Yesterday I wrote my 7,000th blog post on Grin and Bare It. My very first post, published on November 18, 2008, read:
Greetings! Welcome to my little corner of the world.
My name is Matthew Dicks. I am a writer.
In the spring of 2008, under the guidance of my remarkable agent, Taryn Fagerness, I sold my first novel, Something Missing, to Broadway Books, an imprint of Doubleday, and thus made one of my childhood dreams come true.
Slated for publication in July of 2009, I thought that a blog like this would be a good opportunity to connect with readers and writers, in order to discuss the writing process, the publishing process, my experience in the world of literary agents and editors, and answer any questions that people may have about the book, my life as a reader and a writer, my latest projects, and anything else that may come to mind.
I’m currently working on my second novel as well as finishing the final editing and proofreading of Something Missing. In addition to fiction, I write poetry, essays, and opinion pieces and have published them in major newspapers and journals throughout the United States.
I look forward to sharing my thoughts, experiences, and my ideas with you!
It seems like a million years ago. And it wasn’t my 7,000th post overall.
Prior to Grin and Bare It, I published on two different blogs.
My blogging journey began on December 10, 2005, with my very first post on the now defunct blog Perpetual Perpetuity.
Originally this blog began as an assignment for a class at Trinity College on blogging. Under the tutelage of our professor, Colin McEnroe, we spent a semester reading and studying blogs and reporting on our results (in part) on blogs of our own. I was sure that I would hate blogging, and more importantly, I worried that it would take me away from my more serious work. I’ve worked on a novel that is probably about half finished, and I have a potential book deal with a company that publishes educational texts designed for teachers. Both of these projects should be consuming what little free time I possess, yet here I am, writing this, reformatting my blog, and getting ready to blog in a way that is much more personal and much less academic. “Your blog writes you” was a quote from one of my classmates last semester, and it turned out to be true. I tried to ditch this damn thing, but it keeps coming back like a bad penny.
So here goes. Hope you enjoy.
That blog was removed from the internet after a small band of soulless cowards attempted to destroy my teaching career by using the contents of that blog, manipulating it in a variety of ways, and using it against me in a townwide, anonymous, libelous smear campaign.
I saved the content before deleting that blog, of course.
The last post on the day I took that blog down was this:
I see Elysha half-naked every day! All the way naked, too!
The photographer at Saturday’s wedding informed me that lingerie photos are the latest wedding craze. Brides are giving their future husbands photo albums of themselves wearing lingerie as a wedding gift.
I don’t get it.
Can’t the average husband expect to see his wife in lingerie from time to time, and if so, why the need for a photo album? If a bride is so willing to pose in lingerie for a stranger with a camera, isn’t it reasonable to expect that she will occasionally don a negligee or teddy in the presence of the love of her life?
Elysha gave me a new golf bag and a sand wedge on our wedding day, and this was better than a slew of half-naked photos.
I can see Elysha half-naked (and totally naked) every day. I don’t need a photo album to remind me of how good she looks.
As you can see, not much has changed since 2007.
My second blog, Conform Me Not, ran from June 25, 2007 through November 1, 2008, when I decided to switch from a purely blogging platform to a website that supported blogging. By then I had published my first novel and realized that I needed a place for readers to land that included more than just a blog.
Conform Me Not still exists online at conformmenot.typepad.com. Many of the links are now broken and images don’t always load, but it remains in all its ancient glory.
From May 14, 2008 (the day we discovered that Elysha was pregnant) through December 20, 2015, I also wrote to my children every day on a blog called Greetings Little One. That blog was eventually converted by the great Kathryn Gonnerman into six enormous tomes that sit on a bookshelf in our dining room and are read by the kids often. That blog still exists at greetingslittleone.typepad.com.
I am so grateful for the last 17 years of blog posts. Not only have I created a tangible, written record of my life, but blogging has proven to be an excellent training ground for the magazine columns and newspaper pieces that I write now.
It’s also forced me to write every single day, though admittedly that may have happened with or without a blog.
I’ve written every day since I was 17 years-old, so skipping a day without blogging was unlikely.
Also, when you’re required to say something every day, you get really good at generating ideas. Listening carefully. Reading a lot. Monitoring your own internal reactions to things. Finding stories in your everyday life.
I’ve also met an enormous number of people through blogging. Some have gotten to know me online, and others have become friends in real life.
My blog is also a wonderful way to stay connected to friends, especially those that have moved away. Though we can’t talk every day, many read every day and send me emails or messages through social media that keep us connected.
Yes, blogging also created an enormous problem for me back in 2007, but even that will likely work out well. I’m still teaching, of course, in the very same school in the very same classroom as that fateful day when I discovered their cowardice and avarice. Their attempt to destroy my career failed, and none of them have found the courage to apologize to me or take me on again.
I’m also working on a memoir about that time in my life, including revelations about the people involved and the rottenness of their actions that have never before been revealed.
It’s quite the story. Hopefully, it’ll sell and make me a lot of money.
In addition to all of that, so many amazing things have happened as a result of putting so much of my life into writing for anyone to read.
Here are just a few:
In the fall of 2016, I wrote a post advising Hillary Clinton to take certain strategic steps in her next two debates with Donald Trump. That post made it into the hands of a senior staffer on the Clinton campaign and was passed around amongst her people. I don’t know if Clinton herself read it, but I like to pretend that she did.
Sadly, she didn’t use any of my advice.
In June of 2010, I wrote a post about the Blackstone Valley sniper. When I was a child, a pair of men spent almost two years firing bullets into windows in my hometown and the adjacent towns, forcing us to turn out our lights at night and crawl under the picture window as we passed through the living room. We lived in fear for a long time. There was a total of eleven shootings from 1986-1987 (in addition to acts of arson and burglaries), and though no one was killed, four people were wounded in the attacks.
For a time, the National Guard patrolled the streets at night.
The two men guilty of the shootings were sentenced to prison in 1989 and were released on probation in 2008.
Five years after writing that post, the girlfriend of one of the shooters saw the post and wrote to me, complaining about my disparaging remarks about her boyfriend, who was turning his life around.
It was an interesting exchange of ideas.
In April of 2011, I wrote about my desire to become a professional best man. I declared myself ready and able if anyone needed my services.
Since I wrote that post, four grooms and one bride have attempted to hire me (scheduling prevented those bookings from happening), and a fifth groom actually hired me for his wedding but canceled later on.
I’ve also been contacted by three different reality television producers about the possibility of doing a show in which I would be a professional best man at a series of weddings. None of these shows came to fruition.
In 2015, comedian Kevin Hart wrote to me upon the release of his film The Wedding Ringer, in which he plays a professional best man. He kindly acknowledged that it was my idea first.
In 2012, I wrote about my desire to find my first library book. I recalled a few details about the book – the color of the cover and a few details about the plot – but nothing terribly specific.
Two years later a reader correctly identified the book. A couple of months later another reader sent it to me. It now sits on my bookshelf.
In September of 2016, I wrote about Mrs. Carroll, the woman who taught me how to tie my shoes in kindergarten.
One day later, I was informed by a reader that she is 94 years old and still going strong.
By the end of that day, I had been given her home address by another reader. I sent her a letter telling her how much she meant to me and how I think about her every time I tie my shoes, and on the last day of my school year, I received a letter from her, detailing specific memories about me from my year in kindergarten.
In March of 2016, I wrote about telling a story at The Moth about my former elementary school principal, Fred Hartnett, for whom a new middle school in my hometown is now named. A few days after writing about the story, Mr. Hartnett, retired for more than 20 years, contacted me, and we’ve since exchanged several emails.
In February of this year, I wrote about my former McDonald’s manager, Jalloul Montacer, and the important lessons he taught me while working together. After posting, several readers managed to locate Jalloul, now in Texas, and I’ve since reconnected with him.
Clara has started reading my blog every day. It has resulted in some fantastic conversations and some eye opening revelations for her about her father.
She is currently my favorite reader.
These are just a few of the many remarkable things that have happened because I write and publish every single day.
I guess it makes sense. When thousands of people read your writing each day, connections are going to be made. Miraculous things will occasionally happen. You’re going to occasionally touch hearts and minds.
Annoy your fair share of people, too.
But even that can be fun.
Thanks so much for reading every day. I’m honored and humbled by the thousands of people who read my posts here and on the social media outlets where my blog posts go every day.
But even if I had just a dozen readers, I’d still be writing every day. The rewards, audience or no audience, have made it more than worth my time.