Today I reach a landmark in my career as a blogger, and following the example of my hero Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784) of nobly aspiring to laudably be a “man of letters”, who he considered to be one who had more than a perfunctory understanding of a wide assortment of subjects. When I began my blog six months or so ago, I started on something that I had long wanted to do and, being then “retired”, I felt I would have time to devote to it. The technology of getting started, and after maintaining the website / blog, was not all that difficult, although I do have to thank my 15/16 year old son for helping me when needed. Given my attempts hitherto of writing diaries have been nigh pathetic (which is why I admire those who do), I wasn’t sure how well the new venture would turn out, but at the same time I set myself the loose goal of writing 100 new blog entries in the space of one year. So it is with some elation that I can report that I have just succeeded and done so in half the time!
In accordance with my skeptical approach to life, having learned the hard way things are not always what they seem, the world really does contain an assortment of fools, villains and good guys, and it helps to know which is which, and as a result of getting old and having had hopes thwarted and been let down by people I had expected better off, more times than I care to remember, I embarked on my blog writing career with some trepidation and reservation, but hopefully without rancor and in a spirit of wanting to winsomely engage with a wide audience. I realised the likelihood I would take the world by storm with my profound words of wisdom would be almost zero. I saw the need for accountability and for people to challenge. There were a number of reasons though for getting into blog writing. Firstly, I have something to say that would benefit others and it is not being said enough. Secondly, it might help to promote my other writings. Thirdly, as a community activist, it is important to promote those things in which I am active by whatever means possible. Fourthly, I wanted to encourage other community activists, including what I find is not such a rare breed after all, those who love God and want to do his will, yet be active in their communities. Fifthly, it could lead to money making opportunities.
I have been moderately successful in the first four, and my lack of success thus far in the fifth has helped to keep me humble and more reliant on God, although still hopeful my “knowledge is power” belief and my nephew’s “sell my brains” advice may one day pay off! If stats are to be believed, I have had a little over 3000 hits on my blog, and around 1000 hits on other areas of my website, since I began from, to my astonishment, 66 countries (and I would love to say hello to my regular visitor(s) from Brazil, whoever he/she is), with by far the largest number coming from the UK. While I have to confess a little envy toward those who have many times this number, it’s nice to know some people do read what I have written, and on a number of occasions people have told me they have found what I have written to be helpful. Most of those who have accessed my blog I don’t know and I am never likely to, but the thought we can touch people in this way is touching. I am reminded of the words of my fictional hero, John Keating, from “The Dead Poets’ Society”: “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world” and just maybe my blog will help to do just that!
Regarding blog content, it has touched on a wide range of subjects, which if any care to scroll through the preceding 99 titles of postings in my blog, they will be able to ascertain for themselves. Obviously, these are things I care and know something about that have arisen in my day to day routines, and apologies if I have missed something important. I have tried to be sensitive to the wide range of beliefs of my readership and, while some posts are “general interest”, some have a “Christian” emphasis, because it seemed relevant for those posts. It is interesting to note which blogs have been popular and which haven’t. Some of those that haven’t have been about things I care deeply about, such as the subject of abortion and assisted suicide or, on a more light-hearted note, cricket, chess and poetry. The subjects that seem to have captured peoples’ imagination, sometimes to my surprise, have included Palestine, homelessness and homosexuality, and some of my more “political” postings.
I have tried hard to write in accordance with my “is it true; is it kind and is it necessary” principle. I may have upset a few in the process. If wrongly so, I unreservedly apolgise and invite those who want to take issue to email me with their concerns or use the Comments facility now available at the end of each posting. Sometimes, as a result of having something pointed out to me, I have changed what I have written and will always endeavour to do so when I am in the wrong. While I understand when people do take issue with what I write, there are times I need to stick to my guns, but I hope and try not to fall out – life is too short. I am all too aware of the dangers of narcissism, delusions of grandeur and feelings of self importance, all of which I try to avoid. I admit to the bizarre habit of correcting stuff I’ve written later if I happen to spot a misplaced comma, typo or something that upon further reflection I could have better expressed. I have also liberally used hyperlinks as there is a lot on the Web that is relevant I needed to incorporate or refer to.
As a result of trying to use good English, some say I write too posh, but then the grammatical errors are proof I have not entirely managed to do so, but I do try to avoid jargon and define terms, mindful of my early career advice never to assume anything. When I do return to something I have posted, maybe on many occasions, it is in order to make it clearer and more accurate, and to incorporate further thoughts. As for promoting the blog, other than using my email distribution lists from time to time and telling others on Facebook when I have written something new, I have done little else to promote it, other than when opportunity has arisen such as in online discussions and meetings, and realize it doesn’t even appear on Internet searches. One of my gripes is people who promote things that are not worth promoting (although often doing so successfully) and I had rather hoped if I do touch a chord somewhere, word will get around. Even so, there are things that can be done to get more website visitors, and is something to be worked on. But what is important is some issues need addressing and written about since these aren’t being dealt with as satisfactorily as they ought, so I need to make amends, irrespective whether or not people read what I write. I leave this in the hands of the Almighty!
I realize my tendency to be verbose, and have tried, but not entirely successfully, to be more succinct. I am still learning the art of making important points with an economy of words. I have focused more on content than on presentation and making the blog more attractive by using multi-media and fancy layouts, and I hope folk will bear with this grumpy old man for doing so. As for the future, I need to get a life, focusing on the important things, such as my family, organizing my affairs and serving the community, especially its more vulnerable members, in practical ways. Quite likely, my rate of adding new blog entries will reduce, but I do hope to continue to blog while I have all the marbles to do so. There are still many things I care about that I want to look into and share so that I may help others, so watch this space! I have learned a lot since I began my blogging career and feel this is NOT the time to stop.