Friday, March 29, 2019

100,000 Views: A Retrospective

I began this blog in October of 2010, at a time when I was beginning to envision myself as a writer. Sure, I had always written—had finished a few novels, even—but this is when I decided to see if I could make a go of it. Get actual people to read my writing, maybe get published. I dug around online for resources. I joined Facebook. I started this blog. And soon, I will have had 100,000 views here, which is certainly not in the range of many viral things you hear about but for me, it feels like a nice milestone.
During these 8 ½ years, I’ve written 303 posts. My most prolific year was 2014, during which I posted 51 times, followed closely by 2011 with its 50 entries. In 2016, I only blogged nine times. It’s easy, in retrospect, to recognize the reason for this scarcity: a very tough personal year. 2018 was the same: only 13 posts.
I wrote about dance and art, about current things happening in the news and routine, day-to-day events and observations. I worked out conclusions about the writing process, penned memorials for both people I knew and knew of; I wrote about television, movies, songs and poems I liked. I started a series about forgotten novelists with the intention of making it a regular feature, but it petered out after two posts. I began a long-running tradition: Poem for the Weekend, in which I’d share a new poem and info about the author. This feature ran for almost a year beginning in August of 2014, and was reprised briefly in 2017. I wrote about writers and books, of course, sometimes book reviews, sometimes analysis of theory or craft; infrequently, I shared fiction of my own. I wrote about my kids, and published their book reviews of my first novel. I wrote about the writing process, about things that inspired me and about the gifts and pressures of the creative life. And in December of each year, I shared my favorite films and books, until a few years ago when I quit doing the film list. The books are easier to track and so I still do an annual roundup. My most recent post (and only one so far in 2019) talks about my method and inspirations for my new novel, Bellflower.
So. At this milestone—100,000 views—I think it would be a good time to look back and remember what I’ve done here, at this outlet, and to maybe set a course forward. I’ve chosen fifteen posts that stood out to me, for a variety of reasons, and I present them to you here. It would seem that these writings of which I’m most proud or which touched something in me fall into five categories: Inspiration, Creativity, Writing Life, Personal, and Memorial.


A brief contemplation about one of my favorite prose passages of all time.

Focus and Layers – 1/27/15

Notes on a piece of art I saw at MOMA one time, and how it stayed and stayed with me.

A discussion and appreciation of the mastery of McCullers’s characterizations. She is a huge influence on my work.


A prose poem sort of thing, about feeling isolated and small, and at the same time, connected and complete. Reading this now brings back the exact moment and feeling in stark relief.

My most-read post of all time (3406 reads), this is where I shared my thoughts on O’Connor’s essay collection, a must-read for writers.

A brief post about the genesis of a short story, eventually titled “Driftwood,” which will be published, finally, this April.

For the past few years, considerations of form and genre have been at the forefront of my creative endeavors, and this post speaks to that.

An imagined conversation between “I” and “them,” this post could easily be filed under the Personal category as well. Another entry which brings me back to a specific feeling and time.

Writing Life

What happens when you get, perhaps, too much feedback on your writing.

Some thoughts on why a tendency toward melancholy is a gift and a curse for writers.


I know I said that O’Connor post was the most-read, but this one I also posted on Medium, where it picked up over 11K views. Combined with the views here, it has over 13K to date. It’s the story of the time my sister acted as surrogate for a couple in China.

I’ve had many losses in the past few years and unfortunately, learned a lot about grief.


When Neil Armstrong passed away, I wrote about my grandfather, who knew him, and about the Six Million Dollar Man.

Going through my grandmother’s belongings, we found some papers pertaining to a trip she took with her nurses’ association. I wrote about it here.

The post I most wish I hadn’t written, the eulogy for my mother, who passed away last year.

Dear readers: I appreciate all of your comments and feedback over these years. I was hoping to come to some conclusions through this process of looking back, and I think I have. In the next couple of years, I have plans to finish two novels, and I think what I miss doing most at this blog is writing about books. Other writer’s books, and the ways they inspire, disappoint and confound me. So look for more book reviews here, maybe. I’d also like to expand the types of things I’m reading. I’d like to get back to reading more biography and history, maybe even an occasional memoir, YA or spiritual book. Lastly, I’d like to read thematically—several books on a topic or theme. And I think I already have an idea for a summer reading project along those lines, so watch for that as well.
"As soon as we express something, we devalue it strangely. We believe ourselves to have dived down into the depths of the abyss, and when we once again reach the surface, the drops of water on our pale fingertips no longer resemble the ocean from which they came...Nevertheless, the treasure shimmers in the darkness unchanged." ---Franz Kafka