Monday, January 23, 2012

Up to 150

Well, at least the first hundred were fast. This post counts as no. 150 for Creating Van Gogh, a project started back in 2009 and still continuing despite some rather obvious fallow periods. I can't say that when I started Creating Van Gogh, with the specific intention to write about issues I was encountering as I worked through my Van Gogh novel Days on Fire, that I expected it would last into 2012. But I didn't expect it wouldn't either. I was simply ready to get going and see what happened. As I mention above, that first 100--fueled by a fall sabbatical and by constantly encountering new concerns about, and new challenges in, my manuscript--were written in only nine months or so. It's taken me a year and a half to add another fifty posts and reach the "sesquicentennial" mark. Clearly I slowed in my postings after the summer of 2010, but I've also broadened the scope of the blog. Hopefully to good effect. After all, if the purpose of this blog is only to write about the composition of one novel, then after the novel is done there's no point in still going on with it. But that's not the only purpose, and I think there's a good deal to be gained by going on. If nothing else, I've made new friends and colleagues through this blog, one being writer Cathy Day, who is not only writing historical fiction but attempting to remake how creative writing is taught in the academy, a subject of great concern to me too, as you can probably tell by my constant references to the university where I teach. Another such colleague is Erika Dreifus, internet wunderkind, who has not only produced a terrific collection of short historical fiction, Quiet Americans, but who maintains several great web resources for writers, including her blog, Practicing Writing. Creating Van Gogh has also allowed me to raise and explore questions related to historical fiction generally, not just my Van Gogh novel; to discuss various issues going on in the academy and the culture; to recommend books I've enjoyed; to report on conferences like AWP; to tell you about my latest fictional projects; to let off steam (for instance about the debacle of defunding the National Writing Project and other important literacy programs); and even to think through conumdrums like literary agents, as I did in my last post. I've tried not to stray too far the subject of historical fiction, and I've strenuously kept this blog from being about "what I ate for lunch," but I do recognize that to give Creating Van Gogh new life and to keep it going, I can and should comment on several different writing and fictional concerns. Because historical fiction is fiction, first and foremost, and it has a lot more in common with creative writing generally than with history writing. At least that's what I think, and that's what I'm going to keep saying, as long as Creating Van Gogh is around.

Here's hoping for a 150 more posts in the coming years. And let's hope too that they are a fruitful 150. Thanks to everyone who reads.


  1. Congratulations! I look forward to many more!

  2. Happy blog-anniversary, John! Thanks for the shout-out.