I was raised not to blog. Even at a very young age, during the carpools to grade school, my parents would tell me, “Now, remember your manners. Don’t blog in front of others!” They didn’t need to tell me, actually. I already thought blogging was preposterously narcissistic.
Time to eat those words. Well, not exactly, of course; a lot of blogging is still narcissistic. I think. But people have kept asking me to keep a blog, and suggesting that they really want to read about my experiences; my previous home, the superb Rice Standard, is an edited magazine and so often took a week or two to publish my articles; most importantly, other friends of mine (whom you can find in the links on the right) created engaging and fun and not at all off-putting diaries by using charm and self-deprecating humor, covering interesting happenings, and writing in their natural voice. The last straw came this morning, when a fellow whose memoirs I’d gladly read told me he would gladly read mine. (So, if this website ever goes downhill, you can blame Timothy Faust.)
So here we are. The process of setting up a blog still made me feel unclean. Writing this still feels awkward and confusing. But maybe I should approach this whole process as a set of challenges, or rather lessons to be learned. One key to blogging successfully is remembering one’s audience. There are evidently a few people out there who actually want to read this. Still and all, I have to try my best to be engaging, interesting, and not at all a self-absorbed drone. Blogging is an exercise in remembering your audience while doing exactly the kind of writing which makes that task most difficult.
In The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, biographer Edmund Morris quotes a Roosevelt letter at length, counts the number of times TR uses “the first-person singular pronoun,” and then suggests that this is evidence of the man’s enormous ego. Ever since reading that passage of that book as a teenager, I’ve been deathly afraid of writing “I.” It makes me feel enormously self-conscious; it’s like a giant pimple on the face of one’s writing. So blogging will also be an exercise in writing about I without being either self-centered or self-denying.
So there we have the two hidden themes of this blog. The rest of it, I hope, will be more fun. It’ll be about adventures I’ve had, places I’ve been, people I’ve met, food I’ve eaten, music I’ve heard, and occasionally, indulgently, it’ll just be about me. I don’t think blogging will fail to make me a better writer, but maybe more importantly, I begin this enterprise in the hope that, in some small, silly way, it will also make me a better friend.