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Monday, April 17, 2017

Some Reflections On One Hundred Published Posts

When I began this blog on April 15, 2011, I had some clear cut goals I wanted to accomplish with it and, in some ways, I was not certain exactly what I intended to do with it in the long run.  Now, after almost exactly six years, I am posting my one-hundredth blog post.  I have actually posted a few more than one hundred posts since I have previously posted and deleted a handful for various reasons.  I have accomplished a few things with this blog which have clearly made it worthwhile to continue and I have to say that, in the beginning, I was not exactly certain that I would make it a long term project.  As the masthead for this blog says, I had hoped that it could become "An ever growing site of non-fiction, flotsam, fiction, memoir, autobiography, literature, history, ethnography, and book reviews about Appalachia, Appalachian Culture, and how to keep it alive!!! Also,how to pronounce the word: Ap-uh-latch-uh."  

Partially because of my position on the appropriate pronunciation of the word "Appalachia", I came to know and sometimes converse with one of the best bloggers I have ever found on the Internet,  the man who prefers to be known as Greenbriar Jim who published a blog called "Wayfarin' Stranger".  The Wayfarin' Stranger blog is primarily a photographic blog of Appalachian photographs shot by a fine photographer who also happens to write some damn fine observations about Appalachia and the world.  He has not posted on that blog since March 13, 2014, although he and I have e-mailed some in the interim.  When he quit posting, the world lost a voice it needs to hear from time to time.  In some ways, Greenbriar Jim represents a large group of people who begin and later end blogs which are worthy of living much longer lives. I am also egotistical enough to say that he and I represent another minority group of Internet bloggers who want their blogs to become more than just a means to send trivial rants, autobiographical blurbs, and meaningless drivel.  I believe that in some ways both of us accomplished that.  I have referred his blog to many people who wanted to learn about Appalachia.  

I have also received a few cogent messages either through the blog comments section or by e-mail from people who also obviously wish to see the Appalachian lifestyle and culture continue for the foreseeable future of the world.  I have connected with a few relatives of some of my long dead friends whom I have written about.  I have accumulated 49 followers as of this post which is more than many bloggers ever have.  I naturally have no idea how many of those people continue to read my blog.  Some may have dropped off long ago but forgotten to delete me from their reading lists.  That is the way of blogs and blog readers.  I also have a few on my reading list which I haven't read in far too long.  The blog has had a total of 228,500 page views as of this sentence.  The most page views it has ever had in a month was 20,917 in April 2015.  Most months it has far fewer and I have no idea why for a couple of months it flirted with the 20,000 page view mark.  A few posts such as Appalachia What's In A Name, One Appalachian Man's Opinion Of Gun Control, and The Family Cemetery And Burial Practices In Appalachia are consistently the greatest recipients of attention.  In all three cases I believe I understand the reasons for their popularity.  Appalachia is the homeland for hundreds of thousands of displaced and urban Appalachians who long to come home to the hills whether those hills be in Kentucky, Alabama, West Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia, or Tennessee.  That explains why that post has more than 61,000 page views and leads the pack every month.  The blog post on gun control generates strong opinions on both sides of the issue and my side happens to favor strong gun control and rational use of guns as tools not adrenaline generators, substitutes for solid self esteem, or psychological splints for limber penises.  That explains why the gun control post has generated more than 48,000 page views.  In the Appalachian psyche, there is no more important place in all the world than the little family cemetery where each of us has buried our ancestors, siblings, children, friends, and other loved ones.  That explains why the post on family cemeteries has generated more than 24,500 page views and has been quoted extensively in a masters degree thesis at a major university.  There are also other posts which get little attention for reasons I do not clearly understand.  Posts on Appalachian Heroes like Florence and Sam Reece, Albert Stewart, and Cratis Williams receive little or no regular visits and all of them are some of the most important people to ever live and work in the region.  

The blog also brought me a phone call from one of the more famous people I have ever written about here and that person bought me lunch one day so we could talk.  Because that person is a major representative of the most conservative branch of Appalachian Studies and I have friends who have fought loudly and often for many political issues in the region and the world, they referred to me as "pretty radical" and I considered it a compliment although it was probably not intended that way.  I have been contacted by one potential author who interviewed me for a book she was working on about Appalachia.  To date, I have not seen that book or heard from that writer again.  Maybe I disappointed them, who knows.  I am sometimes contacted by people who are doing genealogical research on the Hicks family and wish to question me about my writing or question my ideas in general about the ancestry of most of the Hicks' in Eastern Kentucky.  I love a good, respectful intellectual discourse.  If you fall into one of those groups of people, feel free to contact me at any time.  My e-mails and telephones are listed and can be found on many sites on the internet.  I answer all of them every time they ring or a message pops up.  I have been able to review a few books for some of my writer friends and I hope I managed to sell a few copies for them.  I have managed to cast some of my literary bread upon the waters and I hope that some of it has floated onto fertile ground.  I sometimes find my writing both here and in other venues quoted, misquoted, and even appropriately cited.  If I have generated honest, open thought, I have succeeded.  If I have led someone to work to preserve Appalachia and Appalachian Culture, I have been extremely successful.  I am looking forward to the next six years and the next one hundred posts.  I hope you are too.  

As I reflect on what I can do with this blog in the next five or six years, I would love to continue to write about Appalachian Heroes, Appalachian Values, and Appalachian History.  I suspect that I will post less of my fiction on this blog since it has been published in other venues of late and I hope to continue to do so.  

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