Gone

A couple days ago I was trying to think up a title for a piece I’d written. It had been a fairly difficult write, it was about information, technology, perception, cognition, and evolution and making it breezily readable in a few hundred words took some work. Science writing does. Anyway, I was 99% finished and maybe a minute away from hitting the publish button to post it on the blog when the screen went blank and when it came back a few seconds later the post was gone. Vanished. There was no evidence that it had ever existed, like it had never been.

I’m sure I let out a fuck or two, and I looked in a few other folders to see if it had magically materialized somewhere else, but no. It was gone. Oh well, I said, and went on to something else. Spilled milk and all that. Maybe I’d rewrite it. Maybe not. It’s just writing.

A friend’s husband, a local editor of note, recently sent out a stern warning to all us writers to back up our stuff. Someone he knew lost everything he’d ever written when something went amiss somehow, and now it was like the poor bastard had never written anything at all.

I thought of that when my essay—which was probably one of the deepest things I’d written in a long, long time—was scattered back into the electrons from which it came. And I realized, to my surprise, that it wouldn’t bother me much if all my blogs were vaporized and a million beautifully laid out words were blasted to sub-atomic particles. I don’t really read the stuff. I don’t think about the stuff. It doesn’t mean that much to me. Hell, I’d just write more stuff anyway. It just gushes out. All I have to do is start typing. It’s epileptic hypergraphia. It didn’t used to be, not all of it, but since 2006 it’s pretty much all symptomatic. A long piece like this means there’s some seizure activity loose in my frontal lobe. The writing just happens. It’s so automatic it loses its significance. It’s just what I do, or am programmed to do. Sort of like being an Android. The real me does other stuff. The Android me writes about it.

So I don’t really have any emotional attachment to all the stuff I’ve written. It’s not like all the books that surround me here. I love my personal library. But I have no real connection to my six blogs full of my own writing. I carefully maintain them, for sure. But there’s nothing visceral in my commitment. They’re just words. My words, sure, but still just words.

It wasn’t till that essay was vaporized a couple days ago that it occurred to me that maybe this attitude isn’t a good thing. I mean for me it’s fine, natural even, but maybe some of this stuff stands on its own, apart from me. That sounds absurd, to me anyway, but I don’t know how my readers would see this. I have no idea. Yet I can’t guarantee any of my stuff will survive. I mean if I ever tire of these blogs all my stuff might vanish for good. Just poof and gone.

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