The above is the entire contents of an email I received from Erik Kain exactly one year ago today. The item referred to in this cryptically short message was my first ever guest post on the League (and in fact, my first attempt at a blog post anywhere). Over the next two weeks I submitted three additional guest posts; the week immediately after that I posted my obligatory introduction post, as Erik foolishly agreed to make me a regular contributor.
Which kind of makes today my one-year anniversary as both a blogger and a contributor for the League of Ordinary Gentlemen.
Those who despise personal reflection, navel gazing and gooey acknowledgements of gratitude would be wise to turn back now.
To say that the experience of writing for this community has been rewarding would be a drastic understatement. As a teenager and a college student, I always dreamed of being a writer. I didn’t even care if I was a successful one, I just wanted to feel the heft of a book I had penned in my hands. Others I knew had more lofty ambitions, and their fantasies involved bestseller lists and readings before acknowledged luminaries. My dream scenario involved me stumbling across my book at some library, and smiling. But those dreams had long been mothballed. Except for the odd corporate memo or birthday card salutation, it had been decades since I had written anything prior my first League submission. Now that I am writing on a regular basis, I find that my itch to write had never actually died so much as had simply gone dormant.
Writing for this site and all of you is a privilege, and a year later it still gives me a thrill every time I hit the “Publish” button. When I was an angsty 17 year old and wrote bad angsty 17-year old poetry (the only poetry in the universe worse than the Volgon’s) no one but me ever read my drivel, let alone gave me feedback. What a difference it has been, then, to have constant feedback, engagement, “linakage,” and community spirit surround everything I chose to share. Seriously, how space awesome is that? For everyone here that is an old hand at blogging, most of what I encountered this past year is likely passé – but I find I am still constantly bemused by almost everything. The far away and fascinating places people take my thoughts in the threads astounds me. I get about a dozen emails from readers a week; I happily answer each one, since it still amazes me that anyone takes the time to write me at all. Even the drive by trolls fill me with a kind of wonder of peoples’ continued ability to feel such passion about things great and small alike.
I think of being a League contributor a gift that everyone here has given me. The community here has not only put up with my political, cultural and personal musings, it’s allowed me to try my hand at fairy tales, religious edicts, multi-media cooking instruction, poetry, Euro-radio, spiritual journeys, troll worship, fables, celebrity tell-alls, corporate press releases, and a lot of other bizarre and really off the wall stuff. Not all of them hit the mark, but I love the freedom and encouragement readers here give me to go wherever I choose.
I spent some time this past weekend reviewing my pieces from the past twelve months, and was surprised to find how many of the damn things there were. There’s probably some sort of sociology experiment in seeing which posts were popular and which were met with silence; there certainly is a great psych paper in my emotional reactions to this phenomena. It’s funny – those pieces I think were my best posts by far (posts about growing up with guns, bullies, henchman, and Justin Beiber), the ones I was most excited about posting, were the League versions of Waterworld. When you link to those posts I think you can still hear the crickets chirping. On the other hand, a few that I thought were crap and wouldn’t have posted at all if I’d taken the time to go back and review were heavily read, and they engendered long threads of really excellent conversation by others. So what the hell do I know? If there’s a key to this puzzle, I have yet to decipher it.
With all of that being said, I’d like to beg your indulgence in my expressing some sappy but very sincere gratitude.
Thanks to Erik, of course, for allowing me to be here at all. To this day I have no idea why he handed the keys to some guy who’d been blogging for all of a week or so. My thanks go out to Mark and Jason as well, who (along with E.D.) have helped me learn through their example how to oversee and nurture a quality site, and who do so with equal measures of high standards, reason and conscience.
I owe an especially huge debt to the other contributors here for keeping me honest in my efforts to produce stuff that might engage or entertain. Seriously, the quality of writing that happens at this site is scary good. You can’t read posts by Russell, Burt, Rose, Tim, Pat, JB, Nob, Will, Rufus and (literally!) everyone else here everyday and not feel a need to keep improving just to try to catch up. The fact that they are also such great human beings and have become good friends is the only thing that keeps me from despising the lot of them out of pure petty jealousy, and secretly plotting their demise.
Thanks to my family as well for their patience, since time spent writing and helping Erik manage the League has been time away from doing laundry, taking out the trash and playing basketball. Every hour I take to write a post about my youth is time that could be could be spent sitting my kids down and telling and retelling them stories of my – wait, what? Oh. I see. I’m being informed by my kids that they are very grateful to you all that I now more spend hours writing and less sitting them down to tell them stories about my youth.
But most of my thanks go to the rest of you out there. Readers and commenters have always been the engine that drives the League, and my experience has been no exception. This past year has been awesome, and I can’t thank you all enough for that. I understand that there are a near infinite number of things you could choose to read on the intertubes; know that every time you choose to read a post of mine I appreciate it as the honor that it truly is. So thanks, everyone.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a whole second year’s worth of of posts to write.