Sunday, June 2, 2013
At night when I was a boy, we used to keep our dog Sooner in the basement of our Hiram home. (I've not written about Sooner yet--but I will, sooner or later.) Early in the morning we could hear him scratching the door: He was ready. One of us would go downstairs, open the door, and he would come bounding out--so excited, tail thrashing the air, eyes eloquent, as if he had some stories to tell. I yearned to hear them ...
Today--so very very hard for me to believe--is blog post Number 500. I began on 6 January 2012 with a little piece I called "I Am Born." In it, I told about how I picked the name (DawnReader) and introduced myself a little bit--my family, my career. At the time I remember thinking: Why am I doing this? Do I really have anything to write about?
Well, it seems that I did have a few things to write about. As I look over the posts, I see that I've written about education (mine and otherwise), the movies, my childhood, my adolescence, books I've read, authors that interest me, my family, travels, health, politics, religion (just a little), popular culture. I've written about things that have moved me, shamed me, excited, amused, depressed, or angered me. I've written about laughing. And crying. I've serialized a couple of writing projects I've been working on: The Papers of Victoria Frankenstein and, going on now, Spoon River Middle School.
At first, I thought I would write maybe once or twice a week--see how it goes. But the more I wrote, I found, the more I wanted to say. My writing has breached some sort of dam in my brain, and out it's poured--for better, for worse--and I really can't foresee the end of it. So long as men can breathe or eyes can see--that sort of thing. Though, more accurately: So long as I can breathe ...
Part of the reason is my freelance journalism background. I've been publishing in newspapers and magazines since the late 1970s, but it's always been a very iffy proposition: I write pieces; sometimes editors accept them, sometimes not. The not pieces, by the way, fill a file drawer in my study. So the Internet has been extraordinarily liberating: I can publish everything (even, probably, when I shouldn't). No editor to sigh a No and write a brief rejection. (This has been true, as well, for the books I've written. Some editors--no names--jerked me around for years about manuscripts. Well, I don't have years to throw away any longer (I never did, really, but youth believes itself to be perpetual), so I've been skipping the traditional publishing houses that have both helped and hurt me and am now publishing on Kindle Direct.)
But the major factor, I think, is this: retirement. For forty-five years I had captive audiences in classrooms: I could (as one of my former Harmon Middle School students put it in a description of me) "flap my jaws" about anything I wanted--well, within reason--and have a roomful of people who more or less feigned interest in what I was saying. I guess I didn't realize how much I would miss that--having people listen--maybe even care.
I do not check my blog's statistics very often. I was shocked a couple of months ago when a friend at WRA invited me up to school to talk with her students about blogging: I checked my stats and saw that I'd had 100,000 hits on the site. Other bloggers, I know, get that many a day--an hour?--but for me, the number made me realize that I still had a classroom--a virtual one, to be sure. But a classroom nonetheless. And for that I am profoundly grateful.
As I said above, I don't really foresee an end to this. I've not yet had a time when I've been stuck for something to say--quite the opposite. Could happen, I suppose--and when it does, well, I guess I'll just pause, take a deep breath, open another door in the basement of my memory and see what comes bounding out ...