Crossroads

“The writer operates at a peculiar crossroads where time and place and eternity somehow meet. His problem is to find that location.” — Flannery O’Connorphoto

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 Bostona 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.Rite2Run

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.Sketch - Running Man

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About Jim Brennan

Jim is a Philadelphia-based writer, author, poet and editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.
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16 Responses to Crossroads

  1. Feels like I have some catching up to do. Hoping to go through everything. Last thing i remember reading from your blog is how you ventured the town on bike. It had me take up cycling on a borrowed bike and I loved it so much that there was a time when I was doing 200 kms/ week.

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  2. LB says:

    I was a bit nervous as I read the first paragraph, and I’m so glad to know you’ll continue to blog! Congrats on the nearly 300 posts!
    Onward!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jim Brennan says:

      Hey LB, you don’t strike me as the nervous type, riding that big Harley and all. Yeah, turns out this blog of mine is like my little child and will be hard to let go. It still has some juice, so I won’t be transitioning to the next thing for some time. I do plan to share stories on here that will be part of my follow on book about aging and being active. It’s nice to know you and others care enough and follow along. When I do finally make the move you will always be able to find me at http://www.jimbrennansr.com, a website I created more than a year ago for my writing but have yet to throw myself totally into. It will eventually happen. Thanks, and we still have to take that ride and grab a brewski one day.

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      • LB says:

        No doubt about it!! In fact, I had a fun conversation with an old friend the other night about the Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area. He rides there frequently. You wrote about it a couple years ago and I’ve never forgotten about it. Someday!!

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  3. Mark Mangan says:

    Thanks again for the advice. You were the one who inspired me to start a blog (editorsmark.wordpress.com) almost 2 years ago. Back then you said just do it and don’t look back. Thanks!

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  4. runner500 says:

    An excellent, thought provoking post Jim.

    I always enjoy your writing and there is a smile when I see one of your posts appear in the WordPress reader. But I think I understand where you are coming from. The actual process of writing is a really enjoyable, life affirming one but interests evolve over time.

    My own blog is younger than your own and I already have at least a year’s worth of ideas for weekly posts so it still has some life left in it. But there are things I want to write about that fall outside the scope of the things I generally cover – more autobiographical pieces, book reviews – I tried that out a month or so ago and got lots of positive feedback, and eventually, perhaps, some of my own short-stories. None of that easily fits into Running Past.

    So I guess that I am in a similar place to you, but your post and reflecting on it has at least got me indicating which way I will probably go at the crossroads and, hopefully, I will get a second blog up and running in the late summer.

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    • Jim Brennan says:

      Life evolves, and so our writing as well. Regardless what we write, autobiographical, reviews, even fiction or poetry, it is based on our experiences, so our writing evolves along with us. It’s a growing process. Yet it’s hard to let go, especially of something that means so much to you, that you have a connection with. I may write fiction and poetry, but I will always be a runner, so there remains stories there, something to be said. I read Haruki Murakami, the author of many critically acclaimed novels. He is in his mid-sixties, a runner and ultra marathoner, and you can see it in his writing.

      Good luck with whatever direction you decide to go. Your writing is strong, your stories well-researched and told. As long as you remain true to yourself and your writing, readers will find you.
      jim

      Liked by 1 person

  5. aaronwest says:

    I’m glad you made the decision to stick with the blog. You can at least credit the blog for one book sale, which I can vouch for. I can’t speak for you, but I blog because I enjoy it. You have different ambitions, but through your posts it sounds like you enjoy it too. That’s a lot of posts for someone that just wants to sell a few more books. 😉

    I’ve found that a blog works like a journal in a way, and I get nostalgic reading old posts. You have more stories to tell, including one about a certain boxing movie to be released eventually. I would love to hear about the publishing industry and learn about this 2nd book, but I hope to hear more about Jim too,

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    • Jim Brennan says:

      You’re a good man, Aaron West. It’s funny, when I thought seriously about nixing the blog, I felt like I was abandoning my little child, I mean this is where it all began. And when it comes down to it, I do like to blog, and yes it serves as a journal and a way to work out ideas and experiment. So it’s a functional tool as well as a medium.

      My life has taken me from writing about running and fitness to writing mostly fiction and poetry. I plan to eventually dedicate more time to my writing website, which I’ve neglected for the past year. But another project I’ve neglected is the sequel. I wrote about 25,000 words of it a few years ago, and never got back to it. I figure if I blog it, it will force me to finish it. So I suppose Rite2Run sill has a good year or so of life.

      Finally, I’m learning a lot from your movie reviews. When you do the Top 20s, I find many of the same movies are ones that I’ve loved. You do a great job, and demonstrate tremendous range for a guy I met as a cyclist at Steep Climbs.

      Be well, my friend.
      jim

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