Beginning a blog, something I’ve intended to do for years, now feels like arriving late at a party. Everyone’s already engaged in fascinating conversations, working the room, and I’m hovering by the cheese dip, clutching my plastic wine glass with both hands, wondering whether to stay or to bolt. Everyone seems to have fancier party clothes — custom-designed templates, frilly CSS, lush backgrounds dripping with multimedia accessories, while I’m wearing stuff from TJ Maxx — the sale rack at TJ Maxx.

Entering the blogosphere in late 2010 can also feel daunting simply because all the best blog names are already taken. I had about ten excellent titles in mind, but when I saw the table with the good name tags here, they were gone.

But there, in the corner of the table — there’s an untaken title. Writing the Distance. As someone who loves to travel and to write about travel, it feels appropriate. I also try to “go the distance” in my writing, to cross the finish lines I envision for myself and accomplish my writing goals. My biggest finish line lately, a bright yellow line not too far off in the distance, is the publication of my novel, a life dream of mine. I hope you’ll come along for the ride on my journey to publication in 2012. But I have smaller finish lines I race toward as well, every day. Some days it’s completing a chapter on my new novel. Or a scene. A paragraph. A page. Or it’s submitting an essay to a magazine and getting shorter material in circulation again. The point is, I decided a while ago to be a writer who gets things done, rather than just talking about writing or lamenting my limited time. It’s a choice I have to make daily, as so many other things clamor for attention. I hope this blog will attract other writers — and artists in other media — so that we can share tips and motivate each other along the way.

On this blog, I’ll be writing about books that have inspired me or that have fueled my creative process. I’ll also be interviewing and profiling writers and artists in different media, as I believe writers can learn a great deal from people who aren’t primarily wordsmiths. There will be a bit of travel writing; stay tuned for dispatches from Norway in Summer 2011. And there will be some blogging about taiko drumming, a newfound passion of mine. (Don’t know what taiko is? Come back. I’ll explain it). Now and then I’ll throw out some writing prompts or some questions, and I hope readers will feel comfortable sharing their responses and coming into a conversation. (OK, I used to teach, and I guess the urge to motivate class participation never really goes away!)

I’ve added links here to pages and blogs that I find useful and/or inspiring. I’ll be adding more to these lists and updating them as I go, though will try to keep them to a manageable size. I don’t know about you, but I tend to feel overwhelmed by long lists of links — and by the amount of information on some web sites in general — and I hope to minimize the need to scroll endlessly up and down. (Besides, that endless scrolling, and diving into other websites, ultimately takes us away from our own work, right?)

So thanks for keeping me company over here at the cheese dip. I think we can move on to crackers and crudites and make our way into this party. And your name is . . . ?