Writers who can introduce themselves and explain what they’re doing without sounding pretentious are more skilled than I am. I mean “writers” here in the sense that textbook writers mean writers, as in anyone who writes, not writers. This is probably not writing. I do not agonize and toil over prose, writing and rewriting, working and reworking. I do not have an MFA. I am no writer.
Which is why I’m here. I’m trained as a historian but feel increasingly as though I am no scholar. I’ve spent seventeen years playing music but can affirm that I am no musician. I enjoy nature and spend a lot of my time these days learning to see it and trying to understand it, but I am no naturalist. I fish, but it is painfully evident that I am no fisherman. I am interested in everything, master of nothing.
I’ve written blogs before. They are all gone. Some day this will be gone, too. For a while I thought it was because I didn’t follow the advice of blogging professionals. Blogs should be focused, they all agree: limited, targeted, and well-promoted. But this exists right now because I am master of nothing.
Think about metadata. Things are messy. We can try to sort them into neat little piles ahead of time—focused, limited, targeted piles of like things—but this is harder than it seems. What if we get halfway through sorting things only to realize that we were asking the wrong questions of them from the beginning? What if our categories are wrong? This is what writing should reveal: the things we thought we knew about ourselves, about the world, were wrong. Or incomplete. Metadata is like a wand we can wave over the messiness of things. I could limit myself to writing about history, or music, or nature, or fishing, but that would mean that I’ve settled on a pile. I am not settled. Metadata, then, is like a magic wand I can wave over messiness. Give me all of the things about history. Call all of the things about fishing things about nature, too. Metadata is baked into blogging, because blogs are meant to be as messy as I am.