Joyce Hinnefeld

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Learning to Love the Virus

I seem to have lost my first attempt at a blog entry, drafted earlier in the summer. It’s probably just as well. I used the title I’m using here, “Learning to Love the Virus,” enjoying my clever riff on Dr. Strangelove as I recalled a remark by my publicist at Unbridled Books, who said the goal, in promoting In Hovering Flight¸ was to “go viral.” It’s still hard for me to envision the viral spreading of anything as a good thing. And I’m a reluctant, even nervous, beginner in the world of blogging and electronic social networking. I don’t remember that much about my first attempt at this blog entry, but I know I made sarcastic remarks about signing up for MySpace—jokes about beer bongs and a touched-up photo that wouldn’t reveal my age.

It’s kind of instinctive for me, this tendency to mock the electronic revolution—“friend” as a verb, the sharing of way too much personal information, the rapid movement of my college students’ thumbs across cell phone key pads below their desks. And that, as I recall, is what I did in that first attempt at blogging: I mocked the very act of doing it.

Which is what people do, or at least what I do, when I’m afraid. And the truth is this terrifies me: the potential vastness of it, the anonymity of it. That’s kind of surprising, considering that I’m about to publish a novel, and of course I hope that novel’s readership will be vast. I also know that if that readership is as large as I’m hoping, most of those readers won’t know me, and I won’t know them. But it’s different somehow. The compulsion to write fiction feels deeply rooted in me by now; there are stories that appear in my head, and I need to write them down. I’m much less driven to explore my life, my ideas—the sorts of things that, as I understand it, are to fill this blog of mine.

When I write fiction, I don’t really envision an audience; the story just needs to be told, and told in a particular way that I stumble toward pretty blindly. But as I sit down at my computer to write this—my first blog entry, my account of my efforts to believe in the value of “going viral”—a large, faintly differentiated group of readers bobs up behind the screen: younger than I am, hipper than I am (modeled, no doubt, on the handful of people I know—mostly former or current students of mine—who read blogs).

Anyway, whoever you are out there, younger or hipper than I am, older or (unlikely) not as hip, mothers like I am or daughters like I am, sons and fathers: as you read this, please be patient while I find my way toward a real voice. One that, I hope, doesn’t resort to sarcasm out of deep insecurity about joining this brave new electronic world, one that reaches, instead, for clarity and openness.

1 comment:

Bill Trüb said...

As a first attempt, this blog entry provides some fascinating insight into your writing and creative processes, but also it allows us to hear your personal voice, as opposed to those of your characters. I'm curious and intrigued to see how this blog develops, and to read In Hovering Flight. I must object to one point, though--you are hipper than you may ever realize! I know this first-hand.