Google Blogger, which keeps track of such things, tells me that as of last week I have published one thousand posts on My Green Vermont. Other than breathing and sleeping and brushing my teeth, I can’t think of too many acts I’ve repeated a thousand times.
Back in 2008 the friend who got me started (thanks, Indigo!) had to explain to me what a blog was. Wanting to avoid unnecessary gaffes, I consulted a number of websites about the rules of successful blogging. And they all said the same thing: you must post frequently. Daily, if possible. Several times a day, if you’re really serious.
I took the advice to heart and gradually increased my output until by 2010 I was posting over four times a week. That was the most I could manage, given that I’d also taken it into my head to accompany each post with a drawing. None of the how-to-blog sites recommended this, but I did notice that most blogs featured photos, many of them beautiful, sensational, or both. Apparently, online readers expected to be served pictures along with words.
I had a digital camera but its battery was unreliable, and rather than deal with that I decided that it would be simpler and more creative to illustrate my posts by hand. (Now, after all these years, I could paper a room with the originals of my little drawings.)
How did I come up with so much to write about? It turns out that blogging is like finding a loose thread in one of those factory-made hems—you give a little tug, and it just keeps coming. I would start a post about one of my pullets laying her first egg, and that led to memories of being in bed recovering from the measles, with my pet lame chick hobbling and cheeping on the blanket.
I wrote endlessly about chickens and goats and gardens and woodstoves and the wonder of having made it to Vermont, where I could finally live “close to the earth,” as I proclaimed on the blog’s banner. When it became apparent that I couldn’t sustain my homesteading way of life indefinitely, we moved to a retirement community, and for a while I wrote about the dramas of downsizing, and the necessity of letting go of beloved objects and remaining flexible in spirit if not in body.
And then, one day, there seemed to be nothing more to write about. Gone were the goats and the milking pail, the hens and the egg basket, the compost and the wheelbarrow. The woodstove gave way to an efficient gas fireplace and my garden was reduced to a couple of potted citrus trees in the sun room (I gamely squeezed out a post about those).
What was the meaning, if any, of my new life? What occupied my mind? There were my fellow residents, obviously, and the shock of living in a kind of village where the only people under sixty-five were the staff. Plenty of grist for the mill there, but what if a neighbor took it into her head to read my blog?
Between 2015 and 2018 I only managed a measly total of sixty posts. And, just as the advice websites had predicted, my readership all but disappeared, drawn no doubt to livelier, more committed bloggers who managed to post every day, or even twice a day.
Then this year, in the dark of winter, I was spending my days in a miasma of politically-induced despondency. I badly needed to shake myself out of that state. What if I started blogging again, maybe only once a week? I could pretend that it was a real job that required me to post every Wednesday, except in case of emergency. What did I have to lose?
And so I tricked myself back into writing, and once I gave that initial tug, the thread kept coming. Now my week has rhythm and shape.
With a feeling of dread approaching nausea (what if, this time, the thread has broken, the well run dry?) on Thursday morning I force myself to spew whatever is in my head onto the screen. On Friday I piously gather any crumbs worth preserving and ditch the rest. I spend the weekend adding more crumbs and worrying about how I’m going to wrap the thing up.
On Monday I ditch some more and, if I’m lucky, come up with an ending. Tuesday is for drawing and for fighting the improvements that Canon insists on making to my scanner. On Wednesday, just before I hit “Publish,” I ditch some more (how could I have let this ridiculous sentence almost make it into the finished piece?). For the rest of the day I bask in the relief– reminiscent of the way I once felt after my daily run–of having written.
And because I fret daily about meeting my self-imposed deadline, other worries, such as about the fate of the nation, not to mention the planet, are temporarily forced to take a back seat. It’s going to be a long, angst-filled political campaign. The way things are going, I may have to start posting daily, just to keep my sanity.
I desperately need to trick myself back into writing. And how amazing that I came back to catch up here on a day when I'm mentioned! I'm so glad you are writing——I love reading you. Life's been complicated, I've been behind, silent…but so glad you are here.
Congratulations on 1000 posts! I'm so glad that Indigo convinced you to start blogging. You're such an amazing writer, making anything a great story.I post every Monday, and I'm not nearly as well organised as you. I tend to come to my computer in the afternoon, with the feeling of panic that I will have nothing to write about, and dash something off. Much later I discover the typos and grammatical issues. If only I had your high standards!
I wish I could find a way to trick you into writing, and return the favor. Sometimes the only way to deal with life's complications is to introduce another complication, like writing.
Ah yes, that feeling of panic–it's a kind of ritual, isn't it? First panic, then write. I wonder if there are writers out there who don't experience it.