Monday, August 21, 2006

My Year In and Out of J-Land

Today as AOL Journals (better known as J-Land) turns three years old, I think it's appropriate to horn in on Krissy's Anniversary Assignment and take a look at my past year as a blogger, and where I am now in my thoughts about all that has happened in that time.

A year ago today, my "main blog" was Musings from Mâvarin. I also had a LiveJournal, and a fiction blog on BlogSpot, and I maintained a couple of BlogSpot blogs for St. Michael's. But everything on my fiction blog was also posted on Musings. I posted every night (or occasionally in the afternoon) there, and was thrilled when I tied with Vince for a Vivi Award.

I had two entries in Musings on August 21st, 2005. One was fiction: Mall of Mâvarin, Part Twenty-Three. This rather silly spin-off from my Mâvarin books would continue for another ten entries. In the 8/21 installment, Li and Lee explained how people from Mâvarin could buy stuff at the transported remains of Shoppingtown Mall if they wanted to do so.

The other was my Anniversary entry, "Almost Too Late to Celebrate." Yes, I wrote it when it was still the 21st in AZ, but not Back East. It starts with an explanation that I was up late the night before writing the Mall of entry, continues with a complaint about a backache I had that day, and then offers up these words:

So what have I to say about the anniversary? Not much, really. It seems to have been very quiet, quite unlike the month-long blowout people put together last summer. And that's okay. For those of us who blog here every day (or even read them, nearly every day), the AOL-J community is part of our lives. We celebrate it every time we click on a new entry or comment alert, every time we write an entry, every time we're out and about, seeing whatever is around us in terms of how we are going to write about it for photograph it for our next posting. Tonight, when I told John I wanted to see more of Hawaii, he said, "You just want to blog about it." No, that wasn't why, really! But of course, I would blog about it.

I think that still pretty much sums it up for me, except that the community is a bit bigger now, AOL-J and Blogger and any other service used by people who do John's assignments or comment on our blogs.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. My last August entries feature dramatic monsoon pictures and tales of my tribulations at the gym. I really need to get back there! As August turned to September, I reminisced about my motorscooters, partly to hide the fact that I was at Disneyland over Labor Day Weekend. Eventually I started posting semi-obscure photos from my favorite amusement park before stating outright where I was. Black Rose Katie Specks made her first appearance on September 19th, in honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day.

In October I was nominated for that Vivi Award, so I did some shameless promotion of my fiction and poetry, and posted at least one 30-year-old poem. Black Rose Kate turned up at my house just before Halloween, and hung around through part of November. November was also the month during which I became very fond of one of the mice in the house. We attempted to do the humane trap thing, and did manage to release one brown mousie - but I'm pretty sure Gray Mousie was killed in a conventional trap, rather horribly, too.

You know what else happened in November. The infamous ads appeared. People got upset. Some people left. Some people stayed. Some people quit blogging altogether. The anger and recriminations were painful, and to an extent unnecessary. A lot of J-Landers moved into the development on the next block, to use a metaphor that I think Patrick came up with. Community spirit was battered but not broken, as people helped each other figure out this Blogger thing, and many bloggers and journalers started reading and commenting on blogs both on and off AOL. Myself, I moved over here. Along with the other things people were angry about, I was upset that a "charset" glitch ruined the word "Mâvarin" so that it could no longer be posted correctly. In a journal called Musings from Mâvarin, that was pretty much fatal. By the time the glitch was fixed, I was pretty well established here.

So it was on Outpost Mâvarin that I blogged another trip to Disneyland, this time at Christmas. In January I finally received my Bachelor of Science in Business/Accounting diploma, ten months after graduating. I still kept up with John Scalzi's AOL-based Weekend Assignments and the Monday Photo Shoots, and in January Carly and I revived the Round Robin Photo Challenge. January through March I was exceedingly busy with year-end stuff, often working late at night at the office.

Meanwhile, I serialized the first two chapters of Heirs of Mâvarin in Messages from Mâvarin as I gave the book one last edit. Readers got the play-by-play as I prepared to send my cover letter, three chapters and synopsis to Tor Books. According to the delivery confirmation slip from the post office, my life's work landed on the Tor slush pile on February 23rd. Wednesday will be the half anniversary of this momentous event. and no, I haven't heard a peep from Tor about it. Also in February, I went to the doctor about my edema after my brother had heart problems involving edema and sleep apnea. At the end of February, my beloved Canon digital camera broke, just short of a year after I got it.

In March I got the Nikon, and foolishly did not return it when it started giving me error messages a few days later. Inspired by the 2005 series turning up on Sci-Fi, I wrote about Doctor Who, both the old and new versions. I pulled an all-nighter at work, and shortly after that, things started to ease off a bit.

April was the month that I got sucked into Wikipedialand. I also blogged Holy Week, and my trip to Sedona and Los Alamos and Magdalena. That trip inspired my next serial, The Jace Letters. That thing would probably be over with by now had I not faltered badly in my weekly schedule of posting fiction.

In May I did some bird blogging, drove to Tempe to visit Harlan Ellison at the Nebula Awards weekend, and returned to the Phoenix area a week later to meet Sarah face to face and eat some pizza. Sarah is much nicer than Harlan, but I don't regret either trip. May was also the month that fee-charging literary agent Barbara Bauer complained to an ISP that Absolute Write "illegally" posted her email address, setting in motion a chain of events that has caused me a great deal of stress in the months since - not so much because of Bauer or Absolute Write, neither of which meant anything to me before the incident (and hardly mean more to me now), but because one bitter individual has been trying to use Wikipedia to avenge perceived wrongs, and targeting me in the process. Also in May, my friend Eva turned 101, John and I got a DVD recorder (which promptly broke down) to celebrate our 27th anniversary, and I got a raise at my one-year review.

In June I started out pretty happy, and even offered advice on the subject. But things started to build up: stress over the edit war on Wikipedia, and over things left undone. By the beginning of July, though, I got a prologue written for Mages of Mâvarin, after years of dithering about whether it needed one. Also, the tree in our back yard fell down. I wasn't here to hear it, but I'm sure it made a noise. The monsoon got going, and I started photographing it along with the cloudy sunsets. That brings us back to August. What have I done this month? Wikipedia, mostly, but I am on Chapter Three, the bottom of page 94 at the moment, in editing Mages.

AOL-J's anniversary ends in 14 minutes, so I'd better sum up. Since the strife of November last, AOL has gone through various changes and upgrades. Blogger is also rolling out an upgrade, but it hasn't reached me yet. I never did leave AOL, never reposted everything to the Outpost, never even got off dial-up. I'm still paying for AOL, $3 more than I was in November. And I'm thinking on this anniversary night of Musings from Mâvarin, with its last, angry post that promised my next one would be my goodbye to AOL. Tonight I'm wondering: would it be a terrible thing if I revived Musings, not as my main blog, but for Weekend Assignments and Monday Photo Shoots? I don't need another blog, but it's there already, and it seems kind of forlorn and battered, sitting there with its angry words and outdated postings. Would it be a good thing, a bad, thing, or neither if I were to revive it, and use it to post larger photos than fit here, or maybe run the occasional poll or video?

What do you think? 'Cause I did one. My Monday Photo Shoot for this week is over there.

Happy Anniversary, AOL-J Land.



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Becky said...

Excellent summary of your past year. :-) I thought about doing this exercise, but it just seemed like too much work. (Plus I think it would just remind me of all the stuff I have left undone.) ;-)

Gaboatman said...

I stopped by to catch up with you and was rewarded with this entry that brought me through your whole year. I say go ahead an revie the AOL Musings journal. If you have broadband, though, you need to cancel the dialup and quit paying AOL. Nothing will change except no live support and no dialup service. At any rate, I'm glad i stopped by. Always an interesting read here. Glad you are still with us at the end of another blogging year. Thanks for stopping by my place, it's always god to see you there.