It's also been a while since I've posted anything on this blog. My blog has no position in space other than a random placement on the Blogger server, where you can page to the left and to the right to see other blogs hosted by Blogger. Links to my blog have no position on Facebook, other than to appear more or less frequently than links to blogs written by my friends, family, acquaintances and colleagues. I guess there are ways of measuring and comparing the number of hits or likes, or something like that, but I'm not terribly interested. I link a post, and I watch it sink on Facebook like a piece of art being painted over by the creation of other art, which will in turn be quickly painted over. Why do the artists go to the wall and do this to themselves? Why do I blog? We all have our reasons, I think, of trying to make our mark on people's memories with these fleeting offerings.
This is a perpetual concern, that as I spend time reading intensely to fuel the machine, or spend time actually (gasp!) writing something that is not a blog post (fiction, poetry), I am not posting, and thus I vanish from your consciousness. I can only hope that while I'm spending more hours toiling on other projects, my absence will be marked by someone or other, and that person will click the link whenever I do get around to posting something. The same sort of person who will see a short story on a website or in a magazine, and make a little tick on their mental register: "Good story. If you see another story by so-and-so, read it, even if the first paragraph is boring and not really where the story starts." This is the beginning of trust, or the beginning of the invisible bond between reader and writer. First, there is some accidental exposure (reader buys a book to read the story of a favored author and accidentally, or out of boredom, reads the other stories). The reader makes a little tick mark to celebrate the discovery of another voice. Then, there is, perhaps, another accidental exposure, and another tick mark. Perhaps then, if the artist is lucky, the fan has caught fire, and the collisions are no longer accidental. Now that fan is actively searching. If you don't get stuff out there, the fan never makes the tick marks, and never catches fire, and never starts actively searching for you. Or if they did, without further stimulus, they quit looking for you. Your tick marks vanish, and once you start putting stuff out there again, maybe the first round of people who made the tick marks aren't around any more, and you're heartbreakingly back at zero.
This is the concern that leads people who have had some small success writing short stories to continue writing them, or continue blogging, rather than moving to a longer project and risking that their silence will send them back to the very beginning, when no one knew them all. Imagine that the artist who made the work I've included in this post is someone I have been following by visiting the wall and looking for that style. Perhaps I've been photographing her art for some time, and it's gotten to the point where I have a whole collection of photographs, and I'm addicted. Then perhaps this artist lands an art show and starts painting on canvas instead, and leaves the graffiti wall in Beverly untouched for a long time, so long that I stop visiting, or I move away, or I get another hobby, and when she returns to the wall to put up another picture, there's no one there to appreciate it the way a fan would. Appreciation must then start all over again, with the accidental collision of the art with the person who will know it, and understand it, and appreciate it, despite its flaws. The person who will understand the intention, even if the technique isn't as perfect as whatever was painted on that canvas during the break. In the world of writing, it seems like we've all decided that the only way to sell the canvases is to visit the graffiti wall in the middle of the night and splash something, anything, onto it, even if it's just a messy, spray-painted phrase, "I'm here; please don't forget!" in the hopes that the fan will return to the wall each day with the camera, or somehow know when the canvases are displayed in the gallery, and arrive with cash in hand.
This isn't rational, this hope. It's not rational to go to the wall in the middle of the night and make a mark, good, bad, or indifferent, in hopes of not vanishing while we whittle away at our "master" works at home, where our fans can't see us. There are too many people, and too little time and energy for those people to spend waiting for us to do something brilliant. But I do this. I have some little pleasure from something, and I get hooked, and I do visit the wall, and I do wait, and I do hope that whatever I'm seeing will lead me to the next thing. I do this with relationships. I see some little pleasurable thing and I wait for it to happen again, like the pigeon hitting the lever in hopes the pellet will finally drop. The only reason writers are in business is because people do this. They go to the stands and look for the names of their favorites. They accept breadcrumbs on Facebook. They accept promises and hints. They stand pathetically in the rain with a boombox over their heads, hoping for a glimpse of something beautiful. This makes no sense to me, that people do this, that they do crazy things to fulfill some kind of undefinable longing inside them. That they keep trying long past when someone else might have the sense to get out of the rain before they get electrocuted, or arrested for standing on a train track trying to get a photo of a piece of art before it's sprayed over by some kid with delusions of grandeur or a mean streak or the volcanic frustration that comes from years of being invisible.
This post is a breadcrumb. It's something dashed off in a hurry, with minimal care taken, and very little artistry. It's just a breadcrumb to bring you here so you won't forget about me while I'm working. I'm working on something new, something next, something utterly different, but something that has that old BANG you've come here looking for. Please, trust me. It's not another short story. It's not a poem. It's not another half-assed piece of spray art on the wall, like this one. It won't be published any time soon. It won't be finished any time soon. I give you this half-assed thing right now, because I have nothing of substance to offer you at this moment, because I'm saving my energy for the big canvas. Nevertheless, nevertheless, I hope you'll stop by my humble little wall now and then, eat these breadcrumbs, and have faith that at some point you will come by, maybe on your way elsewhere, and you'll see something here that makes you ping in that unexpected way that inspired you to come back the first time, to stand on a railroad track, with the threat of being arrested, to get a snapshot of something that makes you feel--feel some damned thing that makes it all worth it.
Please wait for it. Keep checking.
The ping, like love, is so very worth waiting for.