By the Numbers
massive but completely-ignored post, over which I slaved like a coolie under a shotgun, I began taking stock this morning of what I've accomplished as a blogger over the last nearly nine years. Many of us have died, or gotten bored or discouraged and given up. Some of us, like the proprietors of the Cool Kid's Clubhouse, have gone on to bigger and better things.
This is, I believe, my 1858th post, not including four drafts that never saw the light of day. Welcome Back to Pottersville has been around for close to four and a half years, with another three or so being devoted to its predecessor and the first lasting for, I believe, just over a year.
This accounts, by my rough ballpark estimate, to about 5000 or more posts, not including exclusives I've written over the years for blogs like Brilliant at Breakfast and others. A conservative estimate on a word count, with an average of 500 each, would place the verbiage at somewhere between two and a half to three million words, or about 25 to 30 full-length novels. In all this time, nearly nine years, I've actually started and completed one novel (American Zen). The Toy Cop and the Misanthrope's Manual were started long before I got into political blogging. Everything else remains unfinished.
To put this amount of largely-ignored work in perspective: If I could collect every single Assclowns of the Week I've ever written, including numbers 79 and 85 (the year-end retrospective of the top 50 of the year) and collected them in book form, it would be, with ,jpegs, a book totaling well over 1000 pages. I'm not even sure Create Space could publish a paperback that massive. And that's just one series out of many.
Who'd buy it? Politics being very topical, none of those features save for the last, perhaps the last two posts, would no longer have relevance or even easily-accessible context. It's like, as I've said in the past, pouring water into a sand dune and waiting for the garden to spring up.
But eight plus, nearly nine years in this mug's game, making me the IF Stone or Helen Thomas in blog years, makes me something of an authority on this unique but highly perishable literary discipline, including the rules, do's and don'ts, the history, trends and so forth. Over the course of two and a half to three million words, I've earned the right to speak my piece, especially as I have been almost from the start one of the most brilliant and savage political commentators this side of the Rude Pundit and d r i f t g l a s s (Does that sound arrogant and hubristic? I don't give a shit. I never believed in false modesty for its own sake. I know I know how to write and manipulate thoughts and feelings. And like the LGBT community says, "If you got it, baby, flaunt it.").
Political bloggers are the internet's Anisazi. The Anisazi didn't completely disappear any more than certain Native American tribes. Dramatic conditions forced them to assimilate into other, larger surrounding indigenous populations and they were subsumed into a greater whole.
As I said, some of us have died. Jon Swift, Andrew Olmstead (in Iraq), Steve Gilliard, Joe Bageant and others. Many others had simply quit (Such as the late-lamented Agitprop's Blogenfreud, who's still around and following me on Twitter) on account of boredom, outrage fatigue, real world responsibilities and, thanks to the A listers who'd decided a decade ago who would count and who wouldn't (Especially yours truly, despite a brilliant talent), the discouragement of being ignored.
My research into 1888 London for my current novel, Tatterdemalion, reminded me of something I'd learned about 20 years ago when I was studying the same thing for my first novel. And it's pretty germane to my current situation. It was estimated there were approximately 6,000 prostitutes both professional and casual in the East End of London in the late 19th century. Many of these women, estranged or widowed or otherwise left to fall back on their own resources, became prostitutes. Largely being homeless (and so destitute of worldly goods they could carry everything they owned, often wearing three or four sets of clothes), they were ripe pickings for Jack the Ripper.
But selling your body for tuppance (two pennies) was a brutal way to make a living. Yet the streetwalkers of Whitechapel were forced to risk their lives (and five lost them) just to keep a roof over their heads, not because they loved what they did.
This is the same situation in which I find myself. My traffic, barring any linkage, which is rare and virtually nonexistent, is far below what it was in the beginning. I don't like doing this, haven't for years save for a spot of fiendish joy once in a great while. And, like those unfortunate "daughters of joy" in 1888 Whitechapel, since 2009 I've been in it solely for the money. I hate to say it but it's true. And, if you've been following me for any amount of time, I've always been about the truth no matter how painful or frightening it is. As proof of this, I made myself one of my own assclowns last night, for fuck's sake.
But the traffic's not there, the money's not there like it used to be (save for two constant angels of mercy and you both know who you are, if you're reading this) and people have turned away in droves save for a few die-hard readers who've been with me almost from the beginning. Whether it's due to some glorified online stalker who's been spreading lies about me, my strident position and opinions about the current administration or the disinterest in citizen political journalism since Bush left office or a combination of many factors, the incentive to keep doing this, when, like everyone else, I have a real world life and responsibilities to attend to and a career to pursue, is diminishing with each passing day.
Maybe the relative scarcity of content until very recently is responsible for the dwindling numbers. Maybe it's a synergistic thing. People will go elsewhere if they don't get it here and perhaps they'll even forget you ever existed. I'm at a crossroads right now: I need what little income this blog earns me but my dwindling energies pull me in another direction.
This damned blog and its two predecessors have cost me so much, things all the money in the world cannot supplant (Although, The Rude Pundit's blog inadvertently got me my current fiancee but that's a tale I may or may not tell on another day. But when finances permit Barb and I getting hitched, I'd like the Rude One to drive five hours up here to be my best man, so consider this your wedding invitation, Lee.).
Plus, it's getting harder with each day to justify blogging even on a very parttime basis when I've been out of work for going on five years. I set up the Paypal button largely as a courtesy to my readers when they kept asking for it. At the time, I had not one but two jobs. Then, when I lost those, I had unemployment compensation plus Barb's income. Now we're down to nothing and the cash flow's drying up at precisely the time we need it the most. Despite a generous gift recently from one of the angels on my shoulder, we're not going to make it until November 1st. The rent's barely covered as well as all my bills for the time being but many will be due again on the first and the rent will wipe us out.
I know many of you have been victimized by this brutal economy and I'm not asking you for help. As with my two angels of mercy who have literally been the difference between solvency and homelessness, you know who you are. But I've sacrificed so much to get the truth out there, however unpopular or politically incorrect it is and I'm just asking for a little more crowd sourcing help. Keeping Pottersville updated daily or even weekly is an expense of time, energy and spirit that most non-bloggers cannot begin to appreciate. But, while I've largely succumbed to outrage fatigue, especially since January 20 2009, I could justify plugging away at this place a helluva lot better if I could depend on my readership to help us out until the clouds part.
Yeah, there are a lot of blogs out there and many of them never ask for financial assistance (although some do, which, I'll remind my understandably anonymous critics, hardly makes me unique). But as with writing a book, one must ask themselves: "Is there anyone else on the planet earth who can write this like I can?" I can always emphatically say No. And the same goes for this political blog. Because I've always been an oddball with my own unique slant on things, nobody does it like I can and you all know that.
(Addendum: The mailman just brought pleasant news from both the IRS and the Massachusetts Dept. of Revenue that I owe them both a combined $800 in back taxes, meaning we're really screwed.)