Friday, February 17, 2012
Reflections on a Year of Blogging
With last Friday’s post, Out of Glendale completed its first year of publication, or whatever it is a blog does. When it started last February, I didn’t know if it would make it this far, so I suppose the occasion could be called a pleasant surprise.
For several years, in what seems like another age altogether, I wrote four editorials and a column each week for the newspaper I edited. Over the past couple of years I found myself yearning to write opinion again, and since no one would pay me to do it, I chose this route. No regrets.
In its original concept, this blog was going to be more or less of a public affairs commentary, and for the most part it has been. But just a couple of weeks into it, I deviated from that goal and wrote a personal essay about selling the 1977 Volkswagen camper I’d owned since 1982. It’s probably generated more comments than any other post over the past year, which proves beyond a doubt that we care more about our rides than we do about our politics. Ever since, I’ve felt free to do a personal piece whenever I feel like it and to mix the personal with the political when it can help make a point.
Another factor that seems to generate a spike in page views, if not actual readership, is a post with cultural references. The blog on the Golden Age of mystery novels, which mentioned Agatha Christie and John Dickson Carr, got an above-average number of hits. So did a piece reflecting about John Ford’s Western classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. I’m guessing the extra hits were a result of people Googling those names.
When I began to get serious about this blog, the idea of writing two 600-word essays a week seemed a bit daunting, despite past experience. It hasn’t really turned out so. With one exception, when I wound up on a jury and had to tend to my business after hours, there has been a fresh post every Tuesday and Friday. In one case I started writing at 4 p.m. on Friday, but that sort of procrastination has been the exception rather than the rule.
There’s one aspect of my original manifesto that I’ve tried hard to honor, which is that this blog will not try to be on top of current events and up to the minute. When a controversy moves into the public eye, there is far too much dreck written and spoken about it at the time it’s out there. I’ve occasionally written a piece about something in the news at the moment, then held it a few weeks, until the din has subsided, and reworked it a bit to have it reflect thoughts I didn’t see expressed while the debate was occurring.
At the beginning I made the decision not to have a space for comments to be posted. Part of the reason is that I feel this is my space, and I don’t want to have to patrol it for other people’s verbal misbehavior. I also have an abhorrence of anonymous commentary, dating back to my newspaper days when I worked very hard to verify authorship of letters to the editor. By all means, e-mail me if you have a comment.
So far there’s no evidence this blog has changed or even affected the national dialogue, and I’m fine with that. It’s been good for me to draw on my reading, memory and observation, and I’ve found that the discipline of writing twice a week has helped the writing I do professionally — sort of like a pianist practicing scales. I guess I’ll keep it going a while longer, and you’re all welcome to check in as you like.