My First Year Of Blogging

Sometimes-burning-bridges-isnt-a-bad-thing

A year ago today, I wrote my first blog, even though I was sure it would be an exercise in futility. Because that’s what being a writer is largely about. I don’t mean to be negative, but a large part of being a writer is about rejection. So I was ready to have my blog spurned. I didn’t think anyone would read it. Based on decades of trying to push my writing on people with little success, it would be crazy to think this would be different. No, like nearly all of my writing, it would be ignored, unread, unwelcome, just more verbage tossed on the old word pile.

6256130025_79e67c2556_bBut that part didn’t bother me. I’ve been rejected by women, friends, employers, and credit cards, and my writing has been rejected by lots of magazines and publishers. I’ve been rejected so many times, I’ve accepted rejection.

I had a hard time coming up with a name for the blog. I tried a bunch and they were already taken. I ended up calling it bridgesareforburning, because I think I’ve burned quite a few bridges in my life, so many that I’m no longer allowed to play with matches. Actually, I took the name from a song, Walking Man, from one of my favorite songwriters, James Taylor.

I started the blog for three reasons. First, and foremost, an angel named Madison Woods invited me to join a group called Friday Fictioneers and you had to have a blog to participate. It was a group of writers from all over who write a weekly flash fiction story of 100 words based on a photo Madison posted on Wednesday. Then we read each other’s stories and offer comments. It sounded like fun and I decided to join in. I’m always trying to figure out a way to coerce anyone with brain activity into reading my drivel and the Friday Fictioneers sounded promising. It has proven to be as much fun as riding a roller coaster naked.

Secondly, I thought my blog could be a kind of journal, a place I could spew my endless opinions about everything. If nothing else, it would maybe relieve others of having to listen to me rant and rave about all the things that drive me crazy. I could blow off steam on the blog, relieve some pressure, get it out of my system.second-thought-burning-bridges-demotivational-posters-1346154076

Also, as a kind of journal, I thought it might turn me into some kind of Emily Dickinson. She never got any recognition in her lifetime, but now, she’s an icon. Sure, nobody was going to read my blog, but maybe someday, when archaeologists were trying to re-create the history of the twenty-first century, maybe they’d come across my blog, and I’d have recorded something there that was helpful in understanding this ridiculous time in which we live in world history. One thing about the internet is that anything you say has a kind of permanence. It never goes away. Or at least it hasn’t so far. It’s a kind of immortality, in a way.

So it came as a complete surprise when visitors started showing up at my blog and reading my writing. And these weren’t just Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons showing up at my door because they were obligated to try to save my soul. These were real readers whose only agenda was that they wanted to read what I wrote.

I’m not sure why this happened, but I think  it was because suddenly the middleman was removed. There was no editor, gatekeeper, publisher, or censor blocking people from my writing. I took my words directly to the people, and the people came.

6252782872_183e5a640e_bAbout half of my posts have been the weekly flash fiction, but the other half have been all over the map. I’ve written about books, movies, television, all kinds of things that bug me, personal experience, music, my roots, language, all things that are important to me. It’s been gratifying, engaging and uplifting all at the same time.

My only regret is that I didn’t start blogging sooner. This will be my 97th post, not bad for my first year. And as of this writing, I’ve had about 8,100 visitors to my blog. I know bloggers who have lots more, but I think this has been a good start. My visitors came from 81 different countries worldwide.

So I’m launching into my second year of blogging with great hope. I know I’ll never run out of stuff to complain about, or books, movies, TV and  music to analyze, or exhaust my feelings on the absurdity of the human situation.

For maybe the first time, I feel like a have a voice, and somebody is listening

Let Them Eat Cake – Flash Fiction for 12/28/12

If you would like to come out and play with Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and the Friday Fictioneers, click here.

Photo copyright Jean L. Hays

Photo copyright Jean L. Hays

I’m sitting in Cake Man Raven in Brooklyn eating a $7 slice of red velvet cake. I try to eat slowly, savoring every bite, but it’s too rich, delicious, delectable. I gobble. I scarf. I lick the plate. I don’t care what people think. I order another slice.

On my last birthday, a friend suggested it. “Go, they’ll give you a free slice of the best cake you’ll ever taste.”

Now I can’t stop. I’ve gained forty pounds. I waddle. It takes all my willpower to walk for the door.

The baker smiles at me. He knows I’m coming back.

The Christmas Cat – Flash Fiction for 12/21/12

If you would like to come out and play with Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and the Friday Fictioneers, click here and follow the instructions

Photo copyright Scott L. Vannatter

Photo copyright Scott L. Vannatter

It was the Christmas I was out of work and Milly was pregnant with Travis. The cat showed up a week before Christmas and I got a job at a Christmas tree lot the same day. Travis was born just after New Year’s and I found work at a warehouse and the cat disappeared.

When Travis was eight, Milly was abed with pneumonia at Christmas. The cat arrived again. Milly started improving and was well a week later and the cat departed.

Yesterday Travis didn’t come home from school. We were frantic. Then he and the cat came home together.

This is the best thing I’ve read about the horrible shooting tragedy in Connecticut. Thanks Rich.

brainsnorts inc.

I know the next shooter.

man-watching-tv-in-darkHe’s white, between 19 and 25.  He is thin and doesn’t do much with his hair.  It usually looks kind of messed, wavy, but he might have a buzzcut now.  It’s hard to say because he doesn’t leave the house much.  I think he’s an only child, not from a big family.  He is known to be very smart, perhaps brilliant, but socially awkward and withdrawn.

He enjoys computers, where a virtual world is more comfortable.  He either has been or is about to begin seeing a therapist, maybe even takes some medications to help him cope.  He either argues with his parents or just seems indifferent to them.  Classmates from high school barely remember him because he did very little to stand out.  He feels ignored, unwanted, and disliked.  Nobody notices him much.  Few remember his name.  He feels insignificant, as if he doesn’t…

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10 Good Books To Curl Up With

Winter is upon us. Depending on where you live, the cold is coming or is already there. For the next few months, you may be stuck inside quite a bit.

It’s time to snuggle into your favorite overstuffed chair with a mug of hot chocolate and a good book. I can’t provide the soft spot or the hot beverage, but I can recommend some good reads. Most of these books are selected from books I read during 2012, though a couple are throwbacks and I’ll explain later why they were included in the list. It’s an eclectic mix and you should be able to find something here you haven’t read to kill the chill.

My Cross To Bear– Gregg Allman with Alan Light

519iQjM92SL__SL300If you’d like to take a look inside the southern fried rock and roll heart of the legendary wailers that were, and still are, The Allman Brothers Band, open this book. It has everything you’d expect from a sweeping chronicle of a life playing rock music, sex, drugs, death, famous musicians, triumph and tragedy. Gregg Allman gives an unflinching view of his life and the long strange journey of his bandmates. For more information, read my previous review.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much– Allison Hoover Bartlett

book_shadowThis is a story that could have been a great novel, but it’s not. It’s the non-fiction tale of John Charles Gilkey, a man obsessed with rare books who managed to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars of them, not for financial gain, but because he lusted to own them. Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction. In telling this story, journalist Bartlett takes the reader into the subterranean world of book junkies, a fascinating subculture of collectors and dealers.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter- Tom Franklin

crooked-letter-crooked-letter-book-cover-tom-franklinA dark, gothic southern crime novel, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is a finely written page turner that will leave you sweaty from the heat and humidity of Mississippi. It’s a story about a man living a shunned life in a small town as a result of one damning night when he was in high school. It’s also the story of his childhood friend, now a police officer, who suspects his former playmate is responsible for a wave of killings he must solve. Can’t put it down reading charged with atmosphere and secrets. For more information, read my previous review.

Provinces Of Night– William Gay

provinces-night-william-gay-hardcover-cover-artThe world lost a great writer this year when William Gay died. I’m including this book in the list as a homage to one of my favorite writers and if you haven’t read it, you should run, not walk, and seek it out. Few authors can match the beauty of Gay’s prose. A disciple of Cormac McCarthy, Gay may have eclipsed his idol as a southern literary stylist. He also was a compelling storyteller, and in this, his best novel, he tells the tale of a banjo player who abandons his family to become a traveling minstrel and returns decades later when he is dying. Gay has this astounding ability to mix humor and tragedy while laying out the arc of a life. More about Gay is in my tribute to him earlier this year.

The Architecture Of The Arkansas Ozarks– Donald Harington

architecture-arkansas-ozarks-donald-harington-paperback-cover-artDonald Harrington died not long ago, and I’m including my favorite book of his, not because it’s new, but because he’s a fine writer who isn’t well known and deserves a bigger literary following. Though, the title of the book would make you think it’s non-fiction, it’s a sweeping novel. The Ingledew brothers found a town in the Arkansas wilderness in the early 1800s and Harington traces the progress, or lack of it, over generations into the late twentieth century. A rollicking write, the book has rare moments of absurd humor that may remind you of Twain, high praise indeed for a writer who is fairly obscure.

In A Shallow Grave– James Purdy

shallowgraveStrangely moody, this short novel by Purdy is a darkly melancholy journey uniquely wrought in a quirky writing style. It revolves around a returning veteran who has been so seriously maimed in war that people are repulsed by his appearance. Hiding out and nursing his pain, the novel gets heart-rending when he attempts to gain the love of a nearby widow. Purdy is a force unto himself in his choice of material and writing methods.

The World Made Straight– Ron Rash

imagesCAZ121KTSometimes you come across a writer that grabs you so forcefully your reaction is, God, I wish I could write like that. Rash is one of those writers and this is my favorite novel he has penned so far. You won’t find many writers that are more masterful storytellers. This book is typical. When a teenager finds a patch of marijuana and proceeds to steal it, he is plunged into a dangerous world that culminates in a heart-racing conclusion that is guaranteed to raise your blood pressure to unsafe levels.

That Old Cape Magic- Richard Russo

that-old-cape-magic-203x300Russo is one of those rare writers who can bridge the gap between commercial and literary fiction. In his latest novel, he has created a charming, funny and touching story about a man in mid-life crisis trying to figure out which way to turn. Raised by two combative college professors, Jack Griffin feels lost, his marriage in trouble, his career choice in question. He can’t even decide where to spread the ashes of his dead parents, so he hauls their remains around in his trunk on a return journey to Cape Cod, his parents’ favorite place. It’s a trip you’ll enjoy sharing with a satisfying destination.

Life– Keith Richards with James Fox

book-articleInlineIf you’ve ever fantasized about being a rock star, this is the right read for you. The Rolling Stones are legends, icons of their genre, and still rocking as Richards approaches 70 years of age. For more than 500 pages, the Stones’ original guitar player tells how they rose from lower class obscurity to become one of the most famous bands of all time. Richards observations are as much about his musical journey as they are about the band’s misadventures and rowdy reputation. There’s rock history in the book you won’t find anywhere else.

Red Means Run– Brad Smith

red-means-run-novel-brad-smith-paperback-cover-artCanadian born Smith has been producing good suspenseful fiction for years, and this is his latest offering. This book is a slight departure for him, in that it is pretty much a straight up who-done-it mystery. Though it’s not his best book, probably previous novels like Crow’s Landing and All Hat are better reads, it’s well worth spending some time with for the ensemble cast of interesting characters he always creates. His continuing protagonist Virgil Cain is back and on the run from the law for being falsely accused of a series of murders. Smith’s writing is always a pleasure to read.

2012 Blog Of The Year Award

I’m grateful to be included in the 2012 Blog of the Year Award. I started my blog in the final days of 2011, so it’s been less than a year. When I started bridgesareforburning, I didn’t think anyone would read it. I thought it would be more like an online journal, something I did for my own satisfaction. So I was suprised and gratified when I found readers actually coming to my blog, offering comments and support. In less than a year, it’s become an important part of my life. So it is with great joy that I join with other bloggrs in celebrating the satisfaction that blogging  brings. Thanks to Mikaela and her blog, backfromtheedge for sharing this award with me. Her blog is fun, inspiring and honest and provides a portal into another world.

Blog of the Year Award 1 star jpeg

The ‘rules’ for this award are simple:

1 Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award

2 Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.

3 Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Awardhttp://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/our-awards/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/   and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)

4 Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them

5 You can now also join our Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience

6 As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…

I have selected three blogs for the 2012 Blog of the Year Award

brainsnorts – Rich Voza’s blog is always good reading, whether  he’s writing about personal experience, movies, books, or politics. He also uses his blog to share fun things like The New Yorker caption contest and Friday Fictioneers flash writing group.

everydayclimb – Lea Milford writes powerfully about struggling with depression and overcoming life obstacles. Always an inspiring read.

thehonestcourtesan – For being on top on current issues and sharing some of the most  interesting  stories you’d never find on your own.

Aloha – Flash Fiction for 12/14/12

If you would like to come  out and play with Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and the Friday Fictioneers, click here and follow the instructions.

Copyright Douglas MacIlroy

Copyright Douglas MacIlroy

“What’s that thing?” asked Doug’s girlfriend.

“A model of the planet Aloha.”

“Aloha?”

“Yeah, it’s where my sci-fi novel happens. It’s a world where evil surfers enslave young girls on pineapple plantations. Sort of like Hawaii.”

“Sounds dark and . . . gnarly.”

“There’s romance too. A hula girl falls for an old submarine captain and he rescues her from the surfers.”

“How could an old guy defeat all those young buff surfers?”

“He has a laser-guided Frisbee loaded with toxic poi.”

“That reminds me. Are you coming to the luau tonight?”

“Can’t. Too many Friday Fictioneer stories to read.”