Tinker, Dad, & me at 2 months -- a little younger than my blog
I've been writing this blog now for over three months! I've published at least twice a week every week except Thanksgiving, when I missed one post for the holiday and decided that was okay. This will be the thirty-second post I've published.
When I started, I decided to write during the week -- to make writing one of my real day jobs -- and not to take over weekends with it like some out-of-control hobby I'd come to hate. Right now I write on Monday and Thursday, and publish on Tuesday and Friday. Once, for an upcoming business trip, I wrote early on Saturday and held the piece until Tuesday. It was like doing a little work on the weekend when you need to.
I first started the blog mostly as a challenge to myself. I'd been writing on and off for years, producing occasional essays, poems, and articles. I was successful when I produced something, placing about half of those I considered finished and decent into a publication or contest. The process was awkward, though; writing complete pieces on whatever I thought up, and then trying to place them. Good pieces have languished for simple lack of fit anywhere. And, I wasn't writing enough.
When I reached my five-year exercise goal in July, I thought a lot about what had made that successful, and how could it be applied to my writing? I had to do it regularly, but not too much at first; I couldn't overwhelm myself with too sudden a change in lifestyle, the ubiquitous "write every single day" advice be damned. And it had to be non-threatening. You know, I couldn't be worried about my Pulitzer the whole time I was trying to write.
A blog about running was perfect. I had endless things to say. I could bend it to some degree to encompass broader topics. And it was a blog, my unedited slop, which I could churn out non-perfectionistically.
The first month and even into the second, I'd sit down to write feeling like I was spitting into the wind. Many times I'd post on Facebook, and only a few loyal family members would acknowledge the damn thing. (Don't get me wrong, loyal family members -- I appreciate it more than you know!) Sometimes I'd feel like the biggest idiot, writing tomes and experiences and opinions to an audience that didn't exist. I didn't realize how quiet audiences can be sometimes. But it was my exercise; I just kept doing it.
Now my readers are growing, and I'm so grateful to you, readers! Recently the hits I get on each article have doubled. (Unless they've been so impenetrable you've all just had to read them twice. The statistics on hits are completely anonymous and untagged, so I don't know when it's sixty people reading something, or one person coming back to read it sixty times. God forbid.) I get comments on different topics from a wide variety of different people, which reassures. I doubled my (also anonymous) subscribers in the last week -- four to eight! I feel honored that there are eight people in this world who more or less want to see my musings show up in their inboxes twice a week.
Instead of my blog as the sound of one hand clapping, I've started feeling a responsibility to write for my readers. I'm beginning to understand what famous writers mean when they say that. People tell me they look forward to seeing what I'll say. Your comments are engaging and intelligent and make me think more deeply about a lot of things, and I love the conversation. Astonishingly, I've noticed hits directly to my home page, rather than only from links I've posted to Facebook or elsewhere -- meaning people get it into their own little heads to check my blog themselves! Some people have even google searched to find my blog. I don't know how to explain to you how jaw-dropping I find that.
It's wondrous, and humbling, and I fear at any moment I'll never have another interesting or profound thing to say for the rest of my life. But I'm beginning to trust my source more, too.
So as we approach the holidays, let me thank all of you who have read, commented, subscribed, or clicked anonymously in the night. I'm so happy to have this connection with all of you! It's not the only reason to be a writer, but it's the best one by far.