Conventional wisdom has it that if we cling to the hobbies we had in our youth, we’ll be more fulfilled as we get older. That’s why I started the horror blog, “Just Dread-Full” (www.justdreadfull.wordpress.com). When I was younger, I reveled in ghost stories with good friends and binged on horror movies over the weekend. When I re-discovered this passion, I combined it with my interest in writing and decided to blog about all things mild to moderately terrifying. My blog is young and slowly growing, but I very much enjoy running it by reading and writing about horror.
However, I realized a couple of things as I started writing more, and thus, thinking about writing. First, I have things to say that defy the scope of a horror blog. I’m not a published author, except on the web, and I see the blogosphere as the best outlet, right now, for me to share my writing. While I love reading creepy stories by Stephen King and Charles Beaumont and raving about them (or mildly critiquing them) on “Just Dread-Full,” I’m interested in writing, as a craft. But that’s not all. I’m interested in teaching (which I do on a daily basis), I’m interested in the more general world of literature and movies, I’m interested in mental illness, I’m interested in feminism, and, I’m interested in our society’s perspective on eating and weight gain. My mind started conjuring essay ideas that didn’t fit into the scope of horror, that I still wanted to share with an audience. So, I started considering the creation of a more general blog.
Also, I realized that, despite teaching literature to college freshmen, I’d lost my personal relationship with literature. I’ve developed that realization in another essay that I intend to post in the future, but suffice it to say, literature used to be this eclectic, wild, comforting refuge for me, a realm of infinite possibility and promise when everything else seemed dull. Somehow, though I added to my literary education a couple years ago with a Master’s degree (and hope to obtain a PhD), I’ve started to lose that near-ethereal relationship to literature. This is not the fault of the program; the relationship was already diminishing, and if anything, getting a Master’s at least helped me maintain some attachment to the world of words and ideas. But now I need to stop seeing literature as a discipline, appreciating its broadness, and re-integrating it into my life at a deeper, more intense level.
Which leads me to the name of this blog. My boyfriend, Michael, has a close friend Jeff who challenged himself to read 1,000 books in a decade, or 100 books a year. I reason that this is about a book every 3-4 days, which is an intense outside reading schedule for a college professor, even a part-time college professor (which I am). But I modified the parameters of the challenge to suit my schedule: I will read 1000 “works” in a decade. The word “works” includes short stories, and excerpts. For example, in the winter term Western Classics class I taught, students read an excerpt of The Iliad from the Norton Anthology. I will count that excerpt as a work. Of course, I will try to read frequent novels, but when I read a horror short story for “Just Dread-full” or an excerpt of a classic for a class I’m teaching, I can include the work on my list.
This blog, then, ultimately chronicles my reading experience as I seek to sift through at least 1,000 works in a decade. But, as indicated above, I intend to let my thoughts meander to other realms and issues about which I’m passionate. I started reading this 1000 in a decade in Early-December, so I probably won’t be discussing books I’ve already read, but I intend to discuss future literature excursions. I will discuss body image, examine what it’s like to gain weight, what it’s like to love food, what it’s like to live with a mental illness, and so forth. Because it’s less specialist, this blog will be more a reflection of myself. I am excited to share my exploration of literature and my spurious thoughts with the diverse and supportive blogging community. I think, as human beings, we all have a need to express ourselves and be heard. My best means of expression have always happened via the written word, and I hope that my experiences and ideas can benefit those who read them.