Philip Roth says he’s retired from writing:
‘“I didn’t say anything about it because I wanted to be sure it was true,’ he said. ‘I thought, “Wait a minute, don’t announce your retirement and then come out of it.” I’m not Frank Sinatra. So I didn’t say anything to anyone, just to see if it was so.’”
According to the author of the New York Times article, “Mr. Roth stopped because he feels he has said what he has to say.” Later, though, he quotes Roth as saying
“’I know I’m not going to write as well as I used to. I no longer have the stamina to endure the frustration. Writing is frustration — it’s daily frustration, not to mention humiliation. It’s just like baseball: you fail two-thirds of the time.’ He went on: ‘I can’t face any more days when I write five pages and throw them away. I can’t do that anymore.’”
Which seems different to me than not having anything more to say.
In any case, although I am also not Frank Sinatra, I am not retiring.
I’m still up for all the frustrations, more up for them than ever, really. I’m trying to be very intentional about which projects I work on and what actions I’m taking to build my audience. We’ll see what the payoff is soon enough, but what’s nice about where I am right now is that if I’m not satisfied with the payoff, I’ll change what I’m doing.
Interviewing a friend last week about creativity—more on that in an upcoming post—he commented on all the work I’m doing, not just the writing, but the work of getting the writing out there in front of people (Shitty Barn, blogging, etc.) and said sort of casually that I was someone who actually had something to say (as opposed to people who seem to get in front of an audience regularly but don’t have much important to say).
Pretty huge compliment from someone I respect hugely.
And I don’t feel as though I’ve come anywhere close to saying it all. Maybe in 33 years, when I’m nearing 80 as Philip Roth is, I’ll be done. If I’m lucky enough to live that long, a whole Jesus-on-earth-lifetime, with my faculties intact, maybe then.
But not yet.
My first blog post was November 20, 2011. Although I had used Facebook’s “Notes” as a kind of blog previously, and had published the occasional op-ed in the Cap Times or Wisconsin State Journal, blogging is the first time I’ve genuinely felt as though I was writing “my letter to the world,” in any kind of format that might allow the world to actually receive the letter, let alone read it, in any kind of consistent fashion.
So here’s where we are so far:
With this post,
- 52 posts published.
- 3,828 views all time.
- 278 views on my busiest day (thank-you Aeron Haynie!)
- 1,179 views in my busiest month (thank-you Aeron Haynie!)
- Hits from all over the world—many of which are spam, or people Googling something and landing on my blog by error or curiosity. And yet, it’s a pretty picture:
(And there are more one-hit wonders below Ukraine (with its blue sky/wheat field flag), including Germany, Japan, Hungary, and Tunisia. But hey! I have former students in Japan. Why aren’t they reading my blog for real? HarrrUMPH.)
These stats don’t say how many people actually read the blog, or GOT IT, or enjoyed it, but they’re interesting, nonetheless. More telling, perhaps, are my
- 204 comments,
- 38 “followers,” and
- 64 “likes.”
I had no expectations going into this but still have been pleasantly surprised by the response (so I must have expected less somehow). I want to do some research to get a sense of what an appropriate goal might be for expanding my readership, but the blog has led to another writing opportunity already (more on that soon!) and more importantly, it’s given me a way to share what I’ve always done a lot of—writing.
Goals I’ve settled on for my second year of blogging:
- try to post at least once a week (I aimed for 52 because that means I averaged one a week, but they came in very spurty spurts).
- host guest blogs!
In fact, I want my next blog to be a guest blog from one of my favorite writers, my Dad.
In this week of giving thanks, I am thankful for everyone who’s tuned in and given my little radio show a listen. I’ll be back soon spinning the discs and dancing in the privacy of my padded room. (Did I ever mention I started out in radio? It’s true. Why, one time I interviewed Big Jim Thompson when he was governor down in Illinois…..)