Thursday, May 10, 2007

365 Days In 88 Posts

This blog is one year old today. I wasn’t really sure what it was, or where it would go, when I wrote that first post on a Wednesday night, sitting in our home office with a glass of Turley Zin and a strong desire to do some writing for myself. The girls provided a safe and obvious topic – I had been filling up with stories and moments from our lives together for years at that point, nowhere to put them but into an increasingly unreliable and overcrowded memory.

I still don’t know what this is going to be, where it will go, but after 365 days and 88 posts I do know this – I have captured a year in the lives of our children, our family, in a way I never would have been able to imagine absent this little forum, this advance in technology people call a blog. I guess I could have gotten a leather journal and a pen and jotted down notes to myself, but there’s something fairly satisfying in the process of recognizing an entry, writing it up with care, pushing that little orange “publish” button and sending it out into the world.

The first readers were family members, followed almost immediately by a small group of close friends. Over time the circle expanded, as I became more comfortable with the process and, if I’m being honest, proud of the results. People said nice things about it, told me it was worthy of being published. When you hear something like that enough times you start to wonder about it yourself, so I sought out the counsel of some “book people,” and was told that in order to really pursue anything I would have to make the entries much broader and less personally relevant to our own lives and, at the same time, significantly boost traffic.

Neither suggested course of action was particularly appealing. For one thing, the whole idea behind the blog – beyond the desire to do some organized personal writing – was to capture the little moments, the milestones, the things we said to each other over toasted Alvarado Street bagels in the morning. I wasn’t setting out to be some kind of parenting expert or advocate prone to sweeping generalizations as a result of my own personal experiences. When our home remodeling project turned into a disaster, I wanted to write about it. But from the standpoint of what we endured, not in the form of a generic top ten list offering helpful hints for dealing with contractors. Our stories were our stories, and this was the place for them.

The most reliable way of boosting traffic seemed to be formally joining and embracing the blogosphere – forging relationships with other bloggers, lobbying for inclusion on blogrolls to make it easier for people to find your site, enabling comments to encourage an active online dialogue. All legitimate and perfectly reasonable tactics, but not for me. I wasn’t really looking to go out there into cyberspace and develop a persona in exchange for page views.

I do include an e-mail link, in the event someone wants to correspond with me directly, but I’ve never enabled comments because I’m not really looking for “atta boys” from people I’ve never met in response to something I’ve written on here. I’m even less interested in random or anonymous criticism related to our parenting decisions or the things that are happening as we move through life. Comments seem important to boosting traffic. I guess another option would have been to start cursing and posting the kind of antagonistic, polarizing and often brilliantly entertaining entries that have made this site so popular. I decided to stick with the original vision and talk about the kids.

I have, though, enjoyed finding and reading other blogs devoted to the near-universal topic of parenting – and there are some great ones out there. Shortly after I started, a friend mentioned to me, and I have to say that Heather Armstrong is capable of some of the best writing I’ve ever encountered on the Web. Her monthly letters to her daughter are always good and frequently stunning, she is better than most at making you believe in the power of words to deliver laugh-out-loud attitude and from-the-core-of-your-being emotion, side-by-side. Unfortunately, there is less and less of that on dooce these days. Rather than actually writing entries, Ms. Armstrong seems to prefer balancing all manner of debris on her dog’s head and then posting the resulting photos under quippy captions. Hilarity most definitely ensues. It seems only a matter of time before we see a photo of her dog, Chuck, wearing a lobster bib and groping at a claw cracker under a headline like, “REALLY Wishing He Had Opposable Thumbs!”

Secure in the knowledge I would never be published or attain dooce-esque traffic levels, I decided it might be nice to win some kind of award for all this effort and dedication – to go along with the living and breathing family journal. I was mercilessly smacked down in pursuit of a “Bloggie,” but ultimately won a “Best of Blogs” award. Friends and family members I had pestered for votes innocently asked me what I’d actually “won,” I didn’t have the heart to tell them the most satisfying and significant element of the prize was the little “winner” button that now occupies the upper right-hand corner of my screen. Along the way, I added a headlines feature (thanks Larry and Sergey) that allows me to easily share interesting and noteworthy stories that roll through my RSS reader. And, most of all, I kept posting, and kept being thankful for the existence of this blog and the ability to post.

It’s only a year, but it’s a start, and I am confident that will be around for many more – at least until Madison and Ava are old enough to find this site and profess embarrassment and horror over having our lives categorized and presented in this way. We should have the all-clear signal for at least another three or four years, but who knows, things are moving fast around here…


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