When I pieced together my first blog, back in August 2002, I began with a question: “So Why Yet Another Late Entry to Yet Another Crowded Field?” Dust in the Light made its appearance as the era of table-based Web pages was progressing to frames (which I imagine are little more than a history lesson in today’s Web design courses), and similarly to finding myself in the tail end of Generation X, it turned out that my “late entry” was actually into the waning days of the first wave of blogs. By the time I elevated Dust in the Light from a mere page on my Timshel Arts Web site to a domain of its own, I’d grown from zero to about 250 unique readers and 550 visits per day, with regular-enough links from the likes of Instapundit, bringing thousands of eyeballs to my words, to ensure a permanent addiction.
The contrast was stark to endlessly returned fiction and poetry manuscripts that continuously traveled the country by snailmail, for which I was “sent instead cards of thanks but no thanks” (as I put it in one unpublished poem). Blogging seemed just so, well, merit-based. Say something interesting, send it to somebody with a large audience, and capture some curious spectators. Each time, a little more of the audience would stick. Of course, with email still in the early stages of entrenchment, it was more possible, back then, to track down the quasi-famous and attract their attention.
The first post on my next base of blogging, Anchor Rising, begun November 7, 2004, evinces a clear sense that, hey, maybe these blog things can make a difference, despite the content’s “necessarily be[ing] written and maintained during nights, weekends, and moments stolen from work and play.” Now that it’s no longer necessary to make the pitch that the hobby ought to be a job, I’ll refrain from cataloging the ways in which Anchor Rising’s contributors have, indeed, affected the public discourse in Rhode Island and continue to do so.
I’ll refrain, as well, from burdening the page with a repeat of the information about this new venture, The Ocean State Current, that’s already available on “About the Current.” Phrases are better spent — with this post appearing in the more-personalized “Justin’s Case” blog section of the larger site — giving a sense of the excitement and anxiety bubbling around my preparations to send out that Open for Business press release.
On a visit to see family in New Jersey, last summer, my wife and I took our children to Hurricane Harbor at Six Flags. Chasing after the kids as they breezed past any indication that they mightn’t be quite “this high” enough, I found myself sixty-five feet above the ground, looking into a plastic chute that twisted and spun its way down to an opening below. The water that disappeared around the first bend was (to twist my metaphor) the Current. I know I’ve loved such rides before, and I have yet to emerge at the bottom with bathing suit trailing behind. Still. This ride’s bigger; it’s something more.
For the better part of the last decade, when I wasn’t writing, I was building — earning my living as a carpenter — and some months, it would have been difficult to say which occupation defined the dominant identity. During particularly complicated construction projects, for which I felt particularly under-qualified, there were certainly times that I felt nakedly like a writer building a house. No doubt there are days ahead that will find me a carpenter writing political philosophy.
Nonetheless, the facts will remain, first, that this sort of work is a matter of passion beyond profession, second, that truths are begging to be known, and third, that passion for the truth can accomplish some good. None from Galilee to Providence can doubt that Rhode Island is in desperate need of that.