Being a ballsy blogger.

gotballs

I’ve never been a risk taker. At all. But there’s one exception–blogging. I take a lot of risks when I write and often post things that are:

1. Extremely personal and potentially embarrassing

2. Controversial and potentially incendiary

3. Unpopular opinions

3. Religious or political (though I try to avoid this because I respect all my readers, some of whose beliefs may differ very much from mine).

I’ve never regretted taking risks on this blog. Yes, some of my posts have angered some people. I had to learn to deal with that. At the end of the day, it’s my blog and my opinions and my feelings and my experiences. I’m tired of pretending to be someone I am not in real life, and I’m certainly not going to pretend to be someone I’m not when I’m blogging.  Sometimes I feel like the blogging world is the only place I can really be myself.

Popular opinions are a dime a dozen, but when you post something not so popular, you never know who you may reach who really needed to hear what you had to say. You feel good about yourself for having the courage to be authentic and candid. That tends to extend into the real world after awhile.

Being ballsy also tends to make your blog stand out, and I think that’s a big reason this blog has become somewhat popular.  Even if people don’t always agree with you, they’re always checking in to see what you’ll say next.   You don’t get popular by being a blogging wallflower.  Just make sure you really stand by what you say and be prepared to defend what you believe while still remaining respectful of those who don’t agree with you or dislike what you have to say.   If you’re just stirring the pot to get attention, people can tell.

Being a ballsy blogger has gotten so much easier over time. Outside of a few trolls and critics, none of the terrible things I imagined would happen ever did. I no longer hover over the “Publish” button for hours wringing my hands and sweating and asking myself, “should I?”  I don’t keep posts hidden for days as “Private” only to delete them later.  I hardly think about it any more. I just press that Publish button and don’t look back.  And I’ve never regretted it.

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What to do the next time you can’t think of what to blog about.

sleepy_snoopy

Take a nap. It works for me about 90% of the time. Usually I wake up with at least one great idea for a blog post.

When I got home from work tonight, I had no idea what to write about. I was tired so I took a nap and now I have two ideas–this post and the one I’m about to write, which will be a lot longer.

Your brain is like a computer. While you sleep, your brain performs maintenance tasks–the biological equivalents of defragmenting and disc clean-up. More space is allotted in your conscious mind for ideas to bubble up from your unconscious mind that were trapped there before and you couldn’t access.

It always surprises me how often I’ll wake up from a nap with some idea I’m just itching to write about, but before I went to sleep it just wasn’t there.

So next time you can’t think of any ideas to write about, try taking a nap. I bet it will work for you too.

Why I blog.

blog_thinker1

I read a very interesting article today called Pimping for Likes (thanks again to Opinionated Man, I found another great new blog to follow).  The post addresses the all too common frustrations we bloggers experience when our Likes, views or followers aren’t growing as fast as we’d all like them to and asks the question, would you give up blogging if no one read your blog?  

If you’re only blogging to be popular or attain a web presence, I think people can tell.  Your heart won’t be in it.  It won’t be honest and it won’t be engaging.   People are smart.  They will pick up on your lack of passion for your chosen topics and go elsewhere if all you care about is gaining a web presence without actually caring about what you blog about.

There are lots of wonderful bloggers who don’t have many followers or views.   That’s not because their blogs are bad.  It’s because either they haven’t been blogging long enough to attain a web presence, or because the blogger is mostly writing for themselves and isn’t actively trying to promote their blog.  Some people don’t care about popularity.   And there’s nothing wrong with that.  They’re blogging for the best of reasons–because they love to write and blogging gives them a voice and a way to express themselves. .

It’s the reason I blog.   I really can’t think of anything I love doing more.   It’s also been very healing for me.  I’d keep writing and blogging even if I was the only person in the world reading my posts.  But I’m only human and it can be very discouraging when you feel like your online voice is falling on deaf ears.  At first, it was frustrating when I’d spend a couple of hours perfecting a post, choosing the perfect picture for it, editing it and re-editing it, and then post it, only to get no likes and only a few views.

Here is a post I wrote when this blog was less than two weeks old, when I had a whopping 12 followers and hardly any views. It makes me laugh to read this now, but I’m sure most new bloggers can relate to these feelings of frustation:

https://luckyottershaven.com/2014/09/18/im-frustrated/

It was the first time Opinionated Man reblogged a post of mine.  With his 50K plus followers (at the time; now he has nearly 60K), he seemed like a blogging God to me. Because of his generous nature and willingness to help new bloggers succeed, this post (which sounds very whiny to me now) wound up getting a ton of views, Likes, and comments, and I got my first sizeable batch of new followers.  What a great way to start your blogging career!

Although being popular isn’t my primary reason for blogging, I have to admit I’ve come to care about this blog’s growth too.    There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it doesn’t become your main reason for blogging.  I’ve been blogging for a year and a half now.    During that time, my stats have grown steadily, to the point where I’m averaging 50K views a month.  A year ago I never would have believed it.

Source: http://luckyottershaven.com.webstatsdomain.org/

I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a little help along the way,  thanks to other, more popular and established bloggers reblogging or linking to my posts.   I learned about sharing to social media (something I was reluctant to do at first) and linking to other blogs.   I’ve made a lot of friends among other bloggers and we’re like a big community who help each other get seen.  Yes, of course there is envy among bloggers, but fortunately I haven’t seen too much of it and for the most part, there’s more of a desire to see your fellow bloggers do well than to see them fail.

There are blogs far more popular and successful than mine.   This blog is really pretty small potatoes, but watching it grow is still incredibly encouraging and exciting, like watching your baby grow up.    It’s a heady feeling when you type a few words into Google and see your own blog come up at or near the top.    Although I would still blog even if I only had 10 views a month, these incremental rewards have a way of motivating you to keep writing even more.  It’s also very cool being in a position now where I can begin to help other bloggers the way I was helped when I was new.   It’s wonderful to be able to pay it forward and help others get more of a web presence.

I’ve been accused of caring too much about my stats.    Maybe it’s true.  Watching my stats has become one of my favorite hobbies, but maybe that’s because I’ve always been a numbers junkie.   The growth of this blog didn’t just happen on its own though. I had to work hard at it, and the hardest part for me was getting over my fear of sharing posts to social media.  I don’t have enough of a Google presence to just sit back and let things take off on their own.   I have to keep working at it, keep sharing, keep connecting.   It’s almost a full time job.   Even so, while watching my views  and web presence increase is a nice side benefit of blogging, it’s not the reason I blog.

If you only blog to see your stats grow, and care nothing about what you write, not only will people be able to tell your heart isn’t in it, but chances are you’ll get discouraged and give up the minute your stats take a downturn.  I’ve had slow months and a few with no growth at all. It hasn’t all been a smooth ride uphill.    Some of my posts that are personal favorites just don’t seem to resonate with others that well, while other posts that I could care less about, seem to take on a life of their own. It’s always a surprise seeing what others like and what they don’t.  You can certainly try to concentrate on writing more of the types of posts that seem to resonate more with others, if being popular is your thing.

My other blog, which documents my journey in therapy, is nowhere near as popular as this one. It hasn’t really grown at all since I started it in August, and that’s okay.     I don’t share most of the posts on that blog to my social media and I don’t promote it at all.  I only write about 1 – 2 posts a week for it, while I write every day on this blog.    It also has a much narrower topic focus, while this one covers a much wider range of topics.  I figure, if people want to read the posts on my other blog, they will find them, but I don’t worry about it too much or try to call attention to it.   I mostly write it for myself.

In summary, I blog for four reasons, in the following order.

  1.  Enjoyment, love of writing/blogging
  2.  Self-therapy and healing; giving myself a voice.
  3.  Community with my readers and other bloggers; helping others
  4.  The thrill of increasing web presence.

So.  Why do you blog?

34 rules for kick-ass writing.

karate

I didn’t make these rules; they come from this post. But they got a laugh from me and I hope you enjoy them too.

34 Rules For Kick ass Writing

1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually)
unnecessary.
9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
10. No sentence fragments.
11. Contractions aren’t necessary and shouldn’t be used unless you don’t want to seem too formal.
12. Foreign words and phrases are not always apropos.
13. Do not use more words, phrases, sentences, or other linguistic elements than you, yourself, actually really and definitely need to use or employ when expressing yourself or otherwise giving voice to what you may or may not be thinking when you are trying to say how many words you should use or not use when using words.
14. One should NEVER generalize.
15. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
16. Don’t use no double negatives.
17. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, i.e. etc.
18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
20. The passive voice is to be ignored.
21. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
22. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
23. Kill excessive exclamation points!!!
24. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others elude to them.
25. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth shaking ideas.
26. Use the apostrophe in it’s proper place and omit it when its not needed.
27. Eliminate distracting quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson is said to have once remarked, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
28. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
29. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
30. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
31. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
32. Who needs rhetorical questions?
33. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
And finally…
34. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.

20 ways to lose followers.

Tired woman are sleeping and holding cup. Laptop is situated on the table.

As a blogger, I admit I’m guilty of doing some of these things myself.  So I’m writing this  post as a reminder to myself to stop doing these things, and hope other bloggers can take away something from this list too.

1. Don’t allow comments.

Some blogs, especially those dealing with mental illness or abuse, don’t allow comments because negative comments can be very triggering to people struggling with these things, and you are going to get negative comments.   It can’t be avoided.  But as a general rule, it’s good to allow comments because it makes your blog more interactive.  Real conversations get started that way and build a feeling of community, which can make your followers stick around and your blog more engaging.

2. Be a comment nazi. 

Some bloggers don’t want anyone to disagree with them and will not approve or delete comments that question the blogger’s point of view.   While it’s certainly fine to block or delete abusive comments, only allowing comments that agree with your point of view doesn’t allow for healthy debate, which always make a conversation more interesting. It also makes you look like an intolerant, narcissistic jerk.

3.  Be too lenient with comments.

If you allow abusive comments on your blog,  you run the risk that people might be run off by the trollish remarks or fear speaking up themselves because they might be attacked.

4.  Don’t tolerate any disagreement. 

Related to #2, some bloggers like to attack anyone who disagrees with them.  Debate is fine, but engaging in personal attacks and the Internet version of a fistfight on a regular basis will just run off your regular followers.   It’s always best to not feed the trolls.

Close-Up Of Stray Dog Snarling

5. Fail to acknowledge comments.

I see this a lot.   Sometimes you won’t know what to say to a comment or have nothing new to add to their point, and that’s fine.   If you reply to only 50% of your comments, that’s good.  Obviously, the higher the percentage the better.     Use the “Like” button on comments you don’t reply to, so the commenter knows you at least saw it.  Not replying or using the Like button makes your readers feel like you didn’t read their comment or don’t care.

6. Write boring content.

Some blogs document the blogger’s day, and while the activities described may be mundane, if presented in an interesting or humorous way, or if they use pictures or graphics, such otherwise dull posts can actually be engaging.   But if all you do is write a long wall of text about your dog throwing up on the rug and what cereal you ate for breakfast and your writing style or presentation isn’t creative or engaging, you will just put your readers to sleep and they’ll go elsewhere.

7. Don’t check your spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. 

No one wants to try to pick through a badly written, misspelled post full of run on sentences, horrible grammar, and wonky punctuation. Spellcheck is your friend, and if you can’t put a proper English sentence together, then maybe you shouldn’t be blogging.   Publishing a post full of errors and typos is also is disrespectful to your readers.

8. Be dishonest.

Those of us who write creatively can and do embellish a few details to make our posts come alive but outright lying can never be disguised.  A post that’s dishonest comes off as insincere and your readers will be able to tell.  If you want to write fiction, then write fiction, but call it fiction  and  don’t disguise it as the truth when it’s not.

lying

9. Don’t break up your text.

I’ve ranted about walls of words many times before so I won’t belabor this again.  It’s a pet peeve of mine.   People don’t like reading walls of text.  It hurts their eyes and gives them a migraine.   Use paragraph breaks, subheaders, pictures or graphics to break up a long post into bite size pieces.   Or compile your content into a list.   Your readers are civilized human beings who like to eat their steak in small pieces, not chomp it down whole like a wolf or a caveman.

10. Use garish colors and graphics.

Fortunately, the themes WordPress makes available are tasteful and very hard to make look bad.  In the early days of the web, there seemed to be a lot more websites that were the cyber equivalent of a bad acid trip and used garish, flashing graphics, blingies, and ugly fonts in neon colors that clashed with their neon backgrounds.  MySpace was infamous for this and that was part of its downfall.  Your blog shouldn’t look like The Strip in Vegas or an explosion at The Fun Factory.   It should look more like a pastoral landscape, Park Avenue in New York, or Main Street in a pretty small town.  Don’t be tacky.  It’s also not nice to cause your readers to have epileptic seizures.

ugly_website

11. Pass yourself off as an expert when you are not.

If you write about a highly specialized topic such as mental health, science, or medical issues, and you are not an expert yourself, please use a disclaimer stating that you are not a degreed professional or at least use phrases such as “in my opinion…” or “I think…”.   Otherwise you not only come across as a know it all, but you could also get in legal trouble.

12. Don’t comment on other blogs.

We know, taking care of your own blog is time consuming and it’s just hard to find time to comment on other blogs.   You don’t have to do this every day, but if you never comment on your followers’ blogs, they may unfollow yours.  No one likes to feel like they’re doing all the work in a friendship.  By commenting on other blogs, you not only show goodwill and build community, but you also increase the likelihood they may link to yours or add you to their blogroll, which increases your hits.  If you don’t have time to comment, at least “Like” their posts.  Let them know you at least acknowledge their existence.

13. Write troll posts.

Writing a controversial post just to be controversial may get you attention for the short term, but it’s likely to be negative attention.  Do you really want that?  Also, the attention you get won’t last.  People will come to gawk, and then move on to more worthwhile things.   While it’s fine (and courageous!) to write something controversial if you feel passionate about it,  deliberately writing incendiary posts is like walking around in public slapping random people in the face.   You’ll get attention alright, but it won’t be the kind you want.  Most people will run like hell.

14. SCREAM AT PEOPLE.

NEVER USE ALL CAPS.  NO ONE WANTS TO BE SCREAMED AT.

man-screaming-at-computer

15. Use too much profanity.

While a well placed expletive can give your post more impact, peppering every sentence with four letter words has the opposite effect and distracts attention away from the point you’re trying to make.    It just makes you sound immature, stupid, and obnoxious.

16.  Publicly whine about other blogs having more hits, likes or followers than yours.

Envy is rife in the blogging world.    I’ve seen more posts than I care to from bloggers ranting about how few followers, likes or hits they have, or even worse, kvetching about how much better other blogs are doing than theirs.   While one or two such posts are fine, especially for a newbie whose activity is likely to be low (during my second week blogging, I wrote a post called “I’m Frustrated,” which Opinionated Man reblogged and helped me get new followers), if you continue to do this or make a habit of it, you just come off like a crybaby or a spoilsport, and you’ll wind up losing followers who don’t want to deal with your hysterics.

17.  Brag about how many hits, likes, and followers you have. 

I admit I’ve been guilty of this, but you should avoid it.   It will make people hate you, especially other bloggers.   If you must crow about how well your blog is doing, disguise it by hiding it within a helpful context (for example, you can write a post about how to gain followers,  in which you can use your blog as an example but be careful not to overdo it–people can smell that shit like a drug dog smells cocaine).

prideful_toad
Credit: John Worsley: “Toad”

18.  Be a pointless blog.

I’m not talking here about blogs that don’t have a certain topic as their focus.  There are many great general purpose blogs with posts about anything and everything. I’m talking here about blogs that have no original content.   There are blogs that seem to exist solely to post links to other people’s blogs or regurgitate other’s material.  I always wonder why these blogs exist at all.  Why not just go to the original blogger’s site instead? “Bloggers” who never post original content seem more like secretaries than bloggers, and less useful than a secretary because they won’t even make you coffee.  For some reason, blogs like that also seem to contain viruses.  It’s like having a secretary with typhoid.

19.  Plagiarize and don’t credit others.

Not only will not crediting or plagiarizing others make people angry at you, it will get you in trouble too.  Don’t do it.  If you can’t find the source for something, don’t use it.

20.  Try too hard to be cool.

Some blogs seem to exist just to be cool or edgy.   If you don’t believe in what you’re posting about, and are just doing it to impress others or appear cool, people will be able to tell and will press the backspace key faster than you can put on your groovy sunglasses. People who try too hard to be cool are annoying and pathetic, and that’s not cool.

Stream of consciousness blogging.

 

stream_of_consciousness

Credit: Paulinasaurus

You might think you have nothing interesting to say, but that’s a big fat lie you tell yourself.

Ever have those random weird thoughts that just come out of nowhere? Write about them. Even if you think they’re silly or embarrassing or insignificant or would make no sense to anyone else, blog about them anyway. You never know who might be able to relate or might have been thinking the same thing. Sometimes some damned good conversations can get started that way.  At the very least, you might make someone think, and getting people to think is always good.

Sometimes your random thought could take the form of a question. If you’ve always wanted to know why you never see baby squirrels or why socks always disappear in the wash (and wire hangers tend to breed), write it down. You may get some answers.

If you don’t think you have a topic to write about, you do. Start where your mind is at right now, this very second, and go from there.  I don’t care how boring you think your life is. Write about the chair you’re sitting in, or the bed you’re lounging on, what you’re eating (if anything), what time you got up, what your plans for the day are, how unpleasant that flu you have is, what the temperature in the room is like, the view outside your window (even if it’s a dark trash-filled alley), what the wall next to you looks like and what’s on it (include photos of it maybe?), or the people and animals sharing the room with you right now. If Grandpa cracking his pistachios all night in front of the TV is the equivalent of being waterboarded, by all means write about it. If you can’t stand the way your husband mouth-breathes and picks his nose in front of the mirror, write about that too. Things that irritate you always make entertaining posts. Or write about how much you love something. How about compiling a bucket list? Lists of any kind are good, and they’re easy to write too. Everyone loves lists. Listicles are a thing.

Pick any one of the things above or something you came up with on your own and elaborate on it. If you feel like being goofy, be goofy. If you feel like ranting, then go ahead and rant. Blogging gets it all out of your system. Sometimes my best posts came along when I thought I had nothing to say. You never know–you may wind up saying something someone else wants or needs to hear.

Is your prose too “purple”?

so-muich-purple

One of my worst habits as a writer is a tendency to write “purple prose.” According to Wikipedia, purple prose is:

[…]text that is so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw excessive attention to itself. Purple prose is characterized by the extensive use of adjectives, adverbs, zombie nouns, and metaphors. When it is limited to certain passages, they may be termed purple patches or purple passages, standing out from the rest of the work.

Purple prose is criticized for desaturating the meaning in an author’s text by overusing melodramatic and fanciful descriptions. Though there is no precise rule or absolute definition of what constitutes purple prose, deciding if a text, passage, or complete work has fallen victim is a subjective decision. According to Paul West’s words, “. . .a certain amount of sass to speak up for prose that’s rich, succulent and full of novelty. Purple is [widely seen as] immoral, undemocratic and insincere; at best artsy, at worst the exterminating angel of depravity.”

In everyday English, this means purple prose is over the top writing that puts your readers to sleep, makes them want to gag, or makes them want to murder you in your sleep. It also comes off as pompous and pedantic, like someone trying to act smarter than they really are. The same thing can be said in simpler direct language instead of a shitstorm of unnecessary adjectives, overdone descriptions, verbs-turned-into-nouns, and passive voice (“…is characterized by…” is an example of passive voice).

Purple prose was much more common in the early 20th century and before, and maybe in those days of yore people had more patience and time to actually sit and decipher sentences with multiple clauses and descriptors. But if you’re writing for the average person in the early 21st century, you’d better keep it simple if you don’t want to bore your readers to death.

The Writer’s Diet has a neat test that lets you know if your prose is too overdone. All you do is plug in a sample of your writing, press “analyze,” and ta-da! You get a critique and graph!

Here’s a screenshot of mine.  I used the last article I posted.  I need to work on my use of verbs (the brown line at the top: “Flabby”)  but everything else looks okay (Lean and Trim), at least for that article.

 

writingsample1

writingsample2

Walls of words.

walloftext

Nothing will make me avoid reading a post quicker than a long wall of words, unbroken even by paragraphs. I don’t care how well written your post otherwise is, I don’t care how cutting edge or educational or interesting or brilliant your thoughts are, I don’t care how much I might relate to your incredible, moving story. You could write at the level of Shakespeare or Poe, but if my eyes feel like they’re swimming in a vast ocean of text, let me make one thing clear: I won’t read it.

Fortunately I haven’t seen many bloggers who are guilty of this. Most bloggers have at least a rudimentary knowledge of how to use paragraph breaks, pictures, and graphics to break up text. There’s nothing wrong with writing long articles. There’s no need to dumb everything down and write only two sentences just because it’s on the Internet. When a post is too short and the title promises meat, it’s like a bait-and-switch and I feel cheated. If the article’s title suggests there will be meat, then it’s meat that I want, not the appetizer. I don’t want a few words and a bunch of pretty pictures because the blogger is too lazy or doesn’t know enough about what they’re writing about to put anything with more substance there. So there’s nothing wrong with writing long articles. Many of my posts are very long indeed. But when they are, I always try to use something, preferably eye-catching, to break up the words every 3 or 4 paragraphs or so (without overdoing it, of course).

If you’re a minimalist and don’t like too many pictures or graphics in your posts, paragraph breaks or subheaders are just fine. Learn to use them. If you don’t like or don’t know how to use them, perhaps you shouldn’t be blogging at all and should take a class in basic written English. It’s just common courtesy. It’s very rude, in my opinion, to write a post that makes my eyes feel like they’re caught in a digital sandstorm and that bring on pounding migraines.

The first sign of spring.

proud

It’s just like old times! I just counted, and this weekend I made 10 new posts (11 if I count this one), most of them original content. I don’t think I’ve written that much in a few months. It seems like my inspiration’s back, at least for now. Maybe I’m just feeling better because in 2 days the days will start getting longer as they march toward Spring, and with that, an end to this year’s bout of Seasonal Affective Disorder. As far as I’m concerned, the first day of winter is like the first sign of spring.

I may or may not continue in this vein, but I’m not going to worry about it. I just feel great about how busy I was blogging this weekend. I actually found time to read and comment on other blogs too, something I’m really not very good about keeping up with.

Nano Poblano 2015: dead in the water.

nanopoblano_fail

I won’t be able to post a “I Survived Nano Poblano 2015” sticker in my sidebar this year because I didn’t make it through even the first week of November.

Last November, I posted 85 blog posts, mostly original articles. That’s almost three per day. This year is a lot different. November 2015 is almost over and I’ve only posted 28. I estimate that by the last day of this month (only a week from now) I might make it to 40–a little over one post per day–and that’s a big maybe.

A year ago I was a two month old new blogger walking around in a star-struck fog, blissed out by the excitement and novelty of all that went with being a new blogger and knowing people all over the world actually read–and cared–about my thoughts and opinions. The rapid growth of this blog starting around this time last year (mostly because Sam Vaknin decided to Google himself and found an article I wrote about him) was a little like winning the blogging lottery.

But I’m jaded now. Although this blog has far more readers than it did last year, the little kid that was going crazy in the new-blogger candy store stuffing her face with every goody in sight is now a teenager worried about all that candy giving her pimples, and feeling a bit sick from eating all that sugar too.   But candy still tastes good, and so does writing, so I’ll keep doing it and enjoying it, even though I can forget about being able to post a “I Survived Nano Poblano 2015” sticker in my sidebar this year.

A year ago my life was still pretty much a mess and I was a lot less emotionally stable. Not that I’m exactly stable now, but I’m a lot more so. At least I think I am. Blogging had a lot do with my growth as a person. I have so much more insight and know so much more about myself than I did at this time last year (and boy, did I ever sound arrogant and full of myself last year too!), and that’s worth so much more than any award I could paste in my sidebar or the false pride that comes when when semi-famous people happen to stumble across my musings.

Not that I don’t appreciate those things. I do. But I’m perfectly okay with NOT having those things too and it was, after all, MY choice to not write every day. So congratulations in advance to all you fellow bloggers who will survive this month’s Nano Poblano challenge, especially the newbies!