*

*
MoPOP at dusk, Seattle

Friday, May 15, 2015

One million

One million (1,000,000) or one thousand thousand is the natural number following 999,999 and preceding 1,000,001. 
The word is derived from the early Italian millione (milione in modern Italian), from mille, "thousand", plus the augmentative suffix - one.
In scientific notation, it is written as 1×106 or 106.If the width of a human finger is 2.2225 cm (7⁄8 in), then a million fingers lined up would cover a distance of approximately 22 km (14 mi). If a person walks at a speed of 4 km/h (2.5 mph), it would take them approximately five and a half hours to reach the end of the fingers. Wiki
Barring an unlooked for apocalyptic catastrophe of your choosing, by the time you read this post, the Blue Heron Blast will have been looked at over one million times. I consider this at least a minor  a major personal achievement, I have been pushing these "blasted" keystrokes for over seven and a half years, day after day, night after night, through all kinds of searing sun and frigid cold, with no real plan in mind, except to keep the both of us entertained the best I know how. And to show off my muscular intellect, of course. No matter how you slice it, a million is big.

This blog has been read on every continent, in near every metropolitan city and in the rural veldt; from far off Ulaanbaatar to my steady readership in Brazil, from the Mississippi delta to the South Pole. Thanks to Feedjit I see that these aren't just errant shots looking for porn, well not all of them anyway, the readership comes back again and again to sample the daily fare and for that I am truly grateful.

I was talking to a friend about the blog the other day and he told me that I wrote for the common man and woman and I think that there is no better compliment I can receive. I try not to sound like an intellectual asshole, to gratuitously smite you with a sesquipedalian vocabulary √° la George Will big worded vocabulary like the sap with the bow tie, but I do try to raise issues that should concern all good and free thinking citizens of this slightly messed up planet, as Casey Stengel once said, as best as I sees 'em.

Was it John or Yoko that said that woman was the n*gger of the world? I forget, you look it up, I'm busy right now. About time we got more audience participation. (Since Grumpy retired and I pissed off Kerry this thing has been a big echo chamber.) In any case, if woman is the nasty n word of the world, the blogger is the lowest scullery maid in the whole Downton Abbey frigging universe. According to Helen, blogging may not even technically qualify as writing.

When I meet real writers and they ask me what I do, beads of sweat start pearling up on my forehead. After a moment or two of stammering and backpedaling I sheepishly admit to the blast and the results are fairly predictable. The great novelist Ann Patchett once told me,"Sorry honey, I don't do blogs." And I have heard far worse.

I went to a Fallbrook Writer's Read the other night at the library. A friend's wife, Beth Newcomer, was reading and discussing the art of the short story. Beth is a fine short story writer and is in line for a literary prize called the Pushcart. Wish I knew more about it but I don't stay up on these things.

I have read at these sorts of events a time or two but usually leave fairly depressed. I went the other night prepared to hate everybody and everything but unfortunately all of the writers were pretty damn good and entertaining.

The late, great Ralph Gleason's nephew even delivered a music review, and got to insert a time honored cliché, he left the Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea concert and it was like coming down totally spent after great sex. Cheers, Nate. Ralph would be proud. People were very supportive of each other's work and the quality of the offerings was honestly very high.

I had my first sci fi short story published in the late 1970's. Chad Greensburg submitted it without my knowing to some obscure Oregon weekly. I wrote technical stuff for a few magazines over the decades.  Last few years I have written some educational course material and then there's this here blast.

Took a while to free up and find my voice, something that often happens if you work at something long and hard enough, with work and repetition and a modicum of talent. Beth talked painfully about the three hundred and ninety or so rejection notices she has had to suffer and endure. Writing can be like walking a high wire without a net, especially if you are an angst ridden sort exposing your inside stuff.

Nice thing about a blog, if you don't like it, and some don't, you don't have to read it. Skirt around all the rejection business, not that I personally don't have the need for popular recognition and acclaim.

Anyway I'm not really all that comfortable with what I call the Updike, Oates, patches on the elbows of the corduroy jacket set. All the attendant pathos and pain, the oeuvre's practitioners a bit too smug and self congratulatory for a country hayseed like me.

Not to mention florid, I got to hear about the sun's chariot cascading across stormy skies the other night and feeling a skoche uncomfortable, slunk down in my seat. Rosy fingered Don picked up his vodka martini...Maybe I'll never make it as a serious writer. I try not to take things too damn seriously. Better to be read online by 800 to a 1000 people a day than to be lying around forgotten in some highbrow literary journal anyway.

*
The truth is that I think that we as writers, and I think that 5362 blogposts of varying lengths qualifies me as such, are in some ways defined by our readership. Dave Barry is Dave Barry, his readers won't let him be Edna St. Vincent Malaise.

Erma Bombeck might have wanted to drink absinthe on the left bank with Nabakov and Hemingway and write about existential angst but you get good at something and people get sort of uncomfortable when you try on a different hat. At this point I am a snarky satirist with a decent cut fastball, I may only have three good pitches but they usually manage to get the job done.

What would make me happiest is to find the time and space to write fiction again, something I truly love and can't seem to make time for, incessantly reporting on the ins and outs of the world at large as I do. You can say things in a fictional setting that you would never be able to communicate or get away with in the real world. But you have to make time and you have to also let stories percolate and I am a 'let her rip, first take" sort of author.

*
Many of you have been there from the beginning and some thanks are in order for the encouragement. First to Leslie, my greatest supporter and critic. Then, in no particular order, to my oldest and most faithful readers, Grumpy, Kerry, Sanoguy, Ken, Helen, Randy, Barbara, Nancy, Beth, Corrie, Renee, Doug, Retha, my mom (a longtime editor who loved my writing), Uncle Norm, Vlad, Cam, Cummy, Roy, Bijou, DeGoff, Brett, Denis, Kazuo, Dominic, Isak, Bill L, Warren, Ida, Lynne, Kathie, Shawn, Ricardo, Richard, Quilley, Hudg, Buzz, Liz, Pahoa Joe, Ted, Edgar, Deb, Genser, Mark, Bradford, cavewoman, Kim, Wanda, BigMike, WildBill, Wicki, Ron, Big Dave, Gary, Jonathan, Nora, Jon, Manring, KB, Loughlin, Tracy, Lena and Ron, Stan (both of them), Noreen, Jeff M, JB and Gena, LKS, Stoops, Nitza, Milch, Drew, Kent, bri, Ralph, MMWB, Window Dancer, Lew, Dixon, TRZ, Bruce, Carol, the unknown reader from Sheridan, Oregon, all the lurkers, Rod, Argonza, all those readers I forgot to mention.

Thanks to all of my family and friend's for supporting me, in this and every other way. Thanks to all of you out there. I believe that I have an incessant tribal neurosis about keeping my friends and cohorts close to me and this blog allows me to do that in some strange way.

Many have asked me why I don't monetize or advertise something I obviously work so hard on? My answer is simple; I am afraid of sullying my work product and blunting my punches. Money doesn't have to enter every equation. Thanks to google for providing me this free workspace to write.

*
People wander into the Blast zone for different reasons, Beth loves the photos and hates the politics, Noreen likes the music, Tracy likes the politics, most of you enjoy my personal stories, everyone gets a kick out of hearing me kvetch and bitch. Helen likes the food stuff. It seems like people get a lot of personal pleasure in having me regale you with stories about my getting my ass kicked at black jack.

This is a pretty easy garden to tend now. It basically runs itself. I took six months off and drastically cut my production a year ago and it was the best thing I could have done. Went from 2000 readers a day to the present total but the old workload was unsustainable. Now I write when I want to and when I get the urge, it's more fun and fortunately I am a spieler and I get the urge often. I do this mostly for me, and as I have said from time to time, it does keep me from blowing my brains out.

A writer's got to write. If you printed out my output from day one you'd have twenty or thirty books, I thought about having the Blast printed and bound about three years ago and it was too huge and impossible even then. If I am destined to forever lack literary credibility, well, so be it. Can't guarantee another million views or another eight years but I do guarantee that I will always give you my best shot and thank you once again for being on board with me. Everything after a million is gravy.

Robert Sommers
Santa Barbara, CA




19 comments:

Anonymous said...

You do have literary acclaim from all of your readers, that is what counts! I don't hate the politics I do skim that section and learn a lot since i don't watch the news. The photo's are terrific. When at my computer I say "wonder what Robert is doing?" and log in. Always entertaining. Beth C

Anonymous said...

I enjoy it all.

Isak said...

Is it a thousand million next? You DID this so doing it a thousand more times don' seem like such a task, Dude. Just keep on writing. We all love it out here. Can't wait to read the blog which counts that first billion...Congrats, Robert. Well done!

Paul Parker said...

Congratulations Robert! This is a serious accomplishment for sure. I was apparently number 1000,010.

Anonymous said...

Hey, congrats on the million bro!

;>)

Jon Harwood said...

U kan rite gud.

Helen Bauch McHargue said...

Mucho congratulations on keeping so many people interested and coming back for more and more. Thanks for my favorites, the food stuff but also for provoking thought and being so open and passionate about such a wide variety of subjects...from your ophthalmologist to politics. You are consistently a great pleasure to read.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Robert – I’ll be around for the next million!

RW

North County Film Club said...

Congratulations, Robert. I'm proud to be among the listed. I knew you could do it even if I didn't send it to 10 friends. I think all my 10 friends already read "The Blast".
Barbara

WICKI VAN DE VEER said...

Robert....you turn yourself inside out on a regular basis for your eeaders. This reveals your humanness in a way that, I think, allows us all a path to the acceptqnce of our own. I like it all...when too rushed or tired to read, the photos always get me. Then, I find I am pulled into the rest. Thanks for writing with an honesty that often stuns...always entertains and informs. Aloha, Wicki

Ken Seals said...

Congratulations Robert! 1M is a great milestone.
(I think it's spelled skosh, from the Japanese sukoshi bastardized by US service men who have served in Asia as skoshi).
Ken - your volunteer editor

Anonymous said...

Robert
Congrats my friend! I cannot believe it has been 7.5 years and I have read 20-30 books by Robert Sommers. The wok the dog sidebar made me laugh and cry, "the dog was for my own consumption" yikes

mj

Anonymous said...

You keep on writing I will keep on reading simple equation. Let's have a catch soon.
Deli guy.

Sanoguy said...

Dittos, BH!!!!

Kent Borsch said...

Hi Robert,
Thanks for sharing, now if you only had a dollar for each view.......

Charles Lyon said...

Congrats Robert.....an amazing accomplishment!!

Douglas Keller said...

Wow...a million pages...think of all the trees you've saved!

Kerr A. Lott said...

Congratulations Robert, Blur Heron Blast is much appreciated. And you are a writer. A good one.

Anonymous said...

dear Robert... thanks for thanking me first after Leslie of course, really i don't deserve it since i've been a stranger to these parts for such a spell..don't like to think of myself as retired, just on extended hiatus or sabbatical...despite this and everything else please realize, to quote the Duke (Ellington, not Wayne), we do love you madly....yr pal Grumpy