So I did a thing.
I poked a bear with a stick. I opened the cupboard. I tickled Pandora’s button. I was curious, that’s all…
Curiosity- the conflict that seems to generate plot development in my corner of the human habitrail now that I’ve taken the keys away from the mini-bar in my back pocket- and I should know better. I know that because I’ve finally reached an age where security and contentment are more valuable than jumping off cliffs just to find out once and for all if gravity is really all that or just another long-con set up by the collective that told you not to stick forks in light sockets. Old enough to know better and yet here we are.
It never ceases to amaze me how much things still amaze me- even when I do know better. It’s quite possible that I’m broken, or at least part of me is, I don’t know. Tim Quirk wrote about how he felt bad for the astronauts and asked the question: How does it feel to look up at the moon and say ‘Yeah, I’ve been there’? and it’s a good question- one that makes me want to seek out an astronaut pen-pal and pick his brain. I’m sure there’s a story in there- but if I had to offer Tim a theoretical answer, based on my own Earthbound experience, I would say it probably feels surreal as fuck and way beyond awesome. I have a hard time believing that stargazing could ever become mundane, whatever your day job.
In my world– where I split my time between name tags and nature walks, Netflix and folding laundry, cat boxes and crayons- there is a never ending parade of surprising and inspiring, horrible and hideous, wonderful stuff that fluffs about like dust motes in a radioactive sunbeam. I never get tired of the voices or the faces, the flavors or the feelings- and everything manages to surprise the shit out of me. Every day. God surprises me. My wife surprises me. My kids surprise me. The cats and the rats and the parents and the co workers and the strangers with their dangers and their Facebook philosophies all manage, on a daily basis, to surprise me. I suprise myself, and let’s face it- that’s weird. After 42 years in this skull you’d think I’d have a pretty decent grasp of the geography, but it’s just not the case. Case in point- I did a thing, and now I have to figure out if it’s good or bad or whatever. Welcome to the process…
A week ago my blog hit a milestone with 100 visitors and I thought that was pretty cool. Amazing actually. It surprised the hell out of me- and what’s more dangerous- it made me ambitious. So I did what anyone in my position and lack of experience would do- I asked Google how to promote my blog and get even more traffic on this blog-train ’cause if I learned anything from the Once-ler is that bigger is better. After all, as a good American shouldn’t I subscribe to the Gospel of Henry Ford: Bigger Better Faster More? Well, I thought so at the time. It seemed like the logical progression.
Google, as usual, had a lot to say.
Straight out the gate were all manner of articles about effective writing and target audiences which I ignored completely. Let’s be real Google…if I cared about relevant content I’d be blogging Vegan recipes, commentary on the incel movement and what’s up with the Kardashians and what does Kanye have to say about all these new genders popping up like daisies. No. I’m here for the sake of hubris, insecurity, mental masturbation and run on sentences chock full of obscure metaphors, idioms and simile. That’s my jam. So no thank you Google wizard- what I’m looking for is: How do I get butts into my theater and hold them hostage. So I scrolled down a bit…
There were ads for services that cost money to subscribe to, which was out of the question, and the obligatory pitches from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram which are all waaaaay to scary and millennial for me to even to consider. There were also forums I could join and connect with other writers but since all I want to talk about is me and the shit I care about that seemed like a dead end. Besides, who has the time to talk to strangers? I barely have time to talk to myself and some things get priority.
Finally Google gave me something good- something I could get behind: Post my writing on other sites and link it back to the blog. Yep. That I could do, and that I did.
I joined a few free sites, posted some stories and pimped the blog link. I even stuck around and read other people’s work for a while since I was there. It was a mixed bag. I enjoyed quite a bit of it, read some crap, reviewed a few pieces then called it a day because there is always something waiting to be done. Then it got weird.
Ok, so maybe weird is the wrong word. It got busy. My email inbox started filling up with notifications, reviews and messages from the new sites fast which wasn’t at all what I had expected to happen. Truth be told I really didn’t know what to expect but what I got was unexpected. True story. Suddenly there was all this feedback rolling in and my soul wasn’t prepared Dr. Jones. It was unreal. Surprising. Amazing…
I’m exaggerating a little here. Come on…I do that.
This morning my stat app tells me Plague Squeak is up to 145 visitors and counting so I guess Dr. Google knew what he was doing. I’ve received more criticism (constructive and otherwise) in the past week than I did in 5 years of preaching in a UCC Congregational Church- which means something to some of you and if it doesn’t I’ll say it another way: A fuck ton of critique. Un-freaking-real. I feel like the kid who wanted a glass of water and God sent a tsunami just in case. Don’t get me wrong- I’m not complaining, I asked for this and wanted this- I just have really low expectations so Christmas in May is overwhelming. I assume that the current quarantine conditions around the world have something to do with the sheer volume of people reading and reviewing amateur writing- either that or I have criminally underestimated how many nerds can fit on the head of a pin. Doesn’t matter really- what does matter is that people are saying all manner of nice and not so nice things and that’s all I’ve ever wanted- that, and a crossbow.
Apart from doing wonders for my ego the flood has also encouraged me to keep fit and keep my promises- I’ve been writing more, and as a result will be posting more and at a more rapid pace than I’d thought probable. I even finished the wretched beast Ark which I had been ignoring successfully for a good while. I posted chapter 5 here this morning and the last two chapters are almost formatted and will be up soon. Tonight I think I’ll get out the paints and conjure some angry beavers.
One reader actually made a very thoughtful observation and suggestion regarding the sci/fi Velveeta melt that is Miranda- and all of a sudden I actually like the story. Which is nice. It’s embarrassing to have a kid you don’t want to hang out with.
So here I go evolving all over the place- giddy and freaked out and nervous and feeling like an internet angel forgot to lock heavens gate and now there goes the neighborhood but get this- it just keeps getting better. The experience, not the writing- that’s just what it is- and baby I’m amazed. Who knows what June will bring.
I’m still hoping for a crossbow.
Brian Shepard May 24, 2020