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

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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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Blogging Before Blogs

A friend and I were musing about who can take credit for the first blog ever produced. (Certainly not me. I jumped on the bandwagon rather late.)

If you stick strictly to the idea that blogs, by definition, are web based, I suppose with a little bit of digging one could find the first one. But really, blogs (short for weblog) tend to be highly unique to the writer. Some are random musings, such as mine. Others are highly researched. Some include commentary, others are all about the photographs and links to other articles. So how on earth would you begin your search?

To add another layer of complexity, humans did such writing before the worldwide web existed. They wrote diaries. They kept scrap books. And surely people of note must have realized that their personal letters would be kept and reviewed by others. We have a longstanding tradition of putting our thoughts and ideas out there for the world to see.

One of my favorite examples of this tendency are the colonial almanacks that were very popular in the 1700’s. The most famous of these, of course, is Poor Richard’s Almanack, written by Benjamin Franklin.

I have no doubt that Franklin would be a blogger if he were alive today. In fact, he put out this almanack annually from 1732 to 1758, and I happen to own a copy of the collected works. I love pulling it out and reading it from time to time. In the era of the horse and buggy, it was much more efficient to publish the thing once a year. But he’d probably be blogging and tweeting on a regular basis, if given the opportunity today.

His almanack included poems, sayings, astronomical and astrological information, a calendar (of course), and information about the weather. His writing was all about being frugal and working hard. Much of his work is still popular to this very day.

If you speak English, odds are you’ve quoted Poor Richard’s Almanack at least once in your life, whether you knew it or not. Here are three of his more famous lines:

  • A friend in need is a friend indeed!

  • Fish and Visitors stink in 3 days.

  • Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.

I’ll be the first to admit that some of his sayings, especially about wives and servants, are controversial in modern times. But viewed through the lens of his era, Ben Franklin is one of my blogging heroes. I’d follow him.

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On Being Recognized

It’s happened a couple times before, but it never fails to take me by surprise. There’s nothing as flattering/unsettling as being recognized by a total stranger. For a split second, I feel like a rock star.

I stepped out of the bridge tower just as two women were walking past.

“Are you the one that operates the bridge?”

“Yes I am.”

“What’s that like? Is it a good job?”

“Best job in the entire world.”

“But don’t you get bored?”

“Well, I write a daily blog called…”

“Oh! Is that you? I read that! Can I shake your hand?”

Like I’m somebody, or something. It made my day.

It’s really strange to realize that your anonymous little life isn’t nearly as anonymous as you think it is. I work in isolation. I blog in isolation. And yet people rely on me to get from point A to point B, and people read what I write. Go figure.

It’s so easy for me to forget that. I spend so much of my time being silent that I forget that I am making an impact in my own way. A quiet little noise.

And so do you, dear reader. Always remember that it was tiny drops of rain, imperceptibly, over time, that carved out the Grand Canyon. We all matter.

Isn’t it great?

http _i.huffpost.com_gen_1585786_thumbs_o-GRAND-CANYON-RIVER-facebook

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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.

THANK-YOU-Computer

Being on Their List

I don’t consider myself a journalist. Nor do I consider myself an influencer. My humble blog is small potatoes, so I’m probably safe, for now. Move along. Nothin’ to read, here. But I must admit, this article in Forbes, entitled Department Of Homeland Security Compiling Database Of Journalists And ‘Media Influencers’ has me clutching my pearls.

Rest assured that when your government starts compiling lists, it generally does not end well for the people therein. Just ask the Jews in Nazi Germany, or the Muslims in Trump America. Lists are to identify people you plan to treat differently.

This could be bad for writers in general. Especially when the current administration hates the media so intensely that it openly encourages violence toward them. Not good. No bueno.

One particularly chilling part of this database is that they plan to indicate one’s “sentiment.” That’s kind of arbitrary and subjective, isn’t it? If I criticize the government in any way, do I get a black mark? If anything, I should get a gold star for exercising my right to free speech like any American has the right to do. But I’m not going to be the one compiling the list, and I suspect I won’t see eye to eye with whomever they choose to do so.

It’s not in my nature to censor myself. I’m not even sure I have the capacity. That’s one of the many reasons I’m not a journalist. I can’t just state the facts. My opinions are a big part of my writing. That means some people will agree, and others will not. But it never occurred to me that my government had to agree in order for me to keep blogging. If it truly gets to that point, I don’t suspect I will fare well.

First, they came for the bloggers…

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My Blog Through Fresh Eyes

I have a confession to make. For about a month now, I’ve been wondering if this blog is worth the effort. I’m tired. I’m overwhelmed. And sometimes I feel like no one is reading it.

That’s why your comments mean so much to me. Without them, I’d feel as though I’m sitting all alone in front of this computer screen, typing to myself. It’s like spitting in the wind, only slightly less messy and humiliating.

Not everyone likes to comment on such a public forum. That’s why I’ve set up a way to contact me personally on my blog’s welcome page, and I’ve also got a Facebook group called The View from a Drawbridge, which I encourage you to join.

Every now and then I’ll get a comment that completely does me in. (In a good way.) I’ve gotten several of those related to my Why I Hate Alcohol post, for example. A lot of people struggle with that issue, and they appreciate having someone put a voice to the way they feel. That’s when I know I’m making a difference. That makes it all worthwhile.

Just the other day I got a message from 13-year-old Mariah J. in South Carolina. She says she’s been reading my blog for about a year now, and that she finds it funny and inspiring. She wishes she could do what I do.

Sniff. Cold coming on. Or… no. The sun is in my eyes. Yeah. That’s it. The sun.

We’ve exchanged an e-mail or two since then, and it makes me realize that she’s an impressive and intelligent young lady with life goals and plans. She definitely seems to have her act a lot more together than I did at that age! And she says she looks up to me. Hoo. I mean… hoo. Speechless.

Since then, I’ve started reading my blog posts and I kind of have Mariah mentally looking over my shoulder. It makes me realize that I really ought to watch my language, for starters. And it’s also making me take what I say much more seriously. My words do have an impact. I’m not just spitting in the wind. I have a responsibility. I might actually influence someone every now and then. Whoa. Hard to believe.

Mariah’s message has renewed my faith in this blog. It has made it special again, for me. For the first time in weeks it’s not feeling like work. It’s once again feeling like a pleasurable calling.

So thank you, Mariah! And thank your SAT prep teacher for introducing you to my blog, and thanks to your 5 siblings for putting up with stories from it, and to your best friend Hannah for thinking I’m a “half famous person”. I think you guys are the best. Stay on your amazing path! And good luck on the PSAT today!

Thanks

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