Well, if you’ve been paying unnecessarily close attention, you’ll know that this blog turned six months old on Sunday. That’s right–my first (regular) post was on July 4, 2008. And yeah, you can find entries in the archives from as far back as 2004, but those are republished message board posts from my experiences in online dating. They were lived and chronicled a lifetime ago, in blog terms, and well before the concept of me as a blogger or of ABDPBT per se was even a twinkle in my optical mouse.
[Did I just really write that? What has HAPPENED TO ME?!]
Yeah, I know retrospective posts are kind of toolish. When I set out I had some concrete goals for the blog to have met by the end of six months, and rather than bore you with graphs and statistical analysis here, I thought I’d reflect a bit on these past six months in a more waxing-philosophical, touchy feely, Free-To-Be-You-And-Me kind of way. Since I spared you my version of the immensely overdone “Looking back on 2008″ tear-jerker posts last week, I’ll ask you to cut me some slack. Jack.
What happens in six months of near daily posting? Lots. Lots and lots. I think you start out the blogging process with a wealth of ideas and topics, because hey, you’ve been silent all this time, and now that you’ve decided to spill it, everything you see is a topic of another post. And so that keeps you going for a few months. But you do end up with a bunch of posts that are kind of bad. But it doesn’t really matter, because nobody is reading. Until they are.
I think audience is the most interesting dynamic to have been infused to my writing over the past six months. I have written for various audiences throughout my life, but never one this large, with these kinds varying experiences and perspectives. What kind of people would congregate here, to read what I’ve written? And if that stuff changes, who will stay and who will go? Like everything, it’s all kind of theoretical.
At first it’s kind of odd, because you don’t really have an audience, or if you do it’s comprised of people you know in real life, and they don’t know you as a ‘blogger’ yet, or even as a writer. And who you are going to be is somewhat shaped by that–because although you set out with the best of intentions and an expectation of complete candidness, the fact is that blogging is a space in which worlds collide. There are people who meet in this space who would never agree to meet together in a room, and some of them know me and some don’t, some think they do and others thought they did, but now aren’t so sure. People just meeting me are trying to form their opinion of me, and people who already knew me are trying to reconcile their thoughts of me with what I’ve written. They are starting to get to know me from the inside out, in ways that perhaps they had never anticipated. Or wanted.
And it is all so wonderfully narcissistic for me! And uncomfortable. And, eventually, I will probably just start not giving a shit, but that’s probably something to save for my second year at least.
But most importantly, the introduction of a larger audience has influenced my writing in ways that I never anticipated. In thinking about who will read my work, I have delved into different genres and methodologies than I ever would have attempted in another medium. And on occasion, the audience provides a source of content, or a way of looking at an issue I wouldn’t have considered before. And because of that, the work becomes more interesting and dynamic, and in a way a group effort more so than other forms of writing. I think that is one of the more exciting aspects of blogging for people concerned with Writing as a Craft and other pretentious pursuits.
I think if I had started blogging earlier on in the Web 2.0 movement, I would have made many more missteps in my first six months. As it was, I knew from the experience of others that I needed to set boundaries about the content of the blog. Though I do deal with my family’s lives, I have tried to limit it to the extent that their lives reach into mine, and shape my perceptions of the world and my place in it. On occasion I have perhaps revealed more than they would like. That remains to be seen.
In any case, these kinds of restrictions present challenges–not limits, really, but challenges, because you can talk about things but you must figure out a way to do so in a way that is respectful and non-invasive. And as people get to know you, there are more missteps, because its tough to keep to mixed company conversational rules in the realm of the blog: eventually, politics, sex, and money will be discussed, and the people will disagree.
And though it saddened me to see some of my early readers jump ship over my occasionally hot-tempered assaults on these and like issues, I also believe these changes were growing pains. Though I could have tempered my critique of people with whom I disagree, it would be dishonest of me. Because although I want your traffic, I cannot pander consistently. Maybe a post here and there, of course, but not all the time.
Well, basically, I’ve met or nearly met most of my initial goals for the behind-the-scenes plans of the blog. Looking towards the future, I suppose you guys can expect more of the same for a while, except insofar as I’m always changing my content to suit what I feel is my place in the zeitgeist this moment. I have no plans to add more sections to the site, or any new features at present, but rather try to hone the quality of my posts on the various topics and jumpstart submissions to The Bathroom Wall (not sure how to do this yet). As always, I am interested in your thoughts, and grateful to have you reading.