Monday, October 19, 2015

Changes, Updates, Declarations and the Future of The Writers' Bloc

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons by Liza
Yep, it's all about the change around here.

Leaves are falling, school is well under way, another year crawling to an end. 

It's the time of year where I turn my face towards the sun, reflect on where I am, take a deep breath of crisp, autumn air and think, "How the fuck did I get here? No seriously, where am I?"

Late last year, I made an almost exact replica of this blog on WordPress. Were you to ask me at the time why I made two blogs with the same name, I would have answered with full bravado, and just a tinge of desperation that I wanted to see which platform would have been better in terms of views. To say nothing that it's probably not the wisest decision in the world to do so. The initiative to self-start was so strong that I kind of blinded me to other things, such as unwittingly confusing followers and diminishing the impact of whatever I write by posting it twice. These are the lessons learned after the fact.

I wasn't thinking clearly. Then again, it's hard think clearly at all when I had another child on the way, I just got laid off, and given my age, facing the possibility of starting over again for the umpteenth time, shrank like Wilson vanishing into the horizon in Cast Away (what? I like that movie) as each day passed. Put another way, I have been in full panic mode for a while now.
"You miss me?"

Anyway, not unlike Tom Hanks giving up on his little buddy as he watches him helplessly fade away...

...sorry, need a moment...

There eventually came a point in a moment of solitude where I had to pull myself together, take a deep breath, and take an inventory of what I have. Starting with these twin blogs.

In the past couple of years, I have started 5 blogs. These days, it's down to 4; one of them is the carbon copy of this one, another one has long since been removed because it was...how shall I put this... boring as hell, a blog for my t-shirt business that has seen it's share of hits and misses (see all those designs on the right hand side? Those are all for sale. Just sayin'), a YouTube channel and an accompanying blog. I have established myself in several social media outlets. I am poised to effectively market myself and what I have to offer.

However, given that I don't have anything tangible to sell, save for the t-shirts and stickers, what I'm offering is a tougher sale to close. Essentially, I have a bunch of shiny venues with not a lot going on. Kind of like a shopping mall where the number of "For Lease" signs are slowly taking over the number of actual stores.

"Well, what have you got?"
"I have t-shirts, and a strong desire to be Word Monkey-for hire."
"I see. So, are you an expert in your particular field?"
"No."
"No?"
"I don't even have a field."
"Well that's...tragic... I'll take 2 shirts, please."

It took me a little while, but I'm closer to figuring it out...

For the record: Yes, I know about SEO. I'm far from being a guru on the subject, but I'm confident that I know more about it than some people. Yes, I understand that great and engaging content + keywords + actionable guidance = more traffic. My intentions, my main goal is to be a successful blogger so that it may facilitate in the process of landing future freelancing gigs (Yeesh, could I sound more like I'm padding a resumé? Let me try this again: ME WRITE GOOD! ME NEED JOB MAKE INCOME! NEED FOOD THIS MONTH!) .

The problem that has been staring me in the face and fogging up my glasses for years, is that the application of the SEO formula only works if you have something real to sell or services to offer. If I'm not selling, offering, promoting, or teaching, then I'm just another schmuck yammering to himself online. This is the cold, hard truth that I had to figure out on my own is that I have a t-shirt business with a handful of forgettable designs, and a few blogs that are about nothing in particular. I have been focusing more on the end product, rather than the process of getting there.

...If you need me, I'll be the crazy, unwashed dude at the end of the bar dressed in a cheesy t-shirt mumbling something about conversion optimization...

Things had to change.

I had these things in motion, these blogs. These unsharpened tools of SEO. I'll be the first to admit that I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing in order to make myself more marketable however clumsily, but these things I am using needed to become more...well... useful. Things needed to get streamlined.

So, after thinking about it, I decided to keep this blog as my personal blog; A rickety old soap box that I stand on when I feel the need to reflect, bemuse, commentate, commiserate, and bitch. Also, throw in the occasional Top 5 List to... you know... keep the masses happy?

My YouTube channel and corresponding blog will more than likely be an extension of that.

The t-shirt business will be getting a better website, preferably one with a user-friendly storefront.

Which leaves my sister WordPress site...

I came to the conclusion that one of these needed to be taken behind the barn Old Yeller style.

Sorry...need another moment... damn allergies...

At least for a while. I couldn't keep the two of them. It's like owning two Starbucks on opposite sides of the street, and turning one of them into a Stuckey's because I felt the need to diversify. One of these had to go. But why get rid of one when I might be able to better utilize it in the future? So, it all came down to this: Keep this blog personal for those occasions where I need to rant. Change the name of my WordPress blog, and reserve that one as a place to write and sell my fiction. Also, as the big, swrily, fuck off obnoxious signature to my own personal declaration, I'm setting a personal goal to finally buy a domain this year.

Brilliant, eh?
It's only taken me...what...a few years to figure this out?

A sense of urgency to do this has taken over the better part of my attention these days because, as some of you already know, it's that time of year again...



It's time. 

I've been on the sidelines for years now. Which is okay by me, because, again, I had nothing to offer. I had other things on my plate. This year though, I got the ball rolling on something, and I'd like to see where it goes. I mean, for real this time, not just write a few posts and abandon it. This year, I intend to finish what I start.

This year, I am joining NaNoWriMo. My goal is to reach the lofty, damn-near-impossible-goal-for-a-noob 50,000 word level (we'll see how that goes), finally stop talking about it, and actually try to get published.

I go into this feet first and fresh faced like my first day of school. Although the rules are self explanatory, I can't help but feel that might be cheating. As of this post, I already have a head start on my manuscript of about 2000 words. The rules state that I can either start with a blank slate, or prepare in advance with tons of notes and research material. The rules say nothing about starting with a second draft of the first few pages of an introduction...so...there you go. I can't help that it feels like cheating. But on the other hand, with the added challenge of writing a novel while being a stay-at-home dad, I'll take any Mulligan I can get.

Honestly, I'm excited. Before I signed up, I had very little knowledge about the NaNoWriMo community, other than what I could glean from authors and other blogs I follow. But after spending a few moments of getting acclimated to the site, I can't help but get the warm and fuzzies recognizing that I might be in good company. Hopefully. 

So, this is my official Declaration to commit to NaNoWriMo. I will be sharing snips, previews and maybe the occasional chapter over at WordPress, any thoughts, musings and inspiration regarding my current project will be ending up here.

I'm off to gather more research material like the squirrels that are currently tearing up my yard.

If you have a moment, or if you're interested, please subscribe to my WordPress site to keep up to date with the progress of my current project.

Hugs and Kisses...