I’ve been spending my time tweaking the design of this website, and I was working on the page that has all the garden blog links. A lot of those blogs are no longer active. A few have moved to new addresses. And a few are alive and kicking, but I never read them because they don’t have a feed, and so they’re not in my bloglines account. Out of site, out of mind.
It’s made me realize that every blog has a history, one that’s not always easily comprehended by a first-time visitor. And if that visitor doesn’t have time to comb through the archives, he or she may never get the big picture. That’s what “About” pages are for. The essay below is adapted from an email I sent to someone, and I’m considering incorporating it into my “About” page. Just remember, you read it here first!
Writing is just about like breathing to me, except I do concede I can go longer without writing than I can breathing. Mostly I write in my head, until it just has to come out somehow. . . . In general, back in the days before word processors, I wrote long letters. When I was reading up on homeschooling, I would write critiques of what I was reading.
Then I had an article in published in Fine Gardening #47 (January/February 1996), roughly two years after I wrote it. Before you get impressed, remember that at that point in their history, Fine Gardening was actively soliciting articles from readers. (Now, I understand, they want people to be experts in their fields, with credentials.) Also I had spent the winter re-reading every issue I owned (well, there were a lot less issues back then). So I was kind of immersed in the Fine Gardening style; I was thinking my thoughts in the style FG was written in, and I started thinking, “What do I know that not every gardener knows?” When I came up with my answer, I started writing it in my head. After losing much sleep writing in my head, I finally got up in the middle of the night and typed it all out. It didn’t need much revising, either.
For a while after that I was hoping to make enough money writing to finance my gardening addict–uh, I mean, hobby, but it was pretty much that one flash in the pan. Don’t get me wrong–I know I can write well, but I don’t have the time to tailor my writing for a particular magazine, market, or audience. I hope in time that will come. For now, I just write from the hip, so to speak.
After email came into our lives I started writing garden essays as the mood struck me and sending them off to family and (I hope) interested friends. Then I joined the now-defunct North American Cottage Garden Society, and shared some of those essays with Rand B. Lee, the president/editor/jack-of-all-trades. (Well, what I did is put him on the mailing list for my essays without asking him.) He printed the ones he thought appropriate in the NACGS journal, Small Honesties, and also encouraged me to write elsewhere. Since then, a few of those same letters-cum-essays have been published in Upstate Gardeners’ Journal. Thanks, Rand, for your encouragement!
I designed and wrote everything for the Cold Climate Gardening website, except, of course, the entries of the other contributors to this blog. I started the Cold Climate Gardening blog in August 2002 using Blogger software. From the beginning I envisioned the blog as being part of a larger website about cold climate gardening, but Blogger’s software made the blog the easiest part to set up. In February 2003 I migrated to the Movable Type platform, which necessitated getting my own web space on a server, and a domain name. In April of that same year I launched the rest of the website.
There is still a lot of writing that never gets any further than the inside of my head. Partly that’s because I do my best thinking at night. Why that should be, I don’t know; perhaps the fact that it’s the only time it’s quiet around here has something to do with it? Other times, it’s just because choices have to be made, and the writing loses out. I think a lot of bloggers start out thinking they’ll blog every day, no matter what. I know I wanted to write a lot more frequently than I’ve managed, but I try not to feel guilty or deprived. No one’s paying me after all, and if it starts feeling like a burden instead of a pleasure, I should just stop. On the contrary, there have certainly been days when I’ve blogged and neglected something else. Still, I have a bookmark folder full of links to possible blog topics, just in case I ever run out of things to write about. And you can always suggest a topic!