On December 22nd, 1995,…

On December 22nd, 1995, I started this journal, making yesterday its tenth anniversary. Happy barely-belated birthday, journal!

It's difficult to take in, to absorb the scope of this endeavor. It's by far the largest writing project I've ever undertaken, and I wish I knew how many words I've written in its service. I know it's consumed countless hours, all well spent.

Through this journal, I've gotten to know so many wonderful people. You've helped me celebrate my triumphs over the years, and given me help and advice and consolation in my darker hours. There have been times in my life when I felt entirely alone, and the only solace was to come here and write in this journal, knowing that somewhere, out there, people were listening.

My life has changed so much since I started writing here. In late 1995, I was an English major who had been rejected from all the graduate schools I'd applied to the previous year, and was about to be roundly rejected from a large set of MFA programs as well. I had only the faintest glimmerings of hope that I might someday be a real writer, and I certainly didn't expect that I'd actually be able to make a living at it. I know that in large part, my persistence in pursuing that dream was supported by the encouragement of all of you, reading this journal.

My love life over the last decade has been so complex that I can't even attempt to summarize the changes in it here, but to the extent that I've felt free to talk about it in the journal without impinging on others' privacy, your support was very welcome.

In the last ten years, I've taken on more and more projects and responsibilities, to the point where this year, I completely broke down, unable to cope. Maybe the past decade was for learning how to take things on, to aspire and work hard towards a set of goals, and the next decade will be for learning how to let those goals go again, or at least learning how to balance them in a sane and healthy way. It's impossible for me to say right now. But I'm glad that some of you will be with me on the journey.

Thank you all for reading. And for those of you who have read the entire journal, whether you've been with me from the beginning, or are merely compulsive enough that, having found these pages, you went back to the beginning and read all the way through, I'd like to give you a more tangible gift.

To claim your gift, I'll need you to do two things for me. If you've read this entire journal, all ten years, please:

  • Post a note (you can do so anonymously, if you prefer) in the comments to this entry, telling me why you keep reading. There are times when I feel like I've gotten incredibly dull, times when I have no idea why anyone bothers to read these pages. It'd be nice to know some of your reasons for reading. What is here for you?

  • After posting, please e-mail me your address, and also please note if you already have a copy of Bodies in Motion (or any of my other books). I've asked my publisher if they can spare some books for me to give away -- if not, I may come up with something else to send you. I'd hate to duplicate something you already have.
And again, thank you. Thanks more than I can say. It's been a splendid ten years, and with luck, the next ten will be even better.

13 thoughts on “On December 22nd, 1995,…”

  1. Thanks for giving me a perfect opportunity to delurk after all these years. I keep coming back to your journal for three very straightforward reasons. First, you write very well. This was clear from the beginning, and you are always a pleasure to read. Second, based on what I learned since I started reading, I like you very much. You are smart, warm, funny, and wonderfully ambitious and energetic. I overlapped with you at U of C, and though I remember your name (who could forget a Mary-Anne Mohanraj?), I dont think we ever met, and its a shame we never did. Ive been curious to find out what happens to you, and am glad you have done so well. Third, from time to time, you post something that is both insightful and way out of left field. Your November 3rd, 2004 post on the dynamics of the two party system, for instance, is one of the most intelligent and evenhanded statements Ive read about American politics.

    In any case, Id like to thank you for giving me much pleasure over the last ten years, and hope you keep it up for at least another ten more.

  2. There’s a warm, candid quality to the writing in your journal that could only come from someone who’s comfortable with themselves and with the medium. I think that’s fairly rare in the journo/blogosphere. Another rarity: catharsis is usually a reason someone decides to keep a journal, but yours doesn’t come off as angsty or cynical or whiny.

    I like reading about the mundane details because they’re a good antidote when I feel like I’m living in a loud, angry world. (Not that you live a mundane life, I think you’re living the lives of 2 or 3 people, which, is inspiring and motivating.)

    So, that’s why I keep reading. Congratulations on 10 years! My God, did the Internet run on hamster wheels in 1995?

  3. I found your journal around the time you were accepting submissions for Blowfish.

    I had found a fellow writer of erotica and i was interested in seeing what made you tick. But what I discovered was someone who, yes, was a writer of erotica, but who was also a student, who was also seeking acceptance and recognition just like the rest of us, someone who indeed was like the rest of us, getting rejections, fretting over drafts and also juggling a love life.

    The more I read, the more I wanted to read. Then when I saw you referring back to prior events, like when you were working as a secretary and writing erotica on your work PC, I felt compelled to go back to the beginning and see just where it all started. I was amazed at all the changes, all the ups and the downs and even though at that point I knew where you would eventually end up, I still found myself wringing my hands, cheering you on, feeling sad or happy with you.

    It was especially exciting and interesting to watch you go through the process of obtaining an agent, submitting your dissertation and seeing it published with a major publisher. I also loved reading about the writing of The Arrangement as other writers’ process has always interested me.

    I guess I said all that to say, what’s kept me reading is the fact that you are someone whom I’ve come to idolize. I’m impressed with and inspired by your career and a great fan of your writing.

  4. Hi! I haven’t read here for the whole 10 years, but a good half of that. I became an editor at Clean Sheets– which turned out to be a great thing for me– and naturally looked at the websites of everyone involved. After you moved on from CS, I wanted to keep up with what you were doing. Your site is great with all the writing resources and discussions you make available. Above all, though, I would have to say the way you write is totally engaging. You’re so candid and somehow generous in sharing observations, insights, and doubts.

    Here’s to another 10 years!

  5. I confess that I do not recall when I started following your diary. Probably around 1998, when I met you for the first time at WorldCon in Baltimore. But maybe earlier, since I had often heard about you from a mutual friend.

  6. Dearest heart,

    I think that it is worth repeating the story of how I discovered your journal.
    When you were at Mills College, there was an undergraduate student named Sarah Irani. There was also a popular web site called Mirskys Worst of the Web. My son sent me a message suggesting that I check Sarahs site, which had been listed by Mirsky, not for poor quality, but for total weirdness.
    After looking at Sarahs site, which was called Sarahs Scumfuck Page and lived up to Mirskys assessment, I started poking around other undergraduate and graduate pages, and I found yours. Ive been reading ever since.

    Sarah Irani has gone on to be a rather interesting figure in visual arts. Her web site is currently at http://www.superclarknova.com.

    While I have not read your journal from the beginning, I did backtrack and read all of the entries before the first one that I saw. I keep reading for a number of reasons. Although you do not reveal as much about your love life as I might wish, what I have seen shows that we have a number of things in common. We are both somewhat polymorphous and polyamorous. We both seem to have a love life as opposed to a sex life.

    You write well in a world where very few people do. I have watched your growing career with admiration and a bit of envy. I write an occassional article for technical journals and for Mensa publications. I have written a modest amount of love poetry. I would like to find the time to write some serious fiction, but until recently, I have been too tied up with my career as a computer geek and student to get serious about this.

    We all have periods of breakdown just as we all have periods of dullness. I will continue to read because the dullness never lasts for long and your recovery from the breakdowns has always been uplifting. I will continue to read because I care about you. I will continue to read because every once in awhile I learn something new about writing or life.

    I have all of your books. The only gift that I would need is for you to continue writing this journal.

    With all of love,

    C. J. Czelling

  7. Well, I certainly haven’t read the whole thing nor have been reading for all 10 years. Only since the SH workshop you lead that I attended. Your journal is a fun place to keep up on you and your life and your ponderings are interseting and well thoughtout.

    Happiness to you for 10 years of fun.

  8. Well I seem to recall you sitting in a computer lab at the u. of c. working on your first website…

    I’ve been reading your journal since about the beginning because we’ve been friends for now nearly 15 years, having first met when I was a prospective student at the u. of c. and rather than hang out with my assigned host, found you and friends and we played the game of M**….

    In your journal, which some years I have read quite frequently but others less so, I have been able to keep up (just a bit) with what you are up to – perhaps strangely enough when you and I have been in the same city I have read it more frequently than when you left Chicago for other parts.. but now as I plan my own move out of Chicago I look forward to keeping up with you via your journal.

    I have greatly enjoyed seeing how you have changed – and how you have not – over the years, though the increasing number of things in my life which are hitting the 10+ year anniversaries is getting a bit old… (or is it that we all are?)

    Keep it up!

    Shannon

  9. Well, I started reading your journal shortly after we met. I’ve gone back through and read bits of your archive, but I don’t think I’ve read the whole thing.

    You inspired me to start my own train wreck of a journal.

    And I keep reading you because I miss you and when I read what you’re doing and thinking about, you don’t feel so far away.

    Hugs,
    C

    Oh, and I’ll settle for a copy of your curry buns recipe!

  10. Happy Tin/Aluminum anniversary!

    I’ve been reading since the beginning. Pursuit of a dream is one of the most compelling stories. It’s doubly enjoyable because you tell your story so well.

  11. I found your stories through one of the sex story sites. Yours and the sisters Ng were among the few that were interesting and readable. That led me to your journal and web site, and then to Tracy Lee’s site. It must have been while you were still in Philly, about when the first book came out. I recall reading your struggles over getting into graduate school at Mills and worrying over whether you and Kevin would be able to have a relationshipat a distance.

    I did not faithfully read the whole journal from then on. I skipped, at times weeks or months, but curiosity kept bringing me back. Finally I went back and read the whole thing from the beginning, mostly to see what I had missed in the skips. Since then I read it in order. I have thought about putting it into continuous sequence on my hard drive so that I could reread it easily.

    What keeps me going? Your life, as you present it, has a soap opera quality. The story jumps around a bit, but there is always the what next? quality to it. Of course, good writing has a lot to do with it. Who would read a journal that did not make sense?

    REH

  12. I’ve followed since somewhere near the beginning, although I think I was automatically searching subsets of Usenet for stuff you wrote circa 1993 or 1994. Not religiously, it’s tapered off of late, but I check back in fairly regularly.

    Why? Well, I like the way you write, and I like your sensibilities, and in aspects of your personal life I see you struggling with both issues that I’ve looked at, although I’ve resolved them differently, and aspects of a career and life direction choice that I’ve done a bit, but not completely, differently; in some ways reading your journal is a bit of a “road not taken” experience.

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