Deep in It

For those whose blogs I’ve not visited recently, please know I’ve not lost interest. I’m deep in an ocean of work and trying to swim to the surface. One book is in the can, so to speak, and I have two others I’m working simultaneously. Effectively, I have time to produce, but little to consume.

When I can again see the dim rays of sun through the still blue, I will resurface. Thanks.

I Have Too Many Blogs

Bill Jones, Jr.:

I’ve started some blogs and will be phasing out a couple of others.

Originally posted on Just Me:

I also have ADHD. As a result, I have three things I can do with my almost boundless energy: 1.) Try to ignore it, and watch myself self-destruct in a ball of fiery tension, 2.) Use it to worry about things over which I have no control, or, 3.) Use it as an outlet for creative energy. I’ve chosen to use it for Good instead of Evil (that’s pronounced EE ville).

Anyway, I want to use this post to introduce you to some new blogs, and others that I’ll be phasing out.

First of all is THIS Blog – “Just Me” – I list this first because I will be reblogging the hell out of this post on my other blogs. This is the only blog on which I will try to post “behind the scenes” stuff — that is, longer bits that explain more of the process…

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 22,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

 

Many thanks to my Top 5 Commenters:

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Spam Spam Spam Spam & Spam

Yeah, piss off.

Just a bit of an alert and notice. The “new” way to spam people on WordDepress is for companies to create blogs and then randomly follow you so that you will reciprocate and view their daily spam adverts posts.

Um, not gonna happen (at least for me). The one sure giveaway is that these folks are auto following you, without “liking” anything or commenting. Just as a notice, if you follow one of my blogs and we’ve never interacted, in even an indirect way, expect me to ignore you.

Cheers.

I’m Still Blogging

I clearly sent a confusing message with my last post. To make it clear: I have no intention of killing my blog. Instead, I’ve decided to stop my web serial, as I could tell that people (those interested) were having trouble keeping up. My initial thought was to slow it down, but there is no way to know how frequently to post, as I was being spammed by fake likes.

That was the real intention of last night’s post – to say “please just stop the fakery.” I will be here; I’ll just focus on shorter things that don’t rely so much on interaction.

Just to Be Clear

I’ve had quite a few people follow my blogs lately, mainly, I believe, because I’ve been a lot more active. However, I’m finding photographers follow my writing blog and vice versa. Now, I’m fine with that, but I wonder if people are doing so only to be polite. No need; if you don’t want to follow me, my ego will remain intact.

I’m 54, and I’m actually cool without praise. :)

Nonetheless, for those who might be interested and confused as to why a writer is clicking on photos (or who thinks it’s because photos are less work to view than words – don’t you hate that?) let me assure you. I have A LOT of blogs. However, specifically, I have 3 that I keep active.

There is this one, “This Blog Blank,” which I devote to my writing, as well as griping about writing, book marketing, with some tips I’ve picked up along the way. I’ll probably be whining about the editing process for my current work in progress, Hard as Roxx, or the next book I may or may not write. This will be interspersed with crap that pops into my head, like trying to get people to STOP MAKING THE GRAMMAR ERRORS THAT BUG ME! And stuff.

My photography blog is “Ordinary Luminary,” which I devote mainly to street photography. I’m not sure why it’s only street photography, since I do more cityscapes these days and I’m probably better at shooting animals than people (with a camera), but it is. It looks like this:

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The other blog I update (less regularly, but increasingly) is called “Fix Your Mirror.” It is devoted to life coaching, specializing in (hopefully) inspiration and essays on changing yourself. This blog looks like this:

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Those are my parents on the front page of the blog, on their 1st date. My dad called me this week to say he’s personally taking credit for my photography since he bought me my first camera. I told him he gets credit for pretty much everything I do right. The stuff I screwed up, I did on my own.

I have a blog specifically set up for Hard as Roxx, but I’ve pretty much shut it down. Editing on the book has stalled, and I’ll be looking for a proofreader soon. So, nothing to update really. The readers “like the story” and “think it’s well written,” but nobody’s finished it. Talk about freaking mixed messages. I’ve also shut down Charlie and Robin’s (lead characters from The Stream) Tumblr blog, primarily due to lack of interest.

Can you tell I (1) have ADHD, (2) never get tired, and (3) am single? I thought you could. :)

Anyway, I hope this clears up the blog situation. Feel free to follow (or unfollow) as things interest you. Feedback is always welcome.

Get Your Snake Oil … Not Here

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Contrary to popular belief, not all people wanting to connect are desperate. In fact, more than a few are looking for genuine, bilateral relationships. We don’t all have a crippled social skills. Some of us have robust lives, real friends, and successful careers. Our lives and self worth do not turn with the numbers of “likes” we get on posts. Therefore, if what we put out there is not your cup of tea, you should feel no guilt in ignoring it. I promise you I won’t like yours if I’m not feeling it.

So, it is with no trepidation at all that I turn once again to the Snake Oil salesmen of the interwebs, bloggers. No, not you, the other guy. The bloggers I’m talking about have already stopped reading, because only a few words shows up in their reader after they pop in their search terms, and “like” 115,000 posts so that we hicks like theirs back, and drive up their web traffic.

You know how it goes. You spend minutes hours crafting your improvised tightly honed post, which you put out there without editing, crawl through draft after draft,  just to make it perfect.imgres-3 Then, some huckster in a faux silk suit and a chimney-shaped hat clicks “like” and you think all your efforts have been rewarded.

Good on ya.

Except, let’s say, like me, you have tools that track views and visitors, and you notice that no one actually clicked on the post, and it’s 1,500 words long, and therefore, the jerk who “liked” it could not have read it. Well fuck you very much.

Even worse, let’s say you have a photography blog. No, bump that; let’s say I have a photography blog, because I do. Is it fair, in the world of interwebs reciprocity, for someone to like my post — which consists of 1 photo and ten words — to expect me to like theirs back, when the shortest of their posts is just north of War and Fucking Peace? (Editor’s note: I used Tolstoy’s manuscript title, not the final version.)

No, it the hell is not. I. Ain’t. Reading. Your. Novel. Son. Why? Because, you clicked on my photo precisely because it was quick. What you liked was that it required NOTHING on your part. That’s really lame.

Even worse, I spent some time this week looking for other street photographers who might have set up blogs. I’ve used most of the photo social media sites, and have tired of them. What I wanted was a simple way to see other shooters’ work, without complexity, while setting up my blog as a sort of a street photography portfolio. Simple in concept, no? Well, an interesting thing happened. I found a photographer whose work I really liked. I found myself clicking on 6 or 7 shots, all of which I liked. I followed the blog; things were looking up. I figured if the shooter liked my work, they would click on some of mine, or not. To my surprise, he did in fact follow my blog. This one. This has happened more than once.

Um, guess which blog you should have followed?

Um, guess which blog you should have followed?

Now, perhaps the delightful raw, barely edited, grade-C, stream-of-consciousness prose on this blog attracted them. More likely, however, the person only spent 2 seconds on my profile, and clicked “follow” on the 1st blog he saw (RalphtheDog.Wordpress.com) instead of my lovely (ChristShootstheStreet.Wordpress.com) photo blog. In effect, he was selling the snake oil that if I continue to “like” his stuff every day, my life would improve because he liked me back. My brain would produce endorphins, and the 100 likes per post would bring in droves of new readers.

But I have a question? WHO GIVES A SHIT?

Do people really care about numbers instead of improvement? Is the idea of sharing art in the hopes of reaching people who get your vision so alien? Are we all producers and not consumers? You know which stats I like? I like that my #1 and #2 viewed posts get ZERO comments. That’s because people searched on the 100 greatest writers, or dragons, and read (or not) because they are interested in the subject matter.

Getting fake likes on the interwebs is like finding out your close friend really hasn’t felt anything for you (or anything) in five years. The best case is you never find out. The worst case is that you question all the joy you thought you brought, the self-improvement you believed you made, and wonder if anything is real. Frankly, I’d rather have the snake.

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Theda Bara as “Cleopatra”

The simple truth is that despite what we bloggers want to believe, The Public rarely reads blogs. When they do, they have no Blogger/Wordpress/OpenID, so you’ll rarely know when they loved your post. They may read it over and over, perhaps it will change their life. In extraordinarily rare instances, they will leave a comment, or send you an email thanking you for adding a bit to their life.

And, my friends, that will need to be enough.

You write because God gave you the words. If you’re doing this for any other reason, then it’s time to stop drinking the Snake Oil, and get your head right.

No Quid Pro Quo

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I started blogging — the first time — in 2005. As blogs go, mine was pretty successful: I posted a combination of my warped humor, my take on the world, bits of poetry, and tons of advice, some useful. The advice led me to make several long-term friendships, including my best friend and former love. In terms of readers, I had over 100 per day, and more interaction than I could keep up with.

But then I noticed something: all of the people who read my blog were other bloggers who wanted me to read theirs. As an experiment, I stopped reading theirs – at least I stopped letting them know I did. Not surprisingly, my readership went from around 150 to 10, almost overnight.

It wasn’t real.

This just in: fuck fake friends.

This just in: fuck fake friends.

Most of the friendships turned out not to be either. Blogging, I learned, was nothing more than people doing work — in this case, reading — so that others would read them. I killed my blogs. Since then, I have started and stopped blogging several times, almost always for the same reason.

Popular blogs aren’t always the ones with the best content, the funniest stories, the crispest photography. No, they are all too often the ones where the blogger subscribes to a ton of blogs, and diligently clicks “like” every day, while reading the 10 percent that actually interests them. </pettiness> I’ve accepted that, though it sickens me. I refuse to spend hours of my day reading for no reason other than to gain attention. Likewise, I will never click “like” for anything I didn’t actually read and like.

When did things deteriorate to such a point? Only poets read poetry. Only photographers look at photos, and then only amateurs trying to get feedback on their work. Increasingly, only writers read. Are we now purely a society of quasi-art producers and no consumers? Is the idea of enjoying work without the need for reciprocity so passé? Will we all perish without our 15 bloody minutes of fame?

Please, please, DO NOT read my blog for any reason other than you want to. Don’t visit my photo blog if you don’t like my street photography. Do not read my novels or short stories if you don’t like my work. Don’t do it for me, or for the quid pro quo. I promise, I am fine creating work for myself. I write books for my grandkids, and they haven’t even been born yet. I do street photography because it’s like breathing to me.

I read what I like, visit where I like, and occasionally click “like” just to show I visit.

I guess I’m doomed to anonymity. I’d rather one sincere act of appreciation than 1,000 insincere ones. The world’s shallowness sometimes makes me wanna call Ralph in New York, tell him about a yak. Still, I have faith. I believe if I continue to do what I love, at some point someone will discover it — the old fashioned way. If not, oh well.

Some people just don’t appreciate gud art.

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The Liebster Award!

The lovely and talented Victoria Grefer nominated me for the Liebster Award! At first, I thought I was getting some good Maine seafood, but it turned out I can’t spell. Still, it’s cool.

Here are the rules for the Liebster Award:

  • Posts 11 random facts about oneself and answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • Pass the award onto 11 other blogs
  • Write 11 NEW questions directed towards YOUR nominees
  • Paste the award picture into your blog. (Or another blog, if you’re a bored hacker.)

So, here I go! My answers are below.

1.    What is your most embarrassing story?

I’ve been asked that before, and I always struggle with it. I was a very shy kid; I moved around a lot; I was smaller than most. As a result, I got teased and even bullied a great deal. However, one thing I never got was embarrassed. I learned that was a weapon that people used against you, so I decided early on to simply own my mistakes and not feel self-conscious about them. I think I got that from my mom; I’ve never known her to be embarrassed either. What should have been my most embarrassing story was when I married someone much younger than me, and she left me. Instead, I decided to channel that pain into writing, and I penned two books in three months.  It’s all energy, in the end.

2.    What’s the grossest thing you’ve ever eaten?

I’ve always been a finicky eater, so I don’t try many gross things. However, as kids, we were regularly fed “brains and eggs.” No, not zombie-like brains – pig brains and scrambled chicken fetuses. Yum.

3.    If you’re an author, who is your favorite character you’ve written about? Why? (Yes, that’s considered one question – get over it.) If you’re not an author, who is your favorite character to read about? (Author & book for that character) and why?

My favorite character is Robin LeBeaux, from The Stream series. Robin is a smart, lovely, nurturing, and goofy girl. She never allows her sensitivity to become an excuse for weakness. I based her on the two most creative, craziest women I knew. If they had entered a lesbian marriage, and somehow made a baby together, their kid would have been Robin. That’s how I see her in my head.

4.    What is your favorite book series?

Gaea, by John Varley. As a kid, it was Sherlock Holmes.

5.    Do you prefer salty or sweet?

Sweet, definitely. I haven’t even bought salt in 10 years. I love potato chips, but they don’t love me. Cookies, however, love me loads.

6.    e-book or printed book?

Printed. E-books are cool, but I like “real books.” They get old, they stink, they turn to dust. They’re like zombies. I like to read paper books in the park. It intimidates the trees, and keeps them from moving too much when no one’s looking. They do that, you know.

7.    Biggest celebrity crush?

I’m too old for celebrity crushes. Therefore, with Helena Bonham Carter, it’s true love. Ordinary bores the shit out of me.

8.    What is your all time favorite movie?

I probably have 50 favorites and they change with my mood. Among the top would be Finding Forrester, however. My favorite not-great movie is Red, because it stars 3 of my 5 favorite actors (Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and Bruce Willis). If you find one that also has Helena and Johnny Depp, let me know.

9.    Who is your favorite artist/band?

Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley

10. Are you a Black Friday shopper?

Oh God no. If I can’t get it on the internets, I don’t want it.

11. What is your favorite type of hero to write/read about?

I like writing about normal people who become heroic by finding their inner strength. I think it’s important to recognize that heroes aren’t really like comic book stars. They get scared, they fail at first, and sometimes their motivations are less than idealistic. But in the end, they triumph, because what they fight for is important enough to demand their best. What I HATE reading about is “heroes” that end up being victims most of the time. It’s hard caring about a character who gets the crap beat of him for 3/4’s of a book. By then, I’ve probably put it back on the shelf. In real life, winners win most of the time – not all the time, but most.

My lead character, Roxx, would beat Bella What’sherface to death with Katniss Everdeen’s bones. I like that in a female lead.

11 Random Facts … facts … facts … (imagine a deep, echoing voice)

  1. It took me 18 months after I graduated college to find a job. By then, I had learned who my real friends were.
  2. I listen to every music genre except Bluegrass, Zydeco, and Show Tunes. I. HATE. Show Tunes.
  3. I think Helen Mirren is hot. There, I said it.
  4. The first movie I ever saw in the theater was West Side Story. Yep, I’m that old. I fell asleep and got angry at my mother for not waking me up. Natalie Wood was my first movie Crush. She still was at her death.
  5. I once staged a coup d’ etat in the 4th grade. It was successful; the teacher quit mid-year.
  6. In college, I once took Business Law. I earned an “A,” despite the fact that I never bought the textbook and only went to class for exams. (I used to check the text out of the library before tests.) I’ve had a lifelong disdain for lawyers ever since.
  7. I’ve only had one male best friend. Since the 90’s, they’ve all been women. Some women used get so comfortable with me, they’d undress around me, forgetting I’m not gay. I am so not gay.
  8. In high school, I read Don Quixote in the original Spanish. Then I lived for 7 years in places where no one spoke Spanish. Now, I’m only fluent after drinking Tequila. Seriously.
  9. I’ve only been drunk 3 times. The third time, I was with native Spanish speakers, bar-hopping near San Francisco. Only after 3 hours did they tell me we had been speaking Spanish all night. I had no clue. Tequila!
  10. I once talked a kid out of suicide when I was 20. I hope he’s still alive. That same year, I talked a “Moonie” out of their cult in a day. He was trying to recruit me. Don’t try to recruit me; I’m not a joiner.
  11. Despite being a photographer, writer, and poet, I’m more the badass type than the “sensitive” type. Yeah, I can help you pick out clothes that flatter you, but you’d want me on your team during the Zombie Apocalypse. We’d kick some Zombie ass, then raid the empty mall. It would be sweet. Then we’d drive around all night trying to find a place that still served pizza.

So, here are my nominees. I won’t cry if you blow me off. I also didn’t pick 11. I’m lazy.

 Finally, here are your 11 Questions:

  1. What is most important to you in choosing a book to read?
  2. Name an absolutely terrible movie that you secretly love.
  3. What makes you want to slam a book shut and never finish it?
  4. You think you’re alone. The music is loud. You have a spoon, and you’re lip-synching that song you’re kind of embarrassed for liking. Who is singing, and what’s the song?
  5. The Zombies are coming. Why should we put you on our team?
  6. If Heaven existed, and it’s like a book you’ve read or movie you’ve seen, which one is it? Why?
  7. Which character (you’ve written or read) would you most want to be friends with (with or without benefits)?
  8. The world as we know it will end: a) In a zombie apocalypse, b) Never, because Light will always defeat Darkness, c) When we jump on that last rocket and finally ditch this backwater planet, or d) With you, ‘cause you’re taking all the other suckers out when you go. Which one?
  9. Do you consider yourself to be an artist?
  10. What’s the dumbest thing to be afraid of that scares the crap out of you?
  11. Your blog is now famous. As a result, celebrities want your attention. Writers call, actors call, singers text, but you only have time for 1 or 2. Whom do you hang out with, and whom do you have a secret fling with?

If anyone I didn’t think to nominate wants to do it, join in. We’ll start a cult. We’ll call ourselves the Liebster Children of the Sacred Eleven. And we’ll eat loads of cheese at the meetings.

I’ve Got Sunshine …

I was recently given a Sunshine blog award, which is funny, if you know me. I’m about as sunny as a porcupine at midnight. Still, I do appreciate it. And, as the award dictates, here are random answers to 10 meaningless questions. I considered posting only the answers, but decided not to.

Favorite colors:  Red, then red, and after that, crimson. Then black. And puce. Because I like saying puce.

Favorite animal: Blue footed booby. I love boobies.

Favorite number: pi

Favorite Non-alcoholic beverage: Water; tea, Earl Grey, hot.

Facebook or Twitter? No. In person.

My Passion:  Love, writing, photography, passion (I’m very meta)

Prefer giving or receiving gifts: Giving.

Favorite pattern: Co-dependence.

Favorite Day of the Week: Offday

Favorite Flower: I’m a straight male. I don’t have a favorite flower.

Nominate 10. I’m going to pass on this one, as it’s late, and I’m lazy. However, you can tell my favorite blogs, because we actually interact. That’s why they’re my favorites.