The author explains where’s he’s been, and shares his reflections on a blogging life mis-spent.
I‘d like to apologize.
I’ve been blogging off and on since October of 2006. The handful who have followed me through all that saw I went through a number of phases, and went through a number of dry times.
I knew where I needed to go, but for reasons that escape me I kept going the wrong direction. There’s a phrase used in physics, a “Drunkard’s Walk” — a term to describe the random motion of particles suspended in some gas or fluid. Moving, but ultimately going nowhere.
The reason I started blogging to begin with was that I saw it as a means to an end. I’m a writer. A writer of fiction. Honestly, a frustrated writer of fiction. I spent many years in the Kafkaesque exercise of beating my head against the iron door to the gatekeepers of the publishing industry, and finally reached a point where it really was just plain meaningless.
Then I ran across a book from 2004 by Biz Stone, one of the founders of Twitter, called Who Let the Blogs Out? One chapter in particular jumped out at me: one that described the experience of bloggers who had used their blogs as a way to gain the attention of the publishing industry, or even one case where a writer had been approached by a publishing company to repackage her blog material into a book.
Now, here’s where the sidetrack started: my first exposure to blogging was predominately personal development bloggers. So, instead of really looking at the whole field and determining how to apply blogging to what I wanted to accomplish, I started what was a sort of inspirational message blog. And got distracted by other areas, including my interest in the seriously offbeat, and coinciding with my exposure to public speaking and a fascination with motivational speaking.
I let myself get scattered and lost.
Looking back at my blogging “career,” I see I did a number really pretty silly things.
- I wound up blogging about the paranormal, and phenomena like unidentified flying objects. I actually wound up getting some notoriety in that field, which might have been worth something if the audience wasn’t made up primarily of marginalized individuals that have no interest in the truth of the very subject with which they were obsessed. (After I had been accused of being part of the “UFO secrecy conspiracy,” I figured it was time to throw in the towel.)
- I feel I do have a set of experiences that give me a unique perspective on the nature of this thing called Life (hence, “the meaning of existence and all that”) but in terms of the utility of these insights … it would be arrogant of me to even suggest I could be a “life coach” or something of that sort. I do think that the society I’ve grown up with is tunnel-visioned, and grievously ill, and I wouldn’t know where to start in healing it. Seriously.
- I became something of an evangelist for the power of gratitude. I don’t think this is a silly thing as such, but the nature of gratitude is that you either “get it,” you see the value of it or can see how it might be valuable, or you don’t “get it” at all. Preaching to the choir is a pretty pointless endeavor, and attempting to “convert the heathens” is something that runs against the nature of what I understand gratitude to really be about.
- Starting a humor blog and not having the resources to post multiple items 24/7/365 — in the face of CheezBurger and all the other big humor blogs in existence now — is futile.
- And the one thing underlying all of these: I wasn’t getting closer to the thing that really had held me all these years, of writing fiction.
(I must note one exception in particular: a good thing that came out of my defunct blog High Oddness is that it was the first exposure for the 5 Second Novel series, and there’s a 164 of them now, a small but dedicated group of fans of them, as well as a dedicated site which will be reopening soon, and an ebook.)
So … I apologize. I apologize for not knowing where I was going, and I apologize for dragging you along on a journey that didn’t even serve me.
The Silver Lining
While I was sidetracking myself, the publishing industry changed. Dramatically. Getting book deals became increasingly more difficult. The “print on demand” publishing industry took root, and the “vanity press” stigma began to fall away. Ebooks rose in prevalence, driven in part by the 800 pound gorilla of Amazon and their proprietary Kindle ebook readers. We hear stories of the publishing industry approaching self-marketed, self-published successes, and these independent successes laughing at the sky and telling the industry to go pound sand down a rathole, because they’d be making less money with the industry.
For someone who is a driven writer, even with limited resources, the iron door to publishing isn’t just open now, it’s been blown off the hinges. The gatekeepers of the legacy publishing industry can be dismissed by the ambitious souls willing to put in the effort, establish their names, and do the marketing for their work that the industry would expect them to do anyway. And, potentially, these writers will keep a much larger share of the profits for themselves, rather than have it “creatively accounted” away by The Man.
And, yes, that’s the reason I haven’t been here for a while. I’ve gone through that blast-damaged door. I haven’t reached anywhere near the level of success that I want yet, but I just might.
Folks, that’s where I’m going. If you’re of a mind to come along, I’d be happy to have your company.
Over the next few weeks you’ll be seeing changes to The Meaning of Existence (and all that). I’ll be re-focusing the site, and I’ll be introducing the free Odd Little Universe Newsletter, which will both replace the email subscription utility I’ve been using to notify you of new posts here and at The 5 Second Novel.
Thank you for reading. Really.
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Copyright © 2015, by Daniel Brenton. All Rights Reserved.