I don’t have time to answer all of the questions at once, so rather than hold off until they are all completed, I’d thought I’d throw out the answers as they came along. The first question I choose to answer came from Boot, and concerned the site Scrine. I hope my answer isn’t too long-winded and off-topic.
Boot: How did Scrine first come about?
Keith: I suppose it would be easy to simply throw out the date that Scrine began, along with a small handful of the easiest explanations for its existence, and call it good, but I’m going to try and dig a little deeper into the reasons behind the site and see what I can come up with. This question, while appearing to be both obvious and simple, intrigues me because it is one that I haven’t given much thought to over the past couple of years. How did Scrine come about, and maybe just as importantly, why did Scrine come about? I’m not promising I have any answers to any of this, but maybe poking around will turn something up.
“It all began one cold March morning in ‘61, when a young, pregnant mother, under the disapproving eyes of the attending nuns, checked herself into the Crow Wing County Catholic Hospital to give birth.”
I’m kidding, I’m kidding. We don’t need to go back quite that far to get to the heart of Scrine. Let’s begin again, shall we?
Scrine first appeared as part of this site, Wordshadows, which had been in existence for a little over a year at that time and was itself the result of a series of interesting events. Exploring those events briefly will, I believe, help a little in better understanding the beginnings of Scrine.
While I have dreamed of being a writer for nearly as far back as I can remember, my writing voice had for various reasons—family, work, starting and running a company, etc.—been silent for more than a decade prior to starting Wordshadows, but then in 2002 a reconnection was made with several old friends I had known in both high school and college. The friendships that had been silent for even longer than my own writing voice took up almost exactly where they had left off, almost as if nothing had happened during the previous ten to twelve years. An email exchange began, and the four of us started the long, difficult process of sorting through the world’s problems with varying degrees of seriousness and comedy. Discussions ranged from government to religion, perception and truth, faith and honesty. We laughed at each other’s thinning or graying hair, made heroic references to shared memories more than twenty years old, and created new myths along the way for our continued enjoyment. The story of Thor in Arkansas, for example, which I’ve shared bits of here at Wordshadows, was one of those new myths born in the exchange of emails, and was the retelling of an old college story about the time one of the friends crashed “our” car in the parking lot of the mall and was forced to hand over the grant money he’d just received.
I only mention the above because it was because of these friends and this renewed exchange of ideas that prompted me to explore the idea of starting my own weblog. I had had an idea for a book one night that grabbed my attention and held onto it for several days on end. It was all I could think about, and I spent day and night thinking of nothing else, taking notes, and attempting to plot out this incredibly large story that was forming in my head. But the story, I soon realized, was larger than me and went well beyond the scope of my own knowledge, and so I had the idea that it should be co-written by me and the three friends, and that between us, all of the necessary information needed to create this new world I was imagining would be available. The problem then became a logistics problem of how to share and develop this information, and the answer I came up with was a group weblog. I signed up for a Typepad account, started the group blog, which never went anywhere as soon as I realized that I would need to know a bit about web pages and how they worked. So this group blog, named The Glass Shadows after the working title of the book, sat there doing nothing while I began to tinker with web design in a site I named…. you guessed it, Word Shadows. One of the things I also soon saw was that I would need better software than Typepad’s to be able to create the kind of site I had envisioned, which then led to me using ExpressionEngine, which indirectly led me to learning more and more about the software until I was at the point of being comfortable with the idea of designing and operating a group blog.
There were other events taking place at that same time that no doubt helped pave the way to Scrine, the biggest of those being the falling apart of my marriage of many years. Having moved out of my house, I was suddenly isolated from nearly everything and everyone in a small, one-bedroom apartment that I shared with my son on a half-time basis. My only connections to the world became my work, which I performed with less and less enthusiasm as I began to fall into depression, the emails with my friends, which ironically began to lessen as I fooled around with the Wordshadows site, and the time I spent with my son. I am by nature somewhat of a solitary man, so while removing myself from the world was not too difficult of an ordeal, it was not without its consequences.
So what about the original question? What about the beginning of Scrine?
I suppose Scrine is no different than anything else created or invented in this world, in that it came into existence not as the result of any single idea, but rather a combination of many different ideas, coincidences, happenstance encounters, exposure to new web software, my own insatiable curiosity, as well as the overall situation of my own life at the time. More than anything else, I would probably say that Scrine was the result of me trying to invent a distraction for myself to keep my mind off of the chaos that my daily life had become at that time, and is still, believe it or not, trying to recover from.
The email exchanges with friends were becoming fewer and far between as I slipped further and further into the close comfort of my own relatively solitary existence, and by the time Wordshadows was a year old, the emails had stopped almost entirely. For a time I continued to write and produce, but I was beginning to feel that, too, slowly slipping away. I was becoming less creative and having a harder time thinking. Holding my thoughts together for any length of time was difficult, and I struggled with not only entries and stories, but paragraphs. But I could still write a sentence at a time, and I suppose I still sought some sort of connection to the world, and so when the idea of a group site that allowed only one sentence at a time came to me, I must have thought that it was a good idea. Not only that, I remember thinking that if I could get such a site up and running, get it firmly established with an active membership, some of the burden would somehow be lifted from me. Once established, the site would basically run on its own, and could exist without me, if need be. The idea, it seemed to me, was a sound one, and so I began to hunt for names. What to call such a site seemed to me as important as the site itself. Something creative and unique was required, I told myself. Something that would both make sense but be somewhat absurd at the same time. It was a question that would be answered like so many of life’s questions, by turning to the trusted and well-worn dictionary, and it wasn’t long before I stumbled upon the word “scrine” and knew immediately what to do. The domain was bought, the site set up, and we were in business.
The funny part about this long and winding tale is that the beginning of Scrine, while presented here in the overly long, backstory version, actually took place in a much faster fashion. The idea for Scrine is first mentioned in Wordshadows on March 27, 2005, and since I probably know how I was functioning in those days better than most, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that the actual idea for Scrine was thought of either early that morning or at the very earliest, the morning before, although this is doubtful. I remember these ideas coming together very quickly, as well as me anxious to see it put together, which I must have done since the site went live only three days later.
Although I could continue and tell the story of Scrine, that rusty metal bird that we all know and love, I think I have already said enough for one question and will hold that story until another time.