This is blog-post #200. In a few days I will celebrate the 5th anniversary of my blog, and sometime in the next month or two I will pass the 10,000-hit milestone.
I got into blogging thru my friend Heather Harding. I met her at a Northland Church Singles event one Sunday toward the end of August, 2010. In the course of making small talk we discovered that we were both writers. We had each self-published books. She also mentioned having a blog on WordPress.com She gave me the link and told me how easy it was to set one up.
Heather’s blog is titled “God In The City” and later that evening I went to WordPress and looked it up. I was impressed by both the sheer number of her posts and by their quality. Prior to then I’d sort of vaguely understood what blogs were, but for whatever reason I never saw myself writing in that format. However, within minutes my blog was up and running—and I might add that I’m not a particularly computer savvy person. It was very easy.
Over the years I’ve mentioned that ease to several others who seemed to have a lot to say: “Go to WordPress and start your own blog,” I’d tell them. I’m not sure if any have followed my suggestion but I hope a few have. We all have something unique to say, and one can guarantee having at least a few readers by posting their blog on Facebook.
I also had never pictured me doing a blog as a thing in itself. I had always thought that blogs were for amateurs, and I really didn’t understood the whole blogging phenomenon that the internet had launched. Real writers, I thought, appeared on newspaper op-ed pages or had books in print.
In the 1980s I had several essays published on the op-ed page of the Orlando Sentinel. And in 2005, I self-published my first book The Unwelcome Blessing. I decided to self-publish after about a dozen rejections by “real” publishing houses. It had become painfully apparent that first time authors had about zero chance of getting their books in print. I’d learned that most publishers didn’t even bother to read unsolicited manuscripts; they just mailed you the thank you but no thank you card.
My original intent for the blog was as a way to promote my books. Well, that didn’t exactly pan out. I sold far more books on Amazon.com in 2010 than I did last year. However, what has surprised me is the breadth of my output and how much I’ve enjoyed the writing.
Most bloggers seem to stick to one or two subjects—my pieces embrace many topics. My most frequent themes are spiritual warfare, power/control, clinical depression (dysthymia), bipolar illness, narcissism, organic church, cults, addictions, spirituality, Celebrate Recovery and topics currently in the news. I’ve blogged a few movie reviews. I’ve also done a series 0f pieces—at least 5 or 6—about the reminiscences of my amazing 95-year old WWII vet neighbor Angelo. I’ve also done a few pieces that I’d classify as humor. I wish I had sorted them by category like my friend Heather.
A few of my posts were just throwaways that It’d been better not to print, but overall I think some of my best writing has been in my blogs. Much of the time I’ve felt led by the Holy Spirit—ideas comimg to me so fast and so well formed that they don’t seem to be coming from inside me. I found that to be very much the case in my first book The Unwelcome Blessing. Rereading sections of it ten years later I think, “Did I write that? I don’t remember writing that.”
I’ve reblogged a couple essays that appear on my website wellbless.com. I’ve also done profiles of old friends and relatives—tributes, I guess, as they’ve all passed on. One of my four books DiosPsyTrek: But God Had a Better Idea is really just 22 chapters that today I would likely publish as blogs. But in 2008, I thought I’d collect these diverse pieces and call it a sort-of autobiography—about God calling the somewhat reluctant into His economy (Eph. 2:10).
The 10,000 hits or views on my blog is really small potatoes. Many popular bloggers get that number in a day or two. I’m really not very good as a self-promoter. I supposedly have about 50 folks following or subscribing, and I used to be thrilled when WordPress would inform me that so-and-so was now officially following my blog—but when many of my blogs only get a dozen or so views I realize that even my subscribers aren’t reading it. That’s deflating. But I also understand it can be a lot of work following numerous blogs. The only ones I read regularly are my friends Heather’s “God in the City” and Jim Wright’s “Crossroad Junction” blog.
My single most popular blog is “Misplaced Empathy: Loving the Perps” and is about sexual abuse in the church. That piece was re-posted by several very popular writers and thus drew nearly 800 hits. It also drew the wrath of several lunatics who thought I was writing about an organic church icon who was their guru. They sent me subtle and some not so subtle threatening emails.
I guess when I want to generate more blog traffic I can revisit sexual abuse in the church. Generally speaking, I’ve avoided controversial topics like politics. I have a couple lengthy blogs that I’m still debating whether to post as I suspect they likely would piss a few friends off. I’ve learned the hard way that I can write sharp and hurtful things and that once something is said it can’t be taken back. You can explain or apologize but the damage is still done. Also, many years ago I sent several “My Word” columns to the Orlando Sentinel that weren’t published. They were lampooning New Age religious credos. I thought they were well written and quite funny but I suspect they stepped on the op-ed editor’s beliefs, and over the years I’ve become more sensitive about stepping on toes.
Perhaps it’s foolish to agonize over things that may only ever be read by a dozen or so, but that’s what I tend to do—forever battling within on how absolutely candid I should be in expressing my thoughts or feelings—and ever wondering who my warped humor will offend. And I hope it doesn’t sound too grandiose but I tend to look at my blog as a ministry of sorts. One of the few things I seem to do well is self-disclose—but I also worry that a tendency to talk about myself is really just a form of narcissism. It has been said that my transparency is a gift. I’ve found that to be the case in my home churches and Celebrate Recovery meetings—openness and confession (James 5:16) begetting more transparency and confession.
It is thru confession, and in sharing our stories, that we participate in both God’s healing and in growing His kingdom. That, I guess, is my blog’s meta-purpose.