I began my first blog in 1996 and finished it on the same day. New to the internet – and weren’t we all at those early days – I was so excited at actually getting something ‘out’ there I pressed publish before recording the details I’d used for my username and password. I was into networking, before I even knew what I was doing, wanting to reach out to others and draw them into my world. Today, I can’t even remember what that first post, doomed to wander forever in cyber space, was about. I suspect it was something to do with social justice, or injustice, I thought the whole world needed to read about. Fingers burnt, I satisfied myself for a while with early topic based chat rooms, lurking on the sidelines, hoping to be invited in, however, apart from the ‘Hello, where are you from?’ I never could keep up with the posts as they ripped down the page faster than my fingers could keep up.
A couple of years later I discovered webcams and ventured forth once again, spending hours of (very expensive pay by the hour) internet time trying to find someone out there who had a compatible program to help me calibrate my cam. Success came from a gentleman from somewhere in the ether who talked me patiently through the process until, at last, his image began to come through – slow pixel by slow pixel – as I peered at the monitor trying to focus on this wonder. As the image began to clear, I realised it wasn’t his face I was looking – or even speaking to I suppose - my gaze fixed on his exposed penis before I clicked the off button, Shocked. I felt violated by this dirty bugger who hid behind a Good Samaritan image to get his thrills. I packed the webcam away and satisfied my urge for wider contact with emails and the occasional chat room.
We were in a new century before I made another foray into blogging. I had a notebook for usernames and passwords by this stage and had lost some of my gung ho attitude from the internet pioneering days. My blog was initially about social justice issues, little opinion pieces I hoped to influence others with. What I hadn’t been prepared for was the opposing opinions of others and the vitriol with which they expressed this. Ouch! I had enough brains to stay clear of politics and religion, but I hadn’t been prepared for loudly expressed black and white attitudes of others slammed as expletives into my comment boxes in bold capital letters. Never-the-less, I persevered, blogging about writing and posting poems and aiming for followers of kindred spirit. That was better. The ranters left me alone and I began to build a network I was comfortable being a part of. I stayed with this blog until 2009, when my ISP began experimenting and posts and comments disappeared or rearranged themselves, and I open my Blogger pages.
Four years and several metamorphoses later, I am still with Blogger, although I have reached another crossroads, wondering which direction to take now. Over the past four years I have used the blog to participate in challenges and report on others. I spent most of 2010 writing different forms of poetry and showing the drafting process of this. I have created and maintained competition pages for writers and poets, written articles on writing and featured the writing of others, hosted author interviews and promoted other writers and now I feel it’s time to re-focus and set a theme for the next year (at least).
I’ve been thinking I’d like to focus more on older writers, although I’m not sure exactly how I’ll do this yet. Older writers are against the pump in many ways, often not beginning to write seriously until after retirement from the paid workforce. Many older people have also experienced early school leaving and lack confidence in showing their work to others, fearful of the misplaced comma and muted by dangling modifiers. Others tend to suffer from ‘perfect writing’ syndrome, beaten into their knuckles by third grade teachers intent on producing writing clones at the expense of creativity. Survivors of this system rigidly adhere to the sentence structure and punctuation of fifty years ago and view present day style manuals with suspicion and trepidation. So many times, in writing workshops I have run, I have heard, ‘Well, this is the way I was taught,’ and I see in their faces the determination of those early teachers – but I digress, I think – it’s what many of us older folk do...