05 April, 2021

Why I'm a Terrible Blogger

Pariahblog.com has come a long way since its start, about a hundred years ago, on the MySpace page a friend set up for me. Back then, I'd snail mail a short piece of writing from my prison cell (you can still read those 2007 posts – just check the archive) at a rate of about one per month. Then my friend would dutifully transcribe, spell-check, and post them for all to read.

Those early posts were necessarily sporadic. I had no Internet. For the record, I still don't. I didn't want to exploit my friend's generosity by making him type stuff all the time, so I kept my posts to a minimum. Writing one every few weeks wasn't good SEO strategy, but it had the benefit of being easy for us to maintain.

When he got busy with life and had to bow out, another friend took over. The person responsible for maintaining my blog actually changed many times over the years. Eventually someone took charge who could scan my typewritten pages. That system wasn't perfect – we still dealt with occasional typos, and the speed of the US Postal Service occasionally seemed glacial – but it felt pretty cool to still have a voice when circumstances conspired to bury me alive in a kind of silent grave. Now I have what passes for e-mail, and the whole process is an order of magnitude easier.

I fully recognize how fortunate I am. Not every prisoner, wrongfully convicted or otherwise, has the wherewithal to write regular dispatches, let alone ones that the outside world might read. And yet, for all this, I sometimes find myself squandering this fortune.

That I toil on this blog more than I do on my dark fantasy novel-in-progress, – which has all but stalled, two chapters in – is bad enough. Worse is the time I devote to any given post, which, if it's an especially deep dive, can take days. My reading list posts, such as this one, from last month, are the result of several months' notes, compiled over several days. The words you're reading at this very moment came together only after much humming and hawing, and represent a third revision of a much more generalized piece, a lament on time squandered when one should be writing.

I kept parts of the earlier drafts. Here's one now.

Advice for writers: start a blog. Also: don't spend more than an hour a day working on it. I take both of these messages to heart but am clueless about how to reconcile them. For instance, I sat down to compose this post a week late. All last week I'd been down on myself for getting too wrapped up in my job to come up with a post. Screw it, I finally thought, just write about how you wish you had more creative energy to spare, outside of work. That tuned into a slew of thoughts and reconsiderations, drafts and redrafts. Meanwhile, Chapter Three of my second attempt at a novel languishes. I know where it's going, I just haven't dedicated the time to see that it gets there.

And now here we are, with another blog post. It doesn't say much, really, because I don't believe I've got much suitable to relay right now. You've almost certainly not been entertained by it. For wasting your time I apologize. It seems that I've succeeded only in crafting an excuse, a copout, another drop in the bucket.