So very late at night on Valentines Day, this happened at work:
I don't work in this building, so except for the extra hours my office put in to relocate all the classes held there to other buildings on campus, the fire didn't really affect me.
Except it did.
I feel like someone played a cruel joke on me, that as soon as I write a post smugly congratulating myself on my happy little comfort zone with my well-watered plant and my clean rug, the building I look at every day from my office window goes up in a fiery inferno of hellfire and destruction.
Further compounding my anxiety, it felt so trite to be celebrating my 200th post on my little blog when a fire had just destroyed years of people's artwork. The sixth floor of that building was all senior thesis artists' studios. They lost everything they'd built, painted, drawn and sculpted in their years at the institute.
The incident put me in this head-space where I looked over the five years I've spent in New York, and the 200 posts the precede this one, and no longer felt good about what I've achieved creatively.
In 2008, a few months before I left Honolulu, my computer's operating system crashed (first version of Windows fuckin Vista, it had to be rebooted more times than Wonder Woman's origin story). Because I'm a fool who didn't have external backups, I lost everything. All of my writing from high school and college, gone. Sure, a lot of it it probably wasn't great--over a hundred pages of a fantasy novel no one would ever read, over a hundred pages of a Garcia Marquez knock-off I never want to see again, lots of false starts and pretentious bullshit. But it was all very honest and raw, and a lot of it was downright bold, in the way that only new writers who don't know enough to doubt their own work can create. Not to mention all of my academic work from college, which was the only record of my time there because I always sold my textbooks and threw away my written notes at the end of each semester.
One hour with "Ira" on tech support, trying to get my computer to start so I could play Solitaire while I watched "The Daily Show," and it was all gone. He told me the only way the computer would start was if we re-installed the entire operating system, which would overwrite all the data I had in the hard drive. I did it, I had to, because otherwise my computer was just an very expensive coaster for my teacup.
I was devastated.
After it happened, I went to taiko practice and tried to pretend everything was normal, but the other musicians could see my head wasn't in the game. I lay in the parking lot outside of the practice hall, on the north slope of Diamondhead, and cried for over an hour with another person in my class, a woman I barely knew who was also a writer and refused to leave my side until I had enough strength to get up and walk home to Waikiki.
It didn't end up being as bad as I thought. My old computer, which I'd sent back to the Big Island, hadn't been wiped clean yet and I managed to get back everything except what I'd written a year after I graduated college. The vast majority of my writing survived intact, but there was a while where I was certain it was gone for good. Now I have two external backups, one in a box at home and one that rides around with me in my purse wherever I go. Lessons were learned that day.
However, if the fail-safes all fail and that happened again, if I were to lose everything I'd written on this blog--I don't know how, say the Internet explodes or something--I don't think I'd feel like I did then. This has been my main creative project for four years, and I don't care enough about it to be devastated if it was lost. It wouldn't be the Valentines Day Fire for me; it would be more on par with the Great Christmas Bra Burning.
I'm not saying that I'm breaking up with my blog, I'm still going to be here every Wednesday and Sunday, and Saturdays on my book review blog. I'm still going to be here for the same reason that Neil Gaiman keeps a blog and a tumblr even though he's an enormously successful and busy professional writer: it's fun and I get to meet new people.
Just last Tuesday, my radio show's Facebook received a message from the artist who draws my current favorite webcomic. The artist tracked me down through my book review about Will Eisner's "Into the Heart of the Storm." She wanted my input on a her webcomic, just some fact-checking and little history, and she reached out to me based on nothing but this once-a-week book blog that I didn't think anyone but me and my mom paid attention to. This artist lives thousands of miles away from me--farther away than Hawaii, even--and we've never met each other. But through the powers of the Internet and this small project I do to keep my writing skills sharp, an artist I really admire found me and said, "Hey, what's up, got a second?"
This interaction is what brought me back to my blog today. I don't know if many people read this artist's little side project done in her spare time between work and other creative projects, but I read it and it certainly makes an impact on me. And something about my blog, which even fewer people read (when I look at my page views I think about Dean in "The Venture Bros": "Our readership numbers well into the teens!"), moved her enough to track me down.
I had to come back here. Because there's a stranger out there who reads what I write and is wondering where I went. Again, incredible.
Not that I don't appreciate all the people I know who read my blog. It's just a very different feeling to know that a stranger, who has no obligation to pretend to like my writing, reads it, too.
So I guess that's my 200th post. I got bummed out about a fire, loved my blog a little less, then decided it didn't matter and I should keep at it anyway because someone in New Zealand likes it.
Man--I really need to start working on some other creative projects.