Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Year in Review

Last January, when I began this blog, I never intended it to be a diary. I had loftier ambitions. I wanted to write the kind of articles that, in more skillful hands (and perhaps better connected hands), you might find in The New Yorker. That might seem presumptuous but I never assumed that I was that talented; it was just a goal to work towards. The most important thing for me was to develop the discipline to meet my self imposed deadline – a new article every Wednesday. I am pleased, and surprised, that throughout this past year I have met that goal. This is the fifty-sixth entry in “The Bitter Old Queen.”

I am happy that I have received many responses from readers. Some have sent emails to me. I have also received feedback on Facebook and to a lesser extent in comments posted directly into the blog. Blogger does not make it easy to enter comments so I especially appreciate those readers who have persevered and submitted their thoughts.

I got the most reaction, and most of it was negative, from “Reflections on Vallarta”, published on March 31. Many regular visitors to Puerto Vallarta, along with expatriates who live there, took great exception to what they read as a condemnation of their version of Paradise. The point of the article was that our perceptions of a place can not be separated from what is happening in our lives at the time. In this case I had just broken up with my partner, who I had met and lived with in Vallarta before he came to live with me in New York. When I returned to Vallarta after the breakup I saw it more objectively, both the good and the not so pretty, rather than through the eyes of a man in love. Perhaps some of the recently arrived foreigners need to remove their rose colored glasses and see it more objectively as well. They may discover that they like it even more.

My most read, or at least accessed, article was “Miss Columbia”, posted on June 2.  It was about a contest for Latino drag queens. I was surprised that it has received ten times more page views than any other article I posted. It turns out that most of the traffic came from Google searches for the terms, not surprisingly, “Miss Columbia.” My article comes in at number ten on a list of 2,280,000 results. Just think how surprised the devotees of the SeƱorita Colombia (Concurso Nacional de Belleza) must have been to find themselves reading about two fat old homosexuals listening to bullfrogs in a campground in Pennsylvania.

Another article that got a lot of response, and this time overwhelmingly positive, was “The Rescue”, posted on November 3. This was the story of how I rescued two abandoned cats from a campground in the Poconos. I’m happy to say that one of them is living with me here in New York and the other has been adopted by one of my camping buddies. They are both doing well and have turned out to be delightful pets. I have since taken training classes and been certified by the City of New York to participate in the Trap-Neuter-Return program. TNR is the most successful and humane way of dealing with the severe overpopulation of stray cats living on the city’s streets.

Most of my readers are in the United States. I also have readers in Canada, Mexico, and the U.K. but Google Stats reveals a few surprises. For example, I have had page hits from Austria, Ukraine, Croatia, India and throughout central and south America. (I suspect many of the latter were looking for Miss Columbia.)

I think a few of the articles turned out quite well. I have listed my favorites in the sidebar to the left. If you missed them the first time around you might want to sample one or two of them now.

I took up blogging as a way of continuing my effort to improve as a writer. I have also taken several classes at the New York Writers Workshop. One thing I have learned in the workshops, as well as in writing this blog, is that my best writing occurs whenever I write from the heart. It is often painful to reveal myself personally. I have written about things that have opened old wounds and I have exposed myself in a way that leaves me embarrassed, humbled, and vulnerable at times. But, in doing so, I have occasionally written things that have resonated with readers. That is, of course, the ultimate goal of every writer.

So I close this year by saying something that I could never have said last January. It is simple and yet it is an affirmation that I have accomplished something important to me even though, at times, it was very much in doubt. I think I can now say it: I am a writer.

Thank you for hanging with me through this process of learning and discovery. I hope you will stay with me as the journey continues in the new year.

1 comment:

  1. Blogging is a bit of an artform in itself... Glad to see someone else enjoying it, too!!