Monday, June 11, 2007

Three Years

Since June is my third Blogiversary, it’s a good time to look back to see what it’s all been about. Looking at my posts doesn’t reveal any stellar, innovative systemic thought that amounts to a hill of bean. I turn a good phrase now and then, occasionally I let my anger rant on but hardly anything to shake the world. Certainly, in the realm of ideas, I don’t see much that hasn’t been said well by many others. I write about my Vietnam experience which offers some perspective to events but in the long run, even that is ephemeral. It certainly hasn’t stopped the war.

So why do I blog? I started for two reasons. I like to write. I’ve been writing my entire career, professionally and personally. I’m pretty good at it; I enjoy the challenge and satisfaction of clearly expressing ideas, of producing good prose and some poetry. Writing is a craft worth mastering, something I will be able to do as long as I have a functioning brain and fingers–I will be able to entertain myself in the nursing home if I have to. Second, putting words into an organized essay requires that I think hard and clarify my thoughts. Letting those same words loose into Blogtopia (y,sctp!) requires even further care–some one may actually read what I write. I want it to be the best ever. A third, unanticipated, reason is the company of bloggers. The community I have found in Blogtopia (see above) is informed, lively, astute, funny, profane, diverse, engaging and endlessly surprising. We share a realm of ideas and hopes and, in this company, I know I am not alone.

Traffic is minuscule here at Unsolicited Opinion. The first week of my blogiversary, the numbers have tanked, as if consciously reminding me of my obscurity. Fortunately, I don’t blog for the numbers. Well, yes I do–I would welcome the success and attention--but I don’t count on a high volume to keep writing. I would have stopped long ago if that were all there was to it. My numbers are pretty low, averaging in the high teens and low twenties daily. I am truly a blogtopian backwater. What does please me is that I’ve made enough of an impression that a few perspicacious bloggers gave me linky-love and one even invited me to join his group blog. So I know someone is reading and appreciating what I write. My work comes up on many search engines and is at least seen by people far and wide, even if the audience is small.

Mimus Pauly
has been particularly supportive. He gave my my first link and big spike in volume in July 2006. He also offered me a space at Mockingbird’s Medley, which rescued me from DailyKos where I was becoming a semi-regular diarist. Despite the lower traffic, Mimus’ numbers are better than Kos’: at Mockingbird I am one of six rather than one of thousands. The exposure had an effect: my volume is up almost three times over last year. I’ve broken 600 monthly a couple times, hardly a hour’s worth of traffic on some blogs but better than before. I also appreciate links from other blogs, all of whom are listed on my blogroll. Visit them often. And tell your friends about them.

Minstrel Boy has been an intriguing visitor to my site and has added some chilling commentary to my relatively placid Vietnam experiences. His three tours as a Navy SEAL put him in a very different war than I saw. Despite the different experience, we both learned that war not only wrong, but foolish and wasteful. Minstrel Boy's comments and his posts at Harp and Sword assure me that I am remembering correctly. We also had the chance to meet since we both live in the Central Arizona’s Large Amorphous Urban Area. Putting a face to his blog adds a personal dimension.

Reading (skimming, actually) old posts shows me to have been correct about the deterioration of Iraq under US military occupation (But who wasn’t right, besides the neo-con fantasyland warriors?), cautiously hopeful and disappointed about John Kerry, even more disappointed with most other politicians and way, way too involved in the Iraq war, reliving my Vietnam experiences in the current war. Occasionally, I post about hiking and living on the Navajo Nation. It’s a mixed bag and, like life itself, is a fleeting moment. But its my moment and I intend to speak out about life, events, policy, ideas and whatever damn well pleases me. That won’t change.

What may change is my frequency and style. With the impending move to Olympia now looming immediately ahead (boxes are piling up all around), I can’t imagine that it won’t reduce my time on-line and posting frequency. It’s a complicated move with much to do in four to six weeks. Now I know why I’ve put it off for so long. I no longer have that luxury. It’s already way too hot here in Phoenix and I have pretty much exhausted my tolerance for large amorphous urban areas. Time to go. I won’t stop blogging but expect fewer posts.

Two manuscripts loom in my near future as well. My Appalachian Trail memoir–all 75,000 words of it–has been sitting on my desk untouched for about a year and the time has come to get off my butt and publish. I'm hoping for international best seller with movie rights but I may just self-publish eat the cost myself. The second manuscript is Vietnam. I have reams of memories, short stories and poetry that have been in the works off and on for 35 years. I think I have a story to tell and may finally have sufficient perspective to understand that story. It’s been a long time coming and I don’t have much time left. Time to move now if it’s ever going to happen.

In the end, this blog has done several things for me. It has kept me writing regularly. Writing blog posts may not as focused and purposeful as writing longer pieces but to blog, I need to stay informed and the regular writing is good practice. Blogging has connected me to a thoughtful, informed community that cares deeply about our country. It has helped me to understand who I am, what I value and to speak well on behalf of my beliefs. Not a bad use of my time at this point in life.

Thanks to all of you who have enlivened my journey.


I’ve put together a list of my blog posts that struck me as different, particularly interesting or whatever as I skimmed through m oeuvre. I’ll put that up shortly and then blogiversary will be complete.



Blogger Evil Spock said...

Congratulations on your three year anniversary.

I put too much care into numbers, but the impetus for my blog was a contest with another blogger to have the most successful website between the two of us. Shallow and infantile, but I like a good contest.

Its not about quantity of readers, but quality, and it seems you have that in spades. I hope to see you around the blogosphere for years to come.

6:52 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

add my congratulations to the mix. screw the numbers. it's about having a voice, an outlet, a forum or what you will.

i think that the historical parallel is that of the pamphleteers who ran riot in the early years of our revolution and nation. i am still on borrowed computer time but am expecting delivery of the new machine any day now.

you will love olympia. hiking the peninsula rain forest will show you a whole new world.

keep writing. keep shouting to the wind.

8:29 AM  
Blogger cile said...

Ha ha you wrote "linky-love"! Happy blogiversary, Mark. I'll sure be glad when you get up here. We need you here to shore up ol' Christine Gregoire! I guess you know I don't read your blog religiously because you track that stuff but I'm tremendously grateful you keep speaking your peace ...and I know where I can find you!

9:45 PM  
Blogger Mimus Pauly said...

Actually, you're one of eight at the Medley, not six. And I'd like to see that Vietnam manuscript in print someday -- if the Vietnam War dimension you've added to my blog is any indication, it must be good.

Three years. Hard to believe we've both reached that mark and not gone completely insane...

7:38 AM  

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