One day before turning forty, aided by a person who needs no introduction or advertising, I started a blog. Without going into the details, I did it because I needed to satisfy a long-deferred need for expression, I wanted to tell those things that I would like to be told and that have no place in the conventional media. The greatest value of her help—and for this you will always have my gratitude, my dear Yoani—was to make me realize that I could write, and that I wanted to do it, in the same way that my old man taught me to swim in the cold pool where I was born: by giving me a good push. Now, several months and thirty posts later, I’m surprised by the invitation to an event and the request for a text on my difficult experience as a blogging Islander.
What would it be worth reporting on at this time. At least this:
Thanks to technology, digital information is much easier to reproduce than printing. I can’t imagine how our grandparents managed in the era when the most common way to copy a file was to make a photocopy of the page of a samizdat. Thanks to the Internet, the wall of isolation becomes more permeable. In just three years, I was able to access an enormous volume of information through sites, forums and electronic books. At that time, which today seems so long ago, blogs didn’t have their current role, forums were the places par excellence for exchange. Under this influence, the world for me reached a dimension that went beyond the 12 printed pages of the national media.
When I think of that, I believe that the accumulation of new knowledge, in conjunction with the maturity that comes with age, facilitated this change in my concept of the world and helped me decide to write. But it’s not enough for me to have something to say and the desire to say it, if I don’t have a few ideas about how to say it. A blog is a spontaneous medium—and even superficial, if you like—marked by brevity and immediacy, but that doesn’t mean neglect and improvisation. Out of respect for the visitor, to our language and to myself, I have outlined an aesthetic and formal level where I try to maintain my work. The reader will have the last word.
Keeping a blog can be exhausting. Both for the body and the mind. Traveling to places where I can access the Internet, sitting down to write after a day of work, putting off sleep for another hour, and so tired by having to organize ideas and references, dusting off the disused intellectual tools, and critically evaluating the completed material.
Keeping a blog can be frustrating, especially with so many problems in accessing the Internet. Difficulties are compounded when you live in the provinces. Time is scarce and expensive. You have to resend posts and emails that are interrupted when the line goes down. You can’t go back and fix the minor errors that escaped your notice. You can’t read or respond to comments. There is little chance of establishing relationships with other bloggers. You can’t respond to offers to exchange links. You are almost completely unable to upload images. This entire string of impediments leads to a minimalist style that is too sober and visually boring. It requires great skill for the narrator to write texts that appeal to readers, skill I do not possess.
For these and other reasons, more than once I have considered surrendering in the face of adversity, discouraged by the rare visits and the meager comments, oppressed by this new form of non-communication that reminds me of messages in a bottle sent by the shipwrecked, I have thought of abandoning the blog like a ship taking on water. To paraphrase Ponte, I wondered what makes people continue with their blogs. Why do this? For fame? Money? To accumulate links? For recognition now or in the future, if everything stays the same, or if it changes? Then I go back to basics, the need to say the things I’d like to say. Deep breath. Turn off the monitor. Check on the child. Arrange the mosquito net. Have a cup of coffee in the kitchen. Smoke the last cigarette in the box. Again, a deep breath, turn on the monitor, and keep typing.