“Why do you blog?” he asked.
I had to think about it. My original blog was on Blogger.com in 2004: ‘Writing is a Tapeworm’. I am quite sure no one remembers it. It was pre-Face Book and during the height of My Space (they’re still around, did you know?). It served me much the same way my current social media does- random chatter but without the audience. I closed it right around the time I was looking for a new job… cmmounts.com launched in July 2014, died in January 2015, then like a phoenix rose out of the paper shredder in January 2017 with regular posts and visitors ever since.
But why do I blog?
I blog to force myself to meet a deadline for writing every week. I blog to force myself to share my writing. I blog to find my audience, one person at a time, even if I don’t have many readers. I blog as an avenue for self-publishing. Otherwise, I would remain an absolute recluse in this area of my life.
So why am I not published?
I was published in 2002-2003, in three issues of the Journal of Ordinary Thought, a publication of the Chicago nonprofit, Neighborhood Writing Alliance. But so was everyone who was a member. Otherwise, I haven’t really tried. As they say, you can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket.
My goals for 2019 were to be published ‘for real’ for the first time (i.e. paid, even if it was $10) and to have a final draft of one of my novels completed. *Womp Womp* I do now have a ‘submissions’ folder on my computer which is a big deal for me. And I am proudly collecting my rejections like all my fellows.
As for my novel, I am lost. I don’t know what I am writing anymore and the cost in time and emotional energy became too great. So, it’s back in the drawer, maybe for good. That’s how it is with some projects: hundreds of hours and hundreds of thousands of words that amount to nothing but practice. My non-writer friends will now want to encourage me not to give up, but my writer friends know better. They have their own drawers.
So much for what didn’t happen. What did?
My completely unexpected summer romance with a fellow poet. While I am primarily a blogger (by default), he is primarily a storyteller (What’s a storyteller you ask?). Because of this new relationship, I found myself attending many more performances and readings in support of other artists rather than getting up at open mics with my own work. It was a lot of fun and with a whole new community of writers I had not met before. But this is not hard to do as again, I am basically a writing recluse.
2019 was the year I flipped my blog from poetry to non-fiction personal essay. I am still writing poetry and going to open mics now and again. But my blog is forcing me to be brave and in turn submission of work for publication becomes not so scary. Unfortunately, posts to my blog have slowed from 4x month to 2x month due to travel for visits with my mother.
In 2019 I refreshed the look and feel of my blog from plain white paper journal to a colorful magazine style. I commissioned a sketch for use as my avatar across social media. I started to produce an audio blog but have since taken it down. I do not have the time to record and people complained about having to download another app to access the files. No one was listening so I stopped for now. And one thing I never mention is that I am the editor and publisher of the internal newsletter at my job. It counts!
In 2019, I managed 35 blog posts: 25 essays, 6 travel logs, and 4 poems. I had 2,768 views from 1,848 visitors, who made 372 likes and 39 comments. These are very modest stats and the fact is this year, I attracted spambots. Indeed my ‘home page’ views went from 367 (2017) & 371 (2018) to 1,469 (2019). I am frustrated that I can no longer get real stats but if I look at direct post views only, I am holding steady even with fewer blog posts.
For the coming year 2020, expect more of the same: blog posts, publishing submissions, readings, performances, and travel. With one thing extra: my joke book. When my novel got emotionally hard and the reality of my mother’s cancer got even harder, I started to collect snippets of my wisdom and witticism. For two years, I threw a wide net toward anything that held examples of my humor. And in the last part of 2019, I sifted through all that junk for anything that sparked, sparkled, or rang truth. And as of today, I have ended up with about 1,800 entries. These will be sorted and edited and made into my joke book, my first self-published book. No kidding!
It may embarrass my mom but that is a risk I am willing to take.
Happy New Year everyone!
-Copyright C.M. Mounts, January 2020