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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

One Year Later: Part 1

Time passes so quickly.  What seemed to happen only yesterday may have occurred months or years ago.  We spend our lives swimming in a stream of memories.  Like exhaled bubbles, most moments of our lives drift off into the stream, forgotten forever or rarely recalled.  Significant memories, which often include many we would rather forget, hug our bodies as we swim, refusing to float away with the current.  Memories may increase our buoyancy, lending us strength to swim to a distant, desired destination.  Or they may suck the breath from our lungs, and pull us beneath the surface.  We may not be able to forget those that embarrass or disgust us, but if we can learn from them, we may avoid repeating the mistakes that forged those memories.  On the other hand, we can strengthen and create positive memories if we concentrate upon those that will drive us onward.  Now and then, it’s beneficial to sit back, recall what we’ve done, and reflect on what such accomplishments have contributed to our lives.  It is with the latter in mind that I look back one year ago to when I started this blog.  

In “The Blogging Wars: My Hope,” I essentially asked three questions: 1) Why should I start a blog now?; 2) Why should you read my blog?; and 3) What am I passionate about?  For many years, part of me had yearned to write a blog, but I had no idea what I would do with one.  What would I write about?  What might I communicate that could benefit others?  And how could I justify spending the time away from working on my novels to write a blog?  Ultimately, I started the blog because of two factors: Condor and Depression.  

Every year, when Condor arrived, I would find myself at a loss as to how to engage with the convention’s Guest of Honor (G.O.H.).  An esteemed author walked in our midst, yet I had read little or nothing of his (or her) fiction.  Or perhaps I had read several of his novels, but many years previously, and thus lacked fresh reactions to his characters, settings, plots, and ideas to spark an interesting conversation regarding his work.  Last year, I determined that I would read as many stories by 2011’s G.O.H. as I could.  Both before and after Condor, I read most of the novels Dr. Gregory Benford wrote in the 1970s and early eighties.  But, as the blog evolved, I quickly realized that I wanted to do more than merely review those books.  I wanted to celebrate them.  This involved outlining the stories, studying aspects that fascinated me, and thinking about what they meant to me.  

Sometimes I grow depressed: I have written stories for so many years, but have yet to see any of them published.  It’s my fault: I often fail to finish the stories I start, or spend too much time rewriting, and never put the effort into the submission process that I should.  This lack of success drags me beneath the surface, where a subsequent lack of oxygen deprives me of the strength to swim onward.  Depression most often afflicts me during the shorter days of Winter, especially around the holidays.  I realized that everything I had tried before had not transformed me into the writer I wish to become, so I decided that I must adopt another approach.  Around this time, an issue of “Locus” slid into my letterbox.  It discussed the role that blogs play in fandom, and provided testimonials by published authors who found blogging beneficial to their careers.  I figured, why not start?  After so many years of swimming, I had not yet found the place I desired to inhabit.  Why not take the next tributary, strike off in a direction I’ve contemplated, and see where it took me?  

So, like Sam Clemens in Philip Jose Farmer’s The Fabulous Riverboat, or like Raul and company in Dan Simmons’ novel Endymion, I traveled into uncharted territory.  At the very least, I figured, it would be an adventure.

This essay will continue with One Year Later: Part 2.

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