The Future of this Blog

Few people have blogs anymore, or maybe I just don’t follow as many as I used to. Still, I’m far removed from the days when I would churn out a post a week. Lockdown would’ve been a great time to revitalize the blog, and yet the revitalization (for me) came from a Neil Gaiman Masterclass and the resumption of my survey of movie adaptations of the plays of Eugene O’Neill.

But that was for Murmurs from the Balcony. This blog didn’t see such a resurgence.

Part of the reason is the nature of these blogs. Dreams of Literary Grandeur is proactive. I pick something to write about, and I write about it. Murmurs from the Balcony is reactive. My pieces on there are a response to something, whether it’s a movie or event or book or play. Eugene O’Neill is a project with an ending. Dreams of Literary Grandeur is all the stuff that isn’t planned. As such, it can be erratic.

When I first started writing this blog, the subheading was “One man’s attempt to become a professional novelist, poet, and playwright.” As it became apparent that very little of the blog was actually about becoming a professional writer (minus my periodic updates on my novel, which is currently hibernating or dead), the focus changed (hence the Robert Schumann quote about “the duty of the artist”). Before the split between criticism and personal essay occurred, this blog had everything on it. I’d have a passing thought and would write about it. And though I only wrote a few posts directly concerning Japan (despite a project idea to publish posts for three years starting in 2015, 10 years after I went there), I created this blog about a year after I came back to the States (initially on Blogger), still riding that creative surge and (later) the large changes that were happening in my life at that time, such as going to the Wesleyan Writers Conference for a day or moving to Seattle from the East Coast (this from someone who, minus a trip to Portland to see if I wanted to live there, had only been as far west as Louisiana, on a Spring Break road trip taken my senior year of college – which is now, to my surprise, over 20 years ago).

Like many things I write, I haven’t revisited most of these posts since I hit the publish button, the exception being my SIFF entries when I was celebrating my 10th continuous year of covering the Seattle Internation Film Festival by republishing some of my favorite posts from years past. In hindsight, that would’ve been an excellent time to hang up my hat on the festival, for the next year, COVID hit, and while I covered the 2022 shortened version of the festival, (2020 was canceled, and I couldn’t secure a press pass for 2021, which was virtual only), it very much felt like that era in my life was over (though I’m very proud of those 2022 entries).

I’ve been in Seattle long enough to have seen several eras of my life go by. The very beginning, when I was staying with friends in West Seattle, the 5 1/2 years I lived in the U-District – which covered the Meetup era – to the post-Meetup era, when I started hanging out more with friends found in those groups than in the groups themselves. I saw a city with a healthy independent theater chain reduce itself to one, with buildings shuttered and one burning down. I went from unemployed to somewhat employed to steadily employed and back to unemployed (during lockdown) before becoming employed in a year where I thought I’d be stopping everything to pursue writing (I’m glad I didn’t; my previous experiment to that effect almost drove me mad and made me realize I can’t write if I have nothing to write about). And now for the first time since Japan I have a full-time job and am being paid a decent wage, but still don’t have any benefits.

Of course, the biggest change is that I got a cat 😉 Okay, so the biggest change is that I went to being perpetually single to being less than six months away from my wedding.

In light of that, the future of this blog may seem unimportant, but that would be like saying sleep is unimportant. I have this blog as an outlet for my writing, and I write because I must. Even when not writing on a screen or a piece of paper, I’m writing in my head. The arts help us make sense of the world, but my writing helps make sense of my world.

So now that I’ve gone through the history of this blog and the history of my life through this blog, what’s next? All I know for sure is that I’ll continue to write, whether here or elsewhere. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll see a prose piece in print this year.


Ten-Year Milestones

On May 30, 2009, I posted my first blog entry (note: the link on that page no longer works). Back then, I was writing on blogger, living with my parents (to be fair, I had lived in Japan for three years prior to returning home), and unemployed. None of those things are true now. Nor is it true that blogs are a major “thing” anymore. Several of the people whose blogs I used to follow have gravitated to other platforms or vanished altogether, while a select few still write as regularly as they did in the blog heyday. As for me, I’m somewhere in the middle. If you look at my blog posts, you’ll see that I never published regularly. Some months I posted like a madman, others I wrote nothing. Still, I used to write more, and only recently have I started posting as regularly as I used to.

I passed another milestone on October 22 of this year, which is the day, ten years ago, that I moved to Seattle. I originally stayed with friends for a couple months. I’ve since moved three times. The first two places were houses, the second two were apartments. When I moved here, I was 30, single, and unemployed. Now I’m 40, in a long-term relationship, and a lead at work. We also have a cat.

Some things remain the same. I still haven’t finished the novel I started writing back in 2002 (it changes more than a chameleon changes its colors), and now I’ve started a second one. I’ve been collecting together my best poems for a poetry collection, but so far there’s only the one that I’ve published. I still cover the Seattle International Film Festival (and just celebrated my 10th festival this year).

Anniversaries like these make me reflective of all that has happened in between. It’s amazing to think I have over ten years of memories to sift through for both of these milestones. And how I wouldn’t be speaking of these milestones if I’d lived my life differently, ten years ago.

One Year Ago…

One year ago today, I was living with my parents, in Connecticut, after having come back from Japan the year before.  I was basically unemployed, since my only income came from substitute teaching, and I didn’t substitute teach that often.  I had use of the blue van my parents had bought to bring my sister to college her freshman year, fifteen years before, but had no car of my own.  No health insurance.  No idea of how to move forward.

That day, one year ago, I wrote my first blog post.

Amazing how many things can change in a year.

Now, I am living in a shared house in Seattle, employed at two jobs (though one is temporary, and I need more hours at the other), and am using public transportation.  I still don’t have health insurance, but provided that I can amass more hours in the coming terms at my new job, I will be eligible for benefits after working three full terms there.

As for my blog?  My first follower was my brother.  In the first few weeks of my blog, I added three more followers.  Today, I have fifteen followers (two are hidden), plus countless others who follow me on WordPress or who have bookmarked my blog.

I set up Google Analytics to track my followers on October 1, 2009, shortly after Ebert’s “The Blogs of My Blogs” introduced me to a world of blogging outside my immediate friends, and introduced me to my first follower outside my friends and family: S M Rana (who appears as “Buzz” in my followers section, for some inexplicable reason).  My first follower outside of Ebert’s blog came after I wrote a post on the movies Before Sunrise and Before Sunset.  Her name is Melee, and she recently celebrated a birthday 🙂  As of right now, about half of my followers are people I have never met.

So, from October 1 through yesterday, I have had 2,026 visits and 4,162 pageviews, with an average of 2.05 pages viewed per visit.  People spend an average of 2 minutes 35 seconds on my website.  Also, over half of the visits have been from new followers.  The most visits I’ve had in one day?  28, which occurred on Friday, May 1, 2010.  The least has been 0, but minus an error in which I removed the tracker from my blog, that has only happened once since October 1.  This month, the lowest number of visits has been 7.

The most popular page is my homepage (including whatever my latest posts are), but for individual page visits, this page contains my most popular post.  Over 68% of my Internet traffic comes from referral sites, with only 12.34% coming to my site directly (which is a fancy way of saying that most of the people who read me are following me on their blogs or via their Google accounts).

The most interesting piece of information, however, is that I received hits from 69 different countries/territories.  The most (by far) come from America, at 1,220, with India coming in second, at 313.  Then Canada at 87, Japan at 42, the UK at 38, Uruguay(!) at 32, Australia at 30, the Philippines at 28, France at 25, and Egypt at 18 (which may, in fact, be the work of one man).  I could go on, but those are the top ten, and I think you get the idea.

When I first started writing this blog, my main purpose was to have a place to sell copies of my poetry book, even though it took me half a year to figure out how to add the “Buy Now” button in my sidebar.  And I can’t even claim credit for that idea.  I mean, I did have the idea for selling through a website, but it was my brother who showed me how to set up my blog.  So, thanks dude! 🙂

As I wrote, however, I found that I could use this space to write about things not covered in stories, poems, or novels, things like philosophical musings, opinion pieces, personal essays, criticism, movies, books, music.  This format allowed me to write short pieces that I had been mulling about for a while, and may give me an outlet to try out some short stories in the future.

But no writer can write in a vacuum.  I mean, we can, and I would, but it’s no fun if I can’t share these musings with other people.  So, thank you all for reading, and for sharing your writing talent with me.  Not only have I read some truly wonderful posts from people–which has, in turn, helped my writing become better–I have also met some wonderful people through my blog, who I haven’t had the pleasure of actually meeting yet.  It’s funny how, when there’s no one around to talk to, I come here, to my blog, to Twitter, to hang out with some of the most interesting, creative, and fun-loving people that I know.  And trust me, just by being on the web, you encourage my literary dreams to no end.

Thank you.