If you happen to be reading this post because you heard some ping on your phone or other device claiming “Puddintopia posted for the first time in a long time” or the like, you’ve likely been here before and probably know that it’s been nearly two years since I have, in fact, posted anything at all. Technically [:: pushes glasses up his nose ::], it’s been two years and, like, five months to be more specific, but who’s counting? In the intervening time, I’ve had two kids graduate from high school and start college, which, admittedly, seems straight up cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. Then again, all the time that’s passed since I last hit the Publish button here also seems to have blown by faster than Wile E. Coyote on an Acme rocket.
There was a pandemic! A vaccine! An election! I published a second book, Goldenshield (no, it’s not a sequel to Famine, but more on that in a minute). Then an… attempted coup?! Wait, my Bengals won a playoff game? Holy shit, they went to the Super Bowl!
(Also, somewhere in there, WordPress revamped it’s blog post editor and I do not care for it. At. All.)
Honestly, if you’d tried to sell me a book in May, 2020 accurately depicting all the events coming up in the subsequent 29 months, I would have told you that even if you were Nostradamus, the shock rag would never be published because it strained the bounds of believability. But yet, somehow, here we are.
I digress, though. This post is not an attempt to comment on the ridiculousness of the past two and a half years. I’ll save that for a later rambling, incoherent rant.
As for today’s meandering blather, the reasons why I haven’t posted anything here in so much time are, at the end of the day, pretty simple. I stopped posting most recently because after spending 50 days in the early pandemic reliving my sock-related glories, it felt like time to hit pause. Plus, if I’d kept going, I was going to end up spending money on new socks again. And in a pandemic economy?! No, thank you!
Since then, I haven’t start back up since because, well, nobody really blogs anymore, to be perfectly frank. For sharing one’s thoughts, feelings, and goings-on, there’s a buffet of quick and easy social media tools to capture one’s personal data and, uh, manicured reality, like Facebook and Twitter, Instagram, etc, and whatever else is new this month (what the hell is a BeReal? I’m too old for it, right?). The only people blogging anymore are well-known figures with either increasingly strident opinions and/or something to sell, sports analysts and commentators, travelers, or people with recipes that are preceded by 2500 words about what Aunt June’s Marmalade Cake recipe meant to them as a kid. Which, for the record, I have zero problem with, even if I am scrolling past Auntie June and her penchant for gingham 9 times out of 10. I mean, everybody’s got to make a living, and if two thousand words about marmalade help you hit your engagement numbers, more power to you.
So, then, how did I find myself in mid-October. 2022, thinking about posting regularly to my blog again? It all comes down to writing novels. I week or so ago, I realized that during my most prolific novel writing periods, from 2010-2015, I wrote blog posts pretty much daily. Multiple times a week, at least. In 2016, I may have written a dozen posts or so, but not many more. Also in 2016, I’m not sure I wrote any actual fiction. I think I might have done some revisions, but I’m too lazy to go back and look.. In 2017, I wrote exactly two posts, no new fiction, but possibly revisions. You picking up on the theme, here? In 2018, The Great Year of Socks, I wrote a whole lot of very short posts about socks, and very little about anything else. Then, in July of ’18, the same day of this post, I found out my literary agent was effectively a fraud. She terminated her agency and left thirty some-odd clients and one associate agent dangling in the wind.
Surprise! Your agent is full of shit! How would you like to proceed with your literary career now?
To probably no one’s surprise, I decided to proceed by taking my football and going home, and then to mutter about it to myself like Gollum for quite a while. As mentioned above, the only writing I did for the rest of that year was about socks.
‘Twas a dark time for our protagonist, who wandered the Word Forests of Authortown aimlessly, patently eschewing the idea of harvesting any words for new fiction.
The good news, friends, is that bitterness is poor sustenance. Crazy, right? At some point, after months of wallowing, I finally decided that while I might never be able to trust Publishing with my career again, I could still trust myself.* I then started down the road that would lead to independently publishing Famine and Goldenshield.
That put some wind in my sails for a bit. Between Famine’s release in March of 2020–no joke, my pandemic book came out, like, two days before the world shut down–and June or so of that year, I actually made significant progress of Fury, its sequel. And then I stopped making progress. On much of anything.
I tell myself I stopped working on it because I painted myself into a plot corner. Or because by that June, the pandemic was wearing me, and everyone else on Earth, too thin to focus on creative things.
But there was a voice in the back of my head.
Actually, there’s always been a voice in my head. No, not that kind.
It’s persistent. And smug. Like it always knows better than I do.
Thing is, and I hate to admit it, 90% of the time, that incessant, shrill little whine is telling me to Write Something, godsdammit. And I know it’s right.
(The other 10%, obviously, it’s demanding Buffalo wings.)
I’ve been ignoring the voice that’s been telling me to get off my ass and back to work for over two years now, and earlier this month, I came to a realization. What if my excuses for why I wasn’t working on Fury were just that… excuses?
What if I was just feeding myself bullshit because I was a) a little afraid of trying to write a sequel that lived up to its predecessor, but b) more than anything just a lot out of practice?
What if wasn’t writing simply because I just wasn’t writing?
I know, I know. What the fuck kind of circular new-age whack-jobbery are you into here, man? But hear me out. If you look at the history of when I’ve written a lot version when I’ve written very little (or nothing), there’s a strong correlation between when I’ve been blogging and also writing fiction. Is it coincidental? Maybe. Could be I’m just blowing smoke backwards at myself and two weeks from now I’ll have ten new blogs posts, half of which will be haikus, and no new words of fiction. But everyone says that writing is a muscle, one that needs to be exercised like any, other unless you want to see it skinny and limp like a Campbell’s soup noodle.
So I’m taking my noodle back, dammit. And I’m gonna Pump. That. Noodle. Up!
Wait, no. That sounded bad. See? This is what I get for being out of practice.
Long story short (too late), it’s time to get back in the blogging saddle, even if most personal blogs these days do reside in the tumbleweed-ridden Great Desert of the Unread. I hope someone will find these words and be entertained, or inspired, or hell, even mildly irritated that this wasn’t the recipe for Southern Style Sweet Tea (the secret is baking soda!) they were looking for.
I won’t be chasing page views, or clicks. I won’t be analyzing my time-per-page numbers or calculating my engagement factor any time soon. What I will be doing is trying to get used to doing this again, so that I can chase the only number that matters to me, the number of words added to Fury for a given day.
I hope you’ll wish me luck, and maybe even enjoy the ride.
*I want to be completely clear about something with regard to traditional publishing. My lack of trust in Publishing is about me and the corporations that make up the industry, not the vast majority of the people that work in or are adjacent to it. Just like every other endeavor in life, there are always going to be Bad Apples, but far more good ones. Unfortunately, my experiences have made me fearful of the former, and as a result I am frightfully gun shy about even trying the apples anymore. Yes, even Honeycrisps.