Long Live the Blog

Visitors exploring this site in recent weeks may have noticed missing photos and technical issues on old pages and posts. As it happens, recently we were punted by our host, and Jenn had to scramble to port us over to a new service. Consequently, tons of images—including the massive Mission: Impossible screen-cap galleries—were lost.

In the immediate crisis, I experienced a brief, emotional contortion: first, freaking out that I might lose the site, then shrugging my shoulders at the thought. How upset would I be, I wondered, to lose the blog? Because I’ll admit, there are times I’ve fantasized about closing up shop. Blogging—well, blogging the way I do it, anyway—is a time sink, and anyway, who reads blogs any more? They’ve been declasse for at least fifteen years. In the wider scheme of things, the ongoing link rot and content drift of our dysfunctional internet, the death of my meager little corner of the blogverse wouldn’t be a huge loss.

But then Jenn, because she’s Jenn, promptly solved our hosting issues, removing the question. The blog survived, and once I knew it would remain an ongoing project, I was relieved. Sure enough, even after well over a decade of compulsively reviewing my rampant media consumption, it seems I want to keep doing it. If that wasn’t enough to convince me, I seem to have resurrected an old project that I’d previously abandoned for the sheer, daunting scope of it: reviewing, revising, and polishing up the old content. With methodical obsessiveness, I’ve been working through the archives, appalled by the typos and glitches, misused punctuation and clunky turns of phrase, and all those goddamned double spaces. Going through the archives and fixing all that mess isn’t something anyone is likely to notice except me, but I’m finding it relaxing, therapeutic work. It’s like going out to the garage on the weekend to crack a beer and wax your car’s paint job. (Or, you know, whatever it is car people do. Car stuff.)

Plus, all this upkeep got me thinking about why I started the blog in the first place, and why I keep it going. For years, I told myself (and anybody who asked) that this site was mostly a personal record-keeping tool, a reminder to myself of what I was up to, plus a memory trigger for all the art and story I voraciously consume. I wasn’t lying when I said that. My memory often fails me, and if I don’t write down my impressions of things, they’re liable to fly right out of my head. The plot has been an invaluable record for me.

But I can also see, between the lines of my earlier writing, a subliminal desire to connect, in the way that social media was supposed to connect us. You know, before Facebook and Twitter devolved into performative stunting and algorithmic capitalism. There’s even some evidence the effort was working, modestly. For a while, my posts were actually mirrored on LiveJournal. LiveJournal! People even commented. I was communicating with friends through the blog, something that went away as my disillusionment with the digital world prompted me to shut down comments and stop sharing across social media. (In retrospect, lumping the blog in with the problems of those hellsites was a misdiagnosis, but I guess I just lost my stomach for online interaction generally.)

Anyway, yes, the blog was mainly for me. But clearly, I also wanted other people to read it, even if I cared less and less, over time, about like-button dopamine hits. Reading the old content showed that to me, and now I can admit I was probably trying to build something here, even if I didn’t acknowledge it: the blog as a platform, a landing page for my digital existence, a way to get noticed. Oh, it didn’t work, but it gave me other things, and reflecting on it now reminds me wistfully of earlier days: the promise of the internet as a force for good in the world, or at least for creativity and connection and fun.

Well, that promise may have been scuttled by the nightmare internet we ended up with in reality. But the blog sails on, and the slightly older, possibly wiser version of me writing this may have put my finger on what this site has really been about all these years: seizing agency from the fickle whims of the writing game.

I’ve been writing, recreationally and/or professionally, for almost forty years. And somehow, even as it sometimes feels like it’s slowly killing me, writing has saved me, over and over. I don’t know why, precisely; it just helps. What doesn’t help is publishing. And by publishing, I mean the parts of writing beyond the writer’s control: the acceptances, the deals, the reviews, the recognition, even the simple bucket-list dreaming and striving that plagues every aspiring author who wants their work to be read. Publishing, you can’t control, and if you put too much stock in it, you’re bound to make yourself unhappy. All you can do is work toward it: write, revise, polish, market, send it out into the world. What happens after that, even if you’re good, is a crapshoot. And it ain’t getting any easier in the current publishing landscape. It’s enough to drive you to drink.

Which circles back to the blog. Yes, this is a personal journal, a review site, a platform, a way of reaching out to the world. But maybe best of all it’s the part of publishing I can control. It’s a target, a destination for my restless inner scribbler. The fact that it doesn’t have anything to do with the callous hand of fate is a godsend. I don’t have any illusions about being a brilliant blogger, and believe me, there’s no money in it. But you know, I’m pretty good at posting shit regularly, it’s fun, and I love the work of it. Recognizing this has been enlightening, but also freeing, unshackling me from toxic notions about what my writing life is supposed to resemble. That’s going to be different for everyone; for me, the blog is a part of it.

Anyway, renovations here will continue. Eventually, the old posts and image galleries will return, and moving forward, new content will go up—maybe even the odd non-reviewy, life stuff, like the old days. Blogging may be out of fashion, but it suits me. I’d like to think that when the last of the hellsites goes up in smoke, blogs like this one will continue to hang around, doing their thing. Why not?

Graphic of a wall of television or computer screens

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