Sunday, March 5, 2006

Getting Through The Dry Spots

The land of journals has changed drastically for me. I am amazed at the permanent alteration that was wrought to the fabric of my journal experience by the AOL blow up. The immediate immensity of the emotional response shocked me. Still, I always thought that when the dust settled and people had time to sort out their feelings, things would go pretty much back to normal. But that didn’t happen. The place I used to go to meet friends and trade stories no longer exists. AOL decided that we needed to grow up and realize that our virtual haven was, indeed, part of the real world. And the mass "coming of age" dispersed the journal community…kind of like a high school graduation turns people who have been as close as family—or closer—into strangers in a matter of a few months. Last night, I tried to describe to my husband what journaling was like now. What came to me is, I don’t see any of the casual, fun people from all over the country who kind of just came to chat anymore. I seem to have moved into the realm of the "serious writers." (Actually, I called us "intellectual snobs…") And a lot of the fun has gone out of it.

I once got myself in hot water with some folks in the land of journals by suggesting that many people who kept journals on AOL were not really writers. (I don’t know why anyone would be upset not to be a writer. Like any other talent, it is often more of a burden than a joy. At best, it’s a roller-coaster existence. You create something satisfying, and you soar to the rooftops. You go through a dry spell, and you fall through a crack in the floor. What is it about right-brained talents that we who possess them always feel we are on the brink of losing them? Why this ever-present fear that the font of words, or notes, or colors, is not bottomless?)

As it turned out, those people who felt "dissed" because I suggested they were not writers, provide the lion’s share of the fun and diversity in the land of journals. I think many of the most vital, interesting folks in journal land were not really happy with the sedentary nature of the journal community-- being chained to their computers for large blocks of time every day. The "AOL graduation" gave them the perfect excuse to disentangle themselves from the convoluted ethereal chains of the virtual community and get on with their active lives. And I really do miss them.

Or maybe the problem is this: When I decided that the journal land reformation was going to be my ticket to "take my writing to the next level," I took myself out of what was left of the journal community, and started…I don’t know…going uptown?. I tried to hang out where I thought the real writers should be. But real writers have turned out to be…well, kind of boring. And self-absorbed. And just WAY too serious. Lest I offend those few people who still do read my journals, let me assure you that I include myself in among that serious, boring, self-absorbed group. I’m not really happy about it, but it’s exactly what I am.

Still, I’m in this for the long haul. And, like anything worth committing to, you have to realize the road will ultimately take you to more of the good stuff…you just have to stick to it through the bad stuff to get there. Maybe the level I’m at right now is boring and uninspiring, and decidedly not fun...but I think I detect a slight rise in the roadway up ahead. Going up to the next level maybe? The one that can be serious and fun?


  1. Hey...I'm still here and I know my writing is nothing spectacular.

    Let's have some fun!!

  2. Funny, I was thinking about this last night.  I still read several AOL journals just because they're fun --I've pretty much given up commenting on them, because they never return the favor (because I'm B-O-R-I-N-G???????  LOL!) but I do  enjoy their stories ands insights.  And you're right, I miss the "community" aspect of AOL.  Even the parts of it I despised -- I still miss them.  I'm out here in the world of blogger, typepad, etc and I'm finding that it takes a very long time to make the kind of conenctions with people that were easy in J-land.

    It's too bad, really, that AOL didn't realize what an incredible accidental creation it had made.  Pure serendipity sacrificed to the dollar, when that serendipitous creation might have been the very thing that ultimately sustained it -- a community of writers, photographers and painters who might have grown and formed the foundation for its future business ventures, if it had just honored that tiny puddle of creative authenticity and integrity.

    Well, you can come visit me in my serious, boring, self-aborbed space any old time.  You can even remind me not to be boring!  :)

  3. I too was shocked by what became of the neat little community at AOL Journal Land.  I was AWOL for many months and found everything vastly changed when I returned.  The ads don't bother me too much (I've usually already scrolled down before they even have a chance to finish loading), but it might have affected me differently if I'd been there for their overnight appearance and the typical bugs that acccompany each change in the journals.

    I too am hoping that things improve here.  That some of my online "friends" return and things get back to some semblence of normal.  In the meantime, I'm still here on an off-and-on basis, waiting for whatever comes next.

  4. Hey, I'm still here too. Granted I seem to have gotten kind of serious myself lately, I don't think I'd be exploring the things I am right now without the journaling I've done in the last year and a half. And, let's face it the world is looking pretty damn serious right now.

    So, be glad about your writing. So greetings from me and three stoogettes. (Lucky, Misty and La Bandita) LOL


  5. I agree with Kat...we need some fun around here!! There are many of us left behind. it is funny, because I described the exodous as a graduation from High School in a comment I made! I think that those who left could not/can not find the type of community we have here. I wish they would have stayed and fought the good fight from within rather than picking up all their toys and leaving.

    I've been way too serious lately. I have been totally befuddled on what to write about because my life seems to be void of drama.

    We need to regroup....somehow.

  6. Lisa, I agree with you completely on this.  I miss reading and commenting on the journals I used to follow and reading comments people left on my entries.  I looked forward to these things each day and now, it's gone.  I keep telling myself that I write in my online journal only for myself but, in fact, I adored getting comments from various people all over the country (and one person abroad).  These days, my occasional entry elicits a comment from two people, my daughter and you...and every great once in a while, my husband.  Thank God for your continued interest!  I don't think what we had and enjoyed will ever return but it sure was fun while it lasted, wasn't it?

  7. I think one thing is that people felt like friends. Friends can be serious and friendly. If you have a friend and every conversation with that friend was always serious and intense then soon you will start avoiding that person. I go to blogger and comment on journals. But I will admit that tere are some that I have dropped because they no longer fell like people(and that ncludes some AOL journalers). I am not here to just read "serious writers" I am here for the exchange of ideas, thoughts, recipes, stories, funnies, in short... the exchange of life.

  8.     Hey, Lisa .... yes, the landscape here has definitely changed.  And yet, I wonder if that whole AOL ad crisis just sped up the inevitable.  It seems that nothing lasts forever, and this, too, probably would have come to pass .... unfortunately that whole thing made it happen prematurely.
        For me, this has always been an experience of expression and exchange.  I don't have the knack that some others in here have, as far as writing.  And yet, I am okay with that.  I find that I enjoy the opportunity to express myself, even though my writing is less than stellar.  The fun thing about reading the other journals out there is that there is such variety.  Some, I admire for their gift of writing skills.  Others make me laugh with their humorous slant on things.  And still other journals amaze me with their honesty.  Like you, I saw that variety affected when this whole 'ad crisis' swept through.  
        I'm sure glad you stayed, Lisa, because I always enjoy reading what you have to say .... and how you choose to say it.  Tina