This post, by Sonya Chung, originally appeared on The Millions on 11/5/12.
I have to wonder how it happened. In early 2009, I wrote on my newly-minted blog:
It’s a pretty weird time on the planet — the economics of everything, the tools of mass communication, the rise (rise? emergence? triumph? hard to say…) of self-publishing and DIY arts production and distribution. Everything’s spinning and turning — exhilaratingly for some, nauseatingly for others.
I was leaning toward nausea at the time. In all things, I was analog. I worked slowly, and I liked material, concrete things. Like books, pens, paper. My first novel was a year from release, and I’d been told, by everyone I knew in the literary world, that I should start a blog. Reluctantly, awkwardly, I did.
In 2010, in an essay for the anthology The Late American Novel, I wrote:
Realistically: the printed book, in hard cover at the least, may well go by the wayside. By all accounts, digital technologies and the market are pushing print, as we know it, to the margins […] All this may well be the reality of the moment […] My hope, on the other hand is that the above trajectory is not a foregone conclusion; or if it is, not a permanent one.
I also wrote that I hoped the pendulum swing toward digital would swing back, to a future time where “Those of us who write will write better books. We’ll pare back on blog-blabbing, will be freer from self-consciousness, quieter in our heads, slower and less distracted, more imaginatively limber and inventive.”
It is now the dusk of 2012, and I am going on my fourth year writing regularly for a major online literary site — the one you are reading right now. And in a few weeks, I will be involved in launching yet another digital literary venture… but more on that in a moment.
How did it happen? Mine is an unlikely Web byline, and yet, more often than I ever would have imagined, I have been “recognized,” at a party, or in an email exchange, even at an artists’ colony, for my essays and reviews at The Millions. You’re the one who wrote that piece about…
Seriously? I think. You read that? Part of me is still in 2009, dizzy and disoriented from all the spinning and turning.
Back then, along with being told to start a blog, I was told to read blogs.