State of the Blog Address: The Very Real Threat of Poetry

Is this on?

Thank you all for coming. Did everyone get some punch and pie? No? I think there are some Hydrox cookies left, and maybe some coffee at the bottom of the urn. That’s it, just tilt it forward. There you go.

So, just over a year ago, I started writing this blog, and I’ve been having a blast. I started without having anything solid in mind. I just wanted to write, and I wanted to write about parenting, because that was the best thing that I ever did. After fumbling around for a little bit, I settled into weekly Saturday essays, and while that probably didn’t make for good blogging, I enjoyed setting myself the weekly challenge. To focus myself along the way, I decided that my primary audience would be my son, and that this blog would be my way of putting into words my choices, my gut feelings, and my reasonings. Not so much for now, but for when he needs it. And, possibly, for future knuckleheads of his own someday. But mostly just for him. I think my writing improved once I had that focus.

But an internet blog is a public forum, so I kept an eye out to a wider readership. I wanted to make sure that my little stories and ideas would make sense to someone outside my family. I was curious to see what reaction (if any) there would be to what I had to say. That’s the part of all this that has been the most surprising, and the most gratifying. People have been wonderful.

Not many people read this blog, certainly not by internet standards. Most of you are actual friends of mine, clicking on the “New Post” announcement when it comes up on my Facebook page. A few others have found me through WordPress, and it’s been exciting for me to imagine that a few strangers have connected with what I have to say. My readership, small as it is, is loyal, earnest, gracious, and supportive. I’m more heartened by that than you know. Thank you.

In a few paragraphs, I’m going to hit you up for a solid.

I’ve now published 52 consecutive weekly essays,* and I’m quite proud that I met the challenge for a full year. But I’m going to give myself a little break, and this is why: The Very Real Threat of Poetry.

Some months back, I was having trouble deciding what I wanted to write about, and I thought it would be fun to try a poem. It was fun, and I’m glad I did it; everyone should. But the results were, frankly, appalling. It was a truly awful poem. Most of you were kind enough to avert your eyes, but the results embarrassed me, my Knucklehead, my 11th-grade English teacher, and any other poor souls who happened upon it unawares. It was treacley, substituted alliteration for insight, and was rough-hewn in a way that would have made Whitman scrawl “WTF?!” across it in red crayon.

This cannot be allowed to happen again.

(And, no, I’m not going to provide a link to it. If you really must read it, you’ll just have to go wading through all the old posts to find it. You can click your mouse or finger or whatnot here all you want; I won’t give it up. “We belong dead” spake the Bride of Frankenstein of The Creature, herself and my poem. Let us never speak of this again.)

So that I am never again tempted to commit public poetry, I am hereby relieving myself of the burden of the weekly post. Next week, I’m going to re-post one from last fall that I think is worthwhile and some may have missed. From time to time I’ll do this again.

But I’m not going to stop blogging; frankly I find this too rewarding, and too much fun. I’m just worried that the quality may drop if I push myself to write just for its own sake. So I’ll post only when I feel like I have something to say. Maybe that will be weekly anyway; maybe bi-weekly. I can’t imagine a month going by without writing something new. This is the creative outlet in my life. This is my idea of a good time.

I would like to ask for some help, however. Not much, just two things:

1) Give me feedback, preferably by commenting on this post itself. I’d like you to tell me what you’d like me to write more about. Is there an issue or concern you’d like to read my opinion on? Would you like to hear more about the ballpark trips I made with The Knucklehead? The movies he grew up with? Do you want to read more about me? Do you want to read more about my boy? The books in our life? Youth sports? If you enjoy these posts, help me to bring out more of what you like. WordPress gives me an idea of how many people click on my posts, but that doesn’t tell me if they hang in for the whole essay, or anything else. Basically, it tells me if my headline was clever enough to check out . You may think a topic is important that I take for granted. It’s only through your suggestions that I can truly turn this blog outward.

2) The bigger my readership, the more of a sense I get of what people really want to read, even if it is just by clicks alone. The times I’m actually able to engage readers who comment is the most valuable of all. If you’ve enjoyed this blog over the past year, would you do me the favor of spreading the word? Find a post that you thought was interesting or entertaining and share it on Facebook or Twitter, or tell a friend about it. As of this writing, WordPress tells me I have 51 followers, and my blog has been viewed 3,794 times in 35 countries (a surreal stat all its own, let me tell you). After a year of blogging, that’s kind of puny in internet terms. That’s okay, really. Like I said before, my ultimate audience is a 20-year-old knucklehead who is currently sleeping off whatever it is 20-year-old knuckleheads do on Friday nights these days. But if my audience grows, my feedback grows, and that lets me know if what I’m doing here has any value beyond me and my kid.

If writing to me is nourishment (and it is), if it is my oxygen, and my meat and potatoes, then your readership is my crack cocaine and my cupcakes. That you, my reader, in your busy life with a thousand demands on your time stop to smell my roses, makes me giddy. I love you for that. Thank you for being my co-conspirator, for valuing a thought, a word, a phrase, or an idea the way I do. Thanks for your eye, your ear, your interest. This blogging. It’s a hoot.

Thanks for coming. Would you mind putting the chairs in a circle before you leave? AA has the room next. Which reminds me, they’re going to be pissed if I don’t brew some more coffee before we leave.

Drive safe.


*WordPress tells me this is my 58th post; the weekly format didn’t happen immediately.


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5 Responses to State of the Blog Address: The Very Real Threat of Poetry

  1. Hahahah lol, I came to grab some cookies and deplore the general state of poetry. Now I wanna read some of yours. Give! 😛

  2. rebecca3862 says:

    Well don’t change how you blog for me! That would not serve you well in the long run. I don’t follow baseball. Love your hits on controversial or difficult parenting topics, they both challenge and reassure me. Anytime you can make a shameful reference to a current event, topic, famous athlete, politician or actor in your title it’s easy to # and position on twitter (which helps because I have no twitter followers either.) Since I’m not as well read and have a more narrow range of reading interests, I consider your ‘book reviews’ (movies as well) however brief for consideration. Your content is very worthy of broader readership. Linking to it from multiple other forums is probably the best way to gain exposure. I’ll have someone getting a permit in a year if that sparks any ideas, unless I missed that one.

  3. Thanks, Rebecca! I was always tempted to title a post, “I Said Good Morning to The Knucklehead AND YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT!!!” just to see how many clicks it would get, but I didn’t have the heart. Thank you for your support this past year, and your comments. I’ll let your ideas percolate for a while.

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