Fourteen years ago, I started a blog at this address. I was a young man—just twenty-one years old. It was my third year of college. I was a Painting major with a growing sense that I had beliefs, opinions, and observations that would benefit the world if they were shared. The internet was quickly maturing into a culture of engagement, connection, and curiosity, and blogs were the platform of choice for the renegade self-publisher, sure of their own expertise. I saw in that world an opportunity in which my stock as a person, as an identity, would rise with every post, every beautiful photo, every painting. The world of adult transactions awaited me, and my website would be the account to which I made my deposits.
Eventually, as the writing amassed, I became aware of my own steadily rising standard for quality. I became ashamed of past writing. Each old post became an untenable misfire—no longer suitable for the public. Around the same time, I fell in love. It became clear that my experience of life at that moment was so rich, and so insistent, that my mind could not keep up in a manner that would permit public writing. Life was telling me that I hadn’t lived enough of it, and that I wasn’t the writer I once thought myself to be.
Looking back on that time, there may be one or two posts I would still be proud of (they’re all in a folder, somewhere). What I miss the most, other than the delusion that I had an audience of admirers, is the ongoing low-level high one gets from writing publicly on a regular basis. Inasmuch as I may no longer approve of either the beliefs espoused or the quality of their expression, I can testify to the fact that writing constantly and publicly made me a better writer. It also made me smarter. I thought new thoughts more often, and as a result of the process learned what I thought and why. But I wasn’t just the beneficiary of better thinking. My inner life was afforded clarity; the result of a sense of purpose and point of view.
Since then, I have written regularly in private. But private personal writing is prone to overt displays of emotion and a lack of quality control. Though I am sometimes able to elevate my mind through reasoned writing, just as often the charged tenor of a no holds barred approach has a paradoxical effect on its quality, limiting the session to a kind of unhelpful attempt at self-therapy. And as my AP Comp teacher told me repeatedly nearly twenty years ago: If you can’t write, you can’t think. It then follows that bad writing is bad thinking.
So, here I am. I’m thirty-five now. Married. I have experienced many of the joys and disappointments life has to offer, and yet not nearly enough of either to feel the world needs my public response. No, my intentions are simpler and I hope, humbler—to be a better thinker, by writing. I hope the re-establishment of this habit will also benefit my friends and family, as the energy that might have found its way to Facebook screeds or dinner table rants can find its way here instead. And by this process, I hope it can be burned down into a finer substance that is worthy of its readers (even if I’m the only one).
Why now? Because at some point before November 8, 2016, I promised myself that if Donald Trump were elected, I would start writing publicly again. But, aren’t blogs dead? Yes, the now years-old fact that blogs are a wasteland makes me quite comfortable with the notion of “having one” again.
Donald Trump is President of the United States. Blogs are dead. Where do I begin?