November 13, 2023 @ 9:40 am | Filed under:

A tower of small stones at the side of a dry, rocky creekbed, with a small brown footbridge in the distance.

Well. It’s been a minute. After such a long silence, I can’t imagine anyone is still checking for new posts here. And yet I’m writing!

If you’re on my newsletter mailing list or my Patreon, you know this bit of news already—I’ve started a Substack and will be posting there twice a week. Lots of reasons for this shift, as explained in my entry post. I’ve put the Patreon on a long-term hiatus and am giving myself a year for the Substack experiment.

But that doesn’t mean I’m abandoning this dear old corner of the internet. Quite the opposite. One of the reasons I moved to Substack is that it allows subscribers to get new posts via email. (Or on the website, or in the app.) But of course I don’t want to spam everyone’s email with daily posts. And since writing begets writing (a truism I experienced in full force during my years of daily blogging), I’m boiling with quick, raw tidbits of thought. Like in the old days! Too raw to plop into people’s inboxes.

(Take that extremely clumsy metaphor, for example. If I’m boiling, how are the thoughts raw? At first I wrote “unpolished.” Maybe the better metaphor is a rock tumbler. You collect the rough stones and dump them into the tumbler with a bit of grit. Hmm, I like that. Let me think about it.)

I did a few days of Summer Brennan’s Essay Camp and loved her take on a daily practice of writing a “Five Things” post:

Just quiet your mind for a moment and then write the first true thing that comes to you. Something you’ve been thinking about. Something you noticed or saw. There is no need for explanation or preamble—just dive right in. There are no wrong or stupid choices.

I’ve been doing a version of this for basically my entire adult life, in fits and starts, in notebooks and—for a good fourteen-year stretch—on this blog. (Or one of my side blogs. Remember when we all had side blogs? I had a bread blog, a daily-homeschooling-notes blog, a private blog. So many blogs!)

The “five” is an arbitrary number. In my notebooks it has most often been three. Three things that caught my attention today—images, ideas, remarks. The funny kid quips that used to fill these virtual pages. The reading notes that moved from Bonny Glen to my Kindle, almost without my noticing.

We’ve seen other iterations of the Five Things concept over the years—Jen Fulwiler’s “Seven Quick Takes” idea, or what was that other format? It went something like: I’m reading, I’m seeing, I’m thinking about…I loved reading those. Trying to recall the name of the blogger who began them. It started with a P, I think. But wasn’t Pioneer. Poppins? Penny?

ANYWHO. Five is a good number. I’m liking how the rock-tumbler image fits it: imagine picking up five pebbles a day to toss into the tumbler. Five rough, unpolished stones. Just about the limit of what I can hold in one hand.

I’ll play with that for a while and see if it feels like the right practice. It’s all a big experiment. All I want to do in this space right now is collect pebbles.

Like this one!—outside the window of my studio space in the new house (it’s a truly scrumptious space; I’m still pinching myself to see if it’s a dream) there is a giant Norway maple. It’s in our neighbor’s yard but half its branches overhang ours. I love this tree, even though this species is considered invasive here in the PNW. (I am constantly having to wrench tiny, adorable maple seedlings from the cracks in our walkways.) I loved it all summer when it was an amiable green presence against the morning sky. And I love it even more now, with its leaves gone golden and half of them falling. Every morning: more gaps of light. Behind this tree is the eastern sky. I get part of the sunrise off to its left—enough sunrise to make me gasp some mornings—but I’ve known that I’ll get the whole pink sky behind the dark branches this winter. And now it’s coming. In the blue dark before first light, pinpricks of morning shine through the leaves. More than pinpricks now—stars. I’ve never before welcomed an oncoming winter like this. But no rush—these golden curtains framing the glow—for now it’s perfect.

There. One pebble for today.

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8 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Erin says:

    HI Melissa

    Like you an old time blogger still hanging around. I received your post btw in feedly.
    I’ve no idea even what substack is, I did pop over for a read, loved that post too, still uncertain why it can’t be here, what the difference is? I’m a classifier, so trying to put ‘right things where’ I get.

    Anyhow I hear you, I really would like to get back into regular writing on the blog, though juggling other online balls, but this line really resonated and inspired me “writing begets writing”

    Looking forward to reading you once again 🙂

    • Melissa Wiley says:

      Erin! I remember your blog from the good old days!

      It’s a really fair question—why there instead of here. The main reason, or what I thought was the main reason and then I immediately gainsaid it the next day, is because I have been in a mighty muddle these past few years over what to post where, and Substack is an easy way to combine blogging with email newsletter-ing with Patreon-ing, all in one place. My Patreon has been a small but reliable source of income these past six years and it helps cover the costs of maintaining this website. With this Substack move, I’ve put Patreon on a long-term hiatus and we’ll see if things balance out.

      After Google killed off the get-my-posts-in-your-inbox branch of Feedburner several years ago, I tried several replacement options but they were all frustrating. And not many readers seem to use RSS aggregators anymore (although like you, I do still use Feedly myself). So then you’re stuck with posting links on social to let readers know you have a new post. I found I wasn’t able to keep up with the admin chores.

      So between those two issues—no email option for new Bonny Glen posts, and the indecision over what to post where—I decided (after dragging my feet for a really long time) that Substack was the best choice.

      HOWEVER. I should have anticipated that the moment I was back in a good blogging groove, I’d have more to say than the twice-weekly rhythm I had planned for that site. So popping in here to dash off a less polished post feels right. The “pebbles” I’ve decided to collect here (however often I feel like it, and not at all, if I don’t) will help me build the short essays I mean to write over there. If that makes sense. Meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying Substack as a reader for a long time, and now I’m enjoying the ways it makes connecting with new readers for my own work easy and fun.

      But I really, really, really value and appreciate my ‘old’ readers! We’ve been together such a long time now! I was so uplifted to see familiar names in the comments today. Thanks for still being here!

      (Postscript to add that the technical hiccups here at WordPress have become more irksome of late. This site really needs a tuneup, but that’s not in the budget right now. I just got an error message while trying to post a comment on my own site. Argh. Hopefully it’ll go through this time.)

      (Second postscript: Nope. Trying again from a different browser. Fingers crossed.)

  2. Elli says:

    Hullo hullo my dear! Lovely to have postings here, Lissa. Yes, the substack arrived nicely too. I still blog! (New addy, points to link-in-name). Always with the new address, for me, tho’ the format mainly remains the same … Still love blogs. I understand why the writers with large followings go the fee-based route (never had that base, myself!), and I’ve got a handful of good folk who offer free versions of their substacks, bless them, as free is all I can afford!

    The new house and yarden sound wonderful. How good it must feel to be able to dig in properly, minus a landlord. Love the plans for the native plantings.

    • Melissa Wiley says:

      Elli!!! I think of you often. I hear you on the impossibility of doing paid subs to all the great writers on Substack. I appreciate that so many writers are posting high-quality free content there. I intend to do the same.

      I think of it all as a grand experiment. I’ve tried this, I’ve tried that, now I’m trying this other thing. 🙂

      I’m excited to take a ramble through your new digs. You always offer such riches.

  3. Melanie Bettinelli says:

    Oh lovely! I was checking on my Goodreads and this popped up there. I am not quite sure how Goodreads connects with blogs, but it was a lovely little bit of serendipity.

    I am very much enjoying your pebble for today. And I adore Norway maples. There are several in our neighborhood– along with red maples, silver maples, sugar maples and Japanese maples and at least one species of maple I’ve not yet been able to positively ID.

    I should go look up your substack. I have been poking about over there a bit, though I still find it a bit of a confusing landscape. (Lunarscape? Marsscape? Something foreign and not quite comprehensible to my brain.)

    • Melissa Wiley says:

      Hi, Melanie!! It always warms my heart when I post here and old bloggity friends pop right in. Amazing the connections we’ve made through our blogs.

      I forgot that I (long ago) linked my RSS feed to Goodreads. New posts are fed there automatically. I haven’t logged in over there in, gosh, almost a year I think. I should take a peek because sometimes I get comments directly on that site.

      I’ve been enjoying Substack as a reader for a few years now—especially A. R. Moxon’s “The Reframe,” specifically his incredible unpackings of LOST episodes. I thought I was the world’s biggest LOST devotee (I’ve watched the whole run at least seven times now) but Moxon may have me beat.

  4. Selvi says:

    Pip? Lincolne?