Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Reading and Writing

I started this blog about seven years ago now. I was working on a contract to perm job. I started during Thanksgiving week. I only got paid for the hours I actually worked, but my salary on the contract was high enough, I got paid more for those three days Thanksgiving week than I would have all week on the job I left at Lockheed Martin.

Starting a job during the holidays, especially in the defense industry, presents some challenges. I started at the end of November. It was January before I had all the account and access to all the resources I needed to do my job fully. The week between Christmas and New Year's was particularly challenging. It was a four day week. Since I only got paid for the hours I actually worked, I was working ten hour days. Except that my supervisor was on vacation that week, both shipyards we supported were in stand down, and there wasn't much for me to do but show up, charge time, and try to stay awake.

I'd heard a lot about blogging. I decided to try it that week.

This blog was originally called "Eric's Watchtower". I based that on Habakuk 2:4. It didn't last as long as I thought. For a while it was "Eric's Blog", for a while "The Gadget Geek Dad". I tried several different services. I've tried MSN Spaces (which I believe is now Wordpress), I've tried, and I had a Typepad blog for 2 years. I kept coming back to Blogger because it's free and I can somehow "monetize it", for what that's worth. It hasn't been worth anything to me. I had an AdSense account, but Google banned me for "Click Fraud" and does not accept appeals, even if it's bullcrap.

I've tried lots of different titles and topics. I finally settled on "The Stand-Up Philosopher", as an homage to Mel Brooks. I love that scene.

As for topics, I've tried book review, tech blogging, mobile life, business, and so on. I've never been courageous enough to touch on politics. I've tried doing a little Christian blogging, but that didn't work out much either. I have little patience for devotional writing, and I don't think I do it well either.

I'm not sure what I'm afraid of. In more than 950 posts, I've had damn few comments. I've had a few comments get lost, but they're not that big a deal. In any case, I might as well just say what I think about the topics I care about. I can't get my friends and family to read this blog.

I've been accused of being "too open". John T. Reed was asked if he'd ever had an unpublished thought. His reply was along the lines of as the head of his own publishing business, that would amount to sleeping on the job.

I'm not sure what being too open means. People who have accused me of that are not writers. I have to wonder how valuable that advice is. Most of the writers I like are actually very open. Donald Miller is one example. Just today, I read Wil Wheaton's "Just A Geek". He's fairly open about his feelings and experiences too.

My wife does not like being mentioned on this blog. As in, she doesn't even like me mentioning I have a wife. I have no idea how to write about some of the topics I want to cover without mentioning "my wife". I can show her hundreds of books off my own bookshelf in which the author mentions his wife. I understand her concern, but have no idea how to comply with it. Wil Wheaton mentioned his wife in his book I just read today. I've tried to convince my wife to read Athol Kay's blog, and be grateful I do not approach anywhere NEAR that level of detail.

So I don't know how to write without being open. I have to create that openness, that sense of vulnerability to connect with potential readers. I have no idea who they are yet.

As I'm setting out my goals for 2012, I've tried to figure out what to do with my blog. At the moment, I'm thinking about not taking writing advice from non-writers. Maybe I should just cut loose with what I think. I want to get to 1000 blog posts. I need to figure out where my niche is. I can't figure out how to do that without writing.

I guess that's my "State of the Blog" for 2011. My historical stats indicate nobody will read it.

My all time most-read post is:

The next three are related to the University of Phoenix, of which I am a graduate (BSIT, 2007). I once had a comment left telling me my blog was considered an authority on the University of Phoenix. I mostly posted rants, although I attempted to help get Thunderbird connected to the newsgroups.

I do a lot of reading. Back in 2008, I read that former President George Bush and fomer whatever he was Karl Rove challenged each other to read 100 books a year. And I'm not talking about "Who Moved My Cheese?" (which I have not read). I mean really extensive history and political books. I took that as a challenge, and set a goal for 2009 to read 100 books. I read 46. I read 36 books in 2010. Part of it was my layoff and transition to Real Estate. I DVR'ed a lot of Real Estate shows to "study". My mentor was horrified at the prospect that I would use those as an example of how to conduct business, but I found out most Realtors secretly watch House Hunters, even though they're all embarrassed to admit it.

I've read 49 books in 2011. I might be able to squeeze in one or two more by the end of the week. Low hanging fruit...

But I read a lot. When you throw in all the magazines and periodicals and websites I read, I probably do come close to 100 books worth of reading a year. I'm always reading. It's just a matter of what counts as a book or not.

So I'll try some new styles and new topics for 2012. Maybe I'll actually hit on something people will read.

In the meantime, I guess I can say whatever I want. Support Ron Paul. 
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