A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 165

Kabocha squash and comrades.

Sunday, November 1

Aside from those of The New York Review of Books or the National Book Review, I rarely look at other folks’ blogs.

But today, not sure just why, I did. And I was surprised to find that some people stopped blogging altogether in April—just at the time that I was getting warmed up. Why?

Maybe they felt that the COVID-19 lockdown had robbed them of the experiences they needed to say something interesting. Many people report a sense that time has just stopped–or maybe that everything is just a blur now. Is today Tuesday? What did we have for dinner yesterday?

Or for some, it could be that increased family responsibilities—more cooking, more child care, etc.—meant they had less solitary time for writing.

I suppose some people found the interruption of life as they had known it left them too dispirited to do any scribbling. Between Trump’s dangerous ranting and off-the-wall behavior, the pandemic and attendant collapse of civilization across the globe, and the police killings that prompted the Black Lives Matter protests, it has seemed like the end of everything. (And suddenly, Tuesday is election day.)

My own blog began ten years back when my book publisher—Basic Books—hired a guy to walk me through the paces of social media. Posts on LinkedIn and Twitter, intended to spark interest in my book, required elaboration on a website dedicated to unadulterated self-promotion. My blog instructor said I must post something every day, even if that was just an interesting quote from somebody else. 

At first I did that—generally posting something about my book tour; about the book, reviews, and comments I was getting. Then after a few months, there was less and less to say. And the little that I did have to say could easily be managed within Twitter’s 140-character space (since expanded to 280).

A lot of individual blogs have expired quietly once their authors failed to find a mass audience or simply grew weary of the process. Mine seemed headed in that direction.

Then came COVID-19. As a sometime historian, I know that accounts of everyday lives during world historical moments can be of interest to later generations.

Moreover, I keep writing because I know a handful of people, most recruited by Emily, read this blog at least occasionally. 

And finally, it’s a bit like a diary: I’m writing for myself. To put my own thoughts in order, perhaps to give myself something to do. Admittedly, this blog doesn’t have the private, confessional nature of some diaries. I don’t commit things to prose that need to remain secret. Anthony Weiner I am not.

But I intend to keep writing—not posting everyday, but a few times a week. Election Day, and the inevitably rambunctious events accompanying it, should provide plenty of fodder.

Dinner: Lentil soup, Kabocha squash, and a green salad.

Entertainment: Back to episodes of Netflix’ Ozark and one aging episode of Vera on Britbox.