Stuff I don’t know

This post has received some nice attention from WordPress and the many supportive comments have done me good. I’m glad people are reading. It presented me for a moment with a dilemma: if more people are reading this blog now, what do I write about?

Then I realized that’s the dodge of a mind that likes to work against itself on a regular basis–which mine does, especially where writing is concerned. That is, I think about it a lot, then cycle into a form of self-doubt that has me not writing much at all. Which is funny, because an initial foray into blogging 10 years ago this year was made without hesitation and that led to my first professional work as a writer. In 2000 or so I began blogging, and by 2004 I was a little bored with what I was doing there (noodling, making mostly unconnected personal posts or writing experiments with poetry and fiction as the spirit moved me). I decided then to make a leap into a long-held interest that had also been a bit of a secret embarrassment–true crime. I made that leap into true crime blogging around the time social media as we know it today began to explode. Years before the likes of Gawker and Daily Beast were plumbing mass killers’ online profiles, I found the intersection of the two–criminals and their victims having public blogs, profiles, etc–and that became my “angle.” Within 6 months of starting that first true crime blog on a lark, I was offered freelance work with the Crime Library. From there things went a little crazy and I ended up being a talking head and eventually getting opportunities to cover other subjects for a variety of publications, though when people contacted me sight unseen to do a TV appearance or contribute to their publication, it was usually true crime-related.

My point is that it really hit me today that when I first began a specific effort to blog about crime, I did it with zero self-doubt. And whatever regrets I may have about that now (I have a few, as my perception of reporting on and writing about crime has evolved a great deal in the last 5 years in particular), it seems like I may have identified my main enemy as a writer–the “why am I even bothering” impulse.

What I don’t know on any given day is what I’ll blog about. I don’t mind admitting insecurity with my tendency to have rapidly shifting interests. I do have medically diagnosed (as opposed to self-diagnosed, like too many other people I’ve met) attention deficit disorder, but that’s not a good excuse. The insecurity is that anyone who might read or subscribe to this site might check it one day and say, “what the hell happened to the dude blogging about his fitness journey? This post is about murder,” and find that not just ADD, but kind of crazy.

Well, yeah. That’s probably going to happen. Here’s what’s already here, and what anyone reading might find in the future:

  • Fitness stuff–diet, exercise, even exercise routines. Commentary on the way others write about fitness online and in print–since there are some major flaws there.
  • Crime–it’s not like I really lost the interest. It’s just much more specific now. I’m never going to just globally cover every weird crime story I see. I might tweet a link, but it will have to be a story that strikes a deeper chord for me to blog about it. Even then I might not, if I feel it’s a story I could publish as a freelance writer for pay. That’s just practical.
  • Weird stuff. Everyone’s definition of weird is a little different–but not too different, is my bet. I’m a skeptic but will still write about any unusually compelling tale of UFOs, cryptids or things that go bump in the you know when.
  • Social media–maybe not so much, as the subject feels played. Still, I embraced it pretty solidly and don’t feel bad about that.
  • Rants on what I hate or what annoys me. What? It’s a blog, fer chrissakes.
  • Comedy stuff–I love comedy and comedians and have a lot of funny friends online. It’ll end up here sometimes.
  • History–I edited this post to add this in. I have an abiding interest in history, especially the early 20th century. I’ve already written several posts in that vein.
  • Less common (though my interest in good health and fitness is arguably personal) –personal stuff. I save what little truly personal writing I do for pen and paper, like it’s the 19th century or something.

Oddly enough, it occurs to me that I’m saying I’m going to treat this site exactly as I treated blogs I wrote before I focused mainly on crime writing, and I guess I’m apologizing in advance if that gives anyone a case of mental whiplash.

I don’t know what I’ll say next, and I’m fine with that.

Programming Note

I’ve decided to do more in-depth history posts on my Medium account. I’ll still post short pieces and quick hits here. I decided to do this because:

A. I really like Medium’s interface. Just from a writer’s point of view, it’s nice to work with.
B. There might be more visibility on Medium, better search engine placement. History done even halfway right takes time and thought. This is a fun subject for me and I don’t need prompting to pursue it, but I also, like any writer, want people to read my work.
C. Also an aesthetic judgment–I love the way Medium incorporates images.
D. I want to post a variety of content on HuffWire; I don’t want to turn it into a history blog, even if history is the main thing I’m into now.

So this space remains open for a variety of subjects, which is what I wanted when I created it. A “wire” delivers news, ephemera, whatever. This is my peculiar, personal version of one, and I like it that way.

Blogs are passé

I’ve read recently (honestly too lazy to look up the link, but I swear I’ve read stuff like this) that blogs are, in their way, passé. I halfway think that’s why I decided I’d start 2014 with a brand new one, clean, squeaky, shiny, dumb. I mean, I have a Tumblr, but at 46 I feel comfortable with being too old–or maybe too vain, perhaps both–for Tumblr, anymore. Not abandoning my Tumblr, of course–I have a few reasons not worth enumerating to keep it–but I doubt I’ll use it to post much beyond links or quotes after today.

So–why this site? I mean, caveat lector: I’ve started a shit-ton of blogs over the last 4 years in particular. They’ve rarely come to anything. This may be some weird and stubborn effort to re-capture some idea I once had that I’d seized a low-level form of lightning in a bottle when I started a blog geared toward crime in 2004 and almost overnight doubled my blog traffic, therefore sealing my fate of eventually going into professional journalism and blogging, writing for the likes of the Crime Library, Radar Magazine and the New York Observer, to name a few.

What I think I’m doing here, though, is starting from scratch. If there’s any intent in this blog, it’s in the name, HuffWireIn this context, “wire” still carries the journalistic flavor of that word. The fact that I’m a news junkie and at this point have been paid to commit acts of journalism is inescapable. I don’t really want to escape it. I’m too curious and too weird and maybe even too easily bored to shut down the part of me that reads this news blurb or that and says, “there has to be more to this.”

However, I also find the definition of “wire” so broad that perhaps HuffWire is the best possible name for the kind of blog I meant to keep all along–one that melded sheer stupidity, personal, diary-like entries and straight-up independent journalism, sometimes all on the same day.

Another reason for this blog, perhaps the most important–the practice of doing it. I was blogging professionally off and on for various outfits from 2005 onward. I quit at the beginning of 2013. I kept tweeting, sometimes tumbling something that just wouldn’t fit in a tweet. But I wasn’t really doing shit, in general. At some point, I concluded that I didn’t have writer’s block (all my tweeting would seem to disprove that alone) as I was making some kind of semi-conscious attempt to, for lack of a better phrase, reboot my shit.

You see, “pro” blogging practices are often (to me) horrible. They can be antithetical to decent writing. You’re having to worry about selling your shit to the casual reader. To the search engine. To the maniac who hates you based on the headline you didn’t even edit yourself alone. I sometimes think one reason I eventually accepted backing so far out of blogging/writing/whatever for a year was that I, at some point, concluded I needed some kind of change. A respite, to be precise.

Okay, I know I did.

The change was time away from that game. I had had enough.

Which is not to say I’m going to abandon everything I learned about blogging or my interest in certain news stories that also interest everyone else. I’m human. If there is a single purpose to this blog post it may be that–to evade predictions or expectations of what I’m going to post here for the rest of the year.

I’m just here to write about shit. This won’t even be the only writing I do on a daily basis.

Past that, I’m going to see if I can do what I want as a blogger without giving in to some of the grosser aspects of the “training” I’ve learned over the last few years, about search engine optimization, what’s viral-worthy, etc. You know, all that bullshit that kind of makes the internet intolerable today.

Mainly… this is part of a larger effort to do the one thing a writer is supposed to do. You know. Um, write.

So. Here goes.