“The writer operates at a peculiar crossroads where time and place and eternity somehow meet. His problem is to find that location.” — Flannery O’Connor
I’ve been struggling with what to do with this silly little blog of mine. It began innocently four years ago after reading advice by publishing gurus that you must have an online presence if you plan to publish a book. At the time I was in the beginning stages of workshopping and editing my first book, the memoir Twenty-four Years to Boston, a project I will look back on as an apprenticeship, a training program–a baptism by fire.
I thought about ending the blog, but after 290 posts, more than 36,000 views, and scores of comments, I realized that abandoning it would be premature without sharing the things I’ve learned about blogging, publishing, and the writing life. Plus, I’ve met so many interesting and wonderful people through this blog, I felt it would be irresponsible not to thank them by introducing them to my readers. Lastly, after giving it much thought, I’ve decided to blog my sequel to Twenty-four Years (more on this to come in future posts.)
I’ll begin by taking you back to 2009 when I left a 37-year career in industry to pursue the writing life. I was a prospective author, fish out of water, a writer-want-to-be. I read everything I could get my hands on about writing, publishing and blogging. I came across a fellow-Brennan–Ann Brennan from Maryland, creator of Ann’s Commentary. To make a long story short, Ann convinced me not to be intimidated and to give it a go–Just Do It! As convincing as Ann was, I still fumbled around for about a year before I wrote my first post, and now, nearly 300 posts later, I see how silly I was. Thank you, Ann!
Looking back, starting a blog wasn’t any different from getting my first office job after working ship construction for twenty years and finding a PC plopped on my desk. Or after I bought my first PC, took it home and didn’t have an IT guy to solve my problems. Guess what? You figure it out yourself. Might take you fifteen minutes, an hour, or half a day, but you figure it out, and then you move on to the next thing. Blogging sites have easy to follow Help pages, and now you have YouTube to solve essentially any problem you encounter or answer any question you might have.
Rite2Run was not merely a platform for my book, it led to writing gigs–a one-year contract with St. Anthony Messenger for a Live Well series I co-authored with my daughter, Colleen, a clinical exercise physiologist and certified wellness coach. Most recently, the Art of Running series was largely responsible for becoming editor of the Cityscape section of the Schuylkill Valley Journal. I’ve also donated my book for prizes at races and for fundraisers. Beyond the literary gigs, my blog led to friendships with fellow-bloggers–artists, photographers, motorcyclists, cyclists, chefs, adventurers, movie reviewers, writers, marathon and ultra-marathoners, and runners like you and me.
So, were the publishing gurus right about an online presence? It’s difficult to track book sales to a blog, but I’d venture to say it hasn’t made much of a difference. Still, I agree that an online presence as a necessity. It’s an agent and publisher’s first stop to see if you exist, and like it or not, if you’re not visible in social media, you are much harder to find.
My advice? Get over it and get started. And it need not be about running. Write about your passion, the thing that drives you–cooking, gardening, cycling, music, nature, whatever.
In upcoming posts I will share what I’ve learned about publishing, the writing life, introduce you to some great bloggers, and then begin to blog the sequel to my memoir about aging and running, stories from the trail as well as advice for running longevity.