Today marks one year of blogging at Treated & Released: 105 posts in 365 days. It hasn’t been difficult; it’s been rewarding. As with many other professional, educational, and recreational pursuits (and I include blogging in all three categories), the benefits and pleasures are all but invisible to those who haven’t tried the thing.
How can I explain to someone who stays on deck how beautiful the ocean is to the divers floating underwater? How do I describe to someone who’s seen only photographs of yoga poses that repeatedly practicing them strengthens muscles and releases tension? How should I show someone who feels alienated from friends and family that a million people engage in stimulating conversations and share news and information around the clock and around the world in the blogosphere?
I can’t. There are far more eloquent bloggers arguing the case:
It has also checked my ego, as my readers never hesitate to challenge and correct me. It has forced me to be more open to new ideas. It has given me a second career playing with new toys; professionally, it keeps me young. Personally, it has made me countless new friends and reconnected me with old ones, owing to a blog’s ability to give a person a strong identity in Google searches.
Indeed, in one’s year’s blogging I have produced almost a book’s worth of substantial essays—and this for someone who used to be afraid of prose. Given the highly interactive nature of the Web, I have received an amount and level of response which one almost never encounters in print media. Much of this has helped me hone and refine my thoughts.
A number of readers have claimed that I am not producing a blog—that I am producing a series of essays. Nomenclature aside, the idea of publishing the responses of readers to a given text (and even to including an author’s responses to those responses) goes back at least to the 17th century.
Of course, long before these men were bloggers, they were exemplary communicators in other media. They recognize blogs as simply a new publishing format—one that can be less restrictive, less formal, more accessible, and more expedient. In subtle ways, those aspects also make it gratifying.
In a recent email message to Brandi Bowles, a young literary agent in Brooklyn who’s on top of her game, I noted that “bloggers tend to judge others by the blogs they read.” When my interview with her is published a few days from now, you’ll find an impressive list of Bowles’ favorite publishing industry and media blogs on Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents Editor’s Blog.
But why would anyone read this blog? Thanks to the site statistics that WordPress.com—my free blog hosting service—compiles and displays for me each time I log in to my blog’s administrative page, I can tell you that readers stumbled across Treated & Released in search of “FREE ebooks” almost 1,500 times since I first wrote about them in November 2007. Most of that traffic has been rerouted here via a link on the Official Google Blog, an example of serendipitous digital reciprocity.
The second most popular topic at Treated & Released has been book video trailers. Surprisingly, the page with the third largest number of hits is About. After all, who is the impertinent stranger whose blog you’re reading?
In retrospect, the consequences of the past year of blogging have been purely unintended and thoroughly appreciated.