I got myself caught this evening in a thing that happens to me here every so often: I’ll spot an intriguing post title in my “Five Years Ago” block and click and read that post, and get all nostalgic about five years ago, and sometime later realize that I’ve just been paging forward through old posts on my blog for an hour and a half. Five years ago, I was really deep into the blogging: I’d been at it for four years, and I had a solid community with which I was in dialogue, and I felt utter license (thanks to having gotten tenure and having gotten the first book out) to write about whatever the heck I felt like writing about, for no other reason than that I felt like writing it.
Things went through my head. I thought “hey, that’s kinda weird.” A couple of hours later I’d slap a post together pondering that oddity. And then I’d do it again the next day, or a few days later, or whatever.
The blog was an amazing invention to me back when I first launched it in 2002: after having spent so long struggling with articles, or gods forbid, the book, and after having gathered exactly no audience through those publications, the blog was an exercise in immediate gratification, in ongoing writing practice, and in community. And by 2006, it was a core part of my thinking life.
But in the last couple of years, immediate gratification has come to me in 140-character bursts, instead of in the slightly longer (if not necessarily more thought-through) form of the blog. And I’ve said this several times recently, but I really miss this place.
Part of what I miss is just that ability to read back through the blog and discover that, astonishingly enough, some things I’m working through right now have been on my radar for five years, and that other things that I was convinced I was going to do five years ago are long since forgotten. The immediacy of my interaction on Twitter is amazing, as is the breadth of that community, but I miss the sense of building a publication that belongs to me, that in some sense is me, something that I can page back through and think, wow, I remember that, or that was five years ago?, or dude, have a glass of wine and chill.
I’m not going to turn this into some vow to do more blogging, because I know that’s not going to happen: a lot of what was most interesting to me five years ago was the kind of quotidien post that is only 140 characters worth of interesting to me now. And I’m also (not to put too fine a point on it) a whole lot older, and whole lot more senior, and so much more settled into a public persona that’s much more professionally-oriented than it was.
But I’m feeling profoundly nostalgic for blogging right now, and for this blog in particular, and it somehow seems important to mark that.