You may ask yourself, “How do I work this?”

by the Night Writer

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful
wife
And you may ask yourself-Well…How did I get here?

Well, more than six years ago my beautiful wife suggested to me that I ought to look into this new thing called blogging. And then six years ago on Feb. 15 I actually launched this site, thinking I’d give it six months. And now, six years.

I suppose I could recount the number of posts, the number of visitors, the number of comments, etc., but more dear to me is the number of friends I’ve met, the thoughts shared, and the encouragement I’ve received. Not to mention, a son-in-law and a grandson!

It has also been a thrill to have used this blog to launch Tiger Lilly’s novel-writing career, and to see her win a prize (and $1,000) from the Writer’s Digest for best self-published on-line novel.

While I haven’t been as prolific here as I was six years – or even one year – ago, I have no plans to retire this site or disappear. In fact, even when I’m not writing here, I’m thinking about it, and I like the fact that I have a place here to post some of my deeper thoughts. It is good exercise for considering my words, examining my reasoning and challenging myself to communicate something that will either resonate or draw a laugh or – ideally – both. Over the years, this exercise has brought me to the point of a new venture and I’d like to take this opportunity to share this with you.

For some time I’ve been fiddling with a book in fits and starts. Some times the inspiration is there and more often there is doubt, but I believe the vision is there and it is valid and I will complete this at some point. Events in recent months, however, have galvanized me with an idea for a different book; one that I’ve already started. In fact, I started it nearly six years ago when I wrote my first post about my kids.

I am going through the old posts, collecting the ones that in one way or another reflected our family life and my wife’s and my philosophy of child-rearing. Now I am moved to organize these into a more cohesive and accessible on-line book. My objective isn’t to produce a how-to manual; there are a lot of those out there and I can’t say that my ideas are particularly original. Instead, I want this to be an exhortation, an encouragement that it is possible — against all the obstacles and distractions in the world around us — to raise godly children and to see them grow and flower in the nurture of their own convictions, becoming full-blooded, creative and inspirational adults in their own rights.

I’m doing a lot of my Night-Writing in this cause right now, as well as editing the sequel to Tiger Lilly’s first book. My expectation is that both of these will be brought out into the light this year. I will still be writing here at about my present pace, a post very week or so.

The fact is, I would never have thought such a thing was possible if I hadn’t been plugging away here all this time, and I know I would never have kept at this if it weren’t for the friendship and support of the readers (and writers) I’ve met as a result. Thank you for being there, and I’ll be seeing you.

I’m not dead yet

by the Night Writer

In case anyone was wondering, I’ve not given up the blogging thing. In fact, I’ve got a few longer posts in mind right now. The problem is a lack of time, not inspiration. I’ll be back soon. I think.

Meanwhile, Tiger Lilly has been doing a great job. If you haven’t read her Shadow of the Reapers novel it’s now complete and you should check it out. If you have read it, how about throwing some comments and constructive criticism at the kid?

The band plays on

by the Night Writer

Earlier this week I wrote a post about our outing to the blues bar where the Mall Diva and her friend were able to sing in an open jam session with other local musicians. They were great, of course, but part of the fun was in seeing the joy that the musicians had in coming together and using their God-given skills in a public forum. Thinking about this later it reminded me of something I wrote back in the early months of this blog. I was new to the blogging community (and I use that word deliberately) then but I think it still is the best description of why I blog. In fact, it may even be more true today than it was then, and I think it’s appropriate to re-run this piece. And with that….

A one, two, a one, two, three, four…

Thank You, and Don’t Forget to Tip Your Waitress

I’ve always wanted to say that! Here’s why:

Today I’m up to the fifth month of the six-month trial blogging period I set for myself when I started this blog. During this time I’ve had people ask me why I blog and I think this is a great question – a question I was asking myself before I even started and for which I still don’t have a firm answer.

There is one analogy, however, that I think fits: this blog is my garage band. You see, ever since I was a kid I’ve wanted to be a singer in a hot band. The problem is, I can’t sing a lick (or play one for that matter) and my sense of rhythm is such that no band would ever let me shake a tambourine (more cowbell!). For that matter, my dancing is even worse than my singing, and I have little artistic ability. But, oh, to be in a band! It wouldn’t even have to be a great band, or even a band with a recording contract. Just to be good enough to be in a garage band would be so cool.

Why do people play in garage bands? Obviously, I can’t say. Some perhaps hope to be “discovered” but I’d hazard to say that few see it as a way to fame and fortune. Some musicians may just like collaborating with others to create something. Others see it as a fun way to make some money doing something they enjoy, and perhaps for others it is just because they love to make music – whether anyone else likes it or not. Perhaps if you asked them, they’d have as hard a time finding a single answer as I have in answering people who ask me why I blog.

The only skill I have is in observation and stringing words together. I don’t think I’m a bad public speaker when the opportunity arises, but my “stage” is likely to always be obscure. Blogging gives me the opportunity to use the gift, such as it is, that has been given to me, to stretch out the boundaries of my comfort zone and appreciate whatever satisfaction I get from doing so.

Perhaps musicians of every ability also yearn for those moments when they get that perfect mix of time and place where the music transcends the mere notes themselves and touch a soul. Me too! Somewhere out there is the perfect line waiting to be written; the perfect note of irony in response to the day’s events; the sparest description that illuminates completely; the spark of inspiration that starts a brushfire in someone’s mind – the shock of recognition that causes someone to say, “Yes, yes! That is exactly what it is like to be me, and now I see myself in a slightly different light!”

Umm..okay, getting a little carried away there. I think, however, that this is at the heart of why I blog. I don’t do it to become rich and famous (though that would be nice). I don’t do it to change the world (though that would be nice, too). I certainly hope people enjoy the experience, but, essentially, it’s about my enjoyment first.

Earlier this week Joe Carter at the Evangelical Outpost wrote about the addiction he sometimes feels toward his Site Meter count and Technorati and TTLB rankings. To which I have to say, “Preach it, brother.” I check my own counts at least a couple of times a day, and I’m fascinated by the “referrals” page that shows from where people are coming to my blog. Some of the Google references have been very interesting. I suppose this is displays a weakness of character on my part, but as Joe himself has said, “If you don’t care if anyone reads you then you don’t have a blog, you have a diary.”

Like others who have gazed at their own blogging navel recently, the things I appreciate about the last few months are the many new friends I’ve met (some in person, some only electronically), the comments and trackbacks I get that show I’ve made at least a small ripple somewhere. Here’s to you, Leo, Kelley G, Emily, Muzzy, Sandy and the rest of the Squad, Bruce, Derek, the NARN, Kevin, the Saint and Roller Pauls, Doug and all the other MOBsters. Without this contact this blog wouldn’t have lasted a month.

One month – or six months – from now, who knows? I still haven’t come up with a satisfactory answer to the first question I posed to myself when I considered starting this blog: How will I tell if this is successful or not? One thing I am learning – and that I wouldn’t have expected when I started – is that success may be measured, but not defined, by Site Meter or NZ Bear. I think a large part of it has to do with the people I mentioned above, and the ones I’ve yet to “meet.”

Thank you, and good night! Rock on!

One thing I couldn’t know back then was the people I was still going to meet, and were going to come into my life, as a result of blogging. I may be no closer to breaking out of the garage now than I was back then, but I have to say my career has been blessed.

Five years?

by the Night Writer

Can it really be five years since I cracked the code and put up my first blog post? Yes, indeed, it can be and has.

It feels as if the time has gone by so quickly. As I look back over the archives I’m surprised to see comments from “new” friends that first appeared three, even four, years ago. It’s amazing what has taken place over some 1,589 posts and 4,250 comments (about 85% of which went to my daughters’ posts). Meanwhile my daughters have grown up, posting here and bringing their own verve and attitude and even another contributor! Thanks to blogging, one daughter found herself a husband and we hosted the first (that I know of) live-blog wedding this last May!

I can’t claim anything so dramatic, but I have made a number of dear friends over the years here, some of whom I have yet to meet in person! It would be hard for my family and I to think of what our lives would be like right now if it wasn’t for this wonderful community. I don’t want to get too mushy here, though, because that can start to sound like a foreshadowing for an announcement of quitting. No such plans (or luck, depending on your perspective). While I have cut back a little of late due to other commitments and to putting time into helping Tiger Lilly with her books and writing one of my own, I do miss it on days when I don’t write here. There are no plans, then, to pull the plug here, though there is always a possibility for this blog to change form or focus.

I never set out to be anything in particular with this blog. From the beginning I just wanted to write about things that interested me. The thought of being strictly a political blogger, or a “religious” one, or a “daddy”-blogger would put me off the whole thing entirely, I think. I like to get up in the morning not knowing what I’ll write about that day (if anything), or, for that matter, who I might meet. It’s kind of like not knowing what I’m going to see when I visit my friends’ blogs each day…the variety, with just the right amount of familiarity, keeps it fresh.

Most of all, thank you for reading. People often refer to the “solitary” blogger, but that concept doesn’t work for me. I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, do this if it was just going out into the ether to bounce of Jupiter but not touch anyone else. The feedback and the relationships have been the best parts of all of this. They’ve meant a lot to me, and I hope that on occasion something here has meant something to each of you.

Ever since I reformatted this blog last spring I’ve been trying to tweak some things here. It will likely always be a work in progress, but one of the things I’ve accomplished over the weekend was to create a new page in the header entitled “Nights to Remember”. This has given me the opportunity to go back through the hundreds of posts and select the ones that I thought have been my best, or that generated the most interesting comments, or perhaps gave me a foothold to push off into something deeper. The page is still a work in progress, but there’s a double-handful of posts from 2008-09 there if you’re feeling nostalgic.

So, it’s been a slice…and I expect to take a few more whacks at the apple. Thanks for being along for the ride.

Remember me?

by the Night Writer

This blog has a history of announcing significant events on December 31, such as in 2006 and 2007. This year another significant milestone approaches.

December 31 is my last day with my current company; January 1 is my first day with my new company. This is actually true for my entire business unit as, with the stroke of an electronic pen, we start the new year as a new company…albeit in the same building, the same offices and in the same business we’ve been in. How remarkably simple, right?

Too bad our computers, administrative systems, marketing materials, website and strategic plans can’t be instantly transformed with the same electronic swish. My job puts me at the center of both internal and external communications for this change and the days are too few and the hours way too long and there’s even been some travel involved. Oh, and I’m speaking this weekend at our Inside Outfitters meeting (the annual December Christmas cookie distribution to the guys from Teen Challenge) and I will lead a Christmas Eve service at the Red Wing Correctional Facility next week. I have been “missing” from this blog, but even more so from the home front. I have high hopes and expectations, however, of more involvement in both after the first of the year. I have much to make up for with my family; not so much with the blog, but I should be more visible.

In the meantime, you might want to check back here again on the 31st; there might be another development you’ll want to know about.

Booking it

by the Night Writer

Last year at about this time I announced that I was going to step back from regular blogging in order to see if I could apply the discipline and habits of more than three years of almost daily writing into something a bit more ambitious. The problem was that while I knew something inside of me was raising a rumpus to push myself farther and test my skills, I didn’t have a clear idea of just what it was I wanted or needed to do. Write fiction? If so, short stories or a novel? Research and write articles and commentary and try to sell these to print or on-line media? Compile the “Fundamentals in Film” series into a more polished curriculum?

All were good ideas but nothing really grabbed me as experimented with a few things and waited for the inspiration. As time went on, those blogging habits re-asserted themselves and I found myself drifting back into almost daily posting, and eventually even re-engineered the look of this blog. The desire, or inner unction, to do something never went away however and now I’m about to step out again, but with one big difference: I know what I’m going to do.

Over the past two or three weeks an idea has kept coming back to me, with additional details each time, and I started to see how a number of different things I’ve done over the past year or so that seemed unrelated now actually fit together. The ultimate fit, I think, will be a book and I’ve got a workable, even exciting, outline in mind to follow (and yes, Hayden, it will involve that particular post you’ve been waiting for). The only objective right now is simply to do it and leave the fate of those words in the hands of others, or just one other.

I can’t and won’t step away from this blog, however. I’ve seen that I need this fellowship, the interaction it offers, and the “laboratory” it provides. I’m thinking I may only post about once a week here as I spend my evenings mainly following my outline where it leads. I’ll still be reading a lot of blogs and commenting regularly to stay in the groove and I hope to put chapters of this larger work here for feedback. And while I’m excited to start a book, I’m already behind Tiger Lilly who has already finished writing one and has started at least one other (that I know about). I’ve been proof-reading her first book for her and offering observations on the inner logic of the world she’s created, but leaving the story, words and character development entirely to her. I need to get my work on her story finished as well.

As with my announcement last year, the lights will stay on here. I’ll post shorter things occasionally in response to the events or thoughts that interest me and where I think I might have something to add. Tiger Lilly will continue to offer her weekly cartoons and perhaps other written streams of red-bull-induced-consciousness. The Reverend Mother has expressed a desire to do more posting, and who knows when the Mall Diva will go on another cupcake-posting jag or some other flight of fashion or fancy. Meanwhile, the Son@Night may go neck and neck, or word for word, with Sly the Family Rat whenever one of them can find an unused keyboard. If you like this blog, and if you haven’t discovered this already, the RSS feed is your friend and you should sign up.

We have all been blessed and encouraged by the readers who come by here and my hope is that you will continue to visit regularly and comment abundantly.

The blog days of August

by the Night Writer

As the summer and its distractions goes on it seems that blogging vacations are often on the schedule. I know many prominent bloggers take the month off completely, and I’ve observed that posting often gets lighter on many of my favorites. While there have been years when I’ve taken August off myself, that is not my plan for this year. I figure I had a kind of blogging vacation in July when traveling abroad slowed down my post-a-day objective, and with the site just relaunched with a new look I want to keep this looking “lived-in” (though Tiger Lilly seems to be doing a good job of that!)

Real life and my Day Writer job have been a bit of a challenge for me since we got back from Spain, however. I’ve been kind of wiped out the last couple of weeks and by the time I get home and have a late supper the thought of logging some more computer time isn’t that motivating. The thing is, I’ve got some deep thoughts on several topics that I’d like to get out, but I keep falling into deep sleep instead. That’s  either fatigue or perhaps those thoughts aren’t really that interesting; I’d try to figure that out but right now I’m too tired.

I will take this opportunity, however, to note that a couple of my favorite bloggers have, sadly, turned out the lights at their original sites but have, happily, surfaced in new homes. KingDavid, the ever-vigilant sentry against the depredations of the Animal Kingdom Jihad and chronicler of attacks ranging from squirrels to sharks (and the occasional moonbat) shuttered The Far Wright without warning last week after three years. The good news is that he took a few days off and then opened his new place, KingDavid(s).  No, Dave hasn’t been overcome by Tiger Lilly’s use of parentheses in Anorex[st]ics Inaneymous, or forgotten how to use a possessive apostrophe. In his words:

This is simply a journal of our royal family—sharing all that is going in our lives with family and friends around the country.

At the same time, I’m going to be studying and sharing things that I’m learning about the life and times of the more well known King David, as well as focusing on the psalms of David.  I plan to focus on things historical, archaeological, poetic, artistic, yada-yada-yada, as they pertain to KD the First.

For  friends who followed my previous blog the last three years, I will be keeping a separate page that will still highlight my God given, somewhat warped, sense of humor that I believe you all came to appreciate.  I’ll try to pay particular attention to those types of postings that Tiger Lilly will look forward to.

It should be fun.

I am also the last to report that one of the most singular talents in the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers (MOB), Doug Williams of Bogus Gold (an anagram of “Doug’s Blog”), has given up the single life to join a now triumphant triumvirate over at Shot in the Dark. In his good-bye at Bogus Gold he offered the following prophecy:

It looks to me like the era of the small personality driven “boutique” blog, covering all the topics that may interest an individual blogger of no particular celebrity, is coming to an end.

I had to smile at the “boutique” reference: I’d used that word a little while back in a comment on his blog when he was considering either shutting down completely or joining a group blog. I’d urged him to keep going solo because I prefer reading personal blogs with a distinctive voice such as his to the clamor of group blogs, comparing it to preferring to go to a boutique store rather than the big-box retailer. Not that there’s anything wrong with Home Depot or group blogs; you can be pretty certain you’re going to find what your looking for there, but there’s nothing like walking into the corner hardware store with it’s more intimate aisles and the occasional quirky eccentricity that would never have gotten past a focus group. Still, Doug’s in with a good group that’s well-matched and not too large. He, and they, will do fine I’m sure.

So what of this little “boutique” blog right here? Well, whether personality-driven or simply driven by sleep-deprivation, I’m going to continue, albeit with the help of a few extra voices such as the ever-more-emerging Tiger Lilly (who may soon find this place too small for the two of us), the elusive Mall Diva and ol’ what’s-his-name that married her and has her too distracted to write. There has also been a promise from the Reverend Mother to post more things here, but she seems to be as easily distracted as her daughter.

Oh well, we’re all here even if we may go a day or two between posts occasionally. Feel free to drop by anytime.

UPDATE:

Like sands through the hour-glass, so go the blogs of our lives. Apparently more consolidation is afoot as Mr. D has already changed the name of his blog to Mr. Dilettante’s Neightborhood in preparation for a couple of MOB transfers: Brad Carlson and … my son-in-law and serial blogger (Uncle Ben at Hammerswing; W.B. Picklesworth at Where Poetry Goes to Die;  Son@Night here). Ben hasn’t given me 30-days notice so I don’t know what his plans are — or if he’s cleared them with his wife.

A vacuum really sucks

I received an email this evening from someone who said, “Did you know that your Comments are turned off on your last post?” Uh, no, I didn’t. I went into my site administration and, sure enough, Comments were inexplicably turned off for “The Greatest ‘Degeneration’?” post.

Lately I’ll admit to feeling a bit disappointed after posting some edgier content, expecting to see comments or brickbats, only to get…zilch. I was left to assume that my argument had been so sound and complete that no one could refute it…or so boring that no one had been able to get through it. Checking the admin page and, sure enough, Comments were off on these posts! Meanwhile, Comments were on for all the other recent posts…only “A Way of a Gun” and “A Poem for Choice” were turned off. Believe me, I’m not ducking argument. Most of the posts here have a 30-day sunset, but I’ve only deliberately shut down comments on posts that have attracted spam.

Maybe my blog-host is trying to protect me from myself, or merely sending me a message that it’s time to move on.