Centennial. Perfect. Whole. Complete. A Benjamin. A Century. A Hundred.

I made it. I wasn’t even aware I was in this challenge, but as I reviewed my stats recently, it hit me. This is my 100th post.

It’s not terribly impressive, my post rate is just under twice a month, but I am fairly consistent and this timeline works with my schedule. What’s it they say about SMART goals? Realistic, that’s the most important one for me. I am by no means professional and I have no inclination to be at this time. I started this blog in 2015, but it stalled out. Before I finished my MFA, I thought I had better reinvent myself as a writer if that’s what I was going to do after the military, so I came back here, revamped the site, and started posting. I’ve changed my style, my content, and my photos, but I have remained true to myself throughout. If you want a keyhole glimpse into slices of my life, you’ve come to the right place.

I struggle with the concept of advertisement. I hate ads. I don’t like watching TV commercials, I immediately close all internet ads that pop up, and I switch the radio station once the music’s over. Look, if I’m going to buy something, I’ll buy it. I don’t need a rando blabbing on about crap I don’t need or food I shouldn’t be eating. I’m a grown-ass adult and I’ll purchase what I want, when I want. I mean, I almost walked out of the first movie theater that ran commercials before the previews (ads in themselves) and I fought the urge to walk off the first plane that showed a commercial on the seatback screen before the mandatory flight safety demonstration. I know that if advertisers could stream their commercials straight into my head, they would. So, books are my refuge. There are no ads in books (not yet). It might be the last bastion of sanity and focus in this world and I desperately cling to the hope that it will remain so.

My stat research also revealed my earnings. That’s right. Despite my hatred for advertisements, I caved and allowed ads on my site. I did this in the hope that one day I’d make a little bit of money from this blog. I feel dirty in some ways, like I’ve been used for a disgusting purpose, but in others I understand that’s how the world works right now. We’re all trying to scratch out a living, especially writers, and this is one potential way to do it. Of course, my enormous amount earned – to the tune of $4.24 over the last two years – isn’t enough to change my life. In fact, WordPress won’t even pay me until I reach $100 earned through ads, but it was shocking all the same to see I had actually “made” money. If my book(s) ever hit it big, you can bet this site will be ad-free. Because who really wants to be interrupted by a shoe sale in the middle of a longform piece of nonfiction writing?

Most of my readers are American. Then British. I have 154 followers and 24 of those are from email subscriptions. I suspect I have more than a handful of bots and fakes following my life. But, as in real life, I savor the true friends, the few close friends and family I have supporting me, and the rest of the mob can eff—well, I’m trying to swear less, so I’ll leave it up to your imagination. Most of my readers access my site from Facebook, then a search engine, then WordPress’s Reader function. I find that somewhat interesting, actually.

I’m not sure anything I write or record will go viral (defined not as the number of views, but how quickly the content is shared – thanks, Collins Dictionary), but I don’t mind. Most of my life I’ve written for me, primarily to process and work through issues in my life. It used to be common for my family to write essays to each other over email. Not fictional stories, but personal updates so long it would take us hours. Even while deployed, twice, I found the time to write email updates. They would take so long, I had to compose them in Word and then transfer them to email as the connection would usually time out before I finished. Lesson learned. I’ve slacked since then, leaning more toward brevity, but I still enjoy having the time (making the time) to write something in-depth. Feels like dessert.

I consider this blog to be my first, but that’s not quite the truth. I started a LiveJournal online diary in 2005, just after joining TheFacebook.com in college. My LJ was mostly a forum to vent about my college frustrations, post my answers to silly quizzes, and reflect on my life as a young adult. In Wisconsin, while I was in Madison at the university, I was writing a lot. Family email updates, essays for English and History and Naval Science and Geology, LiveJournal updates, and private diary entries. I was able to write more because I had so much to write. I was conditioned to cranking out 5,000-word essays in an afternoon, so the habit was easily continued in other areas of my life. I enjoyed my Creative Writing prose assignments the best. I’m kicking myself, because I think I lost most, if not all, of them in one of my many computer transfers from then until now. Most of my assignments were fiction, though I wrote a few that were basically autobiographical with names and identifying details changed. I wrote verbose, wordy, loquacious prose. I was rewarded for using flowery adjectives, “adult words,” semicolons. It took a while for me to realize that wasn’t necessary; I could write the way I think, more direct and less pompous. I still fall into the trap of trying to overexplain myself, especially with work emails. I keep the aviation advice of “less is more” and the concept of brevity more in mind now.

The crazy thing for me to see, there in black and white, is the word count. Though this year’s total is only half of last year’s, and a fifth of my most productive year (2020), I’m still writing. It’s all adding up. For all the books, articles, online advice, forums, and comments I’ve read, one piece is consistent: write. You will never write a book if you do not write. So, it’s a bit startling for me to see that I’ve written over 90,000 words in six years. That’s a full-length novel. In blog posts. If I was more on the ball, I’d turn it into a blook (blog book), but that’s not my goal. Writing my memoir before I turn 40 is my goal.

What these stats don’t show is my offline writing. The hundreds of Word documents I’ve filled with nonfiction essays, chapter ideas, memoir blueprints, and writing thoughts. Despite deployment, Covid, two children, Reserve work, and house improvements, I’m still slogging it out to make time for writing. And my memoir. My Arts Council England grant keeps me focused (six more months). I’ve always been a carrot person (versus stick), so the idea that I’ve got a timeline motivates me. Yes, I feel behind most days. Yes, I sometimes feel like my writing is meaningless. Yes, I worry that I’m spending too much time outlining and not enough time writing the meat of my story. And yes, I worry that I won’t be done in time, no one will be interested in my manuscript, and I’ll just have a thick stack of papers keeping me company instead of a published book, but I persist. As is attributed to Michael Jordan, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Happy 100.

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