Oh! How life has changed. Last September was a bottomless cavern into which 100 undergraduate papers on film fluttered like birds come to free me from endless nothingness. This September is presenting more like an overstuffed drawer.
This time the 100 undergraduate papers are on television and they’re crammed beneath the first public presentation on my thesis—a kind of dress rehearsal for the confirmation early next year; another presentation in an advanced subject I’m taking on Theory; my RA work; writing letters and such for my brother’s new business; my voluntary but eager participation in a Cultural Studies reading group... I haven’t even mentioned where blogging fits in to this.
Blogging has become a significant part of my everyday life. On the one hand, checking for updates to other people’s blogs has become part of my ritual when I first approach the computer in the morning. After I read my university email accounts and determine if I need to prioritise anything for my thesis or RA work, I go into my gmail account to see if anyone has left a comment on my blog, or the various threads at Sarsaparilla, and lately, the Patrick White Readers’ Group, that I’m following. Then, despite knowing I should get to work on my thesis, I have a quick look at my bloglines subscriptions. There are some bloggers whose posts I read the moment they become available. Other subscriptions pile up to double digits. Sometimes I reflect on my reasons for making the distinction, and then I picture the few subscribers to my blog making the same evasion. (I am working on the concept of the shorter post as a more accessible, readable ideal. Really!) At the end of the university working day, I repeat the whole process, taking time over the accumulated subscriptions.
On another level, blogging has opened up a whole new way for me to make and maintain relationships. I credit blogging with helping me to revitalise existing friendships with people who had moved away from Brisbane. Reading dogpossum’s blog reminded me in an ongoing way what a kick-arse chick she really is. It isn’t that I didn’t already know that, but reading about her thesis, the Smurf-blue paint on her parent’s house, her visits to the shops on Sydney Road etc, re-established it as a present reality, rather than as a kind of nostalgic longing—as have the various conversations we’ve had in the comments sections on each other’s blog. Similarly, while Tseen’s blog is maintained as an extension of her professional identity, I began to experience the collegiality, she is just so great at fostering, first hand. Plus, when she’s visited Brisbane on occasion, I learned she really does do that thing with sugar packets. More recently, I’ve also become reacquainted with Rachael, who I hadn’t been in contact with for years. We first met at uni and were neighbours for a while in the place where I still live. She looked me up when she visited Brisbane at Christmas, and now she’s a blogger! She sends nice emails to me about my blog, and I’m getting all the news on what seems like an idyllic life in Tasmania—except for the deforestation, of course. Stevie, Amber and the new goldfish, Marx and Engels, sound like sources of constant joy.
Then there are the people who I know in real life who have come across my blog, either because I’ve told them about it—that’s about 5 people, only two of whom have become regular readers, as far as I know—or because they’ve stumbled across it by way of other blogs and worked out the real-life connection. It’s the latter group of people that I’ve experienced the most self-consciousness about. I’ve just felt mortified that I’ve written about some horrible, messy aspect of myself that I wouldn’t normally confide to them, not because they’re not nice people, but, well, oh, *blush*. Moving right along to the newly formed friendships that would never have come about, if not for blogging...
Reflecting on my foray into blogging, in addition to the transformations mentioned above, I would point to a number of moments that count as personal highlights for my first year:
- The response I received from Clare Dudman, whose novel 98 Reasons For Being, I wrote about in a reflection that started as a commentary on changing my avatar and became a meditation on mental health. I’ve been reading Clare’s blog, Keeper of the Snails, ever since, and it is a wonderful blog, clearly not simply maintained as a marketing exercise for her novels, but as an extension of her life as a writer of many forms.
- The discovery that the editors of Paul Auster (The Definitive Website) included my post on the film Smoke in their list of web-based writings on that film. What a thrill. If you’re a Paul Auster fan, then this is such a useful and informative site. I’m hoping that Auster’s forthcoming book will be released in Australia in line with the UK schedule rather than that of the US. Not sure I can wait those few extra months.
- Finding out that the Australian Index had singled out the odd musing or two from my blog for special mention in posts on a given day. ‘Mean Streets’ got a few hits that way.
- Being asked by Laura to contribute to Sarsaparilla, a new group blog on all things literary, media-related and cultural, from an Australian perspective. Since Laura only knows me through this blog, I was quite chuffed that my writing here was the basis for the invitation. It was a welcome validation of what I think I’m trying to achieve through blogging—not journalism or critical academic writing, or any sort of hope for publication of this work in another medium, but personal, non-fiction meditations on the world I observe around me.
Since this is the beginning of a new blog year for me, it seems appropriate to make some New Blog Year resolutions:
- I will complete the various incomplete blog projects that you may think I’ve abandoned, especially, the ‘Spanish Inquisition’ series on my reading of Don Quixote, and the ‘Parallel Universe’ series on the films I watched at BIFF.
- I would like to write a bit more on individual television programmes that I enjoy. I’m a bit disappointed in myself that I haven’t put my money where my mouth is and approached television texts in a similar way to the films and novels I’ve watched and read. This resolution might leak a bit into my Sarsaparilla commitments, so don’t think I haven’t attempted this one before checking over there first.
- Read The Vivisector along with the rest of the Patrick White Readers’ Group.