Driving to work one recent morning, I heard Ta-Nehisi Coates telling NPR’s Bob Garfield about his efforts to moderate his blog on The Atlantic. Coates suggested that reading vulgar and ad-homonym attacks in the comments section of a well-written, thoroughly researched piece was akin to finding a child’s name crayoned on the wall below a framed masterpiece.
His words resonate as I make an attempt to dip my toe into the river of blogs once again (and what they say about rivers is true; the last time I tried, it was a puddle). If I ever manage to draw any readers, will I sacrifice as much time as he has to carefully cultivating a place for intelligent, respectful discussions? I’ll be broaching the political for sure, but if I can’t even manage to respond to text messages the day they’re sent, how will I ever fit a website into my daily routine?
In the late 90s, I used a free site-builder to launch a .gif-ridden homepage for my fledgling animal rights group, Kids for Animal Rights and Education. Within a year or two it landed me interviews in national teen magazines, awards from major non-profits, and views in the tens of thousands (with membership climbing into the thousands too). I also posted my poetry on another free website with a laughable-in-hindsight design, and I had fans there too, even being asked to join a “faction” of opinionated, published, much-older bloggers on a new website that was quickly taken down for its controversial content (one of my co-writers identified herself only as “an angry black woman” and I mostly ranted vaguely about being an out lesbian in a conservative, small-town high school). That was all before I even turned seventeen, and I had a screenplay under my belt too… but then the decline began. My productivity waned to a sliver by the time I arrived in my first dorm room (which I eventually managed to flood with popcorn, in addition to scrawling a dry-erase-that-became-permanent-marker Sudoku board across the ceiling), which also marked the year that both I and my college were finally allowed access to The Facebook. Wow, this is making me sound much older than I feel.
The sheer choice of topics has overwhelmed me for years, but I did what millions do every year in an effort to force themselves into the motivation to lose weight – I paid an annual fee. I bought two domain names and a year’s worth of hosting, and I forced myself to do this thing once and for all.
Excuse me while I find my footing.