I’m considering it a sign of blog success that an increasing number of readers want to know about process: They want to know how I do it.
They used to know why I do it, if I ever thought I was wasting my time, and if I’d ever come to my senses.
I have now surpassed a threshold of readers who enjoy the blog that I feel I can’t stop.
The most obvious example is, of course, The Pond. My friends just love the blog. Sure, they’re mostly inebriates, but www.EightDaysToAmish.com would never dream of discriminating against drunks, whores or other non-violent felons who add so much color to our local news round-ups.
It welcomes all readers, regardless of moral stature.
As mentioned here, I’m now The Pond’s official Twitterist. The story mentions Dave, the computer-less owner, so I printed it out and handed it to him to read.
He did so right in front of me. The bar was packed.
He didn’t read it aloud, I’m relieved to say. He just roared with laughter. He created such a commotion I’m convinced he’d have thrown himself out if he was anyone else.
He just laughed and laughed. His laughter is so infectious the whole bar began to bubble. Everyone knew he was reading something I’d written.
So they were thinking nice thoughts of me because we all like Dave and enjoy seeing him happy.
But part of me was embarrassed. It was a lot of attention.
Happily, that part of me was microscopic compared to the gargantuan part of me that preens over flattering attention. I right away overcame my momentary shyness and asked Dave if he’d give me a free beer in exchange for the giggles.
And he did.
So it was the best day I’d had in the bar since 2007 Happy Hour I found that $20 under the men’s room sink.
In fact, it was a great day all around. Earlier that day, I’d been with some friends, a couple of whom read and enjoy the blog.
They were complimenting recent stories and one of them asked about process. He wanted to know where I get my ideas and how I write the posts.
“I try and go to bed with either a topical idea from the news or something interesting that’s been happening to me,” I said. “Then I wake up around 6 a.m. after the ideas’s been sort of marinating in my head all night. I drive to the office with a still foggy mind and it usually flows pretty easily.”
If I take a shower or even splash water on my face, the writing becomes torture. I think that’s because the water awakens the realization I should be doing something else that might lead to actual income instead of a free beer from Dave.
But if I’m half asleep my mind seems dreamy enough to write about 750 words in about 90 minutes.
My self-imposed deadline is 8:30 a.m. so I can go home and put the kids on the bus (school’s open in 10 days!).
Then I hastily proof and file the story.
This explains why the first versions have so many typos and careless errors. I wish I was more disciplined, but I prefer just firing the thing off. Then I’ll come home for lunch and proof the already-posted copy and find and correct three or four sloppy mistakes and re-post.
I’ll check back in on it maybe two or three more times that day and always find another error or two.
The result is the first version -- the one that’s most widely read -- invariably has the most mistakes. Then the last version -- the one that attracts just a few straggling readers -- is pristine.
I can’t help it. That’s the way it is and the way it’s going to stay and I appreciate your indulgence.
Then my friend asked me a question I’ve often asked myself: Why not write stories in advance and stockpile them?
Maybe part of me still wonders if this internet thing’s a fad that’s going to go away. And what would happen if it did and I had about 10 great stories in the kitty destined to go forever unread?
Then there’s this: I’m a better writer today than I was yesterday, but not as good as I’ll be tomorrow. If you write enough, you improve. I really believe that.
But the main reason, I guess, is the same one why we all enjoy going to the farmer’s markets.
It’s gotta be fresh. I often slip in off-topic references that add a sparkle of timeliness to the tale.
This story about me turning 50 nine months before I turn 50 is a perfect example. With just a little tinkering, this could run anytime before February and no one would notice.
But I wrote it, was pleased with it, and wanted to get it online that instant. I thought it might make someone laugh who was in the midst of a real crapfest of a day.
Why would I withhold something like that from even one reader?
So there you go: www.EightDaysToAmish.com, guaranteed 100 percent fresh and organic.
And done today by 8:30 a.m., too!
You’ll just have to excuse, please, the all the sloppy tyypos.