My million-word blog

This is blog post number 892. In itself, this number is hardly significant. But it just so happens that with this post, Occam’s Razor will have reached a milestone that few individual blogs ever make. I will have written over a million blog words. That’s 1,000,000 words. That, dear readers, is a lot of words. The English translation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace is 560,000 words. If you were to put all my blog entries into a book, it would be nearly twice the size of that famous novel. If this blog were a book, it would amount to something like 3,500 pages. Thankfully, no trees were abused in the publication of this blog, although I have heard from one reader than he prints each blog post I make.

When I started blogging on December 13, 2002, my motivation was simply to jump in on the latest Internet fad. I soon realized that I felt I had worthwhile thoughts to share with the world. While there are many writers far better than me, I also knew I am a better writer than many. One constant that followed me during my professional life was a sincere appreciation expressed by my bosses and colleagues for my writing. Gosh, you really write well, was a common refrain that I heard. I took it as a complement and verification that I had a gift.

I began writing for pleasure and to stroke my ego when my age could be measured in single digits. As you can imagine most of what I wrote back then was dreadful. A child of the baby boom generation, my writing was inspired by the space program, the science fiction of the era and the wonderfully deep fantasy world of J.R.R. Tolkien. With a battered Smith Corona electric typewriter that I purchased with the proceeds from my modest part time wages at the Winn Dixie, I tried hard to write something that might actually sell. Yet soon, like an airplane, I realized the end of the runway was dead ahead and I had to take flight. My flight was a journey into adulthood. In addition, I was discouraged by how inefficient writing was. A typewriter was better than nothing, but to write with quality, I had to revise it multiple times, which was enormously time consuming. After all that work, my magnum opus was still likely to be rejected by an editor.

Unfortunately, just as the tools to write efficiently arrived, my free time became nearly nonexistent. I worked full time and endured hellish commutes into Washington, D.C., arriving home exhausted and my energy sapped. Then there were the considerable duties of living to attend: being a good husband, maintaining a household and caring for our daughter. Blogging conveniently arrived at a time when I could finally eke out enough free time to write regularly. In addition, the web had evolved sufficiently so that web publishing was easy. All I needed was a computer with Microsoft Word (with spell check and the grammar features turned on), the ability to copy and paste into a text box, some MoveableType software (now WordPress) and web space. After a few months of blogging, I was hooked.

I am unlikely to earn anything beyond spare change from Google Adsense for my writing, but neither have I had to suffer through editors’ cruel rejections. I could publish myself and reach a much larger audience than I could as some obscure author. Had I managed to publish at all, I would likely have suffered the same fate that most authors suffer, and find my books quickly consigned to the discount rack. Multiply two hundred to three hundred page views a day over many years and that’s a lot of readers. It is in fact far more than I am ever likely to get if I wrote a book.

This blog soon evolved into a potpourri of essays. While each essay tries hard to be coherent about a particular topic, Occam’s Razor has no common theme. Categories and tags help with content organization, but each entry is simply about something that happens to be on my mind that day. As I have mentioned, aside from blogging allowing me to regularly scratch my itch to write, it has also proven to be excellent cognitive therapy. Like most human beings, I have my share of personal issues to sort through. Buddhists practice mindfulness. While blogging is not exactly mindfulness, writing in the form of an essay at least allows for introspection. It is useful for me because it helps me make sense of our complex world. Perhaps it helps you too. If it does, this makes me especially happy since that is my primary motivation for blogging.

Each post gets four reviews before I publish. I would double the number of edits that I make if I had more time. Four reviews seems to be my happy medium between wanting to publish something that will not embarrass me and squeezing in this time-consuming hobby during my nights and weekends. Since each post typically exceeds a thousand words, every post takes a considerable amount of my time. At best, a post consumes ninety minutes of effort. More typically, each post takes two to two and a half hours to write and edit.

This blog is unlikely to ever be popular. I draw 200-300 page views a day, which is something but keeps me a backwater blog. It is also true that certain posts are read repeatedly and others rarely are read. Not surprisingly, the few that I have written on the topics of pornography and sexuality tend to draw the most hits. According to Google Analytics, my top ten individual blog posts from January 1st through the end of October were:

I expect that a year from now this list will likely not have changed that much. I am not surprised that subjects on pornography or sexuality would elicit so much disproportionate interest. However, I feel flattered that The Root of Human Conflict: Emotion vs. Reason is regularly read, since I consider it one of my best (and longest) essays. (It was actually written in 1997.) By the way, this blog’s main page received 6,330 page views over this period, making it my third most visited web page, which is also encouraging.

I will keep blogging away. I am unlikely to ever hit 10,000,000 words, as the actuarial statistics are likely to have me planted six feet underground long before that happens. It took nearly six years to write a million words. At that rate, I would need 54 more years to reach 10,000,000 words. Since I am now 51, I would have to be alive at age 105 while still able to type and in reasonable health. Nor am I sure that this blog will survive another six years. Blogging may lose its luster or I may finally feel tapped out. As long as there are enough readers and I can find the time, I will endeavor to continue.

If I retire from blogging, I will find other things to write about. Most of us writers aspire to write a novel or two, and I would like to do it at some point. I do not think I could both blog and write a novel at the same time.

I will be back with an update when I hit blog post 1,000, also a significant number. At the rate I am going, it should appear sometime in the summer of 2009.

One thought on “My million-word blog

  1. Kudos to you a million words! Your blog has been such an inspiration to me, and I don’t even know you … or perhaps in a way, now I do.

    You’re a fantastic writer, and I love how dedicated your are to the art. Your passion and constant striving for clear communication motivates me to continue my own pursuit.

    Job well done, keep up the good work.

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