Barbara Kingsolver: "In my own worst seasons I've come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing: a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window. And then another: my daughter in a yellow dress. And another: the perfect outline of a full, dark sphere behind the crescent moon. Until I learned to be in love with my life again. Like a stroke victim retraining new parts of the brain to grasp lost skills, I have taught myself joy, over and over again."
I have this quotation taped to the wall beside my bed. I put it there so that it would be the first thing I see in the morning, the last thing at night. Because I need reminding.
It's been a long time since I've blogged. My last post was May 20. Before that, January 22. So. Three posts this year. Three.
Remember when so many of us used to blog? I miss those days. I really do. Those days of Google Reader. Of blogspot's blog rolls. Of commenting and being kind and helpful and supportive and friendly.
The Internet has been a pretty shitty place to be lately.
Here was my first real statement, in response to Mark Cugini's post on FB, on Oct 2, 2014:
I came to HTMLGIANT on its very first day, because Justin Taylor invited me to check it out. And I did, because even though I'd never had any personal communication with Justin before that I knew who he was, and I was excited that he was excited about this new site. Those were the days when so many of us still had blogspots (Blake still has his, of course), and blogrolls, which were so important in terms of helping to shape and create our community, because it was through individual writers' blogs, their hyperlinks and their blogrolls, that we (or at least I) discovered other writers, and other journals. And to get to discover those authors and journals for oneself, by clicking and clicking and getting lost in their words, and then, what's more, to be seen and heard by those writers, to have them respond to your own comment on their most recent (or years old post), well, it felt special, like being welcomed, like being a part of an exciting corner of contemporary lit that didn't have a chance in hell of existing in other corners. It's because of Blake that I discovered online, indie lit. When I read his story in Ninth Letter, I jumped to his bio and went to his blog. There, I discovered online journals. There, I discovered other writers who were taking the kinds of risks I was interested in, but scared of doing, and making those risks cool. Viable. Exciting. And from there I learned about FC2 (and Dalkey and New Directions and and and) and best of all Kate Bernheimer who, after Blake, is the writer who changed everything for me. Because for the first time, I read contemporary, living authors who were accessible, who invited emails and correspondence, and whose work spoke to me, showed me by example, by their very existence in published form, that I could and should take the risks I wanted to take, that there would be journals and presses who were interested in those risks. So, yeah, obviously this community was much different back then, in many ways, but so fucking important because what we have now, what people accept as the norm now, would not be possible without what it was back then, and before me, before Big Lucks (as you say, Mark, to which I add, of course, that without these guys there would be no Lit Pub either), or [PANK] and The Collagist, for instance, which I know a lot of people who came up after us have submitted to and celebrated once accepted, but I feel like they don't remember what it was like before that, when indie lit was smaller, perhaps. But it was smaller because that small group of writers and editors had created something that stood up against the established industries and said hey, let's do it our way, because maybe this is the only way we have available, or maybe because we DGAF about the other ways, and of course there's an entire history of indie publishing before that (I'm not trying to rewrite history here), but something exciting and NEW TO ME was happening and it felt vast. Like a world of possibility. Not like a world of "your writing is fundamentally flawed and has no value." It was small. It's huge now. Everyone has a magazine. Or a press. Or has been published by an indie mag or press. The university journals have online arms now, The Paris Review archives its interviews online now, The Getty has made all of its images free (maybe that's irrelevant). But it wasn't that long ago that this wasn't the case. So people like Lee Klein, Blake Butler, Justin Taylor, Kevin Sampsell, Elizabeth Ellen, Aaron Burch, Zach Dodson, Adam Robinson, Kim Chinquee, Lily Hoang, Mike Young, Ryan Call, Peter Cole, Kathy Fish, Miranda Mellis, Shane Jones, and and and, and online journals like Wigleaf, Robot Melon, Titular, Lamination Colony, Hobart, Caketrain, Keyhole, etc., were making something happen. Something like possibility becoming reality. For so many people. It's fucking ridiculous that people are reacting in the ways that they're reacting now to the end of this site, the very people who are benefiting from what IS -- publishing, editing, reading authors that may never otherwise have been -- because what IS came to exist only because that early crew (always coming from different camps and schools of thought and styles, etc.) wanted to make online lit something other than a fucking joke. HTMLGIANT was the first public (not-one-person's blog) gathering place for a very specific generation of young writers' voices, emerging voices, voices now quite established, to be heard and seen and read. It helped us STOP being individual writers writing on our own blogs narcissistically -- or, put a different way, maybe it helped us stop being so alone, so lonely -- or, put a different way, maybe it just helped me stop being so alone, so lonely. (Ironically that was about when a lot of other people began to think they needed to have blogs (LOL).) But yeah, conversations and debates about indie publishing all converging into one site that told us all what was new and who was doing what and where to submit and why, and introducing us all the time, every day, to new writers, new journals, new presses, as well as established writers and presses that were looking KINDLY on us, and helping us (Brian Evenson, Lance Olsen, Michael Martone, Lidia Yuknavitch and and and) helped changed the future of publishing, changed the reality of publishing, not just for me, but for anyone who's published anything online in a journal, or in book form by a micropress, that came to exist after 2008.
There are a lot of things in there that I could edit, I know. Points that Tim Jones-Yelvington and Adam Atkinson and others brought up in the days that followed, with regard to ageism, exclusion, certain women in privileged positions, etc. Good points. Necessary points. But I'll tell you. When HTMLGiant announced its closing, it felt like a death. We are not who we were. We do not have what we had. Our current moment is nothing at all like it was. It used to be warm. It's not now, at least not in the same way. And I miss it.
Marguerite Duras: "This is a bad period for me. It's the end of a book, and there's a kind of loneliness, as if the closed book were going on still somewhere else, inside me. And that again I can't get hold of it properly. I can't talk about it."
Desire is done.
I can't talk about it.
I don't know where to go from here.
I don't know what's next. . . .
All I know is that, for now, at least I'm blogging again. Because I've missed it. Because it was always there for me. A place to go and be read, be heard, by people who cared. A place to pour it all out in the middle of the night when there was nowhere else to put it.
So now here I am, crawling back.
Here, on my hands and knees.
Because I need this. Because I need you.