Setting up a blog
by Jeff Oaks
In the course of setting up this website, I went back and tried to find other work of mine that is online, that I might link to, and I discovered quite a bit. I was especially glad to read a week’s worth of guest blogs I wrote for the Best American Poetry site in December of 2010. I think they still hold up, which is a great thing to see. I remember the pressure I felt to be good, to be literary in the best sense of that word, and to be humane. Stacey Harwood and David Lehman couldn’t have been nicer, and in no way did they put pressure on me, but I felt I ought to, considering the company of great poets and poetry that that site is in the service of, rise to the occasion.
I don’t necessarily feel that here, in my own blog, where no one is likely to read what I write. Here I’m just one small fish in an enormous ocean of text, links, and media. On the BAP site, I was still a small fish, but I felt I was being watched. I would be held to be accountable for any bad writing.
Holding myself accountable to myself is hard for me. I’ve come to understand over the years of dogged practice that I write better when I feel accountable to someone else, an editor, a judge. I push myself harder if I know another set of eyes will see what I write. It helps to have an audience.
Audience, accountability: maybe I can work on those two words for a while.
It’s probably not unrelated to why I have a dog, why I feel I need to have a dog.