Writing that last post, marking the 10-year anniversary of this blog, I worked in the old motto. It's the only link in that post [or was, until I added a link to this post], and it goes to a normblog profile of me from November 2004, where the first question is "Why do you blog?" and my answer was what was already my motto: "To live freely in writing." Scrolling down over there, I also see: "What is your favourite proverb? > I'm from the 60s, so: 'Do your own thing.'" My own thing is to live freely in writing.
But I started looking for other occurrences of "to live freely in writing." For a long time — I can't remember when or how long — I kept the motto in the blog banner under my name. That was before that space became the place to stow links to other important stuff, not that anything's more important to me.
Anyway, here's what I found in my search for other occurrences of the motto (which I've boldfaced):
1. November 3, 2004, signing off a guest-blogger stint at Instapundit:
I hope some of you will follow me over to my usual place. I started my blog back in January of this year.... When I started my blog I didn't have a particular topic in mind. I just wanted to express myself. I wanted to live freely in writing. My earliest posts are about high and low culture and life in Madison, Wisconsin. My first post about the presidential campaign was a very silly little thing about Wesley Clark's body fat, not really even political at all. But as the weeks wore on, I got drawn into the fray, and I found my ways to talk about politics, a subject I've normally been content to leave to others. Using my blog to talk about politics, I was able also to see how not talking about politics had been, for me, a way to get along in the hothouse environment that is Madison, Wisconsin. Even though I didn't mean to use my blog to talk about politics, I end this political season exposed on line as a person with political positions that do not fit in my real world environment....2. June 2006: "Why a Narrowly Defined Legal Scholarship Blog is Not What I Want: An Argument in Pseudo-Blog Form."
I love the simple, time-stamped structure of the blog, with each new item posted at the top. How seductive! How like life itself. In life, you can’t skip backwards and forwards in time. You can only live in the present. A blog is like living — living in writing. What fun!3. Audible Althouse #25, a podcast, no longer available (or available somewhere that I'm not seeing), from December 2005. But the description can be seen here:
So I will indulge this now-overwhelming preference of mine to live freely in writing. (My blog readers know that’s my motto, my reason for blogging.)......
I liked getting that encouragement, and I’m not really saying every lawprof blogger should want the twenty/eighty mix that I’ve fallen into as I’ve gone along my way living freely in writing, responding to whatever whispers “bloggable” to me. I’m only selling the beautiful power of the blog and saying — give yourself a chance to write whatever it is you would write if you didn’t make a plan and didn’t stultify yourself with aims and limitations.
Does the theme song still fit if I only podcast once a week? Do I deserve a "best law blog" award? Should Congress impose cameras on the Supreme Court? Can the Court write crisper opinions? Can bloggers write crisper posts? Should virgins wear rings that tell the world they are virgins? Did the girl who thought my brother's friend was Bruce Springsteen have a more intense experience than I had sitting two feet away from John Lennon and Yoko Ono? What can we know about ourselves from the things we keep secret and the thing we fail to do? And what do I mean when I say to live freely in writing? 45 minutes.4. A post from July 2008, quoting Jim Lindgren, who said: "I share Ann's affection for bloggers who are trying to observe and understand what they are writing about..." (in contrast to "always writing op-eds with a thesis they are trying to prove"). But, he concluded: "Unfortunately, I find that many blog readers prefer strongly thesis-driven posts, which they can either echo or attack point by point." I said:
Many... perhaps. But the best blog readers — and radio listeners — are the ones who want to experience thinking in real time.I see Meade — whom I had not yet met in person — in the comments, responding to my "the best blog readers..." and saying, "On behalf of most of your readers... why thank you!" Later, I tell one commenter that I love him, but it's not Meade, my future husband. It's Bissage — who disappeared in late 2009 ("counting oranges" refers to this). He said:
Jim seems to be complimenting and critiquing me simultaneously. But I detect some wistfulness, some request for permission to cast aside those strongly thesis-driven posts — to live freely in writing.
I’m not a good enough thinker or writer to explain my affection for Althouse and so many of her commenters.I said:
So what I just typed out will have to suffice.
But for sure I can say this much: the “thinking in real time” aspect is just part of it.
Thank you for everything.
Good reading also involves choosing what to read. And when you read on line, you're navigating in a sea of choices. All I'm saying is that those who come to Althouse are doing an excellent job.5. A February 2007 post titled "Another lefty into the vortex," reacts to some blogger who said he writes because he has "a burning passion to say something to the world" and — as I put it — "can only imagine that I must be an idiot to write and let politics be one of my subjects if I don't burn with a political mission." I linked back to the old normblog profile: "Why do you blog? > To live freely in writing" — and added: "Words to perplex a vortex victim."
And I love you too, Bissage.
6. A post from September 2012 embellishes the motto: "Live freely in writing... or die."
7. A post from October 2008: "One more round of the old question: Why aren't there more female lawprof bloggers?" (Note that what I was calling an "old question" 6 years ago is something I was calling a really old question 2 days ago here.) In the 2008 post, I was reacting to a female lawprof blogger who was pressuring lawprof bloggers to do more to boost female bloggers:
[Mary] Dudziak tells bloggers that they ought to read, blogroll, and link to women bloggers more. You know, it's not that easy to link to blogs. Links need to be worth following, and you won't be a successful linker if you disappoint your readers by sending them to posts that aren't interesting enough. I don't want to link to something that is going to make readers think I'm trying to help women (especially if it looks like I'm trying to help those most privileged of women, women law professors). I'm not blogging to benefit other bloggers. I'm blogging to benefit readers.Now, that post, written about 3 months before I first met Meade (and 10 months before I married him), has some great material about not marrying:
AND: Glenn Reynolds links to this post and seems to disagree with my line "I'm not blogging to benefit other bloggers. I'm blogging to benefit readers."
Hmm. I'm more with SayUncle: "I do this to amuse me, not you."Well, I agree with that too. I'm definitely in it for the personal satisfaction, and perhaps I flatter myself to think that by doing what pleases me, I will benefit you. But I do think that. I do think that blogging is about living freely in writing, in real time, in front of the world.
Glenn has a theory:
In that spirit, here's my own hypothesis: Men are genetically programmed to try to stand out through action, in the hopes of attracting women. It's true, of course that blogging is a relatively ineffective way of doing that — but so are many other ways this urge manifests itself, like extreme Star Trek fandom. The point is the genetically programmed urge, which isn't programmed into women in the same manner. Is this true? Beats me, but it's amusing.This theory suggests that it's much harder for women to achieve great things. We don't have the ulterior motive. We're only doing something because we think it's worth doing for its own sake. But, then again, it may be a different kind of advantage, to have no ulterior motives.
I think it is much harder for women to say to the men and children in their house that this is time I demand for myself and then to sit there staring at a screen and clicking on a keyboard. It looks so cold, this melding of human being and machine.Meade does not appear in the comments there. He was already working on a plan, as revealed here, 3 months earlier, quoting something I'd said in a vlog ("...I've often thought I should just charitably marry someone... I'd just marry them to be nice..."):
I think wives get annoyed at husbands who spend too much time staring at the computer. But men who want to do it claim that time for themselves. Women, I think, worry more about looking so self-involved and unconnected to the real, fleshly human beings in the house. They are more vulnerable to guilt and guilt-tripping that they are not loving enough.
I'm no expert on marriage, though I was married long ago, but I can imagine what a husband would say if he was witnessing my writing habits. I picture him telling me it's absurd to live like this. It's unhealthy. It's insane.
Wait. That's why I'm not married. Let me try again.
I picture a wonderfully delightful man who is always luring me away from the keyboard with sex, food, tickets to movies and music shows, travel plans, and ... whatever... long walks in the damned rain. Without Bad Husband or Good Husband in the house telling me/showing me what I should be doing with my time, it's easier for me to choose to do something I want and love to do.
Gee, I'm single now, happily single, and thought I'd just remain that way.Later, he says:
But considering all the benefits, I guess I'd really be a fool not to take a close look if Althouse were to, just out of niceness, propose to pity-marry me.
What could I offer in return? Let's see - I could prune those redbuds, take out the garbage, trap squirrels.
I could fetch her newspaper, scrape snow and ice off her car, shovel the front walk. Draw her bath. Pick her up at the airport. Rinse and dry her wine glasses. Form a circle-of -safety to protect her from Hillary Clinton-type madwomen who randomly come up to innocent people on urban sidewalks and punch them in the back. I make excellent salads, grill superb steaks and vegetables. Play a piano sonata. Pick up dry cleaning. Wait patiently while she shops for shoes.So he'd already begun the itemization of things he could do: prune those redbuds, take out the garbage, trap squirrels. I was adopting his format when I listed: "sex, food, tickets to movies and music shows, travel plans, and ... whatever... long walks in the damned rain." Unbeknownst to me, we were coming to terms on a deal. (Men are genetically programmed to try to stand out through action....)
And, in the end, Good Husband was able to lure me away from the keyboard and let me continue the daily mad freedom of living in writing.