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Backwards Blogging

Deanna Hershiser

Pondering some realities of journal and blog. Recently I read through my physical journals. Again. Every year or so I get the urge, and usually I begin with the first journal I started since I haven't stopped. My initial post was on March 3, 1989. A Friday afternoon. We rented a house in the countryside, where log trucks woke us mornings and deer spied us from the lawn after dinner. My daughter was three, and my son wasn't quite yet conceived.

Nowadays it takes two or three weeks to finish my journals from '89 to the present. I tend to journal about reading them along the way. Always new insights shine from the book(s) about my years raising children (and a dog, cats, rats, snakes, and mice, plus one mallard duck). I wrote discouragement and joy. I penned creative ditties. I jotted a gazillion ideas, a few of which became published articles and essays.

Sometimes reading through I'm impatient with my entries on writing. Blah, blah, blah, waiting for an editor, blah, blah, this title's a winner!, blah, that rejection hurt, blah, I never expected such a nice response...

Other times I truly relish recalling the writerly process. I think it reflects the rest of my life journey well. Always the unexpected. New turns. Wow, I've really been through all that and lived to tell it.

I keep my journals in a metal file cabinet, and I imagine people reading them when I'm gone. In fact, I write with that in mind and don't share just everything (a girl's got to have some secrets). Rarely do I scratch things out. My basic post is one side of one page, and they aren't super regular. Consistently, though, they're there year to year.

After I started blogging nearly five years ago, my journal entries became fewer. Still, there have been weeks and months of needing only the grittier tools of expression: pen, ink, and welcoming blank pages.

I've enjoyed the similar yet different sensation of blogging, but I don't know how long I'll keep up my individual blog. With vague structure to my system, I find the best part of the experience reading other "journals" on the web when mine's in play. Many good words are out there.

What bugs me about blogging is the nature of review. Blogs were made to be current, newsy. Their top-down, last-first nature makes it difficult to read somebody's story from beginning to now. This may not bother anyone younger than 40. And I'm all for getting a sense of today's happenings. But I don't and won't own an I-Phone. I live without a laptop, even. Instead I stick with my journal and my even more portable Moleskine. I carry books. Blogs could give me that booky connection to other author-type people, if they were accessible from first post to last without archive manipulation. (Maybe there's an easy way to read a blog consecutively that I don't know of...? Would love to hear it.)

You're likely thinking, old woman, don't fret over the way things have become. We read the immediate, we update each other's thoughts all day, and what's wrong with that?

You're right, I'm sure. It's a preference. After all, in his day Plato complained about the new technology involving writing things down, because it would take away the experience of remembering long passages. It would make our brains lazy.

I consider, however, taking my lazy brain off the Internet, though I like the other minds I connect with. I just want to read stories from the beginning. I'd like the chance to see where some bloggers were years ago, follow the flow of their journey, and see the contrast with who they're becoming, to review and reflect on collections of the other me's I'm reading.

Deanna Hershiser’s essays have appeared in Runner’s World, BackHome Magazine, Relief, and other places. She lives with her husband in Oregon and blogs at