This is the beginning of what will hopefully be many posts as I prepare to reapply to graduate PhD programs in English Literature this fall. I will post content and study resources for the GRE Lit exam, reviews of books published in the 21st century, and other essays and thoughts concerning topics related to the novel and literature in a burgeoning digital age.
But for these first two weeks my goal is simply to acclimate to the medium, this novel telegraphy. Telegraphy (from Greek: tele τηλε “far”, and graphein γραφειν “writing”) is the long-distance transmission of messages without the physical exchange of an object bearing the message.
Being my first piece of online writing I find it difficult to find an appropriate voice. Just as there is no physical exchange of an object bearing this message, I cannot see the physical end of the distance it will travel. I do not have a tangible audience. This is not a journal entry, written solely for myself; it lives in the public domain. But the impetus for its creation was completely self-serving, and my words are not intended for anyone at all.
So I will need to imagine an intelligent critical audience to write for, one that will hold my writing and ideas to a standard higher than I would require of myself for a mere journal entry. In the new telegraphy of digital media, the readers are paramount. A weblog has no cover to close, to hide its words, yet nor are its words written in the ink from a pen, which, once formed, cannot be altered without evidence. On paper, the pen is what keeps me from altering the history of my own words, and online, it is my audience who becomes the enforcer of verity.
For this project to succeed in its fullest, I must be both voice and critic. I must write with intention, then turn and hold myself to my position, at least until an audience materializes.
Update: See Kevin Hartnett at The Millions for an interesting personal essay about his switch from computer-processed writing to handwriting. He touches on some similar issues and others that this process has made me more aware of.