Some anniversaries I remember. Others slip by unnoticed. I missed the anniversary of this blog in August. When I did remember, I had to think how many years it’s been. Two? No, three years. Positive note: I must have more important things on my mind than blog anniversaries.
I’m closing in on five hundred posts written, which will give future biographers plenty of material to construct this period of my life.
Last two years, I wrote anniversary posts with links to that year’s favorite posts (mine and your favorites, all mixed up). Then I started writing end-of-calendar-year posts, with more lists, and it got to be too much. Maybe that’s why I forgot this year about the blog anniversary.
I point these links out for my new readers. I have a loyal base of followers I’m eternally grateful for, and recently I’ve been getting new subscribers. Welcome new readers, whoever you are, however you got here.
Sticking with this blog writing might finally be delivering readership results. In the first year, not much action. The second year, a few more readers. Year three, starting to hit my stride. It’s like the arc of a television series: a few seasons to reach your potential, a few seasons at the top, then at some point you might jump the shark. One thing that’s true: Show up often enough and eventually someone’s going to notice you and say: who the hell is that?
Simultaneously with gaining more readers, I’ve been hearing from more people who have comments or questions. I’d like to address some of those here.
Fact or Fiction?
At times there might be reader confusion between what is fiction and what really happened. Consider this a side effect of reading my blog. Any fact/fiction mix-up is usually deliberate. I’m either trying to make myself look good through embellishment or adding details to make a story more interesting. Gaslighting is an example. Harriet’s such a good teammate and supporter through all this.
I had two people ask me if “The Conversationalist” was about them. It wasn’t a very good piece and I threw it together in an emotional state and maybe my imagination failed, but I answered the question the way any clever writer would: by focusing attention on a boilerplate disclaimer that accompanies a lot of fiction:
The true part of this disclaimer is that fiction is a product of imagination. The stretch is that any resemblance to the real world is purely coincidental.
Imagination is the result of stimulation: observation and experience with people, events, and locales. Combine that with instinct, thinking, and analysis. Work out all the craft stuff like character, plot, structure, voice, dialog, and so on, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for fiction that might have a few roots in fact.
Readers see themselves in fictional characters all the time. We’re not Holden Caulfield, although we’ve all experienced the psychological chaos of being a teenager. We aren’t Jay Gatsby, even though we might have a complicated relationship with the American Dream. We aren’t Offred from The Handmaid’s Tale, but we understand feeling oppressed.
I once had a woman ask me if I’d modeled a very minor character in “Stash” after her. The character appears briefly in two scenes. She’s an aerobics instructor married to a cop. This woman I was speaking with happened to be the same. But she represented a coincidence, not a model for a character. Harriet got asked constantly if she was the inspiration for heroine Gwen Raine in “Stash.” She said she should get a T-shirt that says “I’m not Gwen.” She wasn’t.
Fiction or Fact: I Caught Her Reading My Journal
Plus a dystopian novel I published: “The Culling.”
Who Are These People?
Sometimes I write about my family. I’m fortunate to have the kids at home right now. Julia authored one of the most widely read posts on the blog this year: The False Narrative About Being Fat. I believe Owen saved our treasured sugar maple. We did a few things together: Destined for a Short, Happy Life.
Today also happens to be the anniversary of my father’s death (2014), which I remembered this year. Last year, I wrote, The Day He Died. This post has links to others about my parents, who in many ways were enigmas to me. Also, Geese in a Graveyard.
Some readers have noticed I’ve cut back on political posts. By now, everyone knows where I stand on the issues, and writing about the tumultuous state of our country and the world doesn’t help my mood. But sometimes current public events spawn very personal essays: My Abortion Story. Other times, I glom onto media stories that hold personal interest: A Different Kind of Mafia.
Speaking of moods, despite all I have to feel good about and lucky for, I fall into black holes and will think nothing of dragging you down with me because I usually have to write my way out.
It’s not all doom and gloom. I’ll give you my sense of beauty too.
I post a number of reviews of books, television shows, and movies. I reviewed two of my favorite novels this past year.
I write things people don’t like. Sometimes I write with a secret agenda. I write things I wish I’d written differently. Just the other day, in Rest in Peace, Old Nemesis, I wrote nothing about how Tim was likely in many ways a good man, loved by family and friends. I wasn’t being respectful of the dead, even though I hated his guts. But I have never pulled a post, regrets or not.
If you’ve gotten this far, you are an official reader of my blog. Expect to get about two posts per week in your email. Fewer posts means I’m also working on a novel, more than two a week means I’m likely not. Thank you loyal readers and welcome to recent subscribers. I’m interested in your thoughts about anything I write. You can reach me here.