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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Oh, Felak, Where Art Thou??

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet

"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Oh, Felak, Where Art Thou??

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art not war
I haven't written in my journal for more than a month now, which is a personal record since I first got my LJ three years ago. This has been a conscious decision. However, I think that I owe an explanation to those whom I do count as friends, as well as new folks who have friended me on the basis of past entries and the expectation of ongoing interesting conversation.

I mentioned a while ago that I was "overhauling" my LiveJournal, and this is the start of it. I haven't been happy with my existence on LJ for about a year now. I've alternated with different ideas about how to fix what I saw wrong with my journal without ever coming to a solution that I liked. The problem is multi-fold. I don't expect everyone to care, so I'll put the rest under the cut for those who do.

When I created my journal, I intended it to be just that: a journal. A place for personal thoughts and memories, rants and rambles. I put my first stabs at Silmfic in it because I was too scared to put it anywhere more public than that. (Yes, I know that a journal is just as public as an archive, but it is still a space that I primarily control, and it felt safer then. I could delete all of the horrible comments I was so certain that I was going to get.) Then, about four months later, something happened: people started reading my journal, friending me, and commenting. I'll admit that it was heady. I'm a writer, and I like for my public stuff to be read. I liked even more the level of discussion on my stories and meta posts. But it was also still a journal.

Three purposes to this single space has proven problematic for me because, when I write these different posts, in my own mind there exists a proper way to respond and a way to respond that is out of line. Increasingly, I have had people approach my "journal" posts--those written for personal reasons and often half-baked--with the same spirited debate that they approach my stories and meta posts. For a while, I found myself growing increasingly resentful of this, and writing in my journal was less fun. Then I realized: It was my fault! I had allowed my journal to evolve in this way, and by encouraging debate on my stories and my meta and then expecting people to understand that a personal rant was more the product of a bad day and a case of PMS than anything my logical mind truly entertained and should be treated as the diary scrawl I'd intended it to be was unfair and unrealistic.

Yet I need all three spaces. I need my journal to record my personal thoughts and experiences. But I love the conversation that LJ allows in the comments on stories. Just as valuable as the insights and concrit you all have so graciously given me over the years has been the conversations that evolved that really had little or nothing to do with the story itself except in the tangential sense. And I really enjoy meta and discussion and debate. But having all in one place is no longer practical.

Secondly, I will admit that I am still disquieted by LJ's actions last year. Even as I feel too committed to this journal (and the friends I've made here) to pull up roots entirely, I'm no longer eager to bring new eyeballs to this site. Once upon a time, I encouraged friends--online and offline--to set up journals so that we could keep in touch. I think that at least ten people on my flist are here directly because of me. This was before LJ had ads, much less took on the role of decency police. I loved this site and wanted to bring others to it. Now, this is not the case. I am a paid member because I feel it is the lesser of two evils: I am giving money to the site, yes, but I'd rather do this than earn LJ money through the ads they can sell, thus increasing the weight behind corporate sponsors versus customers. I certainly don't want to bring eyeballs to the site that don't have accounts and are registering page clicks that LJ can use to sell more ads for more money. I really don't want to bring more unpaid accounts so that LJ gets these clicks on a regular basis.

So with all of this whirling in my head, I just haven't enjoyed LJ lately. So I thought I'd take some time off to see how it felt. There have been plenty of times where I've thought, "Oh! This would make a great LJ entry!" ... but I've resisted. I've missed my friends. I hope that none of you think you are to blame, so I thought it was time I explained myself to those used to multiple entries each week wondering why it suddenly dropped to nothing.

But perpetual silence is not the answer. I have been able to keep myself busy with Back to Middle-earth Month and SCA, but I am a writer. I cannot stay silent forever.

So, this is what I've decided to do.

I am going to keep this journal. However, it will revert back to being a journal, circa August 2005. ;) It will be mostly personal accounts and probably not all that interesting to a lot of people, unless you have a penchant for tales of midnight escapes involving large spiders in the bathroom and "fundies in their undies" and thousands of pictures of my dogs.

I will continue posting my original fiction here under friend-lock for those who are interested because I have no place else to put it.

I'm not sure about fanfic. I haven't put any fanfic up here in a while. Now, it goes first to SWG and then, if I have time, I put it here. This is not because I am not satisfied with the comments and conversation I get here. It remains the best out of any place I post my work. But if I expect SWG to be a fairly active community where one can be guaranteed to find a handful of new stories each week, then I must take the lead in putting my own work there. So this takes priority, right now. Additionally, all of my Silmarillion stories will be found ...

... on my website! I have been talking about starting a personal website for some time now. I even, once upon a time, started a stylesheet and some graphics. Well, I'm going through with it at last. I hope to start the stylesheet this week.

On my website I will have a blog. This is where all of my opinion pieces of Tolkien, writing, and fandom will go. I love this kind of writing, but it tends to be incendiary. I have no problem with that, but it does create a culture that treats debate as the norm, and this isn't the healthiest environment in which to maintain a personal journal. If there is interest, I can post a monthly recap (comments disabled) here with links to what I post to my blog. I will have RSS on the blog, and everyone will be able to comment.

(I even have a name picked out, but that is a secret except to Bobby! ;)

And I won't be bringing as many eyeballs to LiveJournal. These are the sorts of pieces that draw significant audiences, not my personal journal entries or even my stories (now that these stories are, by and large, available on SWG, where page clicks indicate that they are being read). When choosing whether to take my personal journal elsewhere or my meta posts, I will admit that this was a major motivating factor. LJ, our love affair is over. I don't think that there is anything this organization can do at this point to regain my former enthusiasm for their services. I'd love to be proven wrong in this, but I'm not holding my breath.

So these are my plans. Depending on how things go, they should be taking real shape in about a month. I need to rewrite my LJ userinfo, and then I'll start writing here again, as a personal journal.

I'm sorry if this is disappointing to some of you, but I've given this a lot of thought, and it's what I think I need to do.
  • You're alive! *glomps you* I friended your journal because of your personal entries rather than your fanfic or fandom-related thoughts (even if I did click to this LJ in the first place because of your username ;)), but I look forward to seeing this new blog as well!
    • *glomps back* I've missed you! It's been a while since we've talked. I've got a lot of catching up to do. :)

      I look forward to the new blog too. Mostly having it finished. ;)
  • *Tackles Dawn* Welcome back! I've really missed your LJing, not because I need my fanfac fix ;-) but because it's a great way to keep up with your life when I'm so far away. Like ^, that's really why I'm here so I'm glad you'll be keeping the personal journal aspect of it. :O)

    So, what program are you using for your new site? I highly recommend WordPress, both for blogging and as a regular CMS. If you go that route and need help designing for it (there's minimal PHP involved and some WP-specific jargon) just let me know. I develop sites for it all the time.

    Glad to have you back! *Hugs*
  • A lot of what you said makes sense. I'm sorry it came to that, but I can definitely understand your reasons.

    Can I ask you a favor, though? Can you at least try to mention here when you post something? Maybe just post a link to SWG? I don't read everything there, and I'd hate to miss your postings there, because I like your stories.
    • Thank you, Marta. :) Yes, I've decided to do a weekly (hopefully) round-up of my postings to other sites: SWG, my blog, and the eventual SCA journal that I'm setting up for a project I'm working on. In that way, it will be possible to keep up with everything in one place.
  • I am going to keep this journal. However, it will revert back to being a journal, circa August 2005. ;) It will be mostly personal accounts and probably not all that interesting to a lot of people, unless you have a penchant for tales of midnight escapes involving large spiders in the bathroom and "fundies in their undies" and thousands of pictures of my dogs.

    I will continue posting my original fiction here under friend-lock for those who are interested because I have no place else to put it.

    Heh. I hope you won't look askance if I chuckle knowingly and stroke my menopausal beard in a fit of geriatric wisdom. :^)

    That is exactly what I use the Bad Clam for...random personal and fannish stuff, the vast majority of which is f-locked. Granted, I stumbled into LJ thanks to you :^), but it has proved to be a refuge from the Refuge. I'm taking a "study break" from the latter (or at least posting rarefly) since any kind of science based entry there is kind of draining with little response plus my style just seems so incongruous amidst the raucous pant-hoots of you-know-who.

    Anyway, I empathize with your thoughts on this, and think this is an excellent idea to separate the journals and subjects. I can't imagine posting a lot of the stuff that's on my LJ on the Refuge although there is some cross-over on occasion.
    • Heh. I hope you won't look askance if I chuckle knowingly and stroke my menopausal beard in a fit of geriatric wisdom. :^)

      I had to bite my hand to keep from shouting with laughter ... :^P

      I can't imagine posting a lot of the stuff that's on my LJ on the Refuge although there is some cross-over on occasion.

      I'm sure that there will inevitably be crossover here too. I mean ... fannish stuff is part of my life. So writing about my life, fannish stuff is sure to come up. :)

      I have to admit that I was really surprised by the number of supportive comments I got here. It seems that other people recognize this dilemma too ... though it didn't take them three years to realize it. ;)
  • It will be mostly personal accounts and probably not all that interesting to a lot of people, unless you have a penchant for tales of midnight escapes involving large spiders in the bathroom and "fundies in their undies" and thousands of pictures of my dogs.

    As long as said spiders get names like "Turgon", we'll be fine. ;)

    And I think I told you in one of your last posts to quit slacking on the puppy picspam front. ;)
  • Interesting. I basically set up my LJ to read and comment on people's work, which in many cases on my f-list, comes out first on their LJ. I also get my own first and longest comments on my own work here.

    I am usually interested in other people's personal blogs directly in proportion to my interest in their work and our shared interest in literature in general. I enjoy reading about the personal lives of those whose work I like best (it actually makes sense, because we reflect ourself in our work, right?). It's fascinating to me that I occasionally post strictly personal stuff on my LJ only because I cannot strictly compartamentalize. I also occasionally post a draft/unfinished piece on my LJ when I am feeling nervous or insecure and want to get advance comments/help.

    It is interesting to me to read why other people write what they do in their LJs. I also have a few friends on my f-list who post little to none of their work on theirs, but I read their personal posts religously as well. I love to see people's dogs, kids, weekend/vacation trips, house redecorations and parties, and to know what is happening in their lives. I check the SWG every day, so it wouldn't matter to me you if note a new story of yours here as well or not. I would never miss one anyway.

    I don't have high expectations of LJ (either in the area of censorship or commerce--just hope they don't boot me off). I also have a paid account because I would rather pay than see more ads and I like having lots of user pics. Real weird nerdy side of me is I hate the aspect of designed LJ pages for myself (not very interested in the work that others do to make theirs pretty either). In fact, I prefer clean legible text over any design at all. (Oddly enough, I am very artistic and artsy-craftsy in other aspects of my life. I paint and draw, and my house, although messy, is heavily decorated/styled but my LJ is bare. I even nest and decorate in hotel rooms. If I stay a weekend or more, it starts to look like home. But for me it's just about words here and those silly user pics, which I do adore.)
    • *ohmygoldens* so many interesting comments on LJ culture here! I'm not even going to try to resist. ;)

      I also get my own first and longest comments on my own work here.

      Me too. I think that LJ creates the impression of holding a conversation with the author versus just leaving a comment. Also, I like that it is my space and subject to my rules ... not HASA's space, or SWG's space or whatnot and subject to those sites' rules. So I think that makes it more personalized too.

      I've often wished that the comments on SWG were more like a forum than the traditional reviews. Unfortunately, I don't know enough PHP to change this aspect of the site. :) But I would, if I could.

      It is interesting to me to read why other people write what they do in their LJs.

      Me too! For example, I think it's interesting to consider whether people view their LJs as for their own personal use or as a way to communicate publicly with other people.

      I mean, when I see LiveJournal, my immediate thought is that it's a version of a diary that can be shared or hidden depending on my inclination. Then, on the LJ homepage, it says, "Start a free blog today," and a blog, to me, is very different from a journal.

      I think this has been part of my problem too. There are so many different uses for LJ that people aren't sure how it's appropriate to react. If I let you read my diary, I think that the understanding is that this is a privilege and that snarking about my private thoughts isn't exactly appropriate or polite. But in blog culture, everyone has a comment, and everything is open to criticism and debate. So the mingling of journal and blog, imho, makes little sense and makes it hard to know how to react at times.

      So we end up with me feeling resentful like, "I am letting you read my private thoughts, and you dare to snark at me!" and readers are thinking, "It's a blog, and you've opened yourself to comment and criticism!" Or when people write about issues they legitimately want to discuss and get a bunch of *hugs* because they're readers think they just need to vent. It gets complicated.

      Real weird nerdy side of me is I hate the aspect of designed LJ pages for myself (not very interested in the work that others do to make theirs pretty either).

      This is interesting because, while I don't use the standard layout, then my layout is also not of my design, and it hasn't changed much in the almost three years since I first chose it. I always tell myself that I should learn LJ layouts; since I can handcode HTML and CSS in my sleep, then I can't imagine it would be hard. But I've not been able to find the interest ... and I have zero interest now that my commitment to LJ as a company/entity is diminishing a bit.

      I do agree totally with you on favoring clarity over prettiness. Now that I've done three web layouts and have started calling myself a web designer ;) then I will admit that one of my major gripes with certain sites--and LJ layouts--is that the visual wow factor trumps any logical form of organization/navigation or clarity. Like I had one LJ friend (not really around anymore) who had a gorgeous header graphic ... but it was fixed and took up half the screen, and her journal--which is what I was interested in--got only a little sliver under this elaborate graphic that became distracting after a while and required constant scrolling to read ... I'd much prefer the plain, "ugly" layout, thanks. :)

      I won't even get started on restaurant websites that require fancy software installed to view their site, so I choose to go somewhere else because I don't have the latest version of Flash installed and can't even read their menu. ;)
  • I feel the same discomfort with lj. The problem is that I stil haven't quite figured out a way to - comfortably - friends-lock my WordPress equivalent.

    However, lately I've been pondering to revamp my fanfic website and turn it into a WordPress blog and only post links to the lj ...

    All of this is hugely bothersome and uncomfortable. I guess I'm getting old, that changes like that annoy me so much. It's an opportunity I should be grateful for. And all I can think of is how many friends I may lose on the way.

    *shakes fist at lj*
  • Well, my lj was primarily supposed to be my private fanfic archive, sort of, but things went totally wrong. When I was fed up with drama, I deleted my main lj and ran to hide in the 'library'. That's why I have such an idiotic username ;)

    The big problem I have with lj is lj being lj. Nuff said.

    The side problem with lj is that I don't have enough time to post and I prefer to read my flist to posting. Besides, I'm not a talkative person and the need to write here gets thinner and thinner. Sometimes I wonder why I keep a paid account, heh.

    Anyway, good luck with the changes. I check SWG daily so I won't, probably, miss any new stories, and I'll keep on reading my flist :) and poke about your website when it comes out.


    • *hugs back* Thanks, Binka. :) I'm sorry to hear about the drama on your LJ. I know how taxing that can be.

      The thing is that this was meant to be a place of escape for me. It's a journal. When I would write something about my life and hesitate to put it up because of the reaction it might cause, then I knew that I needed to change things a bit.

      I'm kind of the opposite of you. I got LJ to write and only months into it discovered the notion of "friends" and reading the journals of others. It's so interesting to me to see how different people use their LJs in different ways. Guess it's the social scientist in me. :)
  • I am going to keep this journal. However, it will revert back to being a journal, circa August 2005. ;)

    Hah, that's something I still remember when I kept track of personal Dawn who also gave me weekly AMC fix ^-^

    I am excited to hear this, rss feeds that's just right up me alley ;) But I shall be shaking pom poms along the way. If you need help, holler dearest! I know Wordpress has been mentioned, but it isn't always perfect (it frustrates me more than I'd like to admit), but on the other hand, knowing your skillz, you'll build something awesome. *nods*

    Edited at 2008-03-11 11:03 am (UTC)
    • Thank you, Rhapsy! Your comment made me grin like a fiend! I might just be hollering ... I plan to start the CSS layout today as Hubby is off clubbing other people in armor with sticks and it's just me and the Goldens. ;)
  • Hooray, you're there! I had begun to wonder what had happened to you, especially since you'd gone so silent all of a sudden, which just wasn't like you. I was kind of afraid that something had happened to you, but I figured that your sister would have noted it if it had. But I still wondered.

    So I'm glad to see you're back, even in a limited capacity. Trust me, I don't mind. I started reading for AMC, yes, but I kept reading because I like you, and I care about your life. Drop a note and let us know when the new website goes up, because I'd love to see that.
    • Thank you for ... well, all of the above! :) I will be doing a weekly roundup here of posts that I make in other places, since it seems I'll be branching out a bit more, so you'll definitely know when the site is ready.

      And I apologize for worrying you. It wasn't too much of an issue for others, who have been in touch through email and on other lists, but since you don't email, that made things more difficult for keeping in touch with you. I'm sorry for that. :(
  • *nods* OK, so everything you post (whether part of your life, or part of fandom stuff) will be available on LJ, either already here at d_f or on an RSS feed, where we can still comment at your new website.

    And it is, after all, your journal, so you should do whatever you wish with it, whatever feels right. :)
    • Thanks, Allie! :) Yes, I've decided too to do weekly roundups of posts that I make in other places, since it seems that I will be putting stuff on SWG, on my blog/site, and on Greatest Journal that people here might be interested in. So the good ol' dawn_felagund journal will still be in use for that and my actual journal entries.
  • It's good to hear from you again. I've felt increasingly anxious about emailing because of the radio silence here (I tend to interprete that as 'something bad has happened in RL, leave me alone') - but the explanation here makes a whole lot of sense. Fandom (whether it's mindless squeeing or serious discussion) should be an escape, and if people start treating your RL the same way... well, that probably isn't very productive or encouraging. So your decision is understandable if nothing else, and I for one will keep reading here - and I'm looking forward to the website. And though you probably will not need it, I'm still up for helping with graphics re: the website/blog.


    Edited at 2008-03-11 04:16 pm (UTC)
    • I don't know if I am more excited about the fact that I just got offered graphics help from someone as awesome with graphics as you or about the fact that someone as awesome with graphics as you thinks I don't need any help! ;)

      I might ask. I'm still hopeless in PhotoShop; anything graphics-wise on the SWG site that looks impressive was probably made by Tarion or Rhapsody. ;) It's probably illustrative of how I approach art projects that the one major graphic I contributed for B2MeM I spent two days hand-painting ... and then gave to Rhapsy to change the color in PS!

      Thank you for your understanding too ... and please don't ever be afraid to email. I know that it's the common understanding that online friends are "just" online friends and play second fiddle to those in "RL" but, know what? You guys are just as real to me as any of my RL friends, so please don't worry about "bothering" me. :)

      Actually, I owe you two emails! I'll be working on my website today (*squee!*) so I might write those when I need a break from tinkering with CSS. ;)

      *hugs back*
  • I was starting to wonder what had happened to you - I mean, when I don't post anything for a month, that's normal, but I figured you must have fallen into Middle-earth sometime in the First Age at the very least!
    • Nah, unfortunately nothing so exciting. ;) Mostly just a lot of work BS and fandom stuff and other geeky pursuits of mine!

      I can wish though! ;)
  • Oh, I've missed your journal ramblings!!! I know how you feel, though, about separating your different writing needs. I've done the same thing, but stuck with doing it in LJ, creating a new one for my thoughts/rantings/picspams on football, as well as keeping my main one for "life" stuff, and I have a website (thanks to Aranel Took) for fanfic, but it has been sadly abandoned for the time being.

    But since you are the one (or was it Arandil?) who got me to start an LJ, I have missed being able to look for your Real Life posts lately. I am glad that you will be starting these again and look forward to reading about your life and commenting on it. I miss Bobby, your boss, Kathy and your in-laws, as well as your friends. (And that big-ass spider that lives on the outside of your house.)

    Welcome back!!!
    • Thank you, Jenni! *hugs*

      I think it was Arandil. ;) I think that I met you through LJ when you started commenting on AMC. But wow ... that was almost three years ago! I could be wrong on that. So much has happened since then ...

      I am really looking forward to getting back to writing about life too. I was at the point where I couldn't post here without sitting on it for a week to make sure it really said what I wanted and wouldn't cause too much drama that I didn't have time to handle. Then I realized that this wasn't very productive and I was missing out on documenting my life! Someday, I might want to read about Kathy and big-ass spiders!

      (Meanwhile, it is warming up here, so I expect I'll have some new spider-friends within the next couple of months. ;)
  • I missed you! And I'm glad to hear of you and to learn that your absence was just due to chronic life and heavy thoughts, not anything truly bad.
    I admit that all the changes will doubtlessly confuse me for a while, but I'm sure I'll get used to it. Welcome back!
    • Thank you! :) I expect--and hope!--it won't be too confusing. I will post a weekly roundup here of posts that I make elsewhere so that people that friended my LJ to follow my stories and meta posts can continue to do without too much inconvenience.

      So how are you? I have so much catching up to do!
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