My Blogging Life
Hey, out there,
I’ve published two books since I first wrote a letter of introduction to my newly-hatched website. For me, this is a starting out-point caused mostly by the passage of time and the possibility of my sudden or protracted death. Now, I’m halfway through a new book I’m calling The Death of Santini in which I tell of my father’s miraculous turn-around after he retired from the Marine Corps. He loathed my depiction of him in The Great Santini, and he set out to prove me wrong by turning himself into something that was recognizably human. It’s the great surprise of my life that I ended up loving him so much. My brothers and sister, Kathy, are unloading their stories about Mom and Dad to me, and we all suffered in the house of Santini. My siblings do not all share my exalted affection for our mother, and I have not been shy about sharing their dissent. This causes me pain, but I’ve been writing about these two mismatched people for my whole life, so I need to get to some kind of conclusion about them, one that feels like the truth at last.
My sister, Carol Ann, remains a stranger to my life. I only see her at weddings and funerals – all of which she turns into personal nightmares for me– as you will one day read about. My sisters-in-law are so hysterical at the thought of reading about themselves and their poor, traumatized husbands that they have been treating me with far more kindness and respect than they could ever muster in the past. I tell them that they have nothing to worry about, but they know that I’ve lied before. (That’s a joke, girls.)
In the late nineties I was diagnosed with an incurable neurological disorder known as “writer’s cramp.” Though I laughed out loud when the doctor gave me this diagnosis, the humor of it faded in short order. It’s the same disease that Henry James developed, and it sent him to a recording device to speak his novels into a machine and have them transcribed. In my opinion this did not help the later novels much, and I can’t pick up The Golden Bowl or The Princess Cassmissa without choking on the runaway elaborations of his spoken novelistic voice.
So I did not buy a tape recorder or invest in a computer that operates by voice recognition as the supremely gifted writer Richard Powers did. Instead, I did wrist exercises and managed to write on my “good days,” read on the bad ones. The main thing that changed was that I rarely wrote in my journals at all. I could not afford to sacrifice my writing life to the luxury of journal keeping when there were more novels to write. I checked out the “blog” world, blog being the ugliest word to emerge out of the “wired” universe so far. But I thought I’ve got this website that I barely use, and it’s being watched over by a baleful webmaster, Mihai (Michael) Radulescu, who hails from Romania where Vlad the Impaler and Count Dracula once left their marks. I’ll make an effort to keep this journal until I decide to abandon it and return happily to my unjournaled life.
Great Love, Pat Conroy