Overexposed Collab for July: Why did you start online journaling?
This is actually a fairly difficult question to answer. Mostly because there isn't much pride in answering it. Or rather, I wish that my original reasons were creative and pure, but the truth is, they weren't.
Back in late 1996 and early 1997, when I was just out of college and often had a lot of free hours early in the week because of the way the work at my job skewed towards intense working days at the end of the week; I did a lot of surfing around on the Web to pass the time.
That is when I first encountered interesting and intriguing personal sites, such as Jen Worden's Olio and Michael Woodward's Other Side, both now laid to rest, which led me to Maggy's World (also, now defunct, but you can find the essence of it at Water) and the various works of Alexis Massie.
Michael's almost daily photography snapshots were what started it. All of a sudden I started thinking about what I would put up if I were going to interact with my Web page on a daily basis.
Maggy's design skills showed me just how far you could push web design at a time when I was still putting up bad smiley face icons and using large lastground images and well, Alexis sure can write, now can't she.
I went on a mad re-design spree that yielded a "book-page" style design with the table of contents on one side and a picture of me on the other. Cream colored background on the page, dark royal blue in the table set and I started to add "personal narrative" to my pages, but I was still nervous about putting up something as personal as a journal.
In May of 1997, I took the plunge and started a "rant" section, a space in which to simply vent. But I didn't like the idea of always writing when I was upset or angry, so it morphed into a "ramble" section and by June/July it really was a full-fledged online journal.
So I did it because I saw other people doing it, really, and wanted to see what I could come up with. I also did it because I hoped that I would make some connections with people out there -- that a dialogue would open up between myself and others based around what I was writing. I also did it because it seemed like a good way to stand up and be recognized for doing something "interesting."
Finally, I thought that it was just plain nifty: I enjoyed reading people's observations on daily life, the sudden reaction, when finding something in common -- "Hey! Me too!"
But a lot of that has faded over time. People don't often write or interact with me, I don't give a fig about recognition and well, I am under no illusions that I am "interesting" at least, not all the time. It's a journal, so it's interesting sometimes, boring at others and often incomprehensible, since I don't write about every little thing that is happening to me. A lot of my writing is almost devoid of context -- more like snapshots, fleeting impressions than full paintings.
Nowadays, and for about a year now, my reasons for writing have been far less complex. I write because I want to. Because I think, I see, I sense, I feel, I touch, I learn and change and I have a powerful need to document that.
However, a lot of those experiences never see the light of day on this web site. As it has, since the very first time that I owned one, my paper diary holds the lion's share of my regular writing.
There is something magical about being able to share with other people, immediately, in the flush of the moment. But there is something special about conferring with myself only as well. The keyboard will never be able to replace the feeling of holding a well-crafted pen as it moves smoothly over the page, or the heft of a beautifully bound blank book in my arm as I scribble down my thoughts, on a street corner, park bench or train seat.
One of my co-workers ... no, THE co-worker, the one who brought me on board here, the one who is a really good friend too and whom I'm very fond of, is leaving GW.
He took a much better job, with big pay and international travel and all sorts of perks, in North Carolina.
Good news for him, and I'm glad that he'll be getting such a big opportunity to travel but at the same time, it feels tragic to me.
I haven't been here very long and Joe has been friend, mentor and buffer zone, between me and some of the craziness that occasionally engulfs this office.
It just won't be the same here without him and I'm gong to miss him terribly and the fact that he's leaving by the end of August has put me in a weird blue funk.
Once again I finally get to know someone I like to spend time with and have a good conversation with every now and then, other than sabs (I love you sweetie, but you know, having other people to talk to is good too. Besides, I'm sure you can understand this, since you're on the phone with your best friend in California all the time, right?) and whaddaya know, off they go into the sunset, usually never to be heard from again except at holidays.
Methinks I have some phone calls to make. All of my friends may be flung all over the country, but it's been too long since any of them have written/called etc.
If they won't come to me, I'll just have to keep going to them.