I’ve been blogging here at Words Matter since November 2004. I actually had a blog prior to this one in 2003/2004. This post is another milestone of sorts, as it is my 700th post. It feels like I should be doing something more than sitting here with my laptop, Bruins game on with sound off, and a lukewarm can of Bud Light next to me.
As a writer, I’m not a household name, but when it comes to writing persistence and doggedness, my track record’s a solid one. While other bloggers have larger audiences, and many get much more traffic on the comment side, I feel proud that most of my posting has been original writing, with a minimum of cut and paste material culled from elsewhere.
I originally started blogging as a way to perfect my craft, and as Stephen King advises in his book, On Writing, the best way to improve as a writer is to write (my paraphrase, but true to his vision). I’ve continued to do that.
When I first started getting serious about writing, back in 2002, I started to think of myself as a writer (even before my first published writing clip) when I began to enjoy writing for the sheer joy that came with getting words down on paper (or better, a Word doc).
Once again, it’s King that said, in relation to practicing one’s craft, “Talent renders the whole idea of rehearsal meaningless; when you find something at which you are talented, you do it (whatever it is) until your fingers bleed or your eyes are ready to fall out of your head. Even when no one is listening (or reading, or watching), every outing is a bravura performance, because you as the creator are happy. Perhaps even ecstatic.”
That captures it for me.
Looking back over the last four plus years, here is a timeline of my Words Matter posts.
Post #1-November 21, 2004: I took an article by Lakoff to talk about progressive values. Nothing particularly profound, but I was on my way.
Post #100-February 23, 2005: Titled “Hurting Children,” it was a riff on the Bush administration’s lack of concern for children, using a column by the late Molly Ivins (one of my fave columnists, and someone I miss reading) for my context.
Post #200-August 8, 2005: A post about my son and his generosity. I had blown my old speakers on my 18-year-old stereo, and Mark, knowing my love and passion for music, surprised me by buying some new speakers for me, which I have thoroughly enjoyed.
While I don’t spend too much time blogging about the family, they do show up from time to time in posts.
Post #300-March 6, 2006: Michael Eric Dyson is a gifted writer, speaker, and commentator. He also knows a boatload about rap and hip-hop. This post was about an NPR broadcast where Dyson was waxing eloquent about Tupac Shakur, someone I knew little about beyond the stereotype.
Here is some of what I wrote: “Dyson’s historical perspective, political understanding and sympathetic treatment of Shakur revealed a totally different character than I’d been conditioned to view him as. It made me realize that I have a lot to learn about this branch music and culture. From Shakur’s roots, informed by Reaganomics and the accompanying poverty he experienced, Dyson’s presentation cast Shakur in a much different light than he was often portrayed by the press and the music industry. Dyson's talk was informative for the honest and refreshing way that he was able to demystify Shakur, who like many performers and cultural icons, ends up misrepresented, most often to cultivate an image, which will then be exploited through marketing.”
Post # 500-December 27, 2006: A post about Maine’s media landscape, drawing upon an opinion piece by fellow Maine blogger, Lance Dutson, who is now the new media guru for Senator Susan Collins. Dutson was taking issue with a column by Jeannine Guttman, editor of Maine’s largest daily newspaper, the Portland Press Herald.
Guttman has been a regular subject of Words Matter posts about issues I’ve had with her guidance of the Press Herald.
Occasionally, I’ve gone after other folks via my posts. There have been times this has gotten me in trouble, or at least got the attention of my subject, and I’ve received an email taking me to task.
A post I wrote about Guttman, the Press Herald, and an ad I thought was anti-Semetic, developed by a local marketer named Kimberly McCall generated a flurry of comments (8 comments for me is considered a flurry), and even an email from McCall’s husband, basically saying I misrepresented his wife.
Another time, I took NPR’s Adam Davidson to task for what I thought was shitty feature on Skowhegan that highlighted how the national media, more often than not, gets Maine (and rural America) wrong, because they always get the culture wrong. Davidson, for whatever reason, took offense with what I wrote and emailed me. I ended up moderating my views a bit, and posted a follow-up piece, apologizing for some of my unprofessional comments about Davidson, and his ability as a journalist.
Some of my best blogging was done in a multi-part series of blogs about big-box development. "Big-box Bait and Switch, Parts I, II, and III," used Stacy Mitchell’s Big Box Swindle:The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America’s Independent Businesses as the framework, to rail against non-sustainable big-box development, and Maine’s business leaders that support this kind of toxic growth strategy.
I wrote Part I back in June of 2007, and given what’s happened to our economy, and in particular, the retail sector, I’d say I was quite prescient in my three posts.
Along the way, I’ve managed to write two books, assume a demanding day job, and experience a few bumps in the road where my energy for blogging has waned. I even contemplated deep-sixing Words Matter at one point. I’m glad I didn’t.
I think my writing is better now than it ever was. It’s hard to have every post be top shelf quality writing, given that many of the posts that I put up during the week are composed in the evening, after a long day of work, or the early hours, prior to work. But enough of what I throw up has relevance, I think.
Additionally, I have a blog for work, and I’m now well past the 100 post mark at Working in Maine. Generally, I’m pleased with almost everything I write.
A new feature I launched in January is History Maker Mondays, which requires some real work to make these posts worthwhile. So far, I’ve been able to get up a new post, several of considerable length, every Monday. I hope I can keep this going, as I’m enjoying expanding my own knowledge of history, and I hope readers learn a thing or two in reading my posts.
I don’t know if I’ll make it to 1,000, but for now, I’m enjoying the process, and I plan to ride it as long as I have something to say.