Today’s a big day! My blog - Grin and Bare It - just celebrated its tenth anniversary!
Back on November 18, 2008, I wrote my first post. It introduced myself to readers and explained that I had just sold my first novel and was working on my second.
“I thought that a blog like this would be a good opportunity to connect with readers and writers, in order to discuss the writing process, the publishing process, my experience in the world of literary agents and editors, and answer any questions that people may have about the book, my life as a reader and a writer, my latest projects, and anything else that my come to mind.”
It’s obviously become a lot more than that.
In truth, I’ve actually been blogging since December 10, 2005. In the fall of 2015, I took a class on blogging at Trinity College with Colin McEnroe. Part of that assignment was to create an actual blog of my own, which I did. That first blog only contained assignments for the class, but once I finished the course, I began blogging on my own, titling that first blog Perpetual Perpetuity.
That blog existed from December 10, 2005 through June 11 of 2007, when I was forced to remove it from the internet after an anonymous coward or cowards excerpted that blog in deliberately deceitful and misleading ways in order to compile a 46-page packet demanding that I be fired from my position as teacher based upon the things I wrote.
They sent that packet to the Superintendent of Schools, the Board of Education, the Town Council, and ultimately about 300 families in my school district. They compared me to the Virginia Tech killer, complained that I was benefiting from favoritism in our school, and implied that I was a sexual deviant.
A couple examples of their deceit:
On the day that my mother died, I wrote that my principal told me that I could take as much time as I needed to deal with my loss. “Do whatever you want to do,” he said. “No worries.”
Under the heading “Favoritism” these cretins wrote that my principal told me that I can “Do whatever you want to do,” failing to mention that it was in relation to the death of my mother.
In another post, I questioned the decision of parents who sent their children into the world wearing sweatpants with the word “Juicy” on the butt.
I wrote, “The eye in automatically drawn to text, so I find myself inadvertently staring at girl’s butts, which is stupid and terrible.”
In the packet, the cretins only quoted, “I find myself staring at girl’s butts.”
Example after example after example of this kind of deception.
The author or authors of the packet also called for the firing of Elysha and my principal, too.
Can you imagine?
More than a decade later, I’m still standing, doing my job, and loving my career, and those unnamed scumbags remain hidden under some rock where they belong.
Happily, I still have the content from that first blog. Every single post. Maybe someday I’ll return the blog to the internet just for spite.
The last post on the day I took that blog down was this:
I see Elysha half-naked everyday! All the way naked, too!
The photographer at Saturday’s wedding informed me that lingerie photos are the latest wedding craze. Brides are giving their future husbands photo albums of themselves wearing lingerie as a wedding gift.
I don’t get it.
Can’t the average husband expect to see his wife in lingerie from time to time, and if so, why the need for a photo album? If a bride is so willing to pose in lingerie for a stranger with a camera, isn’t it reasonable to expect that she will occasionally don a negligee or teddy in the presence of the love of her life?
Elysha gave me a new golf bag and a sand wedge on our wedding day, and this was better than a slew of half-naked photos.
I can see Elysha half-naked everyday. I don’t need a photo album to remind me of how good she looks.
As you can see, not much as changed since 2007.
After removing that first blog from the internet, I stopped blogging for exactly 14 days before launching a new blog entitled Conform Me Not. In the midst of a public firestorm over my first blog and fighting for my job and my future, I refused to be deterred. Conform Me Not was initially launched without any attempt at publicity, but as I began winning battles that summer and ensuring that my teaching position was secure, I began letting people know that I was writing again.
That blog still exists online at conformmenot.com.
Conform Me Not ran from June 25, 2007 through November 1, 2008, when I decided to switch from a purely blogging platform to a website that supported blogging. By then I had published my first novel and realized that I needed a place for readers to land that included more than just a blog.
It took my 17 days to launch the new blog on the new platform. This platform.
So began Grin and Bare it, which celebrates its ten year anniversary today.
Though this blog is ten years old, I’ve actually been blogging from December 10, 2005, through today, with two interruptions of 14 days and 17 days.
Otherwise, I have not missed a day.
If you do the math, that’s 4,727 days, minus the 31 days missed because of scumbag cowards and a platform switch.
4,696 days worth of blog posts, More than 4,696 actual posts, since there was many days, especially in the past, when I would more than once on a single day.
A diary of sorts, except instead of cataloging just the events of the day, my posts often reflect my thoughts of the day. Opinions, feelings, arguments, beliefs, questions, and rants.
Occasionally something sweet.
I am so grateful for the last 13 years of blog posts. Not only have I created a written record of my life, but blogging has proven to be an excellent training ground for the the magazine columns and newspaper pieces that I write now.
When you’re required to say something everyday, you get really good at generating ideas.
I’ve also met an enormous number of people through blogging. Some have gotten to know me online, and others have become friends in real life.
My blog is also a wonderful way to stay connected to friends, especially those that have moved away. Though we can’t talk everyday, many read everyday and send me emails or messages through social media that keep us connected.
Yes, it also created an enormous problem for me back in 2007, but even that will likely work out well. It will probably become a subject of a memoir, including previously undisclosed information on the horrible person or persons responsible for the attack on me and many things that I have never spoken about before.
It’s quite the story.
In addition to all of that, some amazing things have happened as a result of putting so much of my life into writing for anyone to read.
Here are just a few:
In the fall of 2016, I wrote a post advising Hillary Clinton to take certain strategic steps in her next two debates with Donald Trump. That post made it into the hands of a senior staffer on the Clinton campaign and was passed around. I don't know if Clinton herself read it, but I like to pretend that she did.
In June of 2010, a wrote a post about the Blackstone Valley sniper. When I was a child, a pair of men spent almost two years firing bullets into windows in my hometown and the adjacent towns, forcing us to turn out our lights at night and crawl under the picture window as we passed through the living room. We lived in fear for a long time. There was a total of eleven shootings from 1986-1987 (in addition to acts of arson and burglaries), and though no one was killed, four people were wounded in the attacks.
The two men guilty of the shootings were sentenced to prison in 1989 and were released on probation in 2008.
Five years after writing that post, the girlfriend of one of the shooters saw the post and wrote to me, complaining about my disparaging remarks about her boyfriend, who was turning his life around.
It was an interesting exchange of ideas.
In April of 2011, I wrote about my desire to become a professional best man. I declared myself ready and able if anyone needed my services.
Since I wrote that post, four grooms and one bride have attempted to hire me (scheduling prevented those bookings from happening), and a fifth groom actually hired me for his wedding but cancelled later on.
I've also been contacted by three different reality television producers about the possibility of doing a show in which I would be a professional best man at a series of weddings. None of these shows came to fruition.
In 2015, comedian Kevin hart wrote to me upon the release of his film The Wedding Ringer, in which he plays a professional best man. He acknowledged that it was my idea first.
In 2012, I wrote about my desire to find my first library book. I recalled a few details about the book - the color of the cover and a few details about the plot - but nothing terribly specific.
Two years later a reader correctly identified the book. A couple months later another reader sent it to me. It now sits on my bookshelf.
One day later, I was informed by a reader that she is 94 years old and still going strong.
By the end of that day, I had been given her home address by another reader. I sent her a letter telling her how much she meant to me and how I think about her every time I tie my shoes, and on the last day of my school year, I received a letter from her, detailing specific memories about me from my year in kindergarten.
In March of 2016, I write about telling a story at The Moth about my former elementary school principal, Fred Hartnett, for whom a new middle school in my hometown is now named. A few days after writing about the story, Mr. Hartnett, retired for more than 20 years, contacted me, and we’ve since exchanged several emails.
These are just a few of the many remarkable things that have happened because I write and publish every single day.
I guess it makes sense. When thousands of people read your writing each day, connections are going to be made. You’re going to occasionally touch hearts and minds.
Sometimes annoy a person, too.
But even that can be fun.
Thanks so much for reading every day. I’m honored and humbled by the thousands of people who read my posts here and on the social media outlets where my blog posts go every day.
But even if I had just 10 readers, I’d still be writing every day. The rewards, audience or no audience, have made it more than worth my time.