I didn’t plan to spend so much time writing in my second act.
I didn’t plan to become a weekly blogger or to write a book about the Olympics. I also didn’t plan to spend thirty years working as a cost accountant and process designer for a single company. That wasn’t what I dreamed of as a child. I am still in shock that we’ve lived in this house for two decades and that I have apparently raised a physicist and a music teacher.
I thought I’d be going out to museums more often and watch less television. I thought I’d eat more pizza although, now that I’m older, I wish I’d eaten less pizza. Plans–life plans–are like that. They’re really more like wishes.
In the Company of Writers
I spent a lot more time in my youth thinking about writing than actually writing, although I did harbor a notion that I would become a famous writer, someday. I blame Freddy van der Gelder, this kid in my fourth grade class. We were supposed to write a sentence that included the word “beautiful,” then pass our papers to a neighbor. I wrote “The beautiful lake was shimmering in the moonlight.” His hand shot up, he was so excited to read it out loud. That was my First Like.
When I worked full-time, I did write a little in my “spare time,” but was not disciplined about it, and ultimately it seemed like a childhood wish that slipped away. After stopping full-time work, writing was on a long list of cobwebbed “to-dos,” along with watercolor painting, organizing the photos, and creating a database of all the places I’ve been. The photos, the database, the paint supplies continue to gather dust, but I did start the blog.
Two years later, I now have over a hundred posts under my belt. I might just be getting the hang of this. I’ve read ten times that many in the DailyPost and from my WordPress reader. It really opened my eyes up to a lot of tremendous writing out there–not all of it as outstanding as the latest Pulitzer prize winner–but fresh, thoughtful, and from the heart blog entries, which made me want to do this even more.
I finished a book. If you’re excited about the upcoming Winter Olympics, you can whet your appetite by reading some stories about the 2016 Summer Games, about amazing American athletes who won medals in competitions you might not have heard about. You can click here for more information.
I also have this brand new shiny domain, a URL of My Own, to show off. If you were a follower of my old site, I hope that the moving van has properly brought you to kajmeister.com. (If you fell off the back of the truck, and you found your way here anyway, thank you! Drop me a note so I can fix it for you.) Meanwhile, if you’re new and you’re here, there’s a high degree of probability that you write something yourself, so just know that you inspired me, even though I may not know you.
The Change of Domain Stays Mainly on the Plain
For those of you who have a blog, you can appreciate the hell I’ve gone through the last few days in building out a new site. Let’s start with the agony of choosing a new theme as the previous one didn’t support some of the bells and whistles that I wanted. Three days of clicking one after another which did this but not that until my eyeballs were like pieces of gravel. Family members offered technical advice (apparently three out of four of us have blogs), then clashed on the relative merits between text on the left sidebar vs. the right sidebar. I ended up with both–keep ’em guessing.
Widgets! Why does it require software development knowledge in order to be able to indent a post? Plus, I spent 15 minutes yesterday determining how to create the ability to use “tabs,” only to find that meant how to add menu tabs rather than shifting the beginning of a paragraph. This is how you know I grew up using a typewriter, not the Internet.
Or change a color? Why should you have to bookmark where you got your hexadecimal color code from, just so someone could see highlighted text in green rather than gray?
I have a growing list of doodads–excuse me, widgets–that I stuck on my sidebar but since discarded because the space got crowded awfully fast. All the plugin and widget choices make you feel like a kid in a candy store, but it can, suddenly, all seem like a bit much.
So Many Technology Rabbit Holes, So Little Time
Site hosting! CSS code! FTP servers! Holy cow! Luckily for me, five of my indentured servitude years (see above, full-time job) were spent running an eCommerce team and managing technology projects. I do understand a little about coding, SSL certificates, creating child themes, backups, nested menus, and above all testing, testing, testing. I know that if you twang a string over here, it vibrates over there. If you’ve found some of my build clumsy, my bad! I’m still tinkering with this work in process. Send me Comments; I appreciate feedback.
SEO? I don’t even know how that works yet, but apparently my writing is full of violations.
Tags? I’ve been using those for two years completely wrong. A major tag overhaul is in the works.
What keeps running through my thoughts is did Faulkner and Woolf ever have to struggle with such messy details of production? Well, I do know that Shakespeare wrote in an ensemble, and the group added scenes and dialogue specifically to soothe the tomato-throwers in the pit. Learning how to make your work appealing is required even by the best. Virginia Woolf and her husband created their own press, which means that she was self-published. So I guess that writers have always had to deal with the messy, back-end side of getting their brilliant thoughts out there to be absorbed by readers. Meanwhile, Faulkner drank a lot.
Enough Compassion, What about the Statistics?
Being both a numbers and words person at heart, I have to include a few end-of-the-year numbers.
My average post length in 2017 was 1640, compared with about 1340 for 2016. Never at a loss for words, apparently. (See New Year’s Resolution below about writing shorter posts.)
My most popular entries last year were “The Man Who Is My Son,” “A Minor Issue with some Grits,” and “The Avocado Toast War.” A lot of people are sympathetic about having children go off to college; a lot of readers had strong opinions about false statistics used to impugn millennials. Quite a few of you also need to clean out your pantry.
Last year the Aha! in my word cloud was the prominence of the word “People.” This year there is a lot more to “Like.”
Actually, I don’t know if I’m spending more time talking about what I like, comparing things to other things, or garnering favorable reviews. Probably all of the above. In both years, the word “time” is also prominent. I wish had more of it, and if I’d known what I know now, I would have been writing–anything–more often.
Here’s to 50 More Posts
I did make a few New Year’s Resolutions. First, better photo citations here, since I seem to be taking this seriously enough to let the search engines loose on my site.
I also commit to making the blogs a little shorter. Maybe by 250 words, maybe 300. Really. I pinky swear. Well, I pinky swear to try to make MOST of them shorter. (Did you know that the word pinky comes from the Dutch word for little finger, which happens to be “pink”? See how easily that word count increases?)
I do plan to keep on writing. I got a little bit of a late start, compared to what I envisioned in the fourth grade, but maybe I can make up for lost time. I am always reminded of the words from Ruth Gordon, winning an Academy Award in 1969, when she was 72 years old:
I can’t tell you how encouraging a thing like this is …
Today’s DailyPost word was shock