Category Archives: Site News
In my last post I asked for feedback on how I could improve the blog. I’m not sure kind of advice I was expecting to receive. I guess I wanted someone to say something along the lines of “Well Mark, your blog is failing because you don’t write enough fiction/apologetics/writing related posts! That’s all we care about!” Or “Well Mark, don’t you see that the key is to write X? Write X and the people will come running to your door!” Or even “Geez Mark, didn’t you know about the magic success switch built in to WordPress? You must have had yours turned off all this time! Just flip the switch and the views will start coming.” Instead I got what I should have expected: some very nice readers (you are officially my favorites!) told me that they like my writing in general. Some people like the fiction more, others like the history posts, but nobody said they particularly disliked anything. Which sucks, because the more I think about it the more I realize that I didn’t want to know what I was doing right. I want to know what I’m doing wrong. I’ve been blogging for two freaking years and I’m daily views that are orders of magnitude less than two month old blogs that look like they were written by a constipated Shar-Pei. What in the world am I doing wrong here? I found myself Googling random strings of words like “blog failure” or “failed blogs” or “why oh why does nobody like me waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” (that last one was particularly unhelpful).
I just have this frustrated feeling that everyone else knows something I don’t.
That feeling has followed me my whole life, really. Whenever I get frustrated with something that other people succeed at I can’t help but feel that I’m missing some vital piece of information. I’m smart, I work hard, and yet they’re having greater success than me; surely this means that they are hoarding some kind of secret information! Surely everyone else got some kind of secret manual on how to actually build muscle when you exercise, or play an instrument, or tie a square not, or hammer a nail without it bending, or get a headshot every time in an FPS, while here I am trying to figure it out on my own like a chump.
Of course reality is never that simple. Sometimes my own failures really are due to a lack of vital knowledge, but typically they have more to do with a lack of experience on my part, a difference in work effort, or pure dumb luck. There’s no “magic key” that I’m missing in most cases, no matter how much I feel like there is.
Still, it’s bothersome. I’ve been pouring over the numerous “How to run a successful blog” style of blogs and I’ve come away with nothing new. If anything those blogs are only more discouraging. Not only do they lack any advice of substance that I haven’t already heard, they also make little insinuating comments about how a blog with around a 1,000 views a day may take “a few more months” before it can grow to something decent. Nowhere is there any advice, it seems, for individuals who are such complete failures that their blog has 10 views a day after more than two years of regular posting.
I tried googling “10 views per day” specifically and that was the worse one yet. I found forum post full of people saying things like “Wow, I got 150 views today and I’ve only been blogging for two weeks!” or “It may take a few months for you to break 500 views a day, but if you’re consistent you’ll make it.” Then I click on over to my own stats page which reminds me, yet again, that my best day ever had a wooping 101 views…from 11 unique visitors. Apparently one or two of them decided to archive binge. And then I fall into dark frustration again, sure that somewhere I’m missing something that everyone else just naturally gets…
Now to address the obvious, insanitybytes22 and suckmywake both suggested that I need to promote myself more. Maybe this is the “key” I’m missing, but I must say that I doubt it. For one thing, I’m not even sure what promoting myself looks like. Posting links to my blog on Facebook? I did that for about the first year before stopping. Why did I stop? Because I wasn’t getting anything out of it. My first year of blogging had the most abysmal view count I’ve ever had, and none of the very, very few of my Facebook friends who actually clicked on the links became a regular reader. I was surprised to discover that my own brothers didn’t realize that I was still writing the blog. To be sure, giving the “post links on Facebook” thing another try is certainly worth a shot, and I will do so in the coming months, but I doubt it will make much of a difference.
Twitter is out as a self-promotion tool because I don’t do Twitter, and if I started an account today the only people who would follow it are people who are already reading the blog. There is literally no other reason for anyone to follow me, and honestly I’m not the Twitter type. My thoughts typically come in the shape of sprawling bog posts, not short, pithy tweets.
I suppose that leaves posting links to my blog in the comments of other people’s blogs, but that has always struck me as incredibly tacky. I hate it when people post links to their own blog in comment sections, so I’m extremely reluctant to do that myself. Still, I suppose I must try. It’s easy to say that I need more self-promotion, but I really don’t know what that properly means. I’d like to think that my work will speak for itself. Ah well. I’ll just have to try one thing at a time: and get back to posting on subjects that are actually interesting, rather than my own blog woes! Really, I feel like such a whiner even complaining about this. Still, the blog can’t live without content and we’ve certianly been short on that for the past couple months. I’m sure someone else out there can relate to feeling like you’re missing the manual for success.
I didn’t start this blog to become famous.
Which is a good thing because this blog has brought me nowhere near fame. 2014 has been my best year yet for average view per day, and that average is 10. 10 is nothing. 10 is pathetic. After more than two years of hard work and 185 posts 10 is a sorry number to show for it. So it’s a good thing that I didn’t start this blog to get lots of traffic. I started it to become a better writer, and I think I’ve done alright on that front.
Lately I’ve been finding it hard to post. There have been dry spells before on the blog, but this is different. I’ve lacked almost all motivation to write blog posts. I only wrote my last post because a news article got me riled up and I decided that I might as well channel my frustration into something productive. But that’s no way to run a blog, unless you’re the type who gets riled up about everything. I enjoy writing, and I want to keep the blog up, but I just can’t find the motivation to write. And you know why?
It’s because practice isn’t enough anymore.
I’ve spent two and a quarter years practicing. I’m ready to actually do something with my writing, and the blog ain’t cutting it. I’ve been writing sci-fi short stories on the side, but I’ve yet to have a single one get published. I’ve tried writing posts that are really near and dear to my heart, but hardly anyone reads them. I’ve had idea after idea for e-books or web comics or graphic novels and none of them have made it off the ground. Practicing is not good enough! I want to actually create something people want to read! I want to touch people! I want to make them laugh, or cry, I want them to understand what’s really important! I want to show that I am a creator!
With that in mind, I need to make some changes.
I’ve been writing with one person in mind: myself. Because of this my blog is a bit of a mess as far as theme goes. It started out heavily weighted towards story and writing related posts with the occasional religious/apologetic post, and today has swung in the opposite direction with primarily apologetic related posts and the occasional post on writing. I’ve written about everything from Norwegian folk tales to objective morality to the biology of Horny Toads. That was fine when all I cared about was getting practice, but if I want to have a successful blog then I’m going to have to start writing with other people in mind.
So I’m going to need your help. If you enjoy my blog, please comment and tell me why. Let me know what kind of posts you would be interested in reading from me. What subjects do you most enjoy me covering? Would you like to see more writing posts? Humorous posts? Apologetics? Pro-life? History? And on the other side, what kind of posts do I write that you just don’t care about? Which ones do you think suck? Really, I want to know, so feel free to lay into me with both barrels.
Over the next few weeks The Page Nebula is going to go through some massive changes. But the first step comes from you: what do you want to read?
Last Friday was the second year anniversary of this blog. For two years I have been pumping out articles for your enjoyment! Last year I did a breakdown of my blogging habits. That year I had posted 88 times (which, given how long my posts tend to be, would probably add up to a short novel). I decided to shoot for even more this year. However lots of life events occurred here or there that may have thrown me a bit off track. Let’s take a look: how many posts did I make this year?
Huh. That’s oddly close. Is the high 80’s my sweet spot as far as yearly posting goes? I guess we’ll find out next year.
As I was looking over the last year I found a few articles that I was particularly proud of writing. For those of you who have only recently started following me, here’s a good look at what I’ve been up to over the last year. I just made up the link names to catch your attention, so don’t be too surprised if you click on one and you find you’ve already read it.
These stand out to me, but there are 79 more to check out. Go archive crawling, I don’t mind. And here’s to another year!
Fortunately for myself, six people heeded Wednesday’s call and took their place as noble Swiftocrats. I now have my blog topics for the next two weeks. They are as follows:
Monday the 16th: “Where is the church with respect to the balance between feeding people emotionally, mentally, and physically–and what should be done about it?” A noble request from High Emperor Swiftocraft (being the swiftest of the swift has its advantages) Debilis.
Wednesday the 18th: “Logically and rationally defend something that you are very passionately opposed to.” A needling request from Vice High Emperor Swiftocrat Neefu.
Friday the 20th:”The history of some completely mundane thing we use everyday” which I have chosen from a whole bushel of topics from Senior Low Emperor Swiftocraft Dysole. Dysole, if you want you can comment to choose exactly which mundane item you want me to write about. Otherwise I’ll sort it out myself.
Monday the 23rd: “Review books that have become movies, books that should be and what that would look like, and find a way to go on a rant! Also, anything else you would like to add on this subject!” An enthusiastic request by Junior Low Emperor Swiftocraft Webchickitty.
Wednesday the CHRISTMAS!: I forgot that Christmas falls within the next two weeks so….yeah I’m going to take a break. No blogging on Christmas.
Friday the 27th: “Explain your top 5 most convincing evidences that the earth is relatively young,” requested by Grand Vizier Swiftocraft Seabeck.
Monday the 30th:”Horny Toads and their ability to defend themselves from predators,” a suitably random request by Grand High Senior Cabin Boy Swiftocraft Suckmywake.
I regret my foolish decision to surrender my own autonomy to a band of internet commenters. Still, the Swiftocracy has spoken, and I will heed their call.
I’m starting to miss coming up with my own ideas.
You may have noticed that the blog has been fairly dead lately. Posts are sporadic. My goal has been three posts a week and these days it’s more like one. Maybe. I put some of the blame for this on my job, which takes up a lot of time. But to be honest I really do have time to write blog posts. I just can’t think of anything to write about.
I mean I’ve had thoughts. I’ve thought about writing about video game criticism as a growing dicipline (but really, when was the last time I wrote about a video game? That’s not really what this blog is about), or about some of my therios about Neanderthalls and cold weather (like this blog needs a Communications major to theorize about biology, right), or even about how to make glass from scratch (interesting, but it doesn’t have to do with much of anything and since I’ve never tested it myself…). None of the ideas I get really work very well. It’s an issue.
You might recall my recent post about generating ideas. I stand by that post. I still think that the best way to generate posts is to work in limits. The problem is that I can’t even think up any limits.
That’s where you come in.
I’m starting a new feature called “Swiftocracy!,” as in, “Rule by the swift.” The first six people to comment get to dictate what I will write about for the next two weeks. In your comment tell me what you want to hear me write about. It could be anything. You don’t even have to be specific. You could just write “BEAR CANDLES” and I’ll do my best to find something interesting about bears in regards to candles. In fact, the shorter and more limiting the writing prompt the better. This is your big chance. What do you want to hear me write about? C.S. Lewis? Young Earth Creationism? Movies? Bookbinding? Pad Thai? It can be anything you want. You have the power, but only if you are in the first six commenters. For the next two weeks this blog will be a swiftocracy.
(If you’ve never commented before then your comment may not show up right away, as I have to approve new commenters. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to check the timestamps so the first six really are the first six. If this bumps one of the regular commenters out of the top six list, I’m sorry but you just weren’t swift enough. If your comment wants me to write about something obscene or hateful it will be trashed. Even swiftocracies have balances.)
Who will rule this blog for the next two weeks? Will they be fair? Just? Wise? I don’t know. But they will be fast.So get out there! The race starts now.!
You may have noticed that there where no posts last week. That was deliberate on my part. I had been working on some writing projects of my own, and I felt that I needed to devote all my creative time and energy towards getting one of them in particular finished. Well I did finish it. So I’m back.
The project I can’t speak too much about (at this stage of development whether it will go anywhere is difficult to predict) but the gist of it that, inspired by the holiday atmosphere, I got a neat little idea for a story about Halloween. Unfortunately by it’s very nature I knew it wouldn’t work as a short story, nor as a short film. It was a very visual idea; the only way I can see it working is with either cel animation (which is way beyond my abilities) or as a graphic novel (that is, a comic book). Fortunately I still have my artist friend who did the artwork for SLOPAN. He recently told me he was interested in working on a short comic book project, I told him about my idea, and he’s interested in doing the art for it. Last week I wrote the script and sent it off to him. From here it’s just a matter of concept art, storyboarding, sketching, inking, and coloring. That will take time, but time is something we have. If we get it done it won’t be released until next October: it is a Halloween story after all.
There I go. I said I couldn’t speak too much about the project, and I’ve gone and spoken a lot. I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up, there is still a lot that could go wrong and lead to the scrapping of the project as a whole. But at least you guys have an idea what I’m up to these days.
As you may recall from previous posts, I’ve been attempting to make videos regularly in order to hone my skills. Last week I put up a video about webcomics, and this week I didn’t make a video at all. My initial plan was to make more Webcomics Nerd videos, and I still want to, but I’ve got a new video bug in my ear. So I’m proud to announce a new series of videos which will debut this Saturday. The series will tentatively be named “The Heroes We Need” unless I find a better name between now and then.
The series will highlight individuals around the world who were true heroes, devoting their lives to helping the poor and the weak. They’re the kind of people who are almost unknown outside of certain religious circles, but who all people, regardless of their religious beliefs, can take inspiration from. I know at least that they have inspired me. So I’m going to try my best to tell their story to an audience who may not have heard it before. The tentative title refers to the idea that these people may not be the heroes we know, but that they’re the heroes our society needs. At least needs far more than pop culture icons, athletes, businessmen, and politicians. Too often we value material success over compassion, competition over love, and ostentatiousness over humility and dedication. We need better heroes. Somehow I’m egotistical enough to think I can provide some.
The story of how I got this idea is a long and somewhat interesting one. You’ll be hearing about it on Wednesday.
Hey guys! Remember when I promised to have a video ready by this Saturday? Well I’ve been so busy on it I missed several updates lately. The good news is that I got it done about twenty minutes ago, which was still midnight here in Alaska! The bad news is that it’s going to take a few hours to export, and then I have to upload it to YouTube which will take who knows how long. I’d much rather get some sleep. Look for it Monday at the latest.
Since I put up my last post on envy, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. As I said envy is a terrible sin, and very caustic to the soul. However it does has a use if we’re willing to understand it, tame it, and put it to work. Envy lets us know when we feel that we lack something. It can be an alarm bell revealing hidden aches and disappointments that aren’t always clear. In other words, envy can be very helpful for introspection.
Once envy has tipped us off that we feel we lack something, the next question to ask is whether that something we lack is worth going after? Not all things that are envied should be sought, but that doesn’t mean that all things that are envied are bad. If I envy a man because of his wealth I probably should wonder why money matters so much to me, and how I can work to change my priorities. If, on the other hand, I envy a man because of his patience, insight, and strong morals then I should work to improve those own aspects of my life.
So I applied this process to myself. Why did I feel so envious of JesuOtaku of all people? What hidden sense of lack or failure did that envy reveal? It didn’t take long to find the answer. Deep down I feel like a failure for not doing more work with video. I have a great camera, great editing software, and some talent; yet I’ve done nothing to help that talent grow. Every now and then I’d try to think of a project to work on, but I’d soon forget it. Most of my ideas were beyond my reach; mainly because I don’t have actors, costumes, or props. So I was content to sit around knowing that I wanted to make videos but doing nothing. I let myself ignore my needs because trying to fulfill them is hard. Not hard as in difficult, but hard as in involving a lot of mental and physical effort. It was easier to act as if I didn’t really need make videos.
But then JesuOtaku reminded me of my dreams, and that hurt.
Well I’m going to do my best to fix that.
I’ve decided to give up on searching for some mythical “perfect” idea for a video. I’m just going to make videos. I’m going to shoot for one a week, starting next week. I’m setting the due date for Saturday. I’ll put a link to it on the blog here. However, I’m going to warn you. The video won’t be about writing, or apologetics, or most of the things I write about on the blog. As a matter of fact this first video is going to be about webcomics. I’m going to review a webcomic I enjoy. That’s all. It’ll just be me, sitting down in front of a not very interesting wall, talking about webcomics with a few still images drifting by. I don’t know if it will be interesting or even very good. But it’s something I can do. Besides, hasn’t that been what this blog is really all about? Baby steps. The man who takes his steps one inch at a time moves faster than the man who won’t take any steps at all.
So next Saturday we’ll see if I take that first little step.