November 22, 2003

last night and today... reading and writing in blogland

Last night I was on the bed, looking for something--anything really--to read, when I spied my old English Literature textbook, from eighth grade (sometime after the Civil War, if you must know), which I had dragged up from the garage last week, having found it burried in a box marked MISC. All of my boxes are marked MISC. But that's not the point. I enjoy grabbing my old books from time to time and re-reading what I worked so hard to learn as a schoolgirl.

I started reading the pages, past Ben Franklin rambling along up to William Carlos Williams. My eye drank in the poetry and prose. Being a rather progressive textbook for the time, they even tossed in some ee cummings. Reading this book in eighth grade was the first time I'd seen anything by authors and poets that spoke to me, really touched me. Beyond storytime, this was literature. It was also the first time I realized that I was allowed to write out of bounds, like cummings. It almost made me cum.... ings. I mean, it almost made me declare myself an English Major right then and there. But that declaration would have to wait until college.

All this is beside the point. I think. Or beside some of the point.

The point is that I noticed something I think is incredibly significant. What I noticed is that the writing from the cast of "The 'Best Of' American Literature"--and I'm talking about the writing, the composition, the themes, metaphors, voicie, all of that--is less intriguing to me now, less pleasing to me, less telling, less satisfying, less relational, less compelling, less imaginative... just *less than* the writing of many of the barely known and well-known bloggers I read regularly.

These famous words from these famous writers--many of whom did realize fame during their lifetimes--hadn't moved since eighth grade. The writing felt so rigid. Something about single themes confined to a column or two, a few pages or so, fell flat for me. These were writers I had grown up loving. Some of them anyway. Their writing hadn't changed.

But because of blogging, my ears have changed. All of our ears are changing. Stories and poems are telling themselves in new ways out here, and we like it.

Admit it. You know you do.

Our ear for voice, for authenticity and passion and grief and desire and rage, they are becoming re-tuned and more highly expectant. And every day, there are bloggers delivering astounding passages acrosst the Web. For many, writing is not their career, their work, their life's ambition. They're just regular people telling stories and learning bit by bit how to tell them with more humor, awe, suspense, and magic than the greatest writers I've ever read.

Damn. Ain't we something? We really are.