On Finding the Voice

April 27, 2007

Someone recently said to me "you don't write much any more."

I don't know, maybe, maybe not. This term I've had lots of adventure, lots of photographs to deal with and writing for school that has taken a lot of energy out of me. However, except for exams this next week and a half, that's all over and I've got something to say.

But I find it ironic that right in the middle of trying to finish this piece my ISP went down and out for the count, hopefully a short count. It reminded me of the "good old days" when this net was about as reliable as a hundred year old junk in the South China Sea during a typhoon.

And it's those memories of the good old days that will tie all my thoughts together.

As I was doing some poking around in the web this morning I found an article that I'm going to share a few pieces from. What you see in Italics comes from an article from a site called SALON.

"Online diarists have invented a new art form and gathered a devoted following. But now some pioneers are questioning what they've created..."

The article went on to interview a writer and her reasons for quitting.

"It's grown dull. Tedious," she writes. And not only will she no longer be regularly baring her soul to the world, but it seems she's writing an obituary for the whole diary phenomenon.

Personally, I can understand why someone who wrote just about every day would grow tired of it all, especially when you consider how "alone" it is out here in the greater web, outside of a writing community.

I've been "out here" for a long time now. It looks like I must have opened the doors on my domain sometime back in January of 2000. That's a long time.

I wonder at times, like I did just recently, why do I keep it up? What's the point? I've been paying for web hosting now for 7 or 8 years, each year costing at least a hundred bucks.

At one time I thought I just might be "discovered." And for a brief moment, I was. I picked up 300 bucks for a one time use for two of my images.

But that was then, and I wonder, why keep it up?

"Web diarists are now "slowing down, drifting away, and not publishing at all, abandoning unfinished projects, flailing in redirection and redesign, coming to no real conclusions and no more happiness."

Earlier this year my site hit a milestone of sorts, when the sitemeter that's been up there since January 12, 2000 rolled over to a new set of zeros.

When I look at the statistics however I feel like a shopkeeper on the boardwalk of a very popular tourist town. The facade catches em for a moment and they open the door, look around for a second and poof, they are gone.

The statistics will tell you how long people stay, on average, but the truth of the matter is that a few people hang around for a few minutes, sometimes even for as long as an hour. The majority however, click that "I'm outtahere" button and they are only around long enough for the visit to show as a page view.

The web is like that I guess, lots of links to places you really don't want to go.

While many of the movement's pioneers may be tired and disillusioned, the genre shows plenty of signs of life -- of blossoming, even, into something remarkable: a new literary form that allows writers to connect with readers in an excitingly new way.

Which brings me to my point, that of connecting with readers. So maybe it's not about an "exciting new way" but the truth of the matter is that I'm always looking for something new and good to read.

"Perhaps the departure of the first diarists tells us less that the online diary is in decline than that it's over its first flush. Indeed, the fact that the genre has had its first significant casualties -- had its first works go out of print, if you will -- is arguably a sign that it's only just now matured."

Technorati is now tracking more than 57 million blogs, of which it believes around 55% are 'active' - updated at least every three months. Sounds like it got called wrong. Sounds like the writers did not slow down or drift away. Good thing this call was not about a patient in the back of the ambulance.

"Internet diaries can be as entertaining, as worth reading, as any other literature. Just as with a fine memoir, or even a novel, they offer us the chance to get caught up in another person's trials and triumphs, their dreams and their daily dramas. Just as with any fiction, we can appreciate them for the quality of their writing as much as for the stories they tell. And in this genre we get to enjoy it all in digestible daily doses and in the knowledge that we truly won't be able to predict what's going to happen next."

The Salon article concluded by saying that we should "go find the voice that speaks to you."

Among 57 million blogs, who can find any voice out there these days? When the Salon article was written back in 1998 there were maybe 500 "online diaries" on the web.

"Hey Partner, Let's call it a day. This one is slowing down, drifting away, those folks that write, quit, they are not publishing at all any more.


Tulups in Ann Arbor, MI April 2006