Saturday, December 04, 2021

'A Parallel to Some Misadventure of To-day'

A young woman has written to say she is thinking about starting a book blog, a charmingly old-fashioned endeavor. The Golden Age of Blogging ended in February 2006, a few days after I launched Anecdotal Evidence. I admire her spunk. There’s a heroic quality to dedicating time and energy to a pursuit of interest to a few hundred misfits. What they lack in numbers they make up in eccentricity.

When contemplating this blog, I wrote to six established practitioners, asking for practical advice. I had no marketable digital skills, and still don’t. All assured me your average lunatic could maintain a blog. Two of the people I consulted are still in the business.

I answered the would-be blogger, emphasizing the importance of discipline and time. If she works hard and lives long enough, she will become a better writer and, incidentally, a better reader. She already seems unusually well-read for someone still in her twenties. I stressed attentiveness – to books and to life. It’s a two-way street, as the motto above suggests: “A blog about the intersection of books and life.” I found affirmation of this truth recently while reading portions of Charles Whibley’s Literary Portraits (1920). In his chapter on Montaigne, Whibley writes:

“When Montaigne was at home he betook himself somewhat the oftener to his library. Thence he could survey at a glance his whole household—his garden, his base-court, and his yard. There he could read or write as his fancy led him; or, better still, he could dream undisturbed. Now, he would take a book from its shelf, and find in the wisdom of the ancients a parallel to some misadventure of to-day. Now, from the wealth of his own experience he would illustrate the discoveries of Seneca or Plutarch.”


Tim Guirl said...

If memory serves, I began following your blog about 2008 ( you were living in Washington State then). A few hundred readers is not bad, considering your subject matter. I'd be interested in knowing how you decide what to write about each day. Obviously, writer's block is not a problem.

Richard Zuelch said...

Well, you piqued my curiosity about Charles Whibley, and discovered that a local library has a copy of his "Literary Portraits," which I have now (temporarily) liberated from the building. I'm looking forward to reading it, having never heard of him until you mentioned him - a main reason I read your column every day. New discoveries!