Steve Gerber, comic book writer extraordinaire, posted about writing in April 2005, essentially saying, “Writers write.”
Since I just hit my 13th anniversary of writing this here Ramblin’ with Roger blog thing, I’d thought I’d describe why I do it.
I’ve mentioned before that my friend Fred Hembeck had started a blog, that friend Rocco had tipped me off to same, and that I read everything Fred wrote, which meant going back about two years.
And Fred was prolific. He wrote every day, usually pieces a lot longer than I write currently. Then I would comment on his blog, and he would mention me therein. I gave him a couple ideas; for instance, I found a page of record album covers based on other album covers, which still exists.
So I thought, maybe I could do this myself. But what would I write ABOUT? I only had two topics that I KNEW I would have to cover. One was the Daughter, who was a little over a year old. I said to myself when she was born that I would write about her in a baby book that people give to parents of newborns, where you track when the child first crawls and walks and gets the first tooth.
There is incontrovertible evidence that I was TERRIBLE at this exercise. Instead, I would write about her every month, on the 26th. And I have, every month, although it’s often been as much about ME having a daughter after I’m five decades old.
I started writing in my Blogger blog on May 2, 2005, and I have written every day, at least once a day. In the early days, it was tough because Blogger didn't let me schedule posts. I remember writing at a library in Lake Placid during a break in a work conference.
I was inspired by what the late Steve Gerber, comic book writer of Howard the Duck, Man-Thing, the Defenders, and other Marvel comics I loved, posted about writing in April 2005, essentially saying, “Writers write.”
Oh, the duck. At FantaCo, I was editing something called X-Men Chronicles. I had extra pages to fill, and so Smilin’ Ed artiste Raoul Vezina and I pieced together a story about the rodent buying a case of a popular comic book. I appeared as a duck because… well, I don’t know.
Around that time, Raoul drew the duck for my friend Lynne. In 2010, when I was getting my own URL, Lynne’s husband Dan, who recognized me from the caricature when he met me on the street back in 1985, scanned the drawing, and I have used it ever since, on the Ramblin’ with Roger blog, Twitter, and Facebook.
If someone were to ask me what advice I’d give a prospective blogger, it would to write two, maybe three posts before launching the first.
Today being the tenth anniversary of the start of the Ramblin’ with Roger blog, with content every single day, I thought I would describe how I started blogging in the first place. I’m sure I’ve told bits and pieces of it before, but like some oft-told tales, the details either become clearer in focus or muddier over time.
I had heard about this thing called the weblog – it was in all the standard press – in the early part of this century. However, I had not actually READ any blogs. Therefore, I concluded, without a single strain of evidence, the same thing that most “everyone” else was saying, that blogs were self-indulgent bits of drivel designed for people far more self-absorbed than I.
Then, in October 2004, I see my friend Rocco, who I knew from my FantaCo days. He says to me, “Have you been reading Fred’s blog?” Of course, I had not been reading what our mutual friend Fred Hembeck had been writing, and in fact, I had fallen out of touch with him over the previous decade.
So I checked out Fred’s blog and liked it so much that I read his entire backlog of articles, EVERY DAY, going back to January 2003. Since Fred could be, um, wordy, this probably took about three months.
Once I got the feel for the blog, and what one could write in the venue, he quoted FantaCo stories about which I wrote to him (see February 18 and 23, 2005 e.g.) and I even suggested content (March 31 and April 2, 2005). I figure that if I could come up with material for Fred, I ought to be writing for myself.
Now that I was caught up reading Fred’s blog, I started reading some of the many blogs Fred was linked to. One of the professionals was the late Steve Gerber, scribe of Howard the Duck, the Defenders, Man-Thing, and other Marvel fare. He wrote in his inaugural blog post on April 4, 2005, less than a month before I started mine:
I make my living as a writer. There is only one characteristic that distinguishes writers from non-writers: writers write. (That’s why there’s no such thing as an “aspiring writer.” A writer can aspire to sell or publish, but only non-writers aspire to write.) Anyway, writing for a living requires writing every day. Writing every day requires discipline. Discipline requires enforcement.
I’ve lost the habit of writing every day. I need discipline. I need enforcement. You’re looking at it.
I intend to post something on this blog every day. If I fail to do so, that failure will be very public, and I’ll be embarrassed by it. I don’t enjoy being embarrassed. So maybe, just maybe, making this obligation will help transform me into a habitual writer again.
Not that I viewed myself as a “Writer” at the time, or even now. For one thing, I didn’t, and don’t, own any tweed jackets. But I did have a couple of things I wanted to write down. One was about my appearances on the TV show JEOPARDY!, which was taped in September 1998 and aired two months later. More importantly, though, was a narrative that involved the Daughter, who was born in March of 2004. I had promised myself that I would write something in my print journal regularly; I penned three entries in nine months; clearly, this was not viable. Thus, the promise, to myself, to write about the Daughter in this blog at least once a month, on the 26th, and I have kept to that.
When I actually started blogging on my own, friend Fred plugged my humble efforts, the first time on May 5, 2005. Still, it was tough in the beginning. If someone were to ask me what advice I’d give a prospective blogger, it would write two, maybe three posts before launching the first. Blog post #1 is EASY. Writing the next one is harder. This was made more difficult by the fact that Blogger, my platform at the time, didn’t allow me to schedule ahead, which it does now, thank goodness.
Writing for myself (and Fred and his wife Lynn Moss) was fine, but I started looking at other people Fred was linked to. I’d read their blogs, comment, and eventually built up this coterie of Internet acquaintances such as Lefty Brown, Greg Burgas, Eddie Mitchell, Thom Wade, and Gordon Dymowski, who I actually met in person in 2008 in Chicago. We created a mixed CD exchange for a few years, and through this, developed relationships.
People, some I didn’t even know, such as Scott of the Scooter Chronicles, kept commenting on my blog. Looking back, I have no specific recollection of how Arthur@AmeriNZ or Jaquandor, or SamuraiFrog found me, or maybe I found them. Nor do I recall how I tripped over ABC Wednesday, the meme I now manage.
I DO know how I found Dustbury, though. I was writing about the Warner Brothers Loss Leaders albums that the label put out from about 1969 to 1980, two LPs for two dollars (later three dollars), and he had written the authoritative list. Even better, I got to add an item to the list, an ECM jazz collection, Music with 58 Musicians. From there, I found his blog.
That experience fits into a very comfortable narrative for a librarian of expanding the knowledge base. This blogging thing could be informative, useful.
People who don’t read my blog ask me what my blog is about. I’ve stopped answering, “Why don’t you just read my blog?” Basically, it’s whatever I see on my Bloglovin feed every morning. I look at links from Daily Kos and BoingBoing, but then I tend to read some blogs alphabetically A for Arthur@AmeriNZ B for Byzantium Shores (Jaquandor) C for Chuck Miller D for Dustbury (Chaz Hill) E is for Evanier, Mark (News from Me) F is for Frog, SamuraiFrog G is for Geek, Eddie Mitchell, the Renaissance Geek
Then I go to my old blog I abandoned in 2010 in favor of this one, and see who else might have updated recently, such as my CD exchange buddies, plus Dan Van Riper’s albanyweblog, Tosy and Cosh, Nippertown, Pantheon Songs, Lisa’s Peripheral Perceptions, Anthony Velez, and Melanie Boudwin. I skim all of that, and if they’ve not written what’s on my heart that day, I write it. If they have, I link to theirs.
Steve Gerber, the writer of fine comic books such as Man-Thing and Howard the Duck (but don’t blame the movie on him!), wrote in his inaugural blog on April 4, 2005:
“I make my living as a writer. There is only one characteristic that distinguishes writers from non-writers: writers write. (That’s why there’s no such thing as an “aspiring writer.” A writer can aspire to sell or publish, but only non-writers aspire to write.) Anyway, writing for a living requires writing every day. Writing every day requires discipline. Discipline requires enforcement. “I’ve lost the habit of writing every day. I need discipline. I need enforcement. You’re looking at it. “I intend to post something on this blog every day. If I fail to do so, that failure will be very public, and I’ll be embarrassed by it. I don’t enjoy being embarrassed. So maybe, just maybe, making this obligation will help transform me into a habitual writer again.”
But I’m not so disciplined.
Besides, Thursdays are LONG day during the church year: Get up and keep Lydia company (read: distracted) until Carol showers and dresses Get dressed and go play racquetball Go to work Go to Bible study Go home and take out the garbage
It’s pretty much a 16-hour slog. But when the choir’s off for the summer, I’m eager to get back into it.
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