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The Next Chapter

If you are a regular blogger, especially of the personal journal variety, I suppose like me, you find a cetain rise and fall, a shift in focus and energies that come and go, with or without apparent causes or connections to what is happening in your career, your writing life or your dreams. Though I seldom write about these turning tides anymore, I think it is important to note them, perhaps try to tie them to the context in which we write, and maybe by so doing, learn a little about ourselves. This is one of those times.

I've lost touch with the blogging energies that once were so important to me every morning. And that's a good thing in that, three years ago, I didn't have anything else demanding my time, my energy, and however many keystrokes I have left in my hands. In the year beginning June 2002, I lived fully in the present moment and found my subjects just outside the door. Now, I am busy with other things--the kind of things, mostly, that I wanted to become engaged in, challenged by and contributing toward in that year of living at home from which the writing was birthed.

In those early months--for the first year, really--I would think on a given morning what stories I wanted to tell or images I would find words for; in the evening when I was too tired to write with any clarity, I'd jot down themes and threads I wanted to include, and go to sleep. And early the next morning when I awoke, a team of kindly elves had stitched the fragments of thought and intent together so I could tell it whole--at least well enough so that I could remember the moment, the day or the feeling of the time. And I have all of this to keep. It has become a most wonderful journal of my times, a personal treasure. I won't stop adding these bits and pieces, but for a time, the midnight stitching my elves have to do is on other cloth, and I have demanded that they stay focused and on task.

This is not an easy thing to ask them, though their raw materials have changed, and right now, they can't make golden slippers from the scraps I leave them at bedtime. No longer do they work exclusively with the senses tuned to wind or moonlight or water sounds; their inventory increased in scope and depth when I returned to teaching in August 2004 and remembered how much I care for this planet as God's creation. My voice could no longer be so self-focused in my small, perfect world. Looking back, with the exception of a few sad commentaries about the Iraq WMD debacle in March, 2003, Fragments has been a false oasis of pastoral tranquility, save for my occasional ruminations about what I was going to do with my life--an issue since resolved, mostly.

Now, the nightly elves have global issues of resource depletion, human ignorance and avarice, public health disasters and mountaintop removal to work with. And in the mornings, when the thing is woven and ready to send off, I know that the blogging audience doesn't want to look at it. I can't tell how many such bolts of cloth I have simply sent to my private folder. And that's okay. It keeps me writing every day, which is a committment to myself I made almost four years ago--a kind of exercise I hope will accomplish many things, only one of which was to open my thought world and perspective to the larger conversation in the blogosphere.

And regarding that conversation: I felt the connections fading a year ago when I started enjoying the "efficiency" of RSS readers to keep up with the fifty or so blogs I followed. I scanned fifty pages and at least as many entries with speed and ease. But I was much less often inclined to click out of the feeds (on FeedDemon, Sage or Bloglines) and go to the browser and leave a comment on the post of interest. I became a virtual lurker, and so did many of my readers of FFF. I no longer knew who had come from any source other than bloglines. It put a distance between writer and reader, but such is the way in a busy world where efficiency and speed are held in high regard.

And so this week, I will abandon rss for blogs, keeping it around perhaps for selected news. I will set up sets of bookmarks or tab groups in FireFox like I used to have, open ten blogs directly at once, read directly, and be more in touch with the page and the author than RSS has let me do. Maybe this will help keep me connected, if not as active a participant as I once was.

So. With this post I've put a placemark for myself, folded the corner of the page, with this random rumination that will let me look back a year from now and remember this one of dozens of shifts in the ebb and flow of writing and reading and blogging and the things that come and go in the small area of focus of my vision. Things seem very good just now, and that the blog has taken a step back somewhat is entirely as it should be. Those elves work for me, they don't run the show, and they are not idle. And eventually, I look forward to sharing what they and their master are working on these cold mornings when not much is going on, blogwise. I am most definitely NOT sleeping late, and I AM drinking too much coffee, so things are pretty much normal in that regard. Just so you know.

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Comments

I can echo so much of what you've written here, Fred. Yes, I read your post first in Google's RSS reader and only then came here - in person, as it were - to let you know I was here and that I share so many of these thoughts. One of the things that first drew me into blogging - a year later than you, in June 2003 - was the feeling of sharing, sometimes quite intimately, aspects of another's life. RSS readers seem to place a degree of separation in that link across the ether. I too have been wondering whether to return to the less efficient but more personal practice of actually *reading a blog* - all of it, header, sidebar and all - for those elements are akin to a person's appearance, and in a sense an RSS feed is to a blog as a phone call is to a face-to-face conversation.

Then there's the matter of purpose; I'm glad you seem to have found a new focus for your considerable talents and energies. I'm a little way behind you on that one, although, having reached something of a "so what?" point in my blog, and I'm wondering where to go next.

Even though I may not comment so often these days, rest assured that whatever you want to write, I'll most likely want to read - it's the author just as much as the content that keeps me coming back, as I know that whatever the subject, I'll find a mix of humanity, humour and caring for this world that we share here.

yeah. what he said.... and what you said. amen.

It's all too easy in the current online environment to drown in information flow, rendering far too much of it as undifferentiated noise. I found myself reading far too much with just the 'open URLs in tabs' feature of my browser, without diving into the firehose of RSS feeds. I've winnowed the number of places to visit by a good bit, but it still borders on the unhealthy.

I find comfort, and familiar puzzling about the world, in what you're exploring here in Fragments. If it's coffee that fuels your writer's mind, then please let me know when you'll be wandering through Blacksburg, and I'll stand you to a couple of espressos at Mill Mt.

Cheers.

Your blog has been like a favorite book for me. I stop in every few days, treat myself to the newest pictures and happenings, and then go on my way. I'm usually one of your "lurkers" and just wanted to let you know that your work is appreciated.

Yeah, what they said. I come for you and your essence - no matter what the subject matter.

I recall the encouragement you gave me many months ago,to keep blogging in spite of feeling that I had nothing much to say, and it was so appreciated. I've found the practice helpful, being a person who rarely articulated my thoughts. I wish you continued well-being and success in all your projects.

Thanks for giving us daily readers an explanation and a heads up for what sounds like a probably drying up of our daily fix of Fred and Virginia. I will keep checking every day, just in case, so I hope you will reward me with a post often enought that I won't lose the habit. I am an old lady, retired in Los Angeles, so you wouldn't think I would be so drawn to your site, but everything about it appeals to me. Maybe if you aren't into writing an entry, you will post a photo. That would be a reward for visiting and keep me anticipating the future day when your wonderfully expressed thoughts will be posted, too.

Well, it's not all oasis here. I did hear about bird flu here first!

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