So, a year ago yesterday, I grumbled something like “What the Hell” and dragged out my debit card to sign up for the WordPress service. A year ago today I hit the “publish” button for the first time. I wasn’t at all sure what I had in mind or even if I would keep it up, but like I said at the time, “What the Hell!”
Being as it’s my bloggoversary, I suppose this is a good day to let my rambling mind able freely about the experience.
This has been something of a guilty pleasure for me, because I can always think of a hundred things I should be doing instead of writing something for this blog, but I wanted some place to spill the thoughts out of my skull and make them someone else’s problem.
See how I love my readers!
That is how it usually works by the way. I wake up in the morning after thinking about something for a few days and I have the general outlines of the essay in mind, maybe even a few specific sentences I want to write. When the specific wording for a full paragraph comes to mind I go nuts until I can type it out. I think it’s been that way since college, though I haven’t actually written essays like this since sometime around graduate school. My brain just works that way. I feel like I have sorted something out if I can express it in the form of an essay or a short speech. But for sometime before the blog I hadn’t been expressing a lot of my thoughts in any tangible format, and I decided I wanted a place to do that.
This is how I answered those all-important blogger questions what do you want to say and who do you want to reach? For me the answer really is whatever is on my mind and to whomever is odd enough to want to suffer through it. In the beginning, I sort of thought the blog would evolve to a more specific purpose. I thought that might be something quasi-journalistic about Alaska (you can see that approach in one or two REALLY DULL posts at the beginning), or maybe I thought I would just focus on the film reviews and celebrations of movie-villainy. (Come to think of it; I really need to celebrate another great villain soon.) In the end, I didn’t do either.
I remember thinking about the writing style a bit. Did I want to use foul language a little, a lot, or not at all? Did I want to eliminate contractions and/or slang? Did I want to include scholarly citations? A lot was settled less by conscious choice than by what seemed best on the page. I soon found the contractions rolled off my keyboard quite easily and more than once the more lengthy version a word of ruined the text. So, I went with the contractions. The question of foul language was soon settled with my first post about Mitt Romney. I didn’t just use foul language in that piece, I swore at a portion of my readership. And thus was my c lost! As to citations, I list my sources, but I don’t dig through my books to add more, nor do I consult MLA, Chicago, or APA styles. As much as possible, I prefer to supply a link. The bottom line is that I settled into an informal style
I have to admit that it took me awhile to get the technical stuff down. My tremendous knowledge of computers gives me three strategies for dealing with technical issues.
1) I occasionally sacrifice something of value to the demons in the screen. If they are happy they will keep my Dell running. If they are not, then I will suffer great hardship.
2) I keep something expendable near the computer.
3) If all else fails I shout at the top of my lungs, threaten the computer demons, and break the expendable object in full view of the computer screen. Someone once asked me how this was working out for me, and I had to admit the computer was still a bit uncooperative, but at least the neighbor kids generally stayed out of my yard.
…that was back when I had a yard.
Anyway, my approach to interface-diplomacy might explain why it wasn’t until December that I really worked out the gadgets on WordPress and produced a viable website. That’s also when I began using the tag words, registered with a few search engines, and even learned how to surf WordPress for sites with related content.
I have let the blog slide completely at least twice, from November to December of last year, and then again from January through early March. I don’t think I’d had a thousand unique hits when last March rolled around, but I did notice a little spike of about a dozen hits that occurred for no reason that month, and that was enough to inspire me to make one more try. It was around that time that I hit my stride, such as it is, and the blog has been going reasonably well ever since.
I try to post something once a week, and I try to keep each post to one or two basic points. My list of drafts is filled with pieces too long and over-complex. Some will be finished, some will be chopped up and used for smaller posts, and many will be deleted outright. The bottom line is that the piece needs to be done in an hour or three; if it isn’t, then something is wrong.
I’m not always happy with what I’ve written, but I hit the submit button if I think I’ve done something right. Often I am at least a little wary of something else about a given post, something I’ve done wrong or not done at all. The piece about which I am least comfortable would be my post on ‘primitive superstition’. That phrase bleeds prejudice from every syllable, and I can think of a dozen ways to take it down. I tried only one of them. I had a very specific point in mind for that post, and I think I made that point, but much of what I didn’t say in that post may be more important than what I did say, especially to those under the gun, so to speak, when that prejudice is hauled out and used by those who mean it. My critique there is woefully incomplete, to say the least, even if my point is worth making. So, I cringe a little at that one an I smile when I read it.
I do that a lot when I read this blog.
You may not believe this, but my editing skills are vastly improved. Even a few years ago, I could hardly write a paragraph without some typo, brain fart, or horrible error that makes me want to hide under a rock. Now I am down to one or two of those per post. And I am still amazed at what I find in stuff I wrote months ago. Still, I’ve resolved to do my best and live with the results.
There is truth in typos.
The most interesting part of the whole thing for me has been reading the comments. My biggest failure has been my inability to respond to them in a timely fashion, and I am very conscious of the fact that some of my favorite comments have gone unanswered.Every now and then I comb through the blog and try to catch some of the missed gems, but I haven’t done that in awhile.
What an ass!
Seriously, I have had the pleasure of meeting several wonderful people on this blog, and I need to do a better job of keeping in dialogue with them.
In case anyone is wondering, yes I did fork over the cash for a renewal fee, so the Northy page will continue for at least another year.
…even if I am eaten by polar bears.
Congratulations on your year! I’m coming up on mine in one week. Not only are you Northier than me (which, as I live in Quebec, is not so easy to do), but you’ve beat me to the blogging punch as well. Kudos and hazzah to you, kind Sir.
If you are, we hope they take good photos and know how to upload them! Seriously, well done for a year of experimentation and mastery. A pleasure to have been along for the last part of the ride.
Happy Bloggoversary! Here’s to several more years.
Congrats on the anniversary! I just recently passed a year myself and still wonder what to write about and how to structure it and what point I am making, if any.
Your words helped quite a lot while traveling with my highly-religious in-laws (that I really love but will never agree with) Much appreciated.
I very much enjoy your work and I’m happy know you will keep it up.
Here’s to another year!
The first year is the easiest, it just goes uphill from there on 😀
Here’s my quick and dirty on your blog: you don’t suck. Keep them coming!
Oh, and, happy blogoversary- I look forward to seeing what comes next.
You don’t need to apologize for anything . Your blog rocks and here’s to the 200th. post. Hard to believe that it will be better than this one because you have outdone yourself. Congratulations!
I’m proud of you Mr. Wall. Keep up the good work.