With the publication of this entry, I’ll have completed my first year of blogging. It takes at least twelve months to build any credibility with these things and this is what I’ve learned so far:
First, blogging requires steady work and commitment and I can’t predict who will stick to it. I knew about the commitment going in and I wasn’t sure if I could keep up with that. More than 150 columns later I’m still not sure, but in that time I’ve watched some would-be bloggers give up and others stick it out. To create the possibility of eventually succeeding, the writer has to consistently post coherent, interesting work even when no one is reading it. Hey, that’s the deal: blogs are or should be a pleasure to read and since people equate this pleasure with leisure time, bloggers get read at leisure, a division of time that gets steadily smaller. If there are times when your best beloveds skip reading your post, it’s because they have lives of their own. In the end, I don’t think bloggers do this for praise or the money; we do it to put ideas into the universe.
Second, it’s impossible to tell which post will resound with readers or who may give you a pat on the back. Early on I wrote about a book that probably affected the kids I grew up with. I wasn’t sure if those who “knew me when” were affected by the work because we never discussed the book but I must have got something right in that post; people I hadn’t heard from in years wrote to me about their memories of that time and story. I’m glad I got that post right. Also, twice in this last year, the author of a published work has contacted me and thanked me for my review of their book. Their generous messages were the encouragement I needed. My column has been republished three times in two different places and although I didn’t earn a dime, each re-print felt like a bonus. Times like that balance out days when I wrote heart-aching essays that seemed to be ignored.
Now, the blog helps keep my life in balance; it steadies me in a way. When an agent was looking at my book and I was living in an euphoric haze, I still needed to post here, twice a week. After the manuscript was turned down and no one else wanted to see it, the blog was still here, with its twice-a-week feeding and the stats showed me someone, somewhere was reading it. You’ve got to love something that reliable and I do. I also love the people who take the time to read this. Saying “thanks” isn’t really enough. I’ve got kind of a present for you.
Starting next Tuesday and continuing through November, I’m sending you a story. I think the best one I’ve ever written, It will appear here in segments, with photos to illustrate some scenes, and I hope you like it. Consider it my thanks for reading this blog. I appreciate you more than I can say.