Blunder, Bluster, Blessing, Blogging and Being

Foggy Winter Morning Walk

It is, after all, the cusp of a new year–a convenient time to consider change.

If we do what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we’ve always got, they say.

And if what we’ve got has been other than what we think and hope is possible even in this fallen world, it’s time to regroup.

My doing things differently needs to bring me a tangible sign that I’m worth having taken up so much space, good air, moist matter and caloric energy as I have for the past year.

What do I have to show for 2013? I really can’t lay my hands on anything to show you that would justify those costs to planet Earth.

At one time in years past, I’d have pointed to some kind of produced work “in images and pixels.” Books, essays, photographs in magazines, and even Fragments–which seemed then like it had a point. Those would have been my evidence I was worth my keep.

I’ve laid my assets on the table, such as they are, these past few weeks. What I have is not nothing. But it is raw; elemental; embryonic. Not ready for prime time.

It is a lot, really–should I be able to wield my 65 years of biology-watching into the words I hear in my own head. I have things to say worth listening to, and they are submerged in wasted effort and distraction.

At the end of 2014 I could show you:

â–¶ More photo-notecards, housed in such an accessible place that they can be ordered from a agency that will print and ship as needed.
â–¶ Books: the two I have written whose message has not become old news, whose appeal could persist if I’d get back to promoting them like I did when they were newly-published. I could resurrect the same speaking venues with the message improved by a better understanding now of my voice and purpose.
â–¶ And another book: the one I was putting together in Scrivener two years ago–the one I was calling “A Floyd County Almanac.” I’ve come back to revisit that again, and have not yet suffered sufficient delusion to think the world needs this one more book. But I’ve not quite laid it in the grave yet, either.
â–¶ The blog: I dunno. Look at me. I’m catharting (yes, now it IS a word) rather than actually hunkering down and getting work done on any of these 2014 resolutions. And for what?

The blogosphere is dead air. But it has been the only writer’s notebook I’ve ever known. So I blunder on.

I added ads back to the page a couple of months ago, thinking maybe that might serve as an incentive to rekindle enthusiasm and ensure regularity. So far, that’s paying my monthly hosting fees. It works out to a rate of return something like $0.35 a day in exchange for hours spent curating topics that interest me and then doing the morning writing. Granted, some of these morning jots might be nuclei for bits of the new book, so not a total waste of time.

What I need on the blog here, for my own purpose, is more structure. Maybe. I’ve been thinking about a regular weekly rotation of topics Monday through Friday. Maybe pick three, and post three times a week. In theory, it would help me plan.

So, dear diary, that’s where I am. Thanks for listening.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I find it a bit ironic that all of those proclaiming blogs dead still “blog”. And the irony of Kottke proclaiming them dead is even funnier what with him being married to one of the co-founders of Blogger itself.

    Fred, keep plugging away. There are those of us who still follow your journey.

  2. I seem to be dedicated to keeping on keeping on, with the written word and image as map and compass. I have just lost vision for the destination–of there even being one towards which this all points.

    I used to have expectations and excitement from the blog, when literally every few weeks, the blog would have become the entry point into new affiliations, opportunities and creative directions.

    As you say, Chris, the medium has aged–and in some good ways. We have moved beyond the pundits-and-cat/mommybloggers era.

    I just don’t know where–if anywhere–this current blog era is going or why I hold on so tenaciously; and yet I can’t give it up. Someday, maybe we’ll see the wisdom and point of this uncharted digital sea we’re blowing about upon.

    So I’m hoping to re-engage in 2014. The vision eludes me so far. Stay the course.

  3. Fred, I was just checking out your video of a summer sunrise and wondered if you have cataloged the flora of the pasture. With your background it could be side project.

  4. Fred, just BEING is more than enough to justify your use of our precious Earth’s resources. Please don’t “punch the ticket” on your blog. For more than a few, it is a touchstone of knowing that someone else out there observes the natural world and the changes we have wrought. As the saying goes, it’s not the destination – it’s the journey that counts so please continue the journey of all that is Goose Creek. You and your writing are most appreciated. Merry Christmas and all the best for a most Happy New Year!

  5. Goose Creek’s waters don’t know their destination either, but that does not negate the importance of the journey…the destination will be there when we get there, regardless of the turns we make. Don’t be discouraged…we are listening; sometimes we even hear.

  6. As a longtime reader of your blog (and a sometimes commenter), I would mourn the loss of your carefully-crafted blog. One has to look more closely to find the good blogs these days – and yours is definitely one of the good ones.

  7. Nah folks, I am not threatening to bail on the blog. I’m trying to justify and flesh out why and HOW it must go on. Old reasons and form no longer apply. So then: now what? How can the blog figure in so that it supports Something? And what would that Something be? I used to get a sense of that from the blog, but now it is more of a writer’s journal than a community/conversation which is just what has happened since Facebook. And yes, as Chris says, the blog as form is maturing. How do I find my place in that, without being distracted from Something of more ultimate value I could be doing with my time and keystrokes? i’m looking for a both-and, and not an either-or.