When I started blogging in 2004, people thought it was silly. They believed that it represented an unpolished, unprofessional form of writing that would go unread and unnoticed and eventually go away. They thought it a fad. A burst of digital narcissism.
In 2007, blogging had begun to gain more mainstream acceptance, but the perception remained that most blogs were written by loners and losers who were sitting at desks in their underwear.
2007 was also the year that blogging nearly destroyed my life. A long story for another day. A story I once told on a Moth stage.
By 2010 blogging had become an accepted and valued form of personal expression and serious journalism. Authors were encouraged to blog in order to build their platforms. The media turned to blogging as a means of getting information out faster and more seamlessly. Readers turned to blogs as replacements for the dying newspaper and magazine industry.
Today, blogging is viewed as a valid and valued form of written communication, news distribution and self expression.
I have been blogging consistently, almost daily, for almost ten years. This blog is my third. While my previous two blogs no longer exist on the Internet, I retain the material written on those blogs. My archive of posts, as a result, is almost a decade long.
I write my blog for several reasons:
1. It provides me with a means of expressing ideas, thoughts and experiences with an audience of engaged readers.
2. It connects me with people who I might otherwise have never known.
3. It serves as a laboratory where I can test new ideas before committing them to something more formal and traditionally published.
4. It provides a record of my life.
This last reason is an important one for me. Though I don’t often write about my day to day experiences, I do so when the moments are important or unique enough to warrant a mention. As a result, I have an extensive archive of the events from my life that I can return to again and again when needed.
Last night I was fortunate enough to win another Moth StorySLAM at Housing Works in Manhattan. I told a story about the day I intervened in a fight between two men outside my gym. When I saw that the theme of the night was Interference, the fight outside the gym immediately popped to mind as a perfect fit for the theme. But I also found myself unable to recollect the specifics from that morning. I couldn’t remember enough of the story to reliably tell it onstage, so for a few days, I searched for another story from my life that would fit the theme.
Then it occurred to me (while in the shower, of course) that I had written about that fight on my blog, almost immediately after retuning home that day. While I was sure that it wasn’t a perfectly crafted story suited for a Moth stage, I thought that the post might contain enough details to sufficiently refresh my memory.
I was right. The fight took place more than two years ago, but I found the post and all the long lost details that I required to prepare the story for a Moth performance.
The A-Team tee shirt that one of the guys was wearing. The dialogue that we exchanged pre and post fight. My post-fight panic attack. All were details long since forgotten that came rushing back to me while reading the post. In fact, reading the post returned me to that morning in a way I didn’t think possible. I was able to remember even more about the fight, and especially my feelings about the fight, than even the post itself contained.
I was lucky to win last night. Some exceptionally strong storytellers did not have their names drawn from the hat.
But I am also lucky enough to have a detailed account of so many of the odd and unique moments from my life. It’s an archive that I can turn to again and again when I need to recall a story but my memory is failing me.
Specific details and the emotions of a moment are so critical to crafting and telling a successful story. Many times I can remember these elements with perfect accuracy. Other times, they are lost to the abyss of time. But as long as I continue to write for my blog on a daily basis and capture these moments in ones and zeros, I can reach down into that abyss and extract the information needed to craft a complete story.
I mentioned how lucky I felt to win last night competition to a fellow storyteller. He reminded me that luck favors the prepared.
I feel like I had been preparing to tell last night’s story for a long time. At least as far back as February of 2011, when I wrote the story down, and perhaps as far back as 2004, when people scoffed at the idea and laughed at the notion that I was writing a blog that no one would ever read.
Last night served as a big, fat “I told you so” to all those doubters and disbelievers.