Happy New Year’s Eve! It’s been almost a year since I started this blog, “WTF-What The Fluffy,” and posted my first story “How To Make the Today Show,” about two rich kids in the Florida Keys who put a piano out on a sandbar and made the national news. Then I promptly posted another story on January 27th about how the name for the blog came about in “Traveling Salesman.” Since it’s December 31st, New Year’s Eve 2011, I thought I would wax nostalgic and review my year of writing these first 173 stories that have little in common except that I penned them all. (Okay, I banged them out on a keyboard, but “penned” sounds more glittering.)
What does “waxing nostalgic” mean anyway? Wax used to be a common word that was gradually replaced by “grow.” So you could “wax” a lot of things. Wax Poetic, for example, or wax lyrical, or wax idiotic. So when you wax nostalgic, you grow nostalgic for the old days. Not that January 27th could really be called the “old days,” but they’re past, so I guess you could technically wax nostalgic for them, however I don’t necessarily. I’m trying desperately to think of something that happened last year that I will miss with any kind of fondness. When you wax nostalgic, you usually call to mind things you fondly remember, I guess.
My goal, and it wasn’t a New Year’s Resolution, was to force myself to write something every day. Originally I intended these WTF’s to be short, true, and “you’ve got to be kidding me,” but it evolved in different directions. Still, I think most of the stories fit the theme. However, I’m no closer to defining what this blog is about than I was when I started.
I’ve got a small group of followers, some who read WTF because they want to, and some because I forced them to sign up. I mean, come on, my own family doesn’t read my blog. They probably hit the delete key when the email comes in. I didn’t write something every day, as anyone with math skills higher than mine can figure out, but I stuck with it, even when I thought many times that there wasn’t any point. No one was reading it.
In my first week I pissed off the folks over at Battlecam.com. I thought I had been “Freshly Pressed” within three days of starting my blog. I was getting hits from everywhere and comments. (For those of you that aren’t “WordPress” bloggers, “Freshly Pressed” means that “WordPress” has picked your blog out of hundreds of thousands of postings to be featured on their home page. They haven’t been impressed enough with any of my 173 posts to be so honored.) The problem was the comments weren’t, well let’s say favorable. They were using every four letter word in the book. Calling me things I don’t call people, and I call people a lot of things. I was actually getting a little worried someone might show up at my door. I was easy to find.
In slight defense of the majority position with the members of “Battlecam,” I had some facts wrong in the story, so I promptly fixed them. What they were most offended by, it seemed, is that I insisted you could watch the hanging of Saddam Hussein on the Battlecam.com website. I know it was true, because it was a featured video when I checked out the website my one and only time, and I watched it. It was rather disturbing, but the truth, as pointed out by one offended battlecamer, was that you could watch the same thing on YouTube. And you could. So I took it out of the story. For most of the year, “A New Reality Show,” had the most hits on “WTF-What The Fluffy.”
Then I wrote a story about a pot-belly pig that escaped from the owner’s backyard. The story, “It’s Going To Involve A Lawyer At Some Point,” has received hundreds of views, but only one spam comment. I can’t figure it out. I’ve searched it on Google and my blog doesn’t show up. I think it has to do with a picture that I used in the story without the proper licensing, and it draws a crowd.
My top story of 2011 is kind of interesting, and it was to me when I wrote it, but not because it has received comments like, “Thanks for helping me with my homework.” The piece entitled “Who Invented The Light Bulb?…Wrong!” averages the most hits on a daily basis since it first appeared on June 14th. I couldn’t figure out why. Then I searched “who invented the light bulb” and “WTF-What The Fluffy” appears on page one of “Google” search results. The comments are interesting too, because posters argue with me about the truth, that Thomas Edison didn’t “invent” the lightbulb. He held patents on it, sure, but it was invented a long time before his 1880 patent was issued, and he spent some time in court defending it, or, more accurately, settling. I guess I should search out more stories that help students do their homework. I could post some of the political science term papers I wrote in college maybe.
“WTF-What The Fluffy,” has, at the moment I’m writing this, received 14,549 hits. In blogdom, this isn’t really that impressive, but it is to me. It means that people have taken a few minutes out of their day to read something I banged out on a keyboard, and I thank all of you for it. It has kept me going over the last year, forcing me to write something almost every day, and getting me to wax nostalgic on things that happened in my life that had been long forgotten. It hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve never suffered from “writer’s block.” I don’t even know what that is.
In college, I was forced to read a book called “Writing Without Teachers,” by Peter Elbow. My copy is still in my bookshelf. The teacher who forced me to read the book, wasn’t all that interested in teaching us how to write, so he let the book do it for him. And the books basic premise works like a charm. If you can’t think of anything to write about you just start writing. Write anything. It doesn’t have to make sense at all. Just start putting words down. Then you do something Mr. Elbow calls “cooking”. You read over what you’ve written and circle things that sound good and do make sense. From there you have something to build on. Loosely, the idea is to get you to edit after you write, not during or before. There’s more to it, of course, but I know there is no such thing as “writer’s block.” No writer can sit down in front of a blank sheet and not starting putting words there. “You will use up more paper,” he warns, “but chew up fewer pencils.” In all honesty, (not just some honesty), I’ve never read the entire book. Just thought I would come clean on that, after 30 some odd years, to all the people I’ve turned on to the book.
So I’ll be facing some more blank pages in 2012 and maybe something interesting, or funny, or “you’ve got to be kidding me” will “cook” out of it. I’m not going to give up just yet. I’ll get my family to read this blog sooner or later.
(Lead photograph is 2008 New Year’s fireworks in Melbourne, Australia.)