A Brief Ego Blip

Last month I wrote a post about the Little Free Library that we built for our front yard, and my blog got 670 views that day. Clearly the subject resonated with people. I was really, really proud, because I’m currently averaging 107 views a day.

Throughout the day, I kept visiting my statistics page to watch the numbers go up and up and up, and it was such a rush. I didn’t want the feeling to ever end. But I knew it would, because this isn’t the first time this has happened on this blog.

One time I wrote a post that got 762 views in one day at a time when I was averaging 45 views a day. Ironically, it was called “Holy Screamin’ Cats! I’m Trending!!!” and it was about yet another viewing blip of 376 views. So the post about the trend exceeded the post itself. It will be awfully hard to break that record. Fame, however, is fleeting, as you can see by my statistics below.

I think that how someone deals with that says a great deal about that person. I could have mourned the loss of all that attention. I could have gotten bitter about the return to the status quo. I could have suffered ego withdrawal. But instead I’m choosing to look back at it and smile.

I’ve learned over the years that it’s impossible to foresee which of my posts are going to be popular. And in a way, that makes it fun. Roller coasters that are predictable are not nearly as exciting.

Thanks to all of you who have been along for the ride!

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The Nuts and Bolts of This Daily Blog

I spend about 4 hours a day working on this blog. I’m fortunate in that I have the kind of job that allows me to do much of this while on the clock. If I had to dedicate this much of my free time to keep this engine chugging along, trust me, you’d be staring at a blank page.

The truth is, though, I don’t blog every day. Actually, I write two posts a day, four days a week. At least, that’s my goal. The nice thing about WordPress is it allows me to postpone my publishing date, so I can have them come out one a day, one minute past midnight, Pacific time.

If I don’t have at least 10 posts in queue at the end of my four day writing week, I’m very uncomfortable. My world doesn’t feel quite right. I genuinely believe that this weekly routine has improved my writing greatly over the years.

Sometimes I plan even farther ahead. For example, if I have a vacation coming up, I try to get enough posts in queue that I don’t have to mess with it during that time. (I love you guys, but sometimes I need a break.)

But who am I kidding? Even on holiday, the first thing I do when I wake up is check my statistics to see how many people have been reading my musings, and try to get a sense of what brought them here. I also post a link to the day’s publication on my Facebook group, The View from a Drawbridge. Then I run back over to my statistics and watch them spike, because a lot of my readers find me through Facebook. I’m averaging 106 views a day, now. What a rush.

I also try to respond to all comments the moment I see them. I figure if someone has taken the time to read what I write and respond to it, the very least I can do is reply. And I love the comments most of all, because it makes me feel like we have a community, here. And often that feedback from what I call Drawbridge Nation inspires other writing topics, which is wonderful.

Every day, I also reread and edit every single post that’s in queue. That means that if you see a typo, I’ve likely overlooked it as many as 10 times. Shame on me. (I really do appreciate it when you guys point errors out to me, though, so I hope you’ll keep it up.) Often the final draft is so different from the original as to be unrecognizable.

But that also means that I don’t want to get too much more ahead than 10 days. More than that and I feel so removed from the topic in question as to have become bored with it. I’m so over my writing after the 10th edit.

Another thing I try to do is link back to other posts that have something to do with the one you’re reading. After 6 years, I have quite the backlog to draw upon. New readers seem to appreciate this the most.

And after more than 2,200 posts, I’ve found it useful to keep a spreadsheet with the titles, the date published, and a short sentence as to what each post was about. In alphabetical order. With a link to the post. Because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to find anything, and since the ultimate goal is writing anthologies, this is a tool well worth maintaining.

I also link to other sources of information whenever possible. I’m humble enough to realize that there are others out there with more expertise and insight than I have. It is my hope that my posts are starting points for people, not dead ends.

And I enjoy finding really interesting pictures to include in each post. I’ve discovered that a lot of search engines have a way to filter their photographs so you can choose one that is “free to use or share.” If ever I were to be approached by someone who said that I didn’t have permission to use a photograph, I’d take it down immediately. I really do take copyright seriously. But I love the fact that it’s often the photo that draws the reader in.

One thing I do every waking moment is think in terms of blog fodder. Things I see or do. Conversations I have. The news of the day. Suggestions from you, dear reader. All can inspire a post. I have a long list of ideas for future posts. Some have been on the list for so long that I can barely remember what I was talking about. I’ve come to view everything through the filter of my blog. It’s second nature to me now. Like breathing out and breathing in. (I also tend to think in terms of song lyrics.)

This blog came to life because it occurred to me that I spend a great deal of time all alone in my little bridge tower, staring at the same view day in and day out, and because of that I notice minute details that most people overlook. I figured this blog would last 6 months, if that. But now I can’t imagine life without it, and without all of you. It’s such a big part of my routine, and such a source of joy for me.

What a gift. What a gift. And your reading of my writing is what makes it come alive. You are the nuts and bolts of this blog. So thank you, dear reader. Thank you for taking this journey with me.

(And a big thank you to Ray for suggesting this topic!)

You

Hey! Look what I wrote! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

My Sixth Blogiversary

Can you believe I’ve been publishing a post on this blog every day for six whole years? I can’t. I assumed I’d last about six months, if that. But now this blog looms so large in my life that I cannot imagine being without it.

Through this blog I’ve made many friends, have had many unique experiences, and have expressed many opinions. It has improved my writing and given me a platform and a voice to use thereon. It could be argued that it was how I got my husband, because he always says that he got to truly know me by reading my blog posts.

When I realized this anniversary was about to roll around, I asked several people for suggestions as to what I should write about to commemorate the occasion. In fact, they had so many good ideas that it is going to generate a half dozen posts.

But the suggestion that seemed most appropriate for this specific day came from a member of my new extended family, who also happens to be a writer. She said I should pick six blog posts that I loved writing the most. This seemed like a great idea to me.

What I hadn’t considered was that I’d have to plow through more than 2100 entries to pick those six. Yikes. Thank goodness I keep a spreadsheet that includes the title with a link to the post and a short description of what the post is about, or I’d STILL be reading.

What I decided to do was pick a post from each year. Even that was a struggle. But I think I managed to choose some that really speak to my frame of mind during that time. I can’t say these are the absolute best of the best. But they each mean a great deal to me, and I’m proud of them.

So without further ado, here are my six picks. Let me know what you think!

For 2013 I chose Dog Wisdom. I’m sad to say that both the dogs mentioned in this post have crossed the Rainbow Bridge since I wrote this, but they taught me much, as this entry demonstrates. This one was written early on in the blogging process, and I can tell I was finding my footing, and expressing ideas I had been thinking about for a long time.

For 2014 I chose On Looking Homeless. This was the year that my partner Chuck died quite unexpectedly, and I was feeling very lost and broken. Writing this blog every day helped me work through my grief and pain.

For 2015 I chose The Zen of the Pottery Wheel. When I read this one, I’m reminded of how intensely lonely I was when I first moved to Seattle. I can also tell that I was trying really hard to figure out who I wanted to be.

For 2016 I chose Tent Life. By that point I was settling into my new life, and I was able to raise my head from my navel and look about me. It also gave me time to reminisce and to evaluate my past. This post is about that past.

For 2017 I chose Transformations. This post was written at a time when this country was in turmoil, and it is all about how life can turn on a dime, and how scary that can be. But it shows that I’m learning to cope, and that, for me, is a huge deal.

For 2018 I chose “I Can Do It Myself!!!” This post looks back on the strong, independent single woman that I was, but it also looks forward to the still strong and independent married person I’ve become, and it has made me realize that it’s often a lot more fun to do things with someone else.

My, what a difference six years can make!

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My 2000th Blog Post

Well, holy moly! When I started this daily blog back on December 1, 2012, I would have never guessed that I’d still be going strong 2000 posts later. It’s hard to believe I’ve had 2000 things to say, and that I’m rapidly approaching 200,000 views by 110,000 visitors. A conservative estimate suggests I’ve written over 830,000 words.

I couldn’t have done it without you, dear reader. What has kept this blog so vibrant and interesting for me, especially on days when writer’s block was crushing me like a bug, is your feedback and suggestions. Without that input, I’d feel as though I were typing into a void.

I’ve also made quite a few friends on this forum; people from all over the world. Drawbridge Nation feels like a small, friendly town to me, one that I get to walk through every day. I even think that reading my blog is what finally convinced my boyfriend that I was relationship-worthy, so, yay, there’s that, too!

Because of this blog, I’ve written a book, and am working on a second one. I’m very proud of that. It feels like a tiny bit of immortality for someone who chose not to have children.

I’ve even been recognized on the street a few times, which astounds me. I’m used to thinking of myself as relatively invisible, not, as one reader once described me, “a sort of famous person”.

So I just wanted to thank you for indulging in my random musings, and I hope you’ll stick around for my 4000th post! Meanwhile, I think I deserve a cookie.

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Three Cheers for Stupidity?

Recently Katie Herzog, a writer for The Stranger, a favorite publication of mine, posted a photograph of a man climbing the wide open Ballard Drawbridge here in Seattle. Fortunately this is not something that happens every day, so yes, I agree it was noteworthy. But here’s where Ms. Herzog and I part company. She said, “Kudos mystery climber! Way to make the morning commute a little more fun.”

I’ve been opening drawbridges for almost 16 years. That photograph made me sick to my stomach. Someone tried this with me once, but I realized it rather quickly and aborted the opening, which caused a 2000 ton gravel barge quite a bit of panic, but prevented injury and potentially loss of life. My adrenaline pumped for several hours after that, and I literally went home and vomited.

I suggest that anyone who thinks that this little jaunt was “fun” should Google “Drawbridge” and “Death” some time. People have died on drawbridges. They are millions of pounds of lurching, shuddering concrete and steel that seem to bring out the worst in thrill-seekers. Not a day goes by when at least one fool climbs under the gates when I’m just about to open the span.

If “mystery climber” had fallen, he would have splattered all over the pavement. We’d be scraping him off the sidewalk with a shovel. Would that have made your commute more fun?

People wonder why the bridgetender didn’t see this guy. He was on the opposite side of the span from the operating tower. We do have cameras, but they can only see so much. The bridgetender would never have continued the opening if he had been aware this was happening. Not in a million years. Safety is our number one concern. Killing someone is not something that would be easy to live with. Personally, I don’t think I’d ever recover from that. And despite the fact that it was this climber’s choice to be a total idiot, if it happened on my watch I’d probably lose my job, and therefore my house and my car and… on and on.

As writers, we have a certain amount of influence, and therefore a great deal of responsibility to the public. Encouraging life threatening (and job threatening) behavior is a breach of that trust. I hope the Stranger’s post won’t entice anyone else to copy the mystery climber, or we might see a senseless tragedy.

Stay safe, people. Be smart.

Update: Whoa. Was wondering why my blog was getting so many visits. The Stranger responded to my tirade! Unfortunely, they still aren’t taking it seriously, and they didn’t even have the courtesy of contacting me before quoting me. http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/08/23/25370933/drawbridge-operator-takes-issue-with-the-strangers-coverage-of-a-drawbridge-incident

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One of my coworkers taped a Go-Pro to the rising Fremont Bridge recently. As you can see, it’s a long way down, and the bridge is only halfway open.

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I Feel a Blog Coming On

People often ask me how I’ve managed to come up with a new topic for this blog every single day for the past few years. Frankly, it surprises me, too. I assumed that I’d only be able to keep up this pace for 6 months at most, and yet here I am. I think it helps that I am a bottomless pit of curiosity, and I’d like to think I’m leading an interesting life. I also have a job that lets me live deep inside my colorful imagination much of the time.

What I discovered is that after a while you get into a sort of blog mindset. Every conversation you have, every daydream, every Facebook post, radio broadcast or billboard is potential blog fodder. It’s gotten so there’s actually a distinct feeling I get. It’s usually triggered by my thinking, “That’s interesting,” or “Wow!” or “I never knew that,” or “I wonder why…” When that feeling comes over me, I tend to say, “I feel a blog coming on.”

I’d be lying, though, if I said that it always came that easily. Sometimes just reading the bumper stickers on my commute home doesn’t quite cut it. I’ve actually been reduced to looking at words in the dictionary, or cruising randomly through Wikipedia. I’ve even been known to post on Facebook, “Gaaaaah! I can’t think of anything to write about in my blog! Help!”

Wherever inspiration comes from, I welcome it. This blog has become a huge part of my life. Thank you, dear readers, for taking the journey with me.

[Image credit: torquemag.io]
[Image credit: torquemag.io]

A Totally Different View — www.nathanvass.com

It’s a rare thing indeed to come across a writer whose voice is so unique that it comes through loud and clear in his work. Recently I met such a writer at the Fresh Ground Stories meetup group in Seattle. Nathan drives a city bus for a living, so his views from the bus are completely different than my views from a drawbridge. He has a lot more human interaction, and he deals with it with aplomb. And then he writes about it in his blog.

If you read just a few entries, you’ll see what I mean. He doesn’t write about who he is, but you can see it through his conversations with people.  He knows how to diffuse tense situations. He doesn’t judge people, not even for a second. He has a way of making people open up and reveal things that they never would to most of us. You can tell that he genuinely cares about people and is fascinated by their unique perspectives. He makes himself a blank slate and allows people to write their stories upon him.

I’m not sure he realizes how unusual and outstanding his qualities are. This is a young man who will have an impact on people wherever he may find himself in life. Some people are just exceptional. Nathan Vass is one of those. Read his blog. You’ll be transported.

Nathan on his bus. {Image credit: pinterest.com]
Nathan on his bus. {Image credit: pinterest.com]

“American Blogger Killed”

When I read that headline the other day, my blood ran cold. Because, hey, I’m an American Blogger, so I take stuff like this personally. (Okay, so my notoriety isn’t that overwhelming, but it still strikes a chord.)

According to the Reuters article, the blogger in question, Avijit Roy, was based in Bangladesh, which, let’s face it, does not have a great reputation for freedom of the press. He spoke out against religious extremism. For his trouble, he and his wife were hacked to death by machetes. What a grisly way to go just for speaking your mind.

This kind of reaction to speech in general is incredibly foreign to my very nature. It has never occurred to me to keep my opinions to myself. And sometimes that has irritated those around me. I get that. But I have never, ever, EVER required or even assumed that others will share my opinion. I don’t think of myself as an influential or persuasive person. I’m just someone who shoots her mouth off. Take it or leave it. It’s all the same to me.

So the whole concept of someone slaughtering someone else simply because of what they write or say will always shock me. I mean, if you disagree with someone or something, go elsewhere for your information. Change the channel. Buy a different paper. You know what I’m saying? Take a life? Who does that? It’s insane.

Maybe that’s because I firmly believe that people have minds of their own and can draw their own conclusions. I assume that people who think it’s okay to kill someone for their opinion must really think the power of the word is much stronger than I do. They must think that words actually change things. Perhaps they do, sometimes, but let’s be honest. Tomorrow you’ll have forgotten that you even read this, and that’s true of 99 percent of the things that you read, unless you only read things like the preamble to the constitution or Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.

The thought that there might be some nut job out there in the blogiverse who is reading my ramblings and thinking, “This chick has got to go,” gives me the shivers. But it won’t shut me up.

Rest in peace, Avijit Roy.

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[Image credit: lorihamann.com]

My Second Blogiversary!

Would you believe that I’ve been writing this blog every day for the past two years? I’m stunned. I’m also thrilled. It went from being an effort to being a habit, and now it feels more like a lifestyle to me. When I don’t have at least 5 days of entries waiting in my queue, I feel uncomfortable. I’m a blogger. (Which is really kind of an amazing concept, since the term in this context didn’t even come into existence until I was 33 years old.)

And the popularity of this blog astounds me. Currently I have 345 followers. I had only 168 this time last year. I receive an average of 56 views per day, as compared with 35 last year. I have received a total of 5953 comments, which is a vast increase from last year’s 2,842. When I received my 30,000th view, I felt like I had won the lottery. Now I’m up to 41,944.

And people from 143 different countries have stopped by. Some first time visitors this year include Reunion, Swaziland, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Fiji, Isle of Man, Afghanistan, Palestine, China, Tanzania, Syrian, Bhutan, Senegal and Yemen. Welcome! Check out my stats map from last year as compared to this year!

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Last Year.

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This year.

I feel as if this blog has increased my confidence, improved my writing, and has added structure and a creative outlet for my life. I’m grateful for every single person who takes time out of his or her day to read it. I’m proud of this little thought experiment of mine, and I’m glad you are a part of it.

Thank you.

Revealing My Soft Underbelly

When you write a blog and have to come up with a brand new topic day after day, month after month, you find yourself getting more and more personal. The other day a rumor got back to me that several coworkers have been shocked at some of my revelations. “I can’t believe she would say that.”

Well, I’ve never had much of a filter to begin with, but a daily blog tends to boil you down to your basic elements rather quickly, and you find that you have less and less to hide behind. That was part of the experience that I wasn’t expecting. People who value their privacy shouldn’t blog.

If you read everything I’ve written for the past 15 months, you basically know everything about me except my name, rank, and serial number. I mean, yes, I’ve changed a few names to protect the innocent, but one way or another this is all about me and who I am and what I think.

I’ve told you that I’ve been fired. I’ve told you that I’ve been scammed. I’ve told you my politics, my preferences, and my bad taste in clothes. I’ve revealed that I’m fat and extremely well endowed and prone to depression and that I make mistakes. I’ve showed you my dogs and my socks and my friends and my fantasies. I’ve described who I admire and what gives me the creeps. I’ve taken you with me on my travels and shared a few laughs with you.

So far none of this has come back to bite me in the butt, and I hope it never will because I don’t expect I’ll suddenly encounter a sense of discretion at this late date. I’m having too much fun. Having said all that, I invite you to continue to join me for the ride. It might get exciting when you least suspect it.

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