For all intents and purposes, I’ve been podcasting and youtubing since the internet was a glint in Al Gore’s eye, but, in reality, this is the first time I’ve actually submitted myself to the blogiverse. My blogging-without-actually-blogging career began in the early 90s when my 7-member family (two parents, three sisters, one brother, and one self) was divided by a 4-hour drive; my parents had attained work in far-away Keremeos, BC, and so my brother and I loyally tagged along to finish high school, while our already-graduated sisters remained fastened to our North Vancouver, BC, homeland. The resulting divide was not something we could yet traverse by internet, so we sent letters (in standard paper as well as optional audio tape).
Most of our correspondence was not of the usual general-narrative plus platitude format (“All is well here—love to the dog”); instead our letters tended to be filled with vignettes of events in our lives written in a narrative style that could have made them accessible to readers passing by. (“Like a blog!” he sneezes under his breath.)
My brother and I reported, for instance, many tales of our new school, which was unlike any I’d met before: most of the students were friendly even to those of us who ought to have been mocked for out-of-date-clothing, stretched-out physiques, and other suggestions I gave them. But, instead, I recall feeling like a guest: I was invited to join the volleyball team, to get dressed up for the Halloween dance, and to help lead the new video-production class, which, in turn, provoked a new medium of letter to be sent to North Vancouver.
Three years later, the exiled McDonoughs returned to the Lower Mainland for new work, and, in my case, university (of British Columbia). Although I was not a good student that first year, it was a fascinating world for an adopted-small-town-kid. When I learned the ways of email in Computer Science 100, I was immediately pleased to use the arena to tell stories of university to family and a few friends (now populated with my small-town comrades). This experience was so much fun that, when I discovered Math 100 was taught by a professor whose accent was too thick for my understanding, I skipped the class and returned to my work on email.
Whether my random typings were a blog before their time, I should not presume to say, but consider the opinion of my English 100 instructor. To test our ability to write in various contexts, she had us describe an invented crime in two styles, (A) as if we were writing to the police about it, and (B) as if we were telling a friend. Well, I knew how to write stories to friends, so I poured my description onto the page using my usual narrative style that treated my audience as though it was vaster than it really was. Upon inspection, however, the teacher pronounced that my work “wasn’t really much like how one would write a letter.”
“But it is how I write letters!” I pleaded (in my head).
It is only today that I realize that, perhaps, the teacher was right: I was writing something quite different from a letter (cough… a sort-of-blog, maybe?).
I spent Physics class, meanwhile, storyboarding my home video and audio projects, which featured the birth of “SethFM” (a taped show starring me babbling about whatever struck my sense of humour).
Yet all of this productivity stayed locked in the vicinity of friends and family (although, if you want to consider my limited observers a sort of “pod-ience,” I can’t stop you). Perhaps someone should have suggested that I pursue a degree in creative writing, or radio broadcasting, or homework-avoidance, but instead I settled into a philosophy major (since I had a knack for logic, which made the subject the only one in which I could achieve an “A” in spite of utilizing my study time for “non-assigned” projects).
By 1999 I had a degree in philosophy, which normally should send someone to law school as it did most of my compatriots, but I did not feel that this was the place for my writings: instead, I began work on a novel that I wasn’t quite sure how to write. In the meantime, SethFM, McDonough Home Video and various friends-only writing forums continued to do their work. The time spent on these not-quite-blogging efforts, as well as jobs to pay for my food and recording equipment, made the novel-writing a process slow. (In my defence, the book divided into two, which seems to have made it take longer to build.)
In the intervening time, I have spilled many thousands of “blog-style” words for a tiny audience. I believe that it is finally time that I blogged these thoughts out loud. SethBlogs, therefore, will be a multiple-timeline offering in which I will sometimes unleash my current thoughts, but I will also offer long-neglected commentary from the past.
I humbly request that you imagine that you are receiving these pieces in the times they were created.