I had some trouble this morning thinking of the word “slump.” I had to ferret it out from among other, similar words stashed away in my mental file cabinet. Rough patch? Hard going? Personal downer? I finally rememberd “slump” and immediately thought of why I couldn’t recall it. I usually have a memory issue when something contains an unpleasant association. I can never remember the names of people I don’t like. It’s just as bad as it sounds. If somebody is really, really annoying to me I may never be able to call them by their name.
“Slump” is a word that is associated in my mind with sports. No word in this earthly plane carries as much negative baggage with me as “sports.” So “slump” just ended up in the recycling pile along with high-fives and jocks. But what I was trying to say, using the word “slump,” was that, as a blogging type of guy, I have tried to blog several times over the years, always launching from Belfast Shipyards with a song on my lips and the sun shining in my heart. But a few days later I’m at the bottom of the icy Atlantic. The slump begins. I start to question that very reason that I started blogging. I start to question the whole idea of blogging (“What foolishness is this!?”). I look at the stats which tell me that nobody is reading my blog (not even the captive audience I enlist to read it as friends and family) and I start to avoid the whole idea. “I’ll get it tomorrow,” I say. Then tomorrow rolls around and I say “tomorrow” again. And again. And again.
The next thing you know, I’m not blogging. I look at a few busy days of furious activity, and then weeks of nothing, and I’m ashamed in a way that makes me want to just stop. I could phone a friend and ask if THEY intend to read the blog–but what’s the point of that? Those people, friends though they may be, are not my intended audience. It makes no sense to need this kind of approval so much. But I do need some kind of feedback (or I think I do) and if I don’t get it then the evil gnomes who inhabit my psyche will happily explain that nobody gives a hoot about my silly hobby. I should shut up.
Enter my guru. I don’t really believe in gurus– I just don’t like the very idea of some all-powerful, all-knowing guy who is supposed to have the answers and deserves unswerving love and obedience. I want to BE that guy, but I’m not willing to do the work and acquire my own guy. Mostly. But I do know of one who embodies all the blogging virtues that I would like to display, if only I could.
I’m referring, of course, to Shamus Young. Despite the unlikely name, Shamus is as real a person as you are going to find on the internet, and his on-line footprint is so large it defies belief. The guy started out as a little punk of a blogger, but he grew. He began his journey writing a simple cartoon combining Dungeons and Dragons with The Lord of the Rings. Genius in that, I think. He then wrote a wonderful autobiography that could (and should) have been a total drag but transcended mere “about me-ism” and ventured off into the realm of good stuff on the internet. The man is a super-genius, obviously. And the fact that the society around him really hosed him around for quite a few years is something that I (and any member of the nerdy tribe) can relate to. Get ’em, Shamus! Yeah!
But you really need to visit his incredible blogging landscape in order to appreciate the immensity of this guy and his work. His blog is the very model of something from nothing. He took the electrons floating in the air and built up an empire. It’s not a truly awesome, epic, giant empire of gold–it’s a geeky empire of blogging but it’s an empire. He actually has spun his blog into becoming an author, and a game designer, and a kind of mini-celebrity within his chosen (chosen?) field. Young actually quit his day job, based on his unbelievable creative productivity, and I don’t see why he can’t just continue to climb up the internet ladder from “niche big deal” to “industry figure” to “minor celebrity– no caveats.” Now that’s something.
Something I can learn from. I intend to steal as many ideas from Mr. Young as I can manage to stuff into a sack and drag away. I have a lot of plans for this thing, but my biggest plan would be to gather about me a group of lunatics who like what I like, and genuinely enjoy sharing what they’ve learned and supporting each other in the endeavor. Yeah. That would be good. That’s where my guru is now, and all I can do is follow in his footsteps, if I’m able.