School's Out

I am thirty months into writing Urban Wildland and, in 150 posts, have amassed close to 200,000 words. I have achieved my goal of demonstrating to myself that I could write a NYT op-ed column length piece, with a highly restricted focus, once or twice a week. In the event, as you may have already calculated, I have averaged five posts a month.

At this point, the most obvious pay-off to this effort has been a greater confidence in my ability to write engagingly. I have tried to write crisply, entertainingly and informatively. My readership has been miniscule, yet I have occasionally received encouragement and compliments on my work. On balance, however, I cannot reasonably claim to have an audience.

Along with my modest goal of exercising my writing muscle, which I have hitherto only flexed as a student, the writing of this blog has been a performative act. By writing it, I have made it so - I have constructed an Urban Wildland out of my musings related to the history, pre-history, geology, and botanical and zoological characteristics of the area. I have parsed Ojai. I have had fun.

So, while Blogging may be 'just saying' this case, saying is doing, or, as Judith Butler puts it, a performative utterance harnesses “…that reiterative power of discourse to produce the phenomena that it regulates and constrains.” If only I'd known two and a half years ago that I was set on a course to create the reality of Urban Wildland, from the base material of my words, one doggedly selected to follow another until, in some alchemical, linguistic act of genesis, UW staggered into being.

So there was something going on at the kitchen island, as I hunched over my 8 year-old Mac iBook G4 (which only occasionally exhibits Kernel Panic): an act of creation that had everything to do with the outdoors but was actually manifested indoors, on a grimy keyboard. Like some wayward graduate of Hogwarts, I have stumbled into the business of brand magick - Urban Wildland exists: now what?

First, a hiatus: an opportunity to consider what I have wrought. As always, I welcome your comments, see 'About the Author' at the top of page for contact information. At the appropriate moment, I will return.