Okay, let’s clear up a few things right away:
1. I am not dead. Really.
2. I am not, thank the Lord, a refugee from Hurricane Katrina who’s been without a computer for weeks.
3. I have not had extensive plastic surgery, requiring me to recuperate, swaddled in bandages, in a secluded spa somewhere.
4. I am not holed up in a love nest with Jennifer Aniston, trying to make her forget Brad Pitt.
5. I have not been abducted by aliens. Or if I have, they have a heckuva reality simulation room in their spaceship.
No, I have none of these exciting and nifty explanations available to explain why I have been AWOL from the blogosphere for more than two weeks. This was an unplanned vacation, I assure you. If you’re wondering if I’ve decided to abandon Muley’s World, the short answer is no, at least not now. But I find it hard to come up with an equally short answer to the question of why I have seemingly disappeared into the twilight -- at least a short answer that makes sense. So, I‘ve decided to treat you few regular visitors, my patient and supportive friends, with a long answer that will hopefully suffice.
For new visitors to this site, especially those new to the blogging scene, maybe this will serve as both an entertaining cautionary tale and a look behind the scenes at “the rise and fall” of an average American blog site, with all the embarrassing parts left in.
Since I feel the urge to ramble a bit, I’ll divide up this post into three or four sections, each posted on a different day. That way, it won’t be like asking you to swallow a bowling ball all at once. And maybe some of you will even manage to read the whole thing.
PART ONE: THE BACK STORY
Maybe my story is a lot like yours. I got into blogging – became the owner and creator of a blog, in fact – before I truly knew what blogging really was. It was akin to learning how to swim by jumping off the high dive and seeing what happens next.
Of course, I had been hearing about the blogosphere for quite awhile before I joined it. About a year or so ago, I decided on a slow day to see what these “web logs” were all about. I typed in “blog” on a search engine, came up with a directory or two of blog sites, and started looking around.
Frankly, I was not impressed with what I found. Most of those first blogs I looked at were the type kept by whiny, self-obsessed teenagers (are there any other types, you ask?) who filled page after digital page with gossip, ruminations on what clothes they were buying and wearing, observations about friends and the opposite sex, cynical analyses of the latest hot shows on Fox and the WB, and minute-by-minute accounts of their seemingly boring and, like, you know, uh, tedious days. After reading a dozen or so of these, I jumped to the conclusion that blogs were simply online journals of the “Dear Diary” type, a new fad that bored teenagers had taken up after instant messaging was no longer cutting edge.
At the same time I was pooh-poohing the blogosphere, I was yearning for someplace to display my writing talents. I’ve been a writer ever since I learned how to put pencil to Big Chief tablet, and in the last five years or so I have filled about a notebook a year with poems, haiku, and detailed ideas for short stories, essays (both humorous and serious) and even a children’s book or two. A few essays I even managed to write, filing them away in a folder when I was through.
I knew very well what the fate of the average wannabe writer is when he decides he wants to be in print, and I realized I just didn’t have the heart or the stomach to send out 5,312 unsuccessful query letters before finally getting a small piece accepted by South Dakota Bovine Digest and Literary Journal for the grand sum of $10. I just wasn’t up to it, but I wanted to get at least some of the stuff I was writing (and could one day write) in front of a reader or two I wasn’t related to before I died.
The best idea I could come up with was a sort of “e-digest,” where I would ask close friends if I could e-mail them some sort of collection of prose and poetry every few weeks or so. But I knew this was problematic. It would put my friends on the spot –- how could they politely decline my offer if they weren’t interested? –- and, if they got the e-mails but soon grew tired of them, how would they ask me to take them off the mailing list without offending me?
So I was stuck. I did think about a blog, but I seriously thought that anyone with a blog site had designed it themselves, and that before you could get a blog you had to know Web programming well enough to some up with templates and headers and all that stuff, as well as being fully versed in html. Some day, I thought, when I have the time to take a Web design class, maybe I’ll get into that. But not now.
I told you I knew next to nothing about the blogosphere.
So, imagine my surprise when, in mid-May of 2005, a friend of mine here in Waco, someone who didn’t know Web design, sent me an e-mail saying “check out my new blog.” I did, and was amazed by what I saw. Here was a professional-looking web site, with daily entries and links and all sorts of wonderful things. I called this person and complimented her, saying I wished I could one day learn how to do that. “It’s easy,” she said. “Go to the Blogger web site. You choose a template, answer some questions, and push submit. It took me about five minutes to set mine up. And it’s totally free.”
That same night, after thinking more and more about this great new toy, I decided to jump off the high dive. I went to Blogger, chose a template, and came up with a name – Muley’s World – which was the name of a fake, satirical radio show I came up with and hosted during my radio station days, featuring me introducing songs and doing comedy bits with an accent that sounded quite rural Texan.
I didn’t know what to say in my first post – hadn’t thought about it, really – so I ended up tapping out a few sentences which basically announced “Here I am!” and pushed the submit button. Muley’s World was delivered kicking and screaming without the use of forceps.
Tune in tomorrow for
PART TWO: GIDDY AS A SCHOOLGIRL