Generally, I like to read what I've written. But the further back I go, the less I like it.
The stuff is either not as good as I thought it was at the time, or better than what I'm doing now.
Though I think I have mined a pretty solid communication book out of the more than 2,100 Writing Boots blog posts over eight years, the digging was downright discouraging in places, and had diminishing returns every year I went back.
• Reading some posts, I couldn't figure out what the hell I was talking about. Even accounting for forgotten context and the topicality of a daily blog, incomprehensibility is very, very bad. Nobody likes to be befuddled by inside jokes—especially their writer!
• I can be pedantic, and too clever by half. That's probably the most common way I'd pan Writing Boots posts. I find some tiny thing wrong with a bit of communication, and use far more rhetorical armament than necessary to bombard it as a cathedral of hypocrisy or imbecility and blow it to smithereens.
• I should get out more. Or I should blog less. And since I don't know how to blog less, I should get out more, and dig up more genuine stories to share in place of those pedantic opinions.
• What a poser! I would have you believe that I am a simultaneously serious thinker, freewheeling journalist, modern-day adventurer and father of the year. Which I am, of course. So why all the preening?
• I write, "of course" far, far too often.
• I was a dick eight years ago. I think I'm less of a dick today. But I must still be something of a dick. When I started Writing Boots, generating traffic was a serious goal. The only way I knew how to drum it up was by the P.T. Barnum method: "If you want to draw a crowd, start a fight." Especially in those early years, I started fights with everybody—from major PR associations to minor media relations people who happened to send me a stupid news release. Some of those victims had it coming. Others did not. But it's no fun to read your own writing and ask, "Murray, who do you think you are?"
• After 24 years of professional writing, I still haven't figured out what I do best. The curmudgeon act gave me an identity, especially early on. But what people overwhelmingly appreciate is more open-hearted stuff. I've known this for a long time. But I still write mostly the former, and starve readers for the latter. (Perhaps this makes you appreciate it more? Hell if I know.)
• I love myself too much. "He was made much of by his mother," was the old phrase they used to refer to guys like me. It's sort of the worst thing you can say about a person, and again: It's devastating to say to yourself as you read writing that you once thought was sufficiently charming to overcome the pride of its writer. And to realize—and know your dead mother realizes it too—it's not.
And despite all those awful faults, I still I have a loyal readership here at Writing Boots.
To all those who have stuck with me all these years, sincere thanks for your forgiveness. And to all those who haven't—I do understand.