Sunday, February 15, 2004

Remembrance of Things Past, but with less French....

About two years and a month ago, I was lazily doing some Net surfing and engaged in one of my common Net timekillers: doing Google searches for former high school and college classmates. On this particular occasion, I decided to check what was up with a former fellow Philosophy major from the college days, whom I knew had gone into ministry. Thus I found Sean Meade's blog, the discovery of which made me think, "What on Earth is a 'blog'?" I quickly surmised that it was some kind of online diary or journal or something. Seemed like a nifty idea.

And then a week or two later, an article appeared in TIME Magazine, the gist of which was "Hey, there's these really cool things now called 'blogs'! And you can get one for free! Here's how you do it!"

I mulled this over for another week or two, thinking that this would be pretty cool indeed. At the time I was still quite active on Usenet, although I was getting really tired of basically staying "on topic" and thus repeating the same things I'd said over-and-over again. The idea of a "blog" was really appealing, since I'd occasionally considered setting up a personal site where I'd put up essays and such on a sporadic basis, but never come 'round to actually doing so. But the confluence of finding Sean's blog and that article about blogging in TIME basically clinched it.

So I signed up with Blogger and BlogSpot, created my first blog, decided I didn't like the title, scrapped it, and launched a different one. I needed a title, though, and I was having trouble coming up with one. I didn't want to have something like "Jaquandor's Rants", since I don't rant all that often; I wanted something mildly poetic that would basically convey the fact that I would write about anything that interests me (and a lot of stuff interests me). But I had trouble with the title: When writing fiction, I rarely start with a title. Instead, I write for a while until the story's title "comes" to me, but obviously this approach wouldn't work for a new blog that would go unread by, well, millions. I wanted something with at least a little cachet, and This Blog To Be Titled Later had about as much cachet as a shopping mall food court Chinese eatery. (Now, there is Chinese food that leaves me hungry an hour later, if only because it's so bland I can never finish it.)

About that moment, my eye fell upon my copy of Stephen Lawhead's novel Byzantium (which I really need to go back and re-read, since I never finished it the first time, and not because I didn't like it). And this was just after I'd finished reading Guy Gavriel Kay's The Sarantine Mosaic, with its depiction of a fictional Byzantium: a cosmopolitan place wherein all of the world's traditions and cultures met, sometimes for good and sometimes for ill. So I had half the title (Byzantium by itself seemed incomplete), and then I thought of sea shores -- again, places where differing worlds come together, and places where some journeys begin and others end. "Eureka!" shouted I, disturbing the cat. "Byzantium's Shores! The very pinnacle of human coolness on Earth!" [Some details in this account have been embellished.]

So I had a title, I chose my template, and I just charged right in and started blathering -- two years ago, this very day. I didn't do a lot of lurking about Blogistan before I started posting, so I didn't have any idea, really, of the "lay of the land". I didn't know who Glenn Reynolds was; Atrios and Kevin Drum and TBogg and many others hadn't even started yet. The first liberal blogger I found was Demosthenes, after he was linked by Steven Den Beste, who has been on my blogroll since almost the very beginning -- along with Sean.

Back then, I had a strict "No Politics" policy that I've gradually abandoned, realizing that I don't need such a policy since non-stop writing about politics really isn't my style anyway. I'd rather groove on stuff, with occasional descents into sheer geekery or pithy political comment. I like to think I've struck a decent balance: my obvious leftism doesn't seem to have directly pissed off any of my known right-leaning readers into leaving, which is really as it should be. I was also pretty staunch about remaining pseudonymous in the beginning, but that was born, really, of my first forays into the Net back in the early 90s -- when everybody had a "handle", and nobody much cared who anybody else was. I've loosened that up quite a bit; my writings on Green Man Review are in my real name, for example.

So where do I go from here? I just soldier on, I guess -- writing about things that interest me as I cast my nets out and see what I manage to dredge up from the depths. Two years and counting: not a bad way to have spent a lot of time since 15 February 2002 (incidentally, I now recall, the birthday of my second college room-mate -- I don't know why I thought of that just now). Lots of books read, music heard, movies seen, football games watched. In that span, my family has moved twice, and I have held two jobs, spent a great chunk of that time unemployed and looking in vain for freelance work, finished one novel and got halfway through the next, written a handful of short stories, and published one op-ed piece in The Buffalo News. And, best of all, I've encountered a lot of fine, fine people whose interests and writings continue to affect my own.

Thanks, then, to everyone who has ever linked this space and read it on a continual basis. What a trip it's been -- kind of long, and more than a little strange. what does that remind me of? Ah well, I'll figure it out later.

On to Year Three.

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