I just spent a long weekend out of town and away from a keyboard. One of my tasks was to look through the 500 or so columns I have written for the Connecticut Law Tribune in the past decade with an eye toward selecting 100 or so to propose to a publisher a volume of collected essays. The experience was so unnerving, it made me reluctant to resume blogging.
In August 2000, I got a call from an editor of the Connecticut Law Tribune. Did I want to write a column on the law for the paper? It sounded fun, so I called the publisher, Vince Valvo. The deal was struck, and I became a weekly columnist. I've missed hardly a week, save for a period of several months in the summer of 2008, when I thought I'd throw in the towel.
The column has won me friends and made fresh enemies for me. On the enemies side, for a time, the Judicial Branch of the State of Connecticut. That august body cancelled its subscription to the paper early in my career in response to columns written by another columnist, and, I hope, me. Subscriptions have since resumed, and I count a number of judges as regular readers: I know this because when I quit writing I had several calls and private notes from judges urging me to resume writing. If folks were really reading, I decided to keep writing.
Among the friends: Mike Cernovich, over at Crime and Federalism. He's the fellow that got me into blogging, an enterprise about which I am still ambivalent, even after five years of intermittent scribble.
Perhaps the most damning sort of flattery to come my way as a result of the column was a muswical piece written by Dan Klau, a lawyer and musician. Sung to the tune of the old television show "Green Acres," his song celebrates the fact that I live to speak my mind. My columns, he noted, are rarely kind, and I know no shame. I once attended an awards dinner where the song was sung. It was odd, to say the least. The song actually appears on a CD that is for sale, somewhere.
But looking back on the columns made me cringe. It is so much easier to be a critic than a builder of something of enduring value. In the course of ten years, I cast enough stones to fill a coliseum. Rarely did I give thanks or express gratitude. Reviewing the decade was not, I repeat, a source of contentment. It made me realize that the note of discord is sometimes too shrill. My ears were ringing after the review.
I draw no larger lesson from this. I simply report it and recognize the need for new notes. And I wonder whether I am capable of learning to sing in a different key.