I started this blog for a few reasons, one of them being to work through some of my writing problems in a public space. Some readers may recall several rants against realism I posted, and in many ways those were brought about after I noticed the same problem in my work that I saw in slush piles. In short, I have gradually realized that “realism” and “literature” are not the same things. Simply producing writing that seems life-like or is based upon things that really happened does not automatically make a story literary. Realistic details don’t matter unless they are contributing to the overall vision of a story.
Although I’ve definitely covered craft issues such as characterization, action, setting, dialogue, etc., here, one powerful concept I’ve embraced is that great stories can be thought of as full explorations of their subject matter. This is where the idea of a “conceit” comes in: writers identify ideas or images that obsess them and then write to discover more about that idea. The concept of writing as a discovery process rather than the means of taking an already fully formed idea and putting it on the page has been a powerful one, and I’ve taken that to heart over the past year. It can be terrifying to feel like every sentence is a mistake, that you’ve been let off blind folded in a field and told to find your way home, but I took the leap of faith and now realize that bad pages eventually become good if you keep working at them. You do find your way home eventually.
I also wrote a number of reviews for films and books over the past year—about 20 films and 18 books as far as I can tell. I saw a few more films and read a few more books than I reviewed, but these reviews provide a good record of my intake over the past year.
The “notebook” concept, with my posts being divided up into separate phases, has been fairly successful. Over the past year I’ve used the blog to work through side projects, with the current one—an album of electronic music—almost complete. Not all my posts have pertained to the phase I was working on but some of them have. I’ve enjoyed this flexibility and the projects (fingers crossed for this current one) have been successfully completed.
If I went back to the beginning and started blogging all over again, the only major change would involve starting two weeks in advance with my posts. As I’ve noted several places, rather than sitting down and writing a post every day, I write them a week in advance and auto-program them. This gives me more control over the writing and development of the posts and prevents last-minute issues from interfering.
Two weeks of lead time would have given me even more flexibility in how I managed my time. Some weeks I found myself crashing to get my posts finished for the coming week, and a longer lead time would have helped. I probably would have written a number of better posts.
Although I actually enjoyed a certain lack of relevance to my posts—they were dictated mostly by my own interests and my own schedule—I think I would be a bit more attentive to timeliness and relevance if I ever go back to blogging once a day. The ongoing conversation between bloggers as linked to contemporary events and issues is a major positive attribute of the blogosphere, and yet I did not really participate in this conversation over the past year.
Tomorrow’s the big day—post #365. See you then!