Monday, August 15, 2005

Past, Present and Future

A Brief History of Brewster’s Millions

First I had 30 million dollars to spend in 30 days….no wait, that’s another Brewster’s Millions.

Just before we went to France, say around June 2004, I began to think I wanted to keep a journal of all my adventures while in Europe. Being me, and having kept an online journal before, and blogs being the rave of the day, I decided I would keep said journal in blog form. As is my tendency I gave the title of my blog about two seconds worth of thought. Brewster’s Millions seemed to contain some humor and a not so sly reference at myself and my thoughts are, of course, worth millions. Aptly titled I thought then, though now I might spend a little more time coming up with something a bit more original.

Pre-France the thought of visiting another country seemed magical and mysterious. I was sure there would be many wonderful adventures to document. In fact, truth be told, my thoughts about this new blog journal were that it would be filled with innumerable adventures throughout the old continent. It didn’t quite dawn on me that I would spend most of my time in one city, living an average life.

Really, truly, and deep down inside I had no idea what I was going to write and who I would let read it. So I started the first few posts jotting down some of the preplanning I had done and my own emotional thoughts about what our travels would come to.

Settling into France brought many a thing to be written. What with the long plane rides, living with a missionary family, finding new digs, being surrounded by familiar and yet somehow completely different people, and hearing such a strange tongue being whispered, hollered and thrown about there wasn’t enough time to snatch from the internet to write it all down.

Soon it seemed foolish to keep all my thoughts to myself, plus I’m a long ways away from keeping a secretive, highly emotional journal these past years. I invited a few pals to take a look at my scribbling and kindly, they gave strong, passionate feedback.

Thus time went, for awhile. Me writing about differences in culture, language, and monetary units, my readers saying such things as “Wow” and “Hmmm, that’s different.”

Yea, as time passed the days became more ordinary. No longer was it fascinating to hear the baker say “bonjour” before I ask for my baguette. The tramways held no more mystery as the whisked me away to the other side of the city. There were no more words to describe the majesty of seeing the cathedral soar above the sky, so I beheld it in quiet awe and allowed my readers to find my words written about it some days before.

Amy was now steadily working and I had ventured through most of the city I cared to venture through. With little to occupy the many hours of my time of freedom I began writing movie reviews and then book reviews.

Reviewing My Life

The reviews were a great deal of fun. I’ve always written mental reviews of movies, books, and music whenever I consumed said objects of art. I’m always willing to discuss the merits of whatever with whomever will listen/debate the items with me. Writing reviews was a cool way to get my thoughts into a more tangible form, plus let all sorts of people read them.

Eventually I found Blogcritics a site dedicated to reviews of all kinds and essays on every conceivable thing including politics and culture, whatever that means. The owner of the site, Eric Olsen, was kind enough to let me be a writer

I quickly submitted the reviews I had written over the last few months and began co-posting every review I was writing for my blog onto blogcritics as well. I even wrote a couple of essays meant specifically for the site.

Blogcritics moved me onto a plane I never thought possible, mainly to where actual people were reading my stuff, and not just my old college buddies. The site gets tens of thousands of readers every day, and with the exposure came comments from all over the world. Like most blogs, blogcritics allows any reader to write a comment about the posts. This gave me a lot of feedback about what I was writing from readers who didn’t care if they hurt my feelings, or lost my friendship or not.

Apparently I was doing alright, because within a month I was voted Blogcritic of the Day. A few months later, my review of Talk to Her won the editors Pick of the Week Award.

Hit Points

Blogcritics was part of a general plan to get more readers. It was ok for just my friends to read my blog when all I was writing about was my daily activities. With review writing I wanted an audience. While blogcritics was giving me more eyes than ever glaring at my words, the site was doing little to bring actual traffic to my blog.

Once you get a hit counter it becomes an addiction. Two, three times a day I was checking my stats, seeing if anyone new had come to my blog. I added a signature to my e-mails directing people to my blog. Something I had loathed to do in all the years I’ve been online. I joined countless newsgroups in an effort to send more e-mails to potential readers. I even joined several sites promising to bring more readers to my site than ever before.

It became an all consuming thing to bring more eyes to my little corner of cyberspace.

Burnout

I was now writing full length reviews of ever movie I saw, and book that I read, plus writing new essays about French culture and detailing my daily life on the blog.

With all this writing and hit mongering burnout wasn’t far away. Soon, I began to get bogged down in reviewing everything; writing cleaner-more interesting essays and pimping myself out to the highest hit count. I had to take a break.

I spent a couple of weeks writing very little, killing my review everything method to concentrate on a few better written reviews and breezily adding tid bits from my life.

Unfortunately my break ran into my vacation and then departure from France.

Here and Now

So here we are. The blog has gone from a personal diary for my eyes only to a conglomeration of essays/reviews and pseudo professional writing space begging for visitors.

So now that I am back I have to ask

NOW WHAT?

I’ve thought a lot about what I am going to do with the blog when I went stateside. From this point on I will pretty much leave any journaling about my day to day life out of it. There is nothing wrong with personal diary blogs. Many of my friends have them and they are a great way to communicate with the whole world, and plenty of people enjoy reading those things.

It’s just not what I’m interested in. If I was to write about what I’ll be doing in Indiana, I’d bore myself. So, I’ve broken down what I plan to do with the blog into a few categories:

Reviews: I still plan to write one full length review per week. Be it movie, book, or hopefully music, I want to keep up the critiquing for as long as it entertains me. I hope to write little mini reviews of all the artistic endeavors I consume. I even plan to go back and give ratings to everything I have reviewed in the past.

I still like the idea of having a large database of reviews on my blog. Partially because it will be a nice way for me to remember what I have seen/listened to/read and how I felt about it. And also because I totally dig having people come to my site and be able to dig through a large list of all the stuff I’ve consumed and how I rated it.

Stories: I think I’ve led a pretty interesting life so far. I also enjoy telling a good story. I’ve been known to make a pretty mundane occurrence into something funny and interesting. It’s probably the one thing I’m pretty good at.

Phone Conversations: I work at a call center, and there are always interesting, funny or just plain weird conversations that happen over the phone there. Whenever I get one, I’ll blog it.

Essays.: Once in awhile I get an itch to wax on (wax off) about all things pop culture.

French Editing: I hope to go through my old posts and edit them into a cohesive whole about my experiences in Europe.


And there you have it.

This is way long, I know. If you read all the way to hear, you’ll receive a lovely prize in the mail shortly. I wanted to put out what I planned to do with the blog and it turned into a long history of the last year in my life. But, there it is. I spent all this time writing, so you get to suffer through reading it.

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