Happy Birthday to My Blog
On November 14, 2014, I quietly celebrated the one year anniversary of my first post on this website, JoshRolph.com. Please hold your applause until you read all the stuff below.
In one year, 52 posts were published, 10 of which fell under the “God” category. Since the blog is called “Thoughts on God and man,” I’ve tried to distinguish between the “God” posts and the “man” posts. I’ve never defined “man” but by “man” I mean “humankind.” That’s my way of saying I have no idea what this blog is about.
If I were to try and put my finger on what I’m going for here, I try to write about things you may not find on other blogs. When I have an idea, I search around to see if it’s already been done. If it hasn’t, I start writing. In maybe a few cases I’ve been less than original. But I shoot for originality. Basically, I’m the same as every other blogger.
“Fifty-two posts,” you may be thinking, “does Josh have a life?”
The first post on that cloudy Northern California day in November of last year was Genius Hold Music where I shared the worst telephone hold music I had ever heard and then wrote a little about why I was starting a blog. The most recent post was 21 Steering Wheel Holds and What They Say About You (#13 Won’t Shock You) where I went out on a limb and boldly posted the first ever images of my forearms.
When I began the blog I was sure of only one thing: I wanted to improve my writing. I was sure of another thing, too: I wanted to do karaoke – minus the music, bar, and crowd.
The reasons for doing karaoke are to have a good time, to perform, to entertain, and make people laugh or admire you for your skills.
My reasons for trying this version of karaoke (alone and without music) were to attempt to perform, entertain, and make readers laugh and/or psychoanalyze me.
As I psychoanalyze my karaoke (aka blogging) style, I guess the biggest surprise about what I’ve written is what I have NOT written. Politics and policy are a big part of my life and I thought going into this that I would write a lot on elections, federal issues, etc.
A few weeks after my first post I drafted “The End of the World is Yesterday” about the U.S. Senate’s passage of the so-called “nuclear option” that would allow for a simple majority to secure a judicial nomination. I disagreed with fellow conservatives that it was the end of the world. The only political post I published that comes to mind is an almost nonsensical post on former Senator John Edwards.
Perhaps I think there is nothing original I can write about politics. Or maybe I just want to keep it mostly light.
Which is probably why less than a quarter of posts are spiritual or religious in nature.
Odd too is how little I write on other topics I’ve found interesting, like tech, agriculture, the cosmos, and sharing updates on personal projects.
Writing comedy/humor/funny/goofy or whatever you want to call it has sort of been the default for this blog. The only thing I can think is that I enjoy writing comedy a little more than I like writing about the heavier issues.
I rarely write short little posts. Most run over 1,000 words. If a novel is technically more than 50,000 words, in the last year I have written one.
Evolution of the Blog
I’ve been writing lots of things over the years both professionally and on the side but have never been too confident with my writing skills. I started blogging on religious themes in 2009 and emailed my family with the link, being too timid about sharing on social media because of the personal nature of the posts. About 25 posts later, I abandoned the idea in 2012. So much work, so little reaction. I didn’t know what I wanted out of the exercise, other than to help some future someone who might stumble across it.
When I began this blog, I wanted to overcome my fear of sharing my writing because I truly just wanted to get better at it. I wanted to continue writing about the deep religious themes and also have a place where I could share various projects I’ve been working on.
As I’ve typed and typed over the last year, I’ve been surprised at how easily the humor has flowed from mind to keyboard. I will begin with a funny idea and the next thing I know I’m cutting a 2,500 word post down to 1,000 words to make it a little easier for the reader to digest. The more heavy themes took much longer to get just right – sometimes many months.
Evolution of the Podcast
After a couple months of writing, I began to hear readers say they were confused. When was a post meant to be serious? When was it not? So I thought, okay, if they heard me read the blog post out loud to them, there would no longer be any confusion. This was back in January. I thought of adding an audio link to each post. The idea morphed into one where I would host a podcast that would accompany the blog. Problem was, I learned that starting a podcast wasn’t as easy as clicking record through my computer mic. I really had no idea how it all worked.
Not much progress was made until May when I had lunch with a friend who was thinking of starting his own podcast. He had hosted a podcast in the past and knew what equipment I would need to start my own. The friend is David Limutau Kingston and his idea for a new podcast is now the very real podcast Mormon Misfit.
The same fear and trepidation I felt when exposing my blog to the masses (i.e. friends and family on Facebook) entered the scene as I got closer to starting the Josh Podcast podcast Show, which is now a very real podcast podcast show.
Oh to Be Perfect
I am kind of a perfectionist and am profoundly aware that I am neither an amazing writer nor a dynamic speaker/podcaster. What it comes down to is I just enjoy communicating in these formats. So I keep on going.
When I’m writing and then publish a post or a podcast episode I feel pretty good. I can then look back at it as something I created, a new thing that didn’t exist and now has this tangible form. It’s nowhere near perfect, which is what makes being alive so frustratingly wonderful. There is always perfection to work toward.
5 Lessons Learned from Blogging Over the Last Year
- As much as I would like it to be, this blog isn’t a real conversation. I’m speaking at you, not with you. It’s more like a speech or an act. There is no reason for you to write back or comment. I think this is a major, major flaw in the blogging platform. Yes, you can comment or like or tweet or link to the blog, but it’s nearly impossible to have a decent conversation with readers. I wish I could know what each person who reads a post is thinking – what they liked, what they hated – what they got and didn’t get. That’s my biggest insecurity, which is why I beg for emails/comments/podcast reviews, etc.
- I loathe lists and have tried to avoid them, even though I have written six list posts, if I counted right, seven if you include this one. My favorite list post? 4,619 Facebook Secrets (and Why We Don’t Want to Die).
- I have personal favorites. I really, really, really think the LGBT? post was funny. Some people didn’t. I know I’m only supposed to have one favorite but let’s turn to the second post published just one day after the very first post. It is called No More Blog. If you ask me, that was a pretty good idea to fake an ending to the blog on the second post. [Reader confusion began that day.] I followed that one four days later with No More Blog Part 2 and the Calculator Watch. Again, I think that was pretty funny. The next day – get this – I posted 11 Incredibly Easy Ways to Run a Successful Blog. It was my FOURTH POST. Success must be relative, innocent readers were thinking. Then I didn’t post anything for a month, also funny in it’s own right. All those posts taken together, I’m so pleased with the blog’s opening act in month one.
- Don’t take your blog so seriously, as I appear to have done in #3 above.
- I’ve mentioned my favorite humorous posts above. If I were to choose one in the GOD category that I enjoyed writing it would be The Body’s Guide to the Stages of Life.
I realize the above list isn’t exactly lessons learned from a year of blogging. It’s more like:
“You want a list? I’ll give you a list!”
There are about 20 draft posts sitting in the queue for future use. I have notes with a few dozen more scattered on different computers and notebooks. Many of these are just quick notes or ideas. Others are fully developed, I’m just waiting for the right time to fine-tune them and hit the publish button.
One post series I look forward to publishing is the continuation of Thank yous – Part 1 of many. When I say there will be many, that’s exactly what I mean.
I will spend more time on the podcast so I may not have 50 more posts at this time next year. I hope to have 50 podcast episodes up in that time. If you want to be on the show, let me know! I’m already out of ideas.
Another hope is to do some video. Here’s a sneak-peek at what I’ve been working on:
All of this is a way of saying, I’m having fun.
You may now applaud.
Why I Want Your Email Address
If you are one of the few people that kind of likes what you read here, I would like to have your email address to notify you when a new post is published. The more email addresses I collect, the more I feel like this is a real-life conversation and not merely a fake blog.