meta: August 2005 Archives

It's important to understand that, for most of my life, it never ever ever occurred to me to keep a journal or a diary. When I was assigned journals for courses, or even weekly reading notes, I always did them all at the last minute. And like so many of my students, I had talked myself into believing that I was really skilled at writing at the last minute without ever having tried anything else, much less something as radical as writing every day.

And so, you'll forgive my utter astonishment at the fact that cgbvb is two years old today. That's right--welcome to my blogiversary.

The festivities include a shout out to the Jennies:

Jenny Bay, when I visited her last week, made sure to remind me how much shit I gave her when she first told me that she was spending time each day reading blogs. Blogs?! Who has time to read blogs when there are articles to write, classes to teach, meetings to attend, books to read, etc.?! Umm, yeah. Apparently, I do. And as she tried to tell me, I think, what I learned was that keeping a blog didn't take away from those other activities so much as it reorganized them and in some cases made me more efficient (and certainly more accountable).

If JennyB laid the mental groundwork for the eventual emergence of the site, Jenny Edbauer was my spark. She's on the 3rd iteration of her own space since I started, but it was reading Jenny from the Blog on a daily basis that convinced me to do the techwork necessary to get myself up and going.

So, thanks, Jennies.

As my blogiversary approached, I went back and cringed at some of the nonsense I wrote during my first couple of months, but I thought I'd reprint one of my favorite entries from those halcyon days of bloggerly innocence and joie de vivre:


From Wave Magazine via MeFi, I am happy to endorse one of the funniest top ten lists I've come across in a while: Decade of Rad: The 10 Eightiest Movies. Here's the review of The Toughest Man in the World (1984), starring Mr. T:

It�'s as if this movie sprang directly from what is probably the awesomest place ever: Mr. T�'s mind. Bruise Brubaker, played by Mr. T, is a bouncer who spends his spare time helping troubled kids at the youth center. As if I need to tell you, the city is threatening to close it down. Mr. T and the kids try a fund-raising carnival, but through a miracle of unexpected plot twists, it doesn�t work. He then goes to plan B: training to become the Toughest Man in the World while listening to rap music also performed by Mr. T. That sound you just heard was probably you having an orgasm. Oh, T�'s plan works by the way. He totally becomes the Toughest Man in the World.

The other sound you just heard was me cracking up. And lest you think I spoil your fun, TMITW is only the #4 eightiest movie. There's plenty more fun to go around.

I'll see if I can't throw down something a little more serious tonight, but in the meantime, enjoy the list, and see if you lay claim to being eightier than I am.

The link is still live, and the orgasm line still makes me laugh, two years later.

I've seen a couple of links recently to the nonist "public service pamphlet" on blog depression, "the more insidious, prolonged strain of dissatisfaction which stays with a blogger, right below the surface, throughout a blog’s lifetime." Definitely worth a read, if only for the fact that I suspect we all go through this kind of stuff on a regular basis.

For a more optimistic take, though, esp for those of us in academia, I recommend Alex's recent post on scholarly blogging:

So, The Scientist writes up a story that says “This has the potential to change the world, why aren’t more people doing it?” and the answer is contained right there in the question. This has the potential to change the world, and not everybody loves world-changing. Those who do are probably already blogging.

There's not a lot that I have to add to Alex's account, because his three reasons are pretty darn close to my own. I've thought a little recently about how I feel less inclined to evangelize about blogs. One possible reason for this is that I think I feel pretty secure in how blogging has fit into my own writing ecology. It doesn't make sense to me anymore not to do it, but I'm not so far gone that I can't see how it might not be for everyone. But I say that guardedly, because I still believe that the habits I've developed here are crucial for success as an academic writer. I still believe that there's a shift in the kind of writing that we do in graduate school, a shift from the event-based model of the seminar paper to the process-based model of the dissertation, and that blogging has helped me continue to develop my skills at the latter kind of writing.

This is not meant to be a blanket claim about how bloggers write better dissertations, books, or even articles, but it's probably at least a hypothesis. When I'm not writing here, it's because I'm writing emails or working on a manuscript, but the thing that blogging has helped me to accomplish is that writing is something I do every day. The event model encourages us to decide whether to write (until the "night before" arrives, at least), while blogging has helped me instead to think about what to write. And as a writing teacher and scholar, it makes a tremendous amount of sense to me that writing itself is no longer a question, but a given.

I've accrued all sorts of benefits as a result--new friends, new colleagues, better contact with people old and new, new ways to think about things, advice, sympathy, accountability, visibility, etc.--but all that is gravy. It makes me a better writer, and that's good enough for me.

Okay, so maybe I'm not quite past the point of evangelism...



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This page is a archive of entries in the meta category from August 2005.

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