I got a little note from WordPress yesterday that I’ve been blogging with them for two years. Two whole years! It doesn’t seem that long since I was idly musing to the better half that I was thinking of starting a blog, and yet here we are, two entire trips round the sun later. Strictly speaking this is not my first blog – there were two antecedents that have long since vanished from the face of the net, and good riddance to them. (The second one actually didn’t have any posts on it, if I recall correctly.) So, two years then; seven hundred and thirty days of wondering what to write about, failing to write anything, figuring it out and writing it, being afraid to hit the publish button once written, worrying that nobody will click on it, getting mad that no one clicks on it, squirming a bit when a copious amount of people are clicking on it and sharing it far and wide.
Have I any insights to share about the experience? Well, a few, take ‘em or leave ‘em. First and foremost it’s made me a better writer (though your opinion may vary). As others have pointed out, writing is a muscle like any other and the more exercise it gets the stronger it becomes. I’ve been able to sharpen my voice and deliver my arguments in a more cogent, more impactful manner. I’ve learned also that an audience is a ravenous beast, and that you cannot drop off the radar after one well-received post and expect people to keep coming back in search of your brilliance. To that end, regular updates on a predictable schedule are a must. This past week has been quite productive and I’m not certain I’ll be able to keep up that pace, but I’m damned well going to try. The only reason not to post is laziness. There are always things to write about, and inspiration can come from the most unlikely corners. I’m finding a lot of it lately in my interactions on Twitter – conversations there can swing into unexpected and wildly amusing detours, providing more than enough fodder for posting more formally later on. Because this is ultimately a form of conversation, I’ve realized that it isn’t enough to post and forget and wait for acclaim to roll in. You need to get out there and talk to other people proactively, follow their blogs, comment when you feel you can contribute (as opposed to just saying “Great post. Check out my blog!”) and be a member of a community.
Above all else, the most important thing I’ve learned is to BE POSITIVE. Even when you’re writing about something that enrages you to the deepest core of your being, you must find it within you to locate the silver lining (and it is there, believe me). There may be a market out there for endless cynicism, for paragraphs of disgust flung at worthy targets like so many buckets of monkey feces, but Jesus, do you really want to be that guy? The nihilist who sees nothing good in or about life and spreads his gloom one kilobyte at a time, determined to twist smiles into frowns wherever he finds them? Yes, a lot of our world is unfair, unjust, even horrifying, and it does us no good to stand in ignorance of that. But the people who have managed to effect positive change have done so from a place of hope and faith in the potential good. An unshakeable trust in the nobility that can arise from the human soul. They have reached out their hands and helped lift others into greatness.
I’m not so naïve to think that I’m changing hearts and minds on a vast scale here. But sometimes I look at that stats map above and it gives me tremendous pause. Each part that is colored represents a different country where someone (and in the cases of the darker colors, quite a few someones) has lent me a few moments of their time to look over what I’ve written. Yeah, maybe some of them are accidental hits while looking for something else. But perhaps one or two of them stayed for a while and poked around a little and came away thinking they’d found something of value. The most wonderful thing about blogging is the ability we now have to touch a truly global audience – to reach out with our hands and lift someone else up, someone we may never meet or even be aware of. How is that not motivation to keep going, to keep pounding out the words, to fight through the self-doubt, the creeping ennui and cynicism and fear?
The right words can change the world. So let’s write a few more of them. Here’s to the next two years.