I‘m trying to figure out the difference between a generic letter, a journal and a blog.
I write all three.
The journal, or diary, came first. I used to keep a spasmodic diary but I began to write daily just a few hours after Bill died. It was my safety valve, my constant companion, my paper shrink, the record of my grief and the source of authentic material for my first book, Beginnings: A Book for Widows. As diaries go, it’s pretty banal. No salacious gossip, no world-shattering news, and no intimate revelations of a genius at work – it’s just me, trying to stay level. I doubt very much that anyone will want to read it; it’s several filing cabinets or forty years of bleats with only the occasional confession or outburst. It still helps me, though. With Bill and my family gone, I’m the only one who tells me when I’m being a horse’s ass (my father’s expression, very useful) or, for that matter, pats me on the figurative back when I’ve done a good job. It’s also a good mnemonic, when I remember to use it, a reminder of names, dates, places, facts I might need later.
Then came the generic letter. It arose out of the annual Christmas letter that most people write so as not to get writer’s cramp writing the same news over and over again, reporting on the year-that-was to friends one doesn’t see very often. As one gets older, the generic also helps to inform others who are still alive who isn't, including you or me. I found I had more to say than I could put in an annual report so I began to write generic letters every other month or so, condensing and distilling the news, or not. It’s a way of keeping fingers on the pulse – yours and mine.
And then along came blog. Of course, the famous one that turned into a movie was Julie Powell’s, the record of her year of cooking with Julia (Child) as she set out to Master the Art of French Cooking.
I started mine because I was trying to be more computer literate and I liked the source of the word (short for weblog). To me it is a spider’s web; that’s why I call it my cobwebblog and my site is a cobwebsite in/on which I spin every day.
Several of my diarists (I say “my” because, as some of you know, I have written a book about women’s diaries) use the image of spinning, Louisa May Alcott, for one, and Mary Chesnut, and Ettie Hillesum. It’s an apt image. It seems to help me to write, that is, to spin my own web.
As to what I have spun right now, I think I just crossed over from generic to blog, mostly because the price of postage is going up and this is too heavy to send via snail mail. Well, we’ll see who falls into my web.
Sorry, this was so long. I'll write less next time.