Y’know, I never set out to publish a blog per se. It’s not really my intention even now, to be quite honest.
The thing is that I’ve always found it somewhat cathartic to keep a journal of some kind or another. Once upon a time I’d scribble my thoughts down with a pen or pencil onto the pages of a bound book. In particular, I like handmade books and I have dozens of them on a bookshelf in my guest room, some completely filled and others not-yet-begun. Each journal seems to have held a particular purpose or met a specific niche, usually based upon whatever was important to me in my life at that time. Typically, some pages are filled with angst while others are celebratory; still others are literary stabs or analytical musings. The one thing they’ve all had in common is that they were my private thoughts, not really intended for public consumption. And although I’ve written professionally for much of my career as a creative professional, my journals are normally uncrafted thoughts that are scrawled down as they come to me in little more than a stream-of-conscious outpouring. I pay little attention to sentence structure or go back to correct misspellings or errors of syntax… that, in fact, would be counterproductive to the flow of thoughts. Each of my journals follows a set of rules – for instance, one of my “visual” journals was comprised entirely of sketches done with a permanent pen. No words whatsoever and no initial rough outlines in pencil: simply begin an observation, draw it, and go on, leaving the page to develop as it flowed from my hand, warts and all. I approached another visual journal similarly self-restricted, with the imagery done entirely in watercolor; I did allow myself the use of written language in this book – however, it had to be lettered in paint with a #10 red sable brush. These restrictions probably seem odd to some – perhaps most – but they helped me to focus on what was important. Oftentimes, what is most “important” is also something quite simple, yet frustratingly elusive. Self-imposed rules help me to keep it simple.
This blog began life – and in complete candor, continues life as a personal journal, and the random nature of the narrative thread certainly attests to that. Moving from the handwritten page to the digital was not a really new experiment, but its certainly different than typing out entries and saving them to a Word file. In particular, this journal becomes in some sense a form of performance art because it’s available for others – anyone with an internet connection, really – to view and read and comment upon. Blogs offer readers and writers a sort of voyeuristic window and an opportunity to live vicariously through the words and images and thoughts of others. In the past, this delegated empathy most usually came from following the novels of published authors or the antics of a public figure, the escapades of sports figures, etc. Indeed, it’s a strange thing to find that people are interested in normal other people; stranger still to discover that so many are interested in esoteric hobbies, attentions, attractions, skills, musings, and curiosities.
I write The Early Morning Cyclist for me, as a means of reflecting upon one particularly esoteric hobby: riding and saving vintage road bicycles. It’s gratifying to find that this diary-of-sorts has connected me so unexpectedly with others of similar ilk and interest. In 2012, The Early Morning Cyclist had readers from 95 different countries, the majority of whom hail from English speaking lands: the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. But I’m always a little amazed to glance through the site statistics and find that there are readers from Iceland, Thailand, Greece, Denmark, Germany, and so forth. Perhaps the internet really is a democratizing mode of connection!
I’ve also found it curious which of my random postings have generated the most interest and readership. In rank order, the most popular posting in 2012 had to do with a 1973 Raleigh Carlton Super Course; this was followed in close order by the 1976 Centurion Super LeMans, a Peugeot Touraine, and a 1988 Schwinn Voyageur touring bike. There must also be a lot of interest in adding front rando bags because the addition of my Swift Ozette Rando Bag rounded out the top five most popular pages on The Early Morning Cyclist.
WordPress suggests that writers interested in building more traffic consider writing further on these topics. Clearly, from a marketing perspective there must be something of interest to others: they’ve used search engines to come from all corners of the earth and landed on these five pages. This is all I’ll say on that subject: The Super Course was a nice bike but ultimately didn’t fit my needs at the time; the Super LeMans was a great looking bike but it was heavy, klunky, and slow; the Touraine was an interesting oddity and eventually wound up in the hands of an appreciative rider; the Voyageur didn’t fit me as well as I would’ve liked and is now in Boston – I’m happy to say that a fine restorer has done some beautiful work on it; I like my front rando bag and I like Swift Industries. And in terms of a follow up, that, as they say, is that.
I’m not interested in traffic or sponsors or advertisers really. The Early Morning Cyclist is continues to be my personal cycling journal and I’m happy that others find it interesting in some small way. The pages on my book shelf continue to grow as will the entries and photographs for this particular interest. Ultimately the rules haven’t changed and I won’t be changing anything on here unless my own interests change – as they certainly do, and will.