The Journey

Dispatches from the Wasteland: I Actually DO Want What I Haven’t Got

Note: I ran across the following bit this evening, parked in a folder named (sadly so) “Incomplete or Never Posted”. (I can’t swear that it’s never been posted, because there have been so many years and so many posts.) I’ve been having some sidebar conversations with new bloggers recently, and a recurring theme is the concern they have with the content of their posts. What should they write and how much of themselves should they share?

This piece, written seven years ago, addresses some of that. I was at my own turning point, struggling to balance what I wanted to write with what I thought others wanted me to write. I haven’t changed a word from the original, hoping to capture in amber a pivotal moment when my writing shifted, albeit slowly. I’m also hoping it helps some folks realize that once you speak with your true voice, the right people will hear you. Enjoy.


So here’s the deal: A friend of mine, Daniel, was musing online, wondering if there are any “real” blogs out there anymore. I was perplexed. I have several. Why did he not consider them real? No offense, begged his commentary, but what about the original blogging days, when the intention was to capture your daily thoughts, online, in journal form?

Oh. Well, to excuse myself a wee bit, I wasn’t around in those original days. I was slow to the plate, probably off playing XBOX or watching obscure Japanese films where people didn’t say much but a lot of them died. Such was my thing. I was a late-bloomer in regards to the whole blogging thing. Mainly because I had been scorned in my earlier attempts at writing, back when you actually had to engage a publisher before the masses could see your words in print.

So I didn’t do anything for a couple of decades. Or so. Burn me enough, I’ll go do something else for a while. Human nature. Or at least gay-boy raised in Oklahoma nature. Some such. Whatever the case, eons passed.

Then, a few years ago, my friend Tiffany convinced me to start blogging, because that’s what the cool people were doing. Well, had been doing, cool people are always running off to do something else before you can really figure out what they were doing before they ran. It’s the nature of cool people. They want to touch it first and then they don’t care anymore.

Anyway, when Last-Call Me finally got around to blogging, I encountered something of a flux. Randomly clicking on various blogs, I found a whole mess of stuff going on out there. Geeky tech things, recipes for people who apparently had only two dollars in their food budget, political ranting based on circumstance and nothing, pretty pictures of fruit, you name it.

I didn’t know what to make of this. What was I supposed to do?

Well, I decided to tell stories. Some real, some not, but stories. I like stories. When I go to a blog, I want depth. I want to spend some time with the writer, let him or her take me somewhere, and at least stay for a little bit. I’m not good with the sound bites. Some are fun, yes, but let’s be real. Nearly anybody can throw out a good one-liner from time to time. It’s often a matter of luck and timing. Happenstance.

Side note: This explains why I’m not so good with the Twitter thing. I’m not built for working with compact, limited characters, slapping on a hash tag that will hopefully propel my brevity to one and all. Tiffany thinks I can do so. (Typical conversation wherein I send a rogue comment via IM at work: Tiffany – “OMG, you have got to tweet that!” Me – “But why? Will people get it? Are you sure?” Tiffany – “Just do it.”)

I don’t know. It just bugs me, that character-limitation thing. If I have to edit my words just to conform to a protocol, it can change the meaning, completely. I’m really not down with that. I like the whole arc of writing… introduction, development, conclusion. And most importantly, follow-through. Regardless of how whimsical or off-the-wall the journey may be, make it real and make it work.

Honest writing is not necessarily about truth. Honest writing is about making the reader believe that where you are taking them is worth it.

So with my various blogs, birthed as they were as I discovered certain niches that felt pretty good and tempted me back, I tried to remain true to my conviction. Tell a story, make it flow realistically, beginning, middle, end, with no sense that you’re just trying to amass a certain amount of words and then stop. Even the tawdry music video reviews that I post on my Backup Dancers From Hell blog have a story to them. Admittedly, they are often wee anecdotes, two pages or less, but the construction is there.

Which brings us to an analysis of how this method has worked for me, the telling of stories in an age where people click, want two words, and then want to move on. Well, it’s been a very mixed bag, and sadly, to me, it’s an uneven mix.

Yes, I have a few faithful readers who will persevere through anything I throw their way. (And this can be a challenge. The Paris Chronicles series runs a hefty 250+ pages, when you add up all the posts.) I love these people, really do, because they get it. They want a story, well-thought and plotted (at least in my imagination), and they understand that reading the missives might take some time. Make a pot of coffee and settle in.

But most folks who visit my blogs (and I do appreciate the act, not saying I don’t) fall into two categories. First, we have the folks who think the posts are too long. Really? You can’t spare ten minutes of your day? Then why are you even looking for something to read? Sounds like all you need is the back of a cereal box. (Harsh, I know, but that argument grates with me. You can spend two hours playing a Facebook game or watching Golden Girls reruns, but you can’t stay on a blog post longer than two seconds? This explains a lot about the current state of American society.)

The second batch of nay-sayers involves people who can’t relate to the subject matter. Which would be fine if I was talking about my pro-choice views on abortion. I get that. But you don’t want to read about a crazed family trip to Charleston because you weren’t there? What’s the deal? Just because you didn’t participate doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate. There’s a story I’d like to tell, folks. A story. That’s what you’re here for, right?

So now I fumble my way back to Daniel’s original query. Does anybody really blog anymore in the original intent, wherein you share your direct thoughts of the day? Couple this with my muse, Tiffany, always trying to keep me on my literary path, and reminding me that some of the blog followers actually enjoy it when I’m totally real, talking about just me and what I think.

Well, this is what I thought about today. This is where my mind went.

I kind of like it. Free-flow dialogue, albeit one-sided. It’s a bit slippery and uneasy for me, just typing what comes to mind, no careful construct or plotline. But I thought I should try it. Just to see. I’ll never give up my stories, those will always be spewing forth, and that’s my focus. But maybe I can also do these posts where I just talk, from time to time. Me, capturing me.

So, Daniel, my brother, you are younger than me, but I still feel the pain. Of the scars you hint at, and my own scars that make me carefully choose my words, each and every day. But I think I can pry the filters off, in tiny, hesitant layers. Thanks for the gentle shove, even if you didn’t realize you were doing that. We’ll see if this actually achieves lift off.

And Tiffany, did I make Momma proud? Hope so.



Final notes: Originally written on 07/20/11, and theoretically never posted anywhere, although it does feel like I have at least used the “honest writing” quote in some format, somewhere. (And perhaps the whole piece has been shared. Memory plays cruel tricks as one ages.) I should point out that my thoughts concerning followers are based on my followers at the time, not the current crop of mostly delightful people. The opening title is a play on words with the Sinead O’Connor album title. And the opening image is a perspective view of the Cathedral of Malaga. I like the concept of the imposing tower to climb, the sun at the summit, and the seagull flying free…


39 replies »

  1. I really enjoyed this post, thank you Brian. I admit I don’t always have time to read your posts, but I value knowing that they’re there, if I want them. And without fail, you make me laugh, think, wonder at your incredible viewpoint and imagination, and feel grateful that I get a window into your mind, which may then inspire me and my blogging… I confess, sometimes when I write more ‘humour’ into my posts, I think “Now how would Brian approach this?” 🙂
    I’m definitely here for the ‘real’, the ‘authentic’, the ‘different’, and I think you contribute superbly to those vibes- keep it up! Thank you from Oz, G xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your kind words, G. And I’m guilty of not making more comments on your own posts, as I am often pressed for time as well. But I do read everything you share (sometimes in marathon sessions) and I have to say that I admire your vibrant personality, your unending support for noble causes, and the way you embrace everything about your life with such gusto. It’s a pleasure to check in and see what fascinating things you’ve been up to lately…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Aww, thanks Brian! That’s so sweet to hear- don’t feel guilty, it’s a waste of energy- and I have a feeling that if we met in real life, we’d enjoy each other’s company a lot (competing to tell the funniest story though of course) xO

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Love that photo perspective – it’s wonderful to look up an marvel at the world and the beauty it contains. There have always been storytellers, there should always be storytellers. Sometimes stories are short, sharp and a little sticky. Sometimes they are long and wandering and full of anticipation. Either way, either style, stories are meant to be appreciated, like a fine cheesecake (yeah, well I don’t drink mch, ok!) – nibbled with restraint, or gulped in gastronomic delight.
    Thankfully for me, your blog satisfies my need for stories, for humour, for sark, for serious thought, and I truly appreciate it. Folks who don’t need to get a life! Write what feel true to you, and they will come.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Lovely words once again, Claudette. I truly relish finding fellow bloggers, such as yourself, who have developed their own writing persona (rather than following a template) to the point that you trust whatever they wish to share. You know that you are going to enjoy the post, regardless of what the topic might be. And you know that person has a respect for writing and will show that respect with your own efforts. It’s one of the satisfying circles of life.

      P.S. I’m a bit of a cheesecake tramp, willfully snatching up any slice that comes my way. I try to be demure about my acts of satiation, but it generally ends up in gustatory carnage…

      Liked by 1 person

      • gustatory carnage – oh, that sounds delish.
        I am aglow at your lovely words Brian, for to tell a sample of the truth, I don’t dwell too much on what others may think of what I blog – I just do it cause it is fun. it always amazes me when someone suggests that I may have some skill/art/talent for this. Another sample of truth: I often get dismayed/disheartened by how well-written, funny, humourous, and down right smack-in-the-face wonderful so many bloggers are (this obviously includes you, causing major facial damage to myself seems to be your forte). Then I go – oh well, I’m jsut doing it cause it’s fun – so suck it up Claudie.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Claudette said Cheesecake. Mmmmmmm.
    Sorry, distracted.
    I’d happily read general musings from you 😊
    To find your niche and be damn good at it rules out having to explain it to anyone who doesn’t get it. Different strokes for different folks. (I’ve never really known what the strokes refers to. I hope it isn’t rude). I struggle with the word blog, it isn’t quite the right description. Finding your ‘blog’ was a Hallelujah moment for me. The sort of humour that I was struggling to find amongst lifestyle, parenting and how to make turquoise work for you. I’m a Dedicated Follower of Whatever This Is. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, the cheesecake reference had me drifting off for a bit as well. (Really, when can you go wrong with cheesecake?)

      I’m also not sure about the “different strokes” reference, as far as the degree of salaciousness is concerned. I do know there was a song by Sly and Family Stone in the late 60s, “Everyday People”, that had the “different strokes for different folks” line. The song was basically about promoting equality and acceptance, but it also had the line “..and so on and so on and scooby dooby dooby”, which naturally makes me think about cartoons and marijuana, thus increasing the salaciousness factor. We may never know the true meaning.

      Despite all that unnecessary rambling, I’m quite pleased that Lockwood and Bonnywood have chanced to meet, and here’s to a beautiful friendship…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I must agree with The World According to Brian: “whole arc of writing… introduction, development, conclusion. And most importantly, follow-through.” The Greeks told us how to do it and some people writing today actually think that producing drivel, without any of the classical elements, makes them cool. Or brainy. Long live the guy born in OK land.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s so nice that we are kindred with our views on writing. There is no reason to do anything half-heartedly, unless it’s intentionally ironic. Even those pieces that have a veneer of superficiality should have a thoughtful foundation in the exposition. Sometimes we can’t get there, but we should always try…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. As a loyal but never slavish follower, I read because I want to read. But it is really nice, occasionally to get a little sliver of you in the mix – the what makes you tick thing which you have achieved very elegantly and eloquently here. You are a writer. A damned good writer. In fact you are one of my greatest undiscovered writers and it perplexes me that you remain unpublished in the mainstream but I digress. Sometimes, in order to get the audience to really connect you have to give them clues and you have done that beautifully here. Carefully, thoughtfully, artfully you have constructed a little, seemingly train-of-thought, mémoire. It is a lovely spritz of seasoning and I hope you will occasionally bring out the salt shaker and/or the pepper pot to give us a little more but I also hope you will never lose sight of who you are and why you do what you do. Big love.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I realize that my platonic worship of yours truly is becoming a bit trite, but your ability to compose exactly what I need to hear at the exact moment I need it triggers all the right things in my essence. I could go on for days, but in a rare moment of self-editing, I will simply let that statement stand as is…

      Liked by 2 people

      • Platonic worship is always welcome and never trite, particularly from one I value highly. If my words hit absorb into the solar plexus to radiate goodness within then I am very happy. Long live you. Long live me 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I love all your writing. I’m seriously amazed at where your thoughts take you. I usually write about what’s effecting me in the moment, but not always. Sometimes though, I shine through, like with the pop culture and literature pieces. So, maybe I could branch out more.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Um. Well. There’s another INSANELY eerie “coincidence”. Do you suppose that our individual muses get together time and again, and do some collaboration?? *blink blink* Okay today I stumbled over “The Question of the Century” which oddly (cue up music from Twilight Zone) fits with your blog piece today.

    Here is the link to my blog:

    And to the original:

    Which queries “Do The BEST Writers Write?”

    I think you answered this all that time ago, and you’ve continued to answer it every day with your excellence in musing and your STORIES. Bleeds over into your WRITING, Great writer that Brian, simply one of the BEST.

    You know I just had an epiphany of why we get on so well….we both love THE STORY and the telling of the STORY.

    Squee. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I don’t think it’s coincidence at all. We may be separated by many miles, but there’s something intrinsic between us that makes the gap meaningless. We are the type of folks who can spend an entire day int the same room without speaking a word to one another, but we would be comforted and content with the companionship nonetheless. On the flip side, we could spend that same day endlessly debating the minutiae of everything, with moments of fervent and possibly opposing passion, but quickly get over it and run have a nice, relaxing meal at a local Greek restaurant. Such is the warm complacency of mutual respect…


  8. My blog posts are usually me rambling or me ranting, or me doing whatever it is I feel like doing. I don’t tell stories, maybe because that would require even more thinking (horrors!) and because I started blogging at first to keep friends and family updated when I was traveling, then just because sometimes I had things on my mind that wouldn’t shut up until I put them on paper. Okay, so it’s digital paper – close enough. Most of the ones I follow are much the same. To my mind, on a blog post you can do whatever it iis that suits you, because people can choose whether to read or not;

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Beautiful photo! 🙂

    I feel weirdly ambivalent about my blog. I told myself that I was setting out to add my voice to those others warning about the nasty consequences of entanglement with narcissists. But that’s not what really happened. It became a way for me to think through the narcissist relationship, and then it became a way for me to think through how to think. So, is my blog a journal? Maybe it is, but the addition of comments, and of reading wonderful blogs like yours and reading those comments too adds a depth that really can’t be accessed in any other way. Journal shmournal. It can be whatever you want. And whatever it is, I love it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, your blog has embraced the original intention of blogging, all the way back to the very beginning. I’ve read all of your posts, and your journey has been fascinating. Yes, you veered slightly from your initial intention and purpose, but your song essentially remains the same in that you regularly capture your thoughts and reflections on what is happening to you as each new chapter dawns. This is not to say that you shouldn’t delve into a bit of fiction and whimsy here and there, as I do believe that you would succeed greatly with such an arc, but I am more than happy to embrace whatever you have to share…

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I want to blog like you but I blog like me, not often and not very well. So glad I ran into your writings ..guided by the sister who knew I would love you. Whatever you were doing back when you wrote this was as good as whatever you’re doing now I’m sure and your musings resonate with me. It’s a fine line we walk when we start down the whole SM path … and I think this has tipped me over – I’m about to disengage from YouTube and spend my time making art I want to make instead of teaching what I think others want to see …I got sucked down that whole rabbit hole of wanting to please others! Nothing wrong with pleasing others if it pleases you as well of course. And that’s what I take from your blog- you so obviously enjoy what you write ! Thanks for the laughs and the thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is a very rewarding comment, Lindy. I fully understand what you might be thinking right now, as you balance the vision of your own goals with the visions that others might have of you. You are an immensely-talented artist when it comes to your physical output, but I think you skim yourself a bit with your writing. You have an honestly-direct way of sharing your thoughts, and you should consider this a treasure. If I may be so bold, perhaps your true path lies in the sharing of art appreciation and not so much in the doing of such, if that makes any degree of sense…


  11. I’m behind once again in my reading, but find this came to me at the perfect time as so much of what you say (said) are things I’ve been thinking about lately. How much should I share, have I shared too much, or am I too cautious and not sharing enough?
    I love your writing wherever it may take me. You probably know that, but thought I’d say it just the same. ❤️

    Liked by 3 people

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