Friday, February 3, 2017

Too Quiet

It's quiet in here. Too quiet. Page views are down. New comments are almost non-existent, and there hasn't been a new follower added in over a year. If it weren't for two prominent links (from Propnomicon and Eric Hart), and more recently the popularity of Pinterest, I don't think I would be getting any traffic here at all. I know that the inconsistency and recent dearth of new posts has hurt me in that regard (and I have an explanation for that, if you care to read this post to the end). I also realize that what little material I have been publishing lately has been of a nature that is not really in line with what brought most people to this blog in the first place.

But, I've also been getting the feeling lately that Blogger may be a dying platform. With the exception of Propnomicon, who's tireless dedication to publishing is an inspiration and an invaluable resource to the Mythos and prop making communities- the extent to which can not be over stated, most of the blogs that I used to follow are dying off. Many have slowed their publishing schedule, quite a few have migrated to other websites or other media, and a lot have just vanished. I, myself, find that I now spend a lot less time reading blogs and a lot more time watching YouTube videos.

Which brings me to me second point- YouTube videos. Lately I've been feeling the urge to branch out into new media. Maybe it's just that I'm a little bored with blogs, or that I'm disheartened by the falling numbers. Or maybe I just want to do what the "cool kids" are doing. But it looks like YouTube is going strong, where Blogger and even Instructables are flagging. I don't even know if I will like making videos. It will obviously be a lot more work than posting to a blog. And I don't really relish the idea of appearing on camera. But the draw of being a part of that thriving community is so enticing. So, I'm curious. What do any of you think? I invite everyone who reads this to weigh in on the topic in the comments. It would be nice to get some feedback.

YouTube is really the only other outlet, at the moment, that appeals to me. I have a number of issues with Facebook. I absolutely despise Twitter. I don't really see the appeal of Snapchat, or Instagram. Deviant Art, and the various php forums (with the exception of the RPF) seem to be past their prime. Pinterest is kind of "meh", but has some value. I'll admit that I am a bit of a curmudgeon, and I don't adapt to new technology very quickly, and usually only begrudgingly. I refuse to chase trends, and most of these types of services are ephemeral. YouTube has at least been around for a while, and doesn't look like it is going anywhere anytime soon. But I'd also like to hear your feedback on these other media. If you think I've overlooked something, or have underrated something, let me know in the comments.

To be clear, I'm not chasing traffic. Well, not just for the sake of having traffic, anyway. I don't want to switch to YouTube just to get more views, but I also don't want to be the last guy updating his MySpace page all alone either. Which brings me to my third point- what is this all for and why did I start it in the first place. Well, I started out by wanting to post some pictures of some of the things I had made. I had made quite a few cool little props items and thought that it would be a good idea to keep some kind of a portfolio of my work. I started by just posting a few pictures on a static page that was attached to the Rogue Cthulhu web page. Within a year, that started to feel a bit inadequate. I wanted to give more commentary on the items, what they were, why I made them, etc. Then I stumbled upon Blogger.  It seemed like it had some legs under it. I would be able to post my pictures, and write a little bit about each piece, without having to write html code. It was convenient and seemed more robust of a format than what I was already doing. It was only ever meant to be a place to catalog pictures of my creations. In retrospect, a Flickr account probably would have done the trick. I never really expected anyone to look at it besides myself.

But I can remember the rush that I got the first time I saw one of my blog posts copied on another site. It was either Propnomicon, or Old Fool (whom I believe has since passed away- RIP, brother), I can't remember now which was first. I had just posted an image of one of my prop tomes the night before. Then, I was flipping through some blogs I had begun reading and I saw my tome- and I froze. I was stunned, and confused for a moment. I was pretty sure that I was not on my blog page, but there was the picture I had just posted. I literally had to take a moment to figure out what was happening. Was I on the right webpage? Why was I seeing a picture of my prop on this blog? It honestly took several moments before it even dawned on me that someone had seen my blog and reposted one of my images. Then after the initial confusion, came a deep satisfaction and the joy that comes from knowing that someone recognized something you did as having worth. I was hooked.

Then, after a short while, largely due to the nature of the format, I started writing more and more about each piece, and I started taking more than just snap shots of the finished pieces. I started taking a lot of picture of the building process. I honestly started doing it for my own reference. It's good to chronicle the creation process so that you can learn from it or recreate it later on. My blog posts became more tutorial in nature, and that really seemed to appeal to people. And I enjoyed writing about the creation process too.

Point four- content. I never tried to pander to the audience. I don't post (when I do post) for the traffic. But there is certainly an undeniable surge of pride and a feeling of purpose and self esteem one gets when one receives positive feedback. I have a lot of different things that interest me, and my focus wanders from one field of interest to another. I know that the people who came here for the bookbinding tutorials may not necessarily be interested in the Mythos props, and the Steampunk fans are probably not terribly interested in the Pagan crafts. The woodworking projects probably have little appeal to any of those crowds, and nobody gives a flying fuck about my DIY shop furniture or the metal fabrication I did at my old job. If you came to this blog for one type of thing, and I'm not posting about that currently, all I can say is, stick around. I will probably come back to it one day.

And that brings me to my final point- consistency. Anyone who has followed this blog will note that in addition to content theme variation, there has been wide fluctuation in the publishing schedule of that content. The public likes consistency. Regular and frequent updates to content- grist for the mill, as it were. But anyone who runs a blog anything like this one, also knows that production schedules do not always mesh well with an ideal publishing schedule. But that's only part of the story...

Ok, if you're still reading this, it means that you are either extremely bored or you have an interest in the affairs of people, whom you don't know, akin to an avid 'Reality TV' viewer. So, now I'm going to lay some very personal crap out there- which is something I have never really done here, and likely won't do again. So, if baggage isn't your cup of tea, fare thee well, and tune in for the next post, which will be more akin to my regular posts. I have a few cool projects that I am finishing up.

      ------------------------------((...bail out now. you have been warned...))-------------------------------

So, when this blog first started in 2009, I had a back catalog of projects that needed to be uploaded. Plus, I had recently been laid off from my job in private security, so I had time to write blog posts- 67 of them that first year. For the next two years I remained unemployed (which is to say, I didn't have a second job, in addition to running my store), so I had lots of time to create in my workshop, as well as time to post updates, though as the back catalog was exhausted, things did slow down.

Then, I got another second full time job, and my free time dropped to almost zero- and so did my posts to this blog. For about four years, in addition to running my store, I worked at a soul crushing, physically brutal, relentlessly exhausting job that crippled my hands for the first several months, and  took up about 70 hours a week of my time. I couldn't make anything at all in my workshop for a lot of that time, and I was usually too tired to blog about it if I did.

Then, in 2015, my father passed. He had been very sick for about a year, and then he finally succumbed to cancer. My father and I never really got along well, so as cold as it sounds, I didn't really think his passing would hurt terribly much. Sure, I would miss him, and mourn his loss to some extent, but we didn't really have much of a relationship. Plus, anyone who knows me knows that I'm emotionally distant where most personal relationships are concerned. Even still, his passing has affected my life in ways I had not imagined. And since his passing, I have come to realize that he and I were more alike than I care to admit. Maybe that's why we didn't get along.

*As to why I am known to be emotionally distant, that stems from having my heart broken about 25 years ago. It was my fault. I was young and immature. I took her for granted. I failed her on multiple occasions, and I even cheated. I did love her, but I understand now that I treated her poorly (though I never intended to and didn't realize it at the time). She deserved better, and when she finally figured that out, she left me for another man. I was devastated by her leaving. I had an emotional breakdown, got suicidal, and then curled up into a ball for the next 20 odd years. Broken. Everything I have done since then (with the exception of my daughter, whom I love)- my store, my crafts, my jobs, my few friends, my gaming club, this blog, all of it- has just been me killing time, looking for distractions, waiting to die.

Back to the present. Shortly after my father passed, my work situation became intolerable, and so I quit. Still, even though quitting my job freed up some time, my father's passing still had things pretty chaotic, and there was a lot of family stuff to deal with in his wake. So, still not much crafting or blogging getting done.

Then, just as I was getting bored with being alone, and thinking that I had wasted my life feeling sorry for myself, and wondering why life never gave me a second chance, and thinking that the scars over my heart had finally healed enough that I could love somebody again, but begrudgingly accepting that I probably never would- then, the impossible happened.

In the past 25 years, since my heart was broken, exactly three women have caught my attention. I'm not saying that I have never found anyone else attractive- I'm saying only three times in that period have I looked at someone and my heart stood up and pointed at them and said "That one. I want that one". I never said anything to any of them. Partly because they were all married, but mostly because I am a coward with almost no social skills. Two of them moved away shortly after we met. The third, I saw only briefly each year at a convention. For ten years I watched her, longingly- careful never to let on that I harbored feelings for her, for fear that she would react negatively and I would never see her again. All the while, my infatuation and attraction to her growing to distracting levels.

In October of 2015, just a few months after my father had passed away and I quit my job, she and I were both at a party, and one of my friends let slip to her that I had feelings for her. She was just drunk enough to not find this revelation revolting. And I was just drunk enough to not screw it up too badly when she confronted me about it (which is to say, we were both completely hammered). It's worth noting at this point, that she is in an 'open marriage', so at least from her perspective, her being married was not an impediment.

For the next few months, we dated- and I was deliriously happy. For the first time in 25 years, I felt joy. I felt purpose. I felt powerful. I felt love. I wanted to start living again. I wasn't just killing time anymore. I was ready to reinvent myself. Eager to start over. Regretful of the time I had wasted. Of course, no crafting or blogging, or much of anything else got done during this period, as I was understandably very distracted. All of my attention was focused on this new love in my life- and therein lay the tragic flaw.

 Without delving into excruciating detail of the roller coaster that ensued, it will suffice to say that there was no happily-ever-after. Not for me, anyway. Misrepresentations were made. Expectations were misconstrued. Missteps were taken. Promises went unfulfilled. Emotions rose and fell. Things ended- abruptly.
 
In the end, my hart was broken once again. My emotional cataclysm, which followed in the aftermath of this brief and ill-fated romance, took me right back to where I was 25 years ago; despondency, dejection, heartache, confusion, crippling depression, misery, tears, suicidal ideation. To say that I was invested would be the understatement of the decade. She, however, was not.  For her, it was just another in a long list of extramarital dalliances; shorter than most, easily dismissed, and quickly forgotten. For me, it was the death of hope.
It has been just over a year now since it ended. Though she has said that everything is cool between us, it isn't. We don't talk at all anymore. She has distanced herself from me in the few social circles where our lives once crossed, and it is likely that I will never see or speak to her again. Last year's convention was so unbearable, I doubt I will ever go back. As a result of my being broken again, all of my other friendships have ended as well. Some of those friendships ended with bad blood. Some of them just ended. I am no longer even a member of the gaming club that I founded and lead for 16 years. Now that a year has passed, I'm just starting to be able to function again. That's why there have been very few recent projects or posts, even though I currently have plenty of time on my hands.

 As I said, I don't make a habit of dumping my purse out on the couch like this, and you won't see me do it again- at least not here. The Old Man has a secret blog for that ;) But it goes to my fifth point, concerning consistency. At first, I had plenty of time for projects and blogging, then no time, then father died, then quit job, then too much happiness, then too much sadness, now broken- again. I'd like to say that the consistency will start to improve now that I am semi-functional, but frankly I don't really know from one day to the next whether or not I will want to continue living, let alone continue making or blogging. I can only take one day at a time. But now, at least I can say most days are a little less awful than the previous one.  ...Most days.

/baggage

So, feel free to comment. I'm curious to see if anyone is still reading this blog, or if all my current traffic numbers are just from google image searches and spam bots. Let me know what you think about the new woodworking stuff, or your thoughts on making YouTube videos. Anything really. Just looking for a little feedback.

Until next time...



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16 comments:

  1. I, for one, still read your blog and get vicarious enjoyment from your projects.

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    1. Thank you. I appreciate your continued viewership and your feedback.

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  2. Your blog is near the top of my RSS reader (I use Newsblur) and I always check it out when you post your projects! Now I am feeling bad for not commenting and letting you know how much I enjoy them. Sorry that you are on such a roller coaster-sounds like a drag. Maybe it is time to shake the dust off and move somewhere where there are more tolerant and like-minded folks, so you can have a wider community? I love living in NYC for just that reason! :-)

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    1. Thank you. I'm glad you enjoy the blog. I thought about moving, but I know from experience that a sickness carried in the heart can not be cured by moving the body from place to place. And, the people around me were not the problem (OK, a couple of them are dicks). The problem is me.

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  3. Hi Rev. Marx,

    Your writing here has really resonated with me. I've also been struggling with that feeling of keeping busy in order to kill time. I wish I had some advice or something more to offer but from one internet stranger to another I wish you all the best and hope that you find your "spark" again.

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    1. Thank you. I appreciate that. If recent experience has taught me anything, it's that seemingly impossible things can happen. Even if just so the Universe can fuck with you.

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  4. I read your blog. I love your eclectic nature of creativity. If it weren't for dark days, we'd never appreciate the bright ones. It's called life. You have to live it. You keep blogging-I'll keep reading.

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  5. Thank you for the very kind words. I'm always happy to see you working on something new, but I also realize real life gets in the way.

    In regards to your personal situation, can I make a suggestion? Please don't take this in the wrong way, but I would strongly suggest a visit with a mental health professional. That sense of marking time, of having a drifting, pointless existence, is a pretty good indicator of clinical depression. I say this from personal experience.

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    1. You are very welcome, Sir. And thank you.
      Also, you are certainly not the first person to suggest it.

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  6. Just wanted to say that I check your blog periodically, more often when it seems you are posting often, and truly enjoy reading about your projects. I agree with @Propnomicon regarding your personal situation. Many of us have been in similar straits and this can frequently be improved with medical attention or just someone trained to talk to. I wish you good luck, and if you choose to go to YouTube, I will follow you there as well.

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    1. Thank you. If I do start making videos for YouTube, it would be more of an addition to this than a replacement. At least for a while.
      I appreciate the advise, from you and from all others who have proffered it. I'm sure many people would benefit from that advise. It's good advise. I could enumerate the reasons why I won't take it, but that's a bit beyond the scope here. But I really do appreciate it.

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  7. Wow... thanks for the honesty, i understand where your comming from im generally a distant person myself but i think creating is a hopefull act. Ill keep reading and i wish you all the best. As an extra i almost never watch youtube, i prefer to read but that could be age related ☺

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    1. Thank you. That's a lot more honesty than I normally like to give, but I think context is everything.

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  8. Just you know: I follow your blog for a long time (came over from Pronomocion) and enjoy your projects! I am also at fault for not often writing comments, mostly also due to the fact that time is really limited, but I am sorry for that because I do appreciate all the effort you put into your blog. You are on my blogroll, so it really doesn't matter how often you post.

    About your personal situation... I would only repeat the others that there is professional help one can get but you already heard and answered that above. But still, just from my personal story, it took me a long time to finally realizing that I am in a situation I didn't want to be in and that I need (and want) help. People, who are too close, can't help in such a situation and sometimes oneself is not enough. It is a kind of "tool" because more often than not one knows the own problems and circles, but not how really to break out of them. I wanted to be able to breath again, deeply, just this moment where everything is okay. I got it back. You can do it all alone, but please keep in mind, you don't have to.

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    1. Thank you for your input.
      I have the next five or six posts already written and scheduled to post automatically, about a week apart. So that's something. Going to make a concerted effort, while I have it in me to do so. No telling what tomorrow will bring.

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