How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d.
In early 1999, while doing my best to cope with my impending divorce, I came across a tiny blurb in either Glamour or Self about a new Web site starting up called the Open Diary. I’ve written about this before. The Open Diary was an online journal, the forerunner of blogs, and the first site to innovate the reader comment. I couldn’t wait for launch day.
Searching for Solitude, Flying Daphne
I’d kept diaries and journals for years, and the ease of an online journal held great promise. I dove deep and hard and wrote every day for weeks and months and years. The diary was anonymous and I changed its name often. In the beginning it was Searching for Solitude. Those of us who were the first to sign up for the Open Diary was the world’s first bloggers, and we enjoyed a vibrant online community.
Following the breakup of my first post-divorce relationship, I downloaded and deleted my diary and re-emerged with a new title, Flying Daphne. I took the name from Greek mythology. Daphne rejected the gods that pursued her, and she prayed to Earth or her father to rescue her, whereupon she was turned into a tree. In my version of the story, Daphne kept flying but rejecting love all the while.
Meet in Montauk
At one time, my diary, which was always anonymous, was accessible by the general public. But, the more specific my journal entries became, the more I thought of creating a private diary, which is what I eventually did. I allowed only two people access. Both were strangers, but I trusted them. One was Julia from New York and the other, someone I never knew with a diary subhead Meet Me in Montauk. My diary was raw and confessional, as were theirs.
In 2003, I remarried and my online journaling became sparse and random. Then I had two back-to-back pregnancies. I was very sick. I didn’t feel like writing. In 2007, I started this blog although my posts were infrequent. Then, in May 2008, I decided to quit my job. By July, I was posting via Blogger daily. Alas, I deleted my remaining open diary, but not before downloading it.
Today, I miss the Open Diary very much and recently received this email from Julia. She wrote: “I read your blog every now and then and am always left with a sense of a missing story, the one you would confess in the OD (Open Diary). The public version looks good, but I wish you still wrote the rest of the story. I miss that a lot.”
So many posts, so few stories.
I miss the days of online journaling before there were Google ads and Technorati scores; Alexa ranks and link-baiting. There are 10 million posts floating around the Blogosphere about how to make it big in blogging; how to drive traffic to your site; how to write posts people will want to stumble and Digg; how to get people to link to your site. So many posts, so few stories.
For me, Julia is more than just a woman in New York, a stranger, who heard my confessions. She is also my conscience. She is a faerie on my shoulder telling me not to cherry-pick the truth. She winces at my sterilized posts and my white-washed versions of reality. She read my diary for a long time, and the voice in this blog is not one she recognizes. This voice skips, but that voice was hunted, ran for its life. That voice is why writers become novelists and cloak experience in fiction. Otherwise, they’d be accused of being exhibitionists; turncoats; liars.
Finger Along the Spines
Somedays, I give up on blogging, but I never give up on writing. I am a writer who blogs, not a blogger who writes. I knock around my house sometimes, reading chapters from my favorite books. I run my index finger along the spines of the memoirs in my bookcase and I wonder how they did it: Simone de Beauvoir and Amy Tan; Elizabeth Kim and Janet Framme, even Jane Austen. Did they pay a price, and if so, was it worth it? And, the biggest question of all – will it be worth it for me?
I want to write again like I did when I was searching for solitude, flying through the air, brave and broken like Daphne. Will you recognize my voice if you stumble upon it in the sea of 7 million blogs? Will you forgive me if I stay put and tell the truth? Meet me in Montauk or digg me somewhere in between.
From Alexander Pope:
No, fly me, fly me, far as pole from pole;
Rise alps between us! and whole oceans roll!
Ah, come not, write not, think not once of me…