Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Time for a Change

Vermont Diary started as an e-mail blast, an effort to capture time and to make it pass, a way of dealing with the loneliness of being in new circumstances and wanting to share each day’s wonder with a couple dozen family and friends. At the same time, I have always thought that writing would one day overtake me, that it would be something I would be compelled to do. For at least half my life, this sensation mystified me; I didn’t even like to write. For the last decade I have felt compelled to write more often and in more varied forms, and for the last year I have been writing almost every day.

When I started the e-mail distribution, it was partly because I felt that I needed not just to splash around in words, I needed to send them to someone. I needed readers, even if they were mostly unresponsive. I needed to think about the audience on the other end of a communication.

It also started as a form of “contact for contact’s sake,” an attempt to mend the human connections that frayed in my overstressed years or that perhaps were never what I hoped they were. That, I am sorry to say, was mostly unsuccessful, and Vermont Diary has been mostly one-way communication. For those of you who have written back, even once, I am grateful, and I appreciate the thoughtful readers who may not have had a moment to respond.

Still, I am conscious that some people—probably even some who have not said so—find e-mail intrusive. As one usually excellent correspondent said in a testy mood, “Why are you sending me things that don’t have anything to do with me?” And I replied, “Because they have to do with me. With what I am thinking and feeling and what I wanted to share with all of you.” Her plea was for thoughts directed explicitly to her, and I respect that need for friendship to be customized rather than off the shelf.

Since I started the blog, I have been doing duplicate publication, and it has created some difficulties with writer’s perpective and with perceived audience. The mental image of who I am writing to has a profound effect on content and tone. It is also possible for an essay to turn into a discussion in either format, but I have discovered that it is perilous to try to carry a discussion from one format over into the other. People who have bought in to the e-mail format haven’t signed up for the rules of blogworld and vice versa.

Within a few days, I will discontinue the e-mail distribution. It makes extra work, not so much in the few keystrokes it takes to send the e-mail but in the concentration on whether the perspective is right. It will be easier for me to write for a more general audience in the blog and to concentrate on one particular correspondent in e-mail. If you want to continue to read Vermont Diary, it is out there in cyberspace at http://vtdiary.blogspot.com/. As a practical matter, what I recommend is setting up a Favorites folder like my Daily folder which takes me to all the websites I check every day. I’ll probably change formats in the near future, which will change the address, but I’ll send a note out to the Vermont Diary list for old time’s sake. Because I know you don’t all read everything I send, will send out the online address for a few more days.

In the last several weeks, there have been only three people for whom I have been keeping the e-mail blast going. One understands this change, one never responds, and the other...well that's another story altogether...one not appropriate for a public forum. Now it is time to untangle these last few remaining tendrils and divide my writing into a clear public forum (the blog) and more personal forms (letters, e-mail, journal). In the end, it is my development as a writer that drives the change. And, that, I think, is a good thing.

Of course, you can still e-mail me. And I’ll be e-mailing you, but not so often. As my mama used to say, “If you wanna get letters, you gotta write letters.” The same protocol applies to personalized e-mail, but for surfing around various modes of expression, blogworld is a rich new field for exploration.


Anonymous said...

I have to say, I was relieved when I read you were discontinuing emailing...at first I thought you were going to stop the blog, and just when I'd discovered it!


Robert said...

I'm glad you are keeping the blog! I try to get a dose every day, when I can. Hopefully your e-mail contacts will join in, too.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for keeping your blog going I read it every day.


Karen said...

Thanks for the nice feedback. I do appreciate it!