This is what I call a “State of the Union” type of post, the kind about everything and nothing all at once. Sort of like writing an email to a friend, like how we used to write letters back in the day — do people even communicate this way anymore? Or do we just hope our friends read our blogs and see our Facebook updates?
It’s Sunday afternoon as I write this, and it’s grey and misty outside, a strange combination of fog, winter rain and the sound of melting, dripping water everywhere. I’m making a huge bowl of what I call “fancy ramen” for brunch, although at this point it should probably be called “linner.” I’m actually dictating this post using the voice function on my iPhone, which strikes me as both ridiculous and wonderfully modern at once. I spent the morning watching my favorite TV guilty pleasure “2 Broke Girls” on DVD, did a lemon mint face mask, read Howards End. I vacillate between having a leisurely Sunday morning and working in the evening or the other way around — I can’t figure out what would be better. Ideally I take the entire Sunday off and just relax, but with a full-time job and my own creative projects, that often means, yep, I have to work Sunday. It’s okay but sometimes it really, really sucks.
Did I mention how much this Mercury retrograde is kicking my ass? Basically it’s destroyed my old site. Nogoodforme.com got hacked into and wasn’t working and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it and the hosting “service” I’ve been using over ten years was absolutely no help. So in the end it became clear: I needed to re-create the site entirely. I made a backup of the site itself, then made a backup of all the content through WordPress…or so I thought, checking the files a few times. When I went through the process, I discovered the backup of the content was corrupted so it only restored content up to 2008. Then when I went to the full server backup, I discovered it was gone, a victim of some server glitch or maintenance. So basically…four years of blog writing, GONE. Thanks a lot, WordPress and Dreamhost! So basically, yes, that was a full day of honest to God suckage, and if anyone tells me they don’t believe in Mercury retrograde, I will punch them in the face.
It makes my blog-to-book project especially poignant, I guess, which I’d been working on as a side project since the beginning of the year. Little did I know that my whim to find out how many words in total I wrote for NOGOODFORME would turn out to be the only saving grace in this situation. After Liz and I authored our final goodbye at our old blog, I was curious: I wanted to know just how much work I put into my nine-year endeavor. So I spent a full week cutting and pasting all my entries and portions of group posts into a Word document. It was seriously so mind-numbing at first, but then as I went through every single post and page on the site, I actually was amazed…I couldn’t believe how much I had written for the blog. (It ended up over 100,000 words! To contextualize, the average word count for literary novels is between 80,000 to 100,000 words. To Kill a Mockingbird, for example, is 100,388 words.)
once I realized how much I wrote, I thought it would be a nice idea for myself to print out a private book copy — a nice way to commemorate a beloved part of my life, you know? I had done things on Lulu before and thought I’d go that route again. But as I fiddled with the manuscript and got it ready for formatting, I realized: I had kind of an ideal project for self-publishing, something I had been curious about for awhile. I could do my favorite thing: I could make a book!
It was kind of a perfect project for DIY publishing: it’s not something a traditional publisher would ever want to publish unless I was super-famous, after all. And even better, as I read through it, I realized it was something I could arrange into a kind of memoir about living in San Francisco and New York, being young and wild in the city — about a love affair with pop culture and using music and movies and records to help figure out who you are, how you want to live and love, and where you’re really going. It just needed some thoughtful editing, some commentary, some skillful rewriting and there you go. And so I decided to just do it while I planned my next novel — it’d be a simple, fun, getting-my-feet-wet kind of project, and it wouldn’t kill me. To make it worthy of printed bookiness, I’d write a few more pieces,
But with NOGOODFORME basically broken, it’s taken on a way more elegiac feel now. It’s now basically the ONLY record I have of some of the best writing I’ve ever done on the Internet. It’s not such a fun, light project anymore: now it’s something I really want to do justice to, because it is a bit like commemorating the journey of my early adulthood, of being a Californian, of being a New Yorker, of being in my 20s. And so now, on the eve of it being finished, I wonder if I should take another pass at the manuscript with this new dimension in mind. And I don’t know, because I’m tired and slightly depressed and just want to sleep and hide away from this sense of being overwhelmed.
As I finish writing this, it’s now Sunday evening and I’ve made a nice big pot of chili for the week ahead and cleaned up my apartment, which is warm and bright and comforting. I just had a bit of cinnamon ice cream and I’m listening to Agnes Obel. I’m looking at the week ahead, and I feel okay, even with losing an hour to daylight savings. I feel like I can only do what is humanly possible without burning myself out. I feel okay with not knowing the answers. All I can do is settle in for the night and wake up tomorrow, moving forward into a new day as lightly and freely as I can.