The guy pulling the strings over at the Other Stuff isn’t doing his job.
Generally, I resent bloggers making excuses for their absences. They all start with “Sorry I haven’t posted in so long…” and end with “I’m back, and I promise to do better.” Hollow promises. These self-chastising posts always represent a predictable step in a blogger’s journey towards disappearing altogether.
I feel like I’m writing one of these posts now. I last published a week ago, not long enough to write a where have I been post, but my productivity is down. Over the past several months, I averaged six posts a month. A clear drop-off from my normal eight or so. In July, I wrote only three. I’m not reacting to a busy schedule. I simply have nothing I want to say.
I write from my life. On my insecure days, I consider my blog a self-absorbed diary. On better days, I like to think it’s creative nonfiction—story-telling about the one topic where I’m actually knowledgeable… me. Plenty is happening in my life. Coaching started, work heated up, I had a couple of surgeries… Surgeries? Couldn’t I write about that? Through blogging, I’ve shared my most intimate thoughts and experiences: the pain of becoming sober, the embarrassment of my Tourette tics, the loneliness of social anxiety. I draw the line at the grizzly details of hemorrhoid surgery.
Last night I started a new book. The library where I work is having its annual book sale this weekend. I took time yesterday to browse the tables. I flipped through the vinyl records looking for bands Eli would like. Lots of Engelbert Humperdinck and Neil Diamond, no Hendrix, no Metallica. I browsed the biographies looking for some musicians I might like to read about. Instead, I found a copy of my book Fragments. I can’t decide if it’s good or bad that someone donated it. When I moved on to paperback fiction, I found Noise: Fiction Inspired by Sonic Youth.
Sonic Youth is a love ‘em or hate ‘em band. My family hates them. Well Susan would never say that, but she never makes positive comments when Alexa and I are rocking out to them. Eli hates them. “The problem with Sonic Youth is they have no structure.” I could counter that a listener needs a certain level of sophistication to understand Sonic Youth’s song structure, but after being a parent for twenty years, I’ve learned that comments like that are best kept inside my head.
When I brought my new book home, Eli took a look at the cover and said “Sonic Youth is noise.” Sigh. The first short story I started reading is by Katherine Dunn, a deceased graduate level writing professor and the author of Geek Love—a story that tracks the explosive arc of a family of circus freaks. If you haven’t read it, please do. It’s beautiful and ugly. It’s like a horrible accident on the street but you can’t look away.
In Katherine’s story inspired by Sonic Youth, a neighbor finds a severed hand in the local park—the park, I assume, is modeled after the location where Katherine, probably a wealthy(ish) woman late in her life, walked her dogs before she died. I started reading late, so I didn’t finish the story, but as far as I can tell, it isn’t so much about the hand as how the hand causes her to interact with the people in her neighborhood. I like where the story is going. I think I could learn a lot from Katherine Dunn if she was still teaching.
So am I one of these bloggers slowly evaporating from the WordPress community? I doubt it. I love to write. Reading Katherine’s story last night shoved me towards my laptop this morning. She made me want to poke at my thoughts to see what popped out. I haven’t been reading much lately, my vision doubles when I read too long. I realized this morning that I’ve under stimulated my brain. A half hour of quality reading realigned my priorities. No, I don’t think I’m the next blogger to disappear. I’m back, and I promise to do better.