From 1999 (or was it 1998?) to 2004, I had the privilege of teaching Creative Writing to high school students at Cincinnati’s School for the Creative and Performing Arts. Social media was just starting to take off—MySpace, Friendster (remember those?)—and a lot of my students were on the Xanga site. I had a requirement that my students write down something every day, a Daily Notice, which could literally be anything about anything. “Just notice something, people, anything,” I would exclaim, “and then write it down.” This proved to be very difficult for many of my students. But while they had a problem writing down a simple notice on a regular basis, they had no problem posting on Xanga multiple times a day, and so a couple of my lazier—I mean, more innovative—students asked whether Xanga posts could count as Daily Notices. I agreed. But this meant that in order for me to read my students’ daily Xanga notices, I would have to get a Xanga account myself, which I did. And that Xanga account became my first experience with blogging, because in addition to monitoring my students’ accounts, I also felt it necessary to keep my own account semi-vital and active. (Quite likely that ancient Xanga account still exists somewhere in the internet ether. I recall trying to delete it several years ago, but the hoops one was required to jump through made it not worth my time.)
About this time—I’m thinking probably in 2002 or 2003, because I know for sure this happened after 9/11—one of my students gifted me with a small, wire-bound notebook because all my students knew that I was very fond of blank books and empty notebooks and the like. I’m not absolutely certain about this, but I think the student who gave me the notebook also added the expectation that I would use it for some literary project. As it was my practice to attempt to complete every assignment I gave my classes, I decided that writing in this notebook would be an excellent way of fulfilling the Daily Notice assignment. And because of my experience on Xanga and my encounters with other blogs connected to sites I visited every day, I thought it would be interesting to make the notebook into an “analog blog.” The term analog blog is fairly commonplace these days (according to the All-Knowing Google), but I suspect back then I might have been one of the early adopters, as it were. In any case, for the next several weeks, I tried to fill a page every day. Purely improvisational, with all the glory and hogwash that can occur when one begins writing without really knowing what word will come next.
Early in the analog blog, there is speculation concerning the eventual fate of the analog blog: that is, might it some day become a digital blog? (Not unlike Pinocchio wondering whether he will ever become a real boy.) This blog answers that question: analog has been transmogrified into digital (while still maintaining a lot of its analog character). Enjoy.
Oh, and if you are the student who gave me the notebook in the first place, please contact me: I’d like to thank you. Again.
Addendum: In one of the “posts,” I note that writing surreal lists seems to have become a common strategy used to fill the analog blog pages. As I like to pay my debts, literary and otherwise, I want to acknowledge that these attempts to be surreal have a definite source, that being William Gillespie’s surrealistic tour de force Letter to Lamont, which I had the good fortune to read in manuscript. Let me be blunt: Letter to Lamont freakin’ blew me away, and continues to do so whenever I revisit its pages. The good news is that this astounding piece of prose has been published and is available for purchase: visit http://www.spinelessbooks.com and order your copy today. You won’t be sorry.
Also: All photos and text appearing in and on the SCPA Analog Blog : Copyright © 2015 by Dirk Stratton. All rights reserved.