If there’s anything more thankless than going in to the office and trying to get some work done on the day before Thanksgiving, it’s got to be posting a blog later that same night when it’s virtually guaranteed that absolutely no one is going to be paying attention. The only thing in my favor is that here on the east coast we got the first snow of the season, so many potential readers might just be sitting the night out at home. I’m not holding my breath on that, of course, which is why you’re reading this process piece instead of seeing anything remotely resembling meaty content.
After more years that I want to think about, I really do have a sense for how scheduling drives the number of posts. It’s a blessing and a curse since it means sometimes I’ll withhold some good writing until I know more than a few people will be paying attention. It also drives the fact that I almost never post on Friday and Saturday. Sadly the world has better things to do on those days than listen to another blow hard ranting on the internet. I’m not selling any advertising here, but still it’s nice to know that what you write has got a fighting chance of being seen… because no matter how much noise we make about writing for ourselves and not for an audience, we really, really want the audience.
So as you’re sitting there, toasty warm in front of your pre-Thanksgiving fire, sipping your nog (or whatever it is you’re supposed to sip at Thanksgiving), think of the poor harried bloggers out there smashing away at their keyboards and wanting nothing more than a few more people to drop by their site. Take a little time tonight and poke around WordPress or Blogger and there’s a good chance you’ll run across someone whose voice you need to hear. It’s a jungle out there, but there are some incredibly good writers too who are just churning it out for the love of our particular game.
Well, the last post from the old MySpace blog went live here on WordPress earlier this morning. I guess that’s that. It’s been such a part of the Sunday morning routine for me that it feels a little strange now that it’s finished. Don’t get me wrong, though, I am extraordinarily happy to finally have the “collected works” all under one roof for the first time. I like knowing that if I get hit by a bus on the way to the office tomorrow, at least this one small bit of me will endure in electronic form for as long as there is an internet. Let’s not get into too deep a discussion that this is what I’ve chosen to leave as my eternal legacy to the world. Sure, it’s no cure for cancer, but as an historian, there’s nothing we like more than day to day commentary about how things were in the olden days… so, blogging is a public service (for a public that hasn’t been born yet).
I don’t have any really solid idea about how the statistics add up but a quick guesstimate would be that I’ve posted something in excess of 300,000 words and garnered something like 60,000 visitors between MySpace, Blogger, and finally here at WordPress. Those visitors have had the chance to read 1,518 individual posts between June 2006 and December 2013. Yep, if you’re doing the math at home, that’s seven and a half years of blogging, and I feel like I’m really just starting to hit my stride.
If you’d like to stop by the archive for one last look around and to see the last four posts from the days of MySpace, here’s the inevitable link to October 2008. The transition from MySpace to Blogger was relatively seamless, so you’ll have to scroll down a bit to start on October 19th. Be sure to check back next week to see what the “new” Sunday mornings look like.
With 1,233 visits, an average of 40 visits per day, and a one day record of 148 visits, October was a good month for jeffreytharp.com. The only sure thing I’ve learned from running a blog this long is that you can never expect success. It’s best to go into each post assuming that you’re writing to satisfy an audience of one: yourself. That’s why I’m savoring the high points when they come – especially since the last record setting month was back in May 2011. What that trend tells me is that apparently people like to see ranting about work (May 2011 I was in the final stages of escaping my previous employer) and raging about government ineptitude (This past October saw the latest government shutdown and endless incidents of political asshattery).
As tempting as it is to chase that trend, I don’t think that’s what I want to spend all my time writing about. The reason I’ve never settled into a topical niche is that I tend to be interested in whatever happens to go on around me on any given day. Maybe that’s a character flaw, but it does give me wide latitude when it comes to picking topics. I very much like having latitude.
So with that said, I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing around here for almost four years now. I’ll keep writing, you keep reading, and we’ll see if we can’t set a new record sooner rather than later. And because I don’t do it often enough, let me just say thanks to everyone who’s reading along at home, those who impart a snarky word from time to time, throw me a like, or even just shake your head in amazement that someone would bother to manage this much schlock on the internet. This is definitely the best non-paying job on the internet, but I still have a few surprises up my sleeve for the future so let’s go ahead and plan for the best being yet to come.
1. Begging. Tonight’s the night when all you parents out there send your children mixed messages by encouraging them off to talk to strangers for candy. Fortunately the houses in my neighborhood are far enough apart that it’s not particularly lucrative bit of ground to cover, so there aren’t typically herds of children wandering around looking for a handout. It’s not so much that I mind the giving away of candy, but like the 4th of July, it’s one of those nights that threatens to send one or both of the dogs over the edge every time they hear the gate close or someone knocking on the door. Then again there’s the unmitigated glee when I open the door so parent and child are faced with a surly looking bald man with two barking dogs at his back… so at least there’s that.
2. Getting Close. Earlier this month it looked like jeffreytharp.com was well on its way to having its best month ever in terms of unique views. WordPress was regularly reporting daily views of 50 or 60 people. On October 3rd, the site posted its biggest single day. Since this past Sunday the number of views per day have plummeted for reasons I haven’t been able to identify just yet. At the rate they’re hitting now, I’ll be lucky to bring in 50 or 60 views this week. Alas, such are the vagaries of the internet. As October draws to a close, I’ll have to content myself with having the 2nd best month in the blog’s short history… and start worrying about how to keep November from ending up recorded as the 2nd worst.
3. Indecision. You can accuse me of a lot of things, but being indecisive is generally not one of them. Right, wrong, or otherwise, when confronted with possible courses of action I’ll pick one based on the best information I have available at the time and move out smartly. I’ll never claim to make the right decision all the time, but I’ll by God make one instead of just sitting around waiting for something to happen. Whether it’s where to have lunch or which program to throw over the side, I wish the populace at large would just stop pussyfooting around and figure out what they want to happen. Walking through life having other people’s bad decisions foist upon you is simply piss poor planning. As far as I’m concerned, any decision made on the spot is better than a great decision made ten minutes too late.
Sometime while I was at work today, jeffreytharp.com rolled over the 25,000 view mark. That’s pretty impressive for some random guy posting whatever pops into his head on a website that doesn’t do any actual advertising. The internet never ceases to amaze me with the reach of its long arms. In that 25,000 visits, every continent is represented (except Antarctica). Not a bad voice at all for a kid from down the Crick.
I started blogging in June 2006, wandered around through a host of platforms from MySpace to Blogger and finally here to WordPress. It started as an occasional post, morphed into posts showing up a few times a week, and now a new post shows up, generally, every day. I’ve learned more about writing from keeping this blog and its predecessors than I ever learned in school. I’ve learned more about myself that I thought I wanted to know too. I’ve learned that sometimes I pull my punches and that despite a life largely lived online, there are still elements that I’m never going to feel comfortable making available for public consumption. I use to feel guilty about keeping some part of myself separate from the blog, but I’m past that now.
After seven years of writing, I’m a bit surprised that I haven’t run out of things to say. I’m even more surprised that there are people out there who are legitimately interested in what’s going to show up on these pages next. For a guy not exactly known for his humility, I’ve found that to be incredibly humbling.
For good or bad, every word written on these pages is mine. They each reflect the moment in time that they were written. For those 629 people currently following jeffreytharp.com and for those yet to find this little endeavor, I really do thank you from the bottom of my heart. Even though I’ve said I don’t write for an audience, I have to admit that it’s far more entertaining with everyone along with me for the ride. Let’s see how things look from the 50,000 view level.