(Rome and Florence post -- with pictures -- below. Just have to scroll a little bit.)
Happy 2007. I promised some blog changes in a post I wrote before my trip, partly as a way to force me to come up with some. I feel like I do this a little bit too often in writing-related contexts -- I promise things before I've done them, as a way to force me to actually do them. I did this constantly throughout the novel writing, promising my publisher things I didn't have, on short deadline, to force them to happen. Because I can work to deadline, and follow through on commitments. It's the lack of commitments that doesn't work for me, and keeps me from being productive.
I've been blogging now for about four and a half years, and I'm not sure I remember what it was like not to be doing this. There's a part of me that thinks I should see what happens if I stop, but I don't actually want to. I like blogging. I like the feeling of connection, the accountability I feel to my readers, the way it forces me to think about things to write about, and gives me a place to sort out my thoughts. I like hearing from readers and meeting new people through this, and feeling like I have a voice. I like the instant feedback and the idea that I can write something and put it out there into the world. If anything, I screwed this up in 2006 and want to fix that in 2007. I haven't written enough, or well enough. Or pushed myself enough to be funny or thought-provoking or worthwhile as a blogger. I've forgotten, to some degree, that this medium is powerful. It got me a book deal.
There are a handful of blogs I've read for longer than I can remember. I started thinking about this just a few days ago, but their blogs have done good things for them, in almost every case. Aaron Gleeman, who writes about baseball, built an audience, got a job with a larger Internet entity (Rotoworld) and now has a job writing for NBCSports.com. The Amateur Gourmet, who writes about food, got a book deal. Okay, so maybe it's just those two, or at least that's all I can think of right now, but that's still pretty cool. To some degree it might be timing like it was for me -- blogs are much more widespread and mainstream now than they used to be, and anyone blogging 3 or 4 years ago was ahead of the curve and we were able to grab attention that would be much harder now that mainstream media is playing too and there are so many more people blogging. But it's still pretty neat.
So: my blog changes for 2007. First, a small one. At some point during the year I started writing a post about every book I read, probably mostly to give me some material to be posting about. That's become a chore, because oftentimes I don't have much to say. I'll keep listing whatever I read in the sidebar (I added a few new books there this evening) because it's a nice way for me to keep track, and because I know there are at least a couple of readers paying attention (and the dollar that Amazon throws me if you click on the links is a marginal benefit as well). If I have something to say, I'll write a post, but if I don't, I won't. No big deal, no one cares.
The bigger change is pretty simple. I'll post every day, something that's more than just filler, or I want you to stop reading. There's my 2007 commitment. I give myself permission to skip if I'm away from home, but other than that, I want you to hold me to it. There's a world of things I can write about even if I have nothing going on. You have no idea what I think about all sorts of things, and to some extent, neither do I. If I force myself to blog about, say, the Federal Reserve, it'll help me figure out what I think, and maybe it'll even spur some activity in the comments. So I want to push myself. The Federal Reserve is a bad example. But you know what I mean. That said, I'll take requests, now or later. Anything you want, I'll either do my best or write about why I won't. Or I'll just push myself and force something out. You may start getting fiction.
2007 Commitment Number Two. Anonymous Lawyer posts, every weekday, starting tomorrow. It's inexcusable how infrequently I've been posting over there. I should be doing better than that, and I will.
Number Three. If you read this, you are positively impacting my life. One thing I've felt missing in 2006 has been the chance to impact other people's lives in that same way. The volunteer tutoring I've been doing has been okay but the program is set up in a way that you don't really work with the same kids each time, and I've mostly felt like I haven't been of that much use. So I'm turning to you instead. If there's some way I can help you, send me an e-mail. It'll make me feel useful in the world. I'm leaving this pretty vague and hoping someone will see it and take a chance. Worst that can happen is I apologize and feel bad that I can't do whatever it is you're asking. But you can try.
Number Four. An odd request, which I've tried before with a slight bit of success. It would be fairly rewarding to me to find a writing partner or two for a project or two yet to be conceived. Maybe a screenplay, maybe something totally not a screenplay, I don't know. I just want a couple more irons in the fire and writing with someone new will help motivate me in a way that writing on my own doesn't always. Maybe there's a match out there. Worst that can happen is we try and it's not a match and oh well. So if that sparks anything in you, let's talk.
Number Five. I've done New Years Resolutions before. I've done them badly. They haven't been concrete enough. "Surf the Internet less" is too vague, and completely unmeasurable. It's also not the right kind of resolution because it doesn't give me anything to actually do. I'll surf the Internet less if I'm busy clipping my toenails, or whatever else I might resolve to do instead of not do. I posted a few months ago about a Demetri Martin video I watched, a brilliant -- BRILLIANT -- one-man-show he performed called "If I." For part of it, he talks about trying to self-actualize and putting together a point system where he measured his progress each week on a number of dimensions, trying to quantify things like "Healthy" with specific measures like how many days a week he ate fruit. The lesson of the show is that this is silly and just set him up to fail and rig the system and wasn't actually measuring anything at all. Yet it inspires in me the notion of a checklist for 2007, instead of resolutions, knowing full well that I probably won't end up doing most of these things, and there will be lots more things that will turn out to be more important I do instead.
So I'm making a list. It was here last night, but I realized this morning that I don't like it, so I'll work on it and post it some other time. In any case, Happy 2007. Sorry this post is a monster.