22 December 2008

State of the Blog: First Anniversary

Dear Readers:

It's been one year since I started this blog. I thought I'd use this post for some navel-gazing. In that time I've logged over 220 posts, some long, some short. Some were link aggregations, most, though, were original content. That's a fair output—at least quantitatively speaking—for one person.

I'm not sure what my expectations were for beginning this thing: an outlet for personal expression, a chance to practice non-fiction writing with the constraints of (perhaps) an audience, or a forum for developing some sort of cyber-community with like-minded readers and fellow-bloggers. Most likely, it was some combination of all three.

Looking back at my posts, I do think I've stayed true to the purpose set out in the heading: "A blog about philosophy, theology, literature, politics, economics, law, ethics, culture, and any thing else that strikes our fancy." That may be too broad a mission to attract any specific audience; literary folks may not care much for politics and vice versa, e.g. But, for now, I'm happy being niche-less, generalist, broad-minded.

A look at the range of topic labels list on the right side of the page will show, however, that the majority of my posts have to do with fiction and literary criticism. And that is only natural. Lots of what appears here is purposive. As I work on my new novel, I read widely and deeply. My research sends me on tangents, stimulates my thinking, inspires my writing. It also distracts me from the work at hand. But now I have something like a roadmap of my own stream of consciousness for a solid year. In some senses, these posts serve as notes to myself. If, somehow, I can go back and look at them in several years, I'll see where I was and what I was thinking. Also, if I ever get a novel published, anyone who wants can go back and see the raw material of thought going into my art.

A quick check of statistics for WoW shows I've had nearly 25,000 unique, or cookie-less visits since the beginning. That is humbling. It is not huge in the Arianna Huffington sort of universe, but for some guy sitting at his Mac it's way more than I ever imagined.

I'm quite fond of the pictures accompanying my posts, and I spend a lot of time searching them out. I really enjoy how they complete or complement entries as visual puns or humor, or provide some sort of artistic statement. Early on, my biggest draw was this pic: Those clickers didn't stay for long.

Lately, though I've been getting readers who log on for 10 minutes plus and spend up to over an hour reading around. I'm happy to provide content; I only hope there is some wisdom to be found here. A couple of sites have even been gracious enough to list (and some have subsequently de-listed) WoW in their blogrolls. For those kind links, I am grateful and hope to be more reciprocal in the future.

Readers have been logging on from all over, as well. Here is a map from StatCounter showing where some of WoW's most recent visitors have logged on:

As for comments: I wish there'd've been more comments from my readers. I welcome them. The ones I've gotten, I've enjoyed the 'ahem' attention and tried to respond thoughtfully and appropriately. To generate more comments, should I try to be more provocative, more controversial? I wonder, too, if I should do less essayistic posts, less intertextual (self-referential) posts, less theme-blog posts, more aggregating posts.

Some ideas for next year: More music. Maybe some podcasts, some streams, some videos. I constantly listen to music while I work. Maybe I should share the soundtrack of my musings. I have over 17,000 songs on my iTunes and several favorite radio stations bookmarked. (One big disappointment this year was the crash of my hard drive. I didn't lose my music, thank blog, but I did lose all my ratings (1 to 5 stars). That's a lot of database work to replicate.)

I do plan to remain non-commercial: no amazon links, no paypal donation widget, no ads. If, on the outside chance (given the economy), I manage to get my novel published, I'll create a separate marketing website.

Thanks to all my readers. Any suggestions you have for improving this blog would be welcome. I have lots of ideas circulating for the new year and believe there is much to discover. Till then, though, I'm not sure how much more posting I'll be doing. Best of the Holiday Season!

Jim H.

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