This is my 300th website entry. I’ve been at it for seven years, or 33.33 posts a year. If we take into consideration that the average length of a blog post/essay here is 1,200 words, the total is 360,000 words, the equivalent of three modern novels or five to six nonfiction books. Not bad, for seven years of work, considering that I started this blog as an experiment.
There are about a billion bloggers. How does one stand out? I’m sure there is a most-famous or busiest blog. A little research reveals businesses or corporations own the most popular sites. These bloggers have it figured out. The secrets to a good blog, advises one marketing site, are to “find and publish killer content,” “feed and fuel curiosity,” and “know your audience absolutely.”
This website/blog fails on all accounts. The essays here are all concern self, memory, and personal exploration. It’s unclear whether they inspire anyone. The posts aren’t particularly “killer.” They don’t do much to “feed and fuel.” And they are for a specific audience of people who are, themselves, looking inward and trying to find identity in a world experiencing, I wrote in my first blog post, “an age of complete atomization.”
As I look back over the years, several themes appear. In one, a man grows older and feels the particular decrease in lift. He tries to deal with inertia and the puzzles of life’s meaning and the existential crisis of mortality. Another theme is that of definition. How does our man find identity in an age when it’s chimera—branding and marketing? He calls those into question. He maintains that on facebook, blogs, and other social media, we create images of what we want others to see. He asks if they see us the way we want. He wonders exactly what they see.
All along, the blogs here have been political in nature. While some have to do with partisan politics, most concern the political act of creation. In that way, the website has been a success. It is about one guy trying to find his place in the world. How he does that may help others to discover for themselves who they are in a world where literally everything—even the self—is aerosol.
One thing I’ve attempted to do here is to be completely authentic. That is, I attempt to expose the real me and let the reader make their own decisions.
Who knows who reads these posts? I have a little understanding from the statistics my ISP keeps. It tells me how many hits the site gets on a particular day, week, month, and year. The numbers go up the more often I post, almost as if people just look for something new and different to entertain themselves. Even then, I don’t know whose a reader and whose a hacker. When I see that a third of the hits on my website come from China, Russia, or the Ukraine, I know that these are people trying to hack into my ISP.
Then a website like this becomes problematic in an age when everyone has ADD. When someone looks here, they might find something but I suspect many don’t. See, you have to read these posts. There is no “writing for story.” There are no breasts and hardly anything erotic or prurient, although I make love several times. I cuss sometimes, but foul language has become commonplace. I suppose the best thing you can say about this website is that it’s pretty regular—as in ordinary.
But one thing remains true: I haven’t been able to do much with consistency in my 54 years. In fact, the only thing I’ve done for more than a couple of years is stay married. This website and its companion, http://poetrysheet.com/, represent, next to marriage, the longest I’ve done anything in my entire life other than use tobacco and breathe.
If you were to read posts 1-300, you would find me going through crises ranging from deciding what to do with my career(s), to how I deal with family and what I think about politics. You will find a neurotic, self-referential person who doesn’t have a clue about living the life of an adult. I mature, I think, over the seven years but am hardly a functioning adult. Many things remain the same in the 1 to 300. I have not changed my ideological stance. I am still an American socialist. I believe the founding documents are sacred. I revel in diversity and dread the return of a white America. I believe in people. I think they are mostly good, and those who aren’t so hot are often misguided.
Some of the posts were eerily prescient. Who knew that we’d put the nuclear codes in the hands of Donald Trump? But if you look at my posts, they foresee a time when such a thing could happen. This makes me think that I wasn’t doing anything creative but was merely channeling the culture. Whole schools of literary criticism and critical theory have risen that critique the written word in such a manner. The author is less important as a creator than as a conduit through which the culture runs.
There was a period after the death of my good friend Joachim when I went a little crazy and wound up in the mental hospital. The posts around that time show disassociation and despair, even a little mania. I wrote of the episode many times since. After all, a trip to the nervous hospital can be a formative moment.
I hope that if you get the chance, you will poke around in those old blog posts. For a long time, I posted as if I was writing a letter to someone. I made up several characters, all representing someone in real life. I addressed them directly and very personally. I don’t know exactly when I shifted to writing memoir almost completely, but I’m sure it was after one of the many hiatuses I have taken from writing this blog.
Taking that into consideration, I have been at it steadily for about the last four years. A post or two a week, on average, though there were moments when I posted as many as five or six essays a week.
Regardless, this website has kept me in writing, which is what I love the most. I always wanted to be writer. It took me years to find the fortitude that it takes to get published. Since my first newspaper column back in 1995, I have been a writer who writes. Since I no longer have a paper or magazine where I publish regularly, I have this website.
After this contemplation on what’s happened in now 300 posts, I hope you will return. If nothing else, what you read here may entertain you. If I have done a good job, this experiment will have made you think. This is the ultimate political act. Conduit or creator? Who cares? In then end, an actor acts on the culture around him or her. That, I think, is what this blog has been about all along.