a tale of two posts


Most people don’t realize that this site is five years old. In fact, in December, I’ll be throwing myself a little month-long shindig here celebrating that. Five years on the interwebs is like ten pop culture minutes, which is totes the difference between the Digital Age and the Mesozoic Era.

Free, unwelcomed, unsolicited advice for fellow bloggers: keep writing. Bonus, free, unwelcomed, unsolicited advice: keep reading.

In reviewing the site’s stats and frequented posts, two posts keep popping up. One makes sense, the other doesn’t. The first is running with scissors… and understandably so; it garnered a coveted Freshly Pressed award and took to task the couponing and rewards shopping culture that is suffocating the market and ultimately counterproductive to the intent of coupons and rewards: discounted and or free stuff. Every so often, it seems to find new life in other pockets of the web and persistently is among the daily most read list on my dashboard.

The other, which I find to be particularly fascinating, is Penelope waiting. Written during what I feel to be one of the longest-sustained stretches of good writing I’ve ever had, it’s a reflection on the symbolism of Penelope, wife of Homer’s Odysseus, who waited for her husband, denying all suitors and defying cultural convention. More people seem to have been looking for the painting featured in that post than anything else, but it continues to drive traffic even now, about two years after the fact.

The funny thing is that with the former post, I didn’t think it was particularly great writing. I was inspired by my own needling frustration at a market artificially stimulated by system rigging and free birthday food and ranted. I finished the post, took the dog for a walk, came back and saw the e-mail that congratulated me for what would be featured on FP. Perhaps we’re not the best judges of our own output.

I cover a lot of ground here; it’s my space, and it’s as random as I want it to be. It shouldn’t surprise me that the two most-read posts I have are pretty divergent subject matter. But it does, which is somewhat comforting in that people from a pretty broad spectrum of life have stopped in and found my work to resonate with them.

All of this makes me wonder, though: is it better to be able to connect broadly with an audience that probably would not be comfortable if they were all in the same room together, or with a solid core of readers within a more narrowly defined scope of work? Does the culture of expertise that is currently slapping the Million Dollar Dream on the creative and intellectual life out of Western culture affect this? What does a theology student and philosophy graduate have to say about the economy or the Odyssey–or anything else that’s not theology or philosophy–that actually matters?

I suppose the point of this meandering is that for us who write, there are no limits. Those of us who are products of humanities and liberal arts have troubles finding our place in society because what we do can be applied in myriad contexts in ways that people of specialization cannot comprehend. We betray ourselves when we get settled in too deeply, and run the risk of a meltdown when we chase our interests. And we suffer breakdowns when we aren’t allowed to, for whatever reason.

When we write with our head, we write with our heart. Being that there is no distinction between the two; we can truly write without bounds.

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