Wednesday, January 09, 2008

new site at tumblr



So... you may have noticed I was gone for a while. That was kind of intentional on my part. For a time, I had three big things occupying my mind. One of them was paper that tried very hard to break my brain. It only partly succeeded. The second was a boy situation that I knew was a bad idea, that the boy knew was a bad idea, that the very few people I told about it told me was a bad idea, but I went ahead with it anyways. Because I'm a sucker for lost causes, and because it gets lonely at the holidays. That's done now, hopefully for good, and everyone emerged unscathed. But it was something that, for a lot of reasons, I didn't and won't write about again, at least not until I get some much-needed distance. Like, say, to another continent.

The final reason was the family situation to which I alluded a while ago. It got worse, much worse, and though it too has somewhat resolved itself, not everybody emerged as unscathed. People said some very hurtful, even unforgivable things in the course of it, and it took a lot out everyone involved. I was expressly forbidden from writing about it, in part because there could have been legal ramifications and there almost certainly would have been emotional ones. Someday I might write about the lessons I took from it, because I watched carefully from the sidelines and learned a lot about how to communicate with people whose views clash with your own, how to get your desired outcome on someone else's terms and when to stop talking even though you have more to say. But for now, it's way too soon and way too messy to write on it, even for private consumption only.

People in bad or boring situations generally don't write well. They whine well, but there's plenty of that in the world and I didn't want to contribute more. I would rather not blog at all than have a "here's what I ate for lunch today" or "why I'm voting for Obama" or "what my New Year's resolutions are" blog. There's a place for that kind of writing, and it's called a journal. I don't begrudge people who write indulgently, lazily, or selfishly. That is their right, and usually, if they intend to become good writers, a necessary evil. Good writers are made, not born, and everyone has off days, weeks, even off seasons. But whether people want to admit it or not, there is a huge pool of mediocrity in personal blogging, one that, by starting dozens of entries complaining about life in unspecific and highly unoriginal terms, I felt like I was contributing to.

Some people power through and manage to break out of a bad cycle. I turn to a different platform for inspiration.

I started a blog at Tumblr on a whim and found myself really liking it. If Blogger and Typepad can be thought of as journals or diaries, Tumblr is a scrapbook. I enjoy the encouragement to post frequently and without excessive text. It's been a fun challenge to keep myself from rambling on like I usually do, to make words and phrases count for more and let content speak for itself. Perhaps most blessedly of all, this format help keep a blog largely free of the triteness that plagues so much of personal blogging (a crime that I do not in any way exempt myself from-- there may well be a screenshot of EJ Takes Life in the dictionary under "Navel-Gazing").

I may come back to Blogger eventually, but right now am really enjoying Tumblr. So please, update your bookmarks and links, because EJ is settling in for the long haul over there.

Oh, and if you didn't know what "EJ" stood for:


B.A. said...

Have you ever seen the confused look on a dog when you move his food dish? That's kind of how I feel right now.

Hammer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hammer said...

Rather than powering through, I think what can work for some folks is just blowing up the model. Forget the prevailing "wisdom" about blog structure and subject material.

The catch-22 of course is that readers and authors alike get used to seeing a certain style from established blogs, and so when the author finally says, "To hell with it," cuts their ear off and yanks the steering wheel hard to the left, it can be pretty jarring.

So maybe trading the old car in for something brand new like Tumblr is the way to go after all. I'm intrigued by the platform and will have to poke around it a bit more.

I will say though that underneath all the many thousand of words your poured into this thing, a very distinctive and compelling voice developed. A voice that made people want to shut up and listen when it spoke, lest they miss something especially insightful or hilarious. Sometimes both.

Nobody expects you Tumblr voice to necessarily be the same one, but I hope that the brevity of the format still allows us to hear your twang from across the room.

Have fun over there!

lemmonex said...

I really enjoy the new format at Tumblr...glad you are back at it.

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