was on an email list. Intensely curious about this new world and the people in it, and so I read and listened and clicked on links. That email list had a question of the day. One day the question arose: how long do you think youíll be doing this? I was shocked at how many people said ďUntil you pry the keyboard from my cold, dead hands.Ē Because for me, it was an experiment. I fully expected to stop within six months. And I couldnít conceive of why someone would think of this as an integral part of the fabric of their life. Because, after all, this is strange. To write about yourself, to have other people Ė friends and strangers and old friends who return when they google you and then get to read about your new life Ė to have all these people reading your words. It is strange. Very. And so of course it couldnít last. Just a blip. A passing fancy.

That, of course, was five years ago. Obviously the fancy hasn't yet passed me by. My blog/journal/site serves functions I know and ones I donít. It feels right and sometimes it feels wrong and when it does, I either write through it, take a break or redefine my online presence and continue on. Iíll write until it feels wrong and doesnít go back to feeling right. But in the meantime, Iím here. Iím glad I am. Being here, writing here, has enriched my life more than I ever could have imagined back when I uploaded that very first entry about the Fourth of July past and present. It has altered my life in tangible ways. And that fact astounds me.

Posted by Tamar at July 4, 2004 11:42 PM