Rich started writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as music critic for the symphony and opera seasons. Originally from Granite City, IL, he graduated from Simpson College with a degree in music education. In 1984 he received his MA in Music ...
Rich started writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as music critic for the symphony and opera seasons. Originally from Granite City, IL, he graduated from Simpson College with a degree in music education. In 1984 he received his MA in Music Education from Truman State. Now retired, Rich enjoyed reading, writing music and short essays. He is the director of Kirksville Community Chorus.
MCKNOTES A YEAR IN REVIEW
This is, of course, not the beginning of the year, but it does mark one year after I started writing this blog. According to the Daily Express, the number of segments of my blog is different my tally. I’ve kept rather meticulous records, though, and this is number one hundred by my count.
Last year I wrote to Jason Hunsicker, our distinguished editor. I suggested that I’d like to start a project aimed at keeping my mind agile as my years advance. I asked if I could write restaurant reviews. I proposed that I would write once a month about area restaurants. I figured I could at least write a year’s worth of articles. It was several weeks before I received an answer from Mr. Hunsicker.
I met Jason some time earlier when he wrote a wonderful article about me. He came to interview me and spent a good deal of time putting together his article. Frankly, he wrote in such glowing terms that it became my mission to try to live up to his kind and flattering assessment. When I finally got an answer from him regarding my restaurant reviews, he suggested that I write twice a week about anything I wanted to write.
I found that a bit daunting, and knew that it would require much more effort than my original proposal. Clearly there aren’t enough area restaurants to support two articles a week for a very long period of time.
Shortly after I started, I realized that I was in dangerous territory. Writing restaurant reviews indicated that I would evaluate establishments where I dined. Right away I knew that I couldn’t write anything negative about local business run by people doing the best they can to provide a service, create jobs and enhance the availability of necessary services for the community.
I quickly abandoned my original idea, though not completely. I wrote some reviews but avoided negativity altogether. I may still review some restaurants from time to time, but I saw the writing on the wall if I should continue down my original path. I originally thought I would visit restaurants and write my reviews incognito. That simply cannot be done.
In the introduction to my blog, I wrote that I would talk about things that affected my life. That provided a much broader canvas on which to paint my words. This whole experience has taught me a great deal. I’ve enjoyed some wonderful successes. After I had been writing for a while, I got a note from the editor that he would share my blog with other newspapers connected to the larger corporation, and now my articles appear on line in eight NE Missouri newspapers. Quite a few of my articles appear in the printed version of the Daily Express. I don’t know if that’s true of the other newspapers or not, but I suspect that my writing only finds its way to the Kirksville Daily Express in its printed format.
Jason has told me that my writing garners a number of comments. I suspect he takes on the position of cheerleader, encouraging me with that and other ego boosting tidbits. He never really told me that the comments were positive. I just choose to believe that they were. I’ve always heard one should never ask the question if he doesn’t know the answer. Call me chicken. If I’m managing to get some feedback, it’s plenty of indication the people are, at the very least, reading what I write.
I often run into people in the community who tell me they read my blog. Some say they read it all the time. Some even say they appreciate it. I enjoy writing and have learned a great deal since I started. I have a proofreader that helps me correct my errors. We have a standing joke about running out of red ink, so clearly, my writing is not flawless. That was part of the point of writing the blog in the first place. I want to always be learning something. It’s difficult to find one’s own typographical errors. Besides that, I often use wrong verb tenses, pronouns, or repeat words too often. Life is a learning process and I don’t want to ever be left out of that part of life.
I’ve handed along a number of recipes. Most of them are just cooking assembly tips. These seem to be especially well received. I do enjoy cooking, and much of the time, manage to lay a table that is at least satisfactory.
I’ve written about music, which is a huge part of my life. I’ve also used my military experience, limited as it was, to express or clarify various ideas. I, for the most part, avoid political issues. It’s not that I don’t have convictions about the various issues that become controversial. I use the old adage one hears about conversation at dinner parties: Stay away from politics and religion. Once in a while I step “out of the box,” but for the most part, I know that the adage probably protects me from putting my foot in my mouth.
I’ve also written about various characters who are a part of my life. Some are relatives, and some are friends whom I find interesting and inspiring.
I have found that I don’t like coming up against the wire. My aim has been to write two articles a week, as requested. As Jason explained it, it’s best to get one’s readership built up and then not to disappoint them by dropping out of sight.
I do my best. Sometimes I send in articles that I know aren’t very good. At other times I’m quite happy with how things turn out. Lately I’ve gotten a bit ahead of schedule and can preset my segments to appear a week later or whenever I choose. As long as I’m ahead of schedule I do relatively well, but once I get behind, the pressure of keeping up can be really daunting.
If you read my blog, thank you. I’m always open to comments, but hope they will be constructive, helpful or otherwise useful in a positive way. I don’t know how long I can keep up with this. I read other blogs written by people who have a different style of writing. This is helpful for me. Rachel Rulen writes about bicycle riding. I recently met her. She is definitely an enthusiast. I have been given, or perhaps taken, such a broad view of what to write about. I particularly admire Rachel’s ability to concentrate on a relatively narrow topic so prolifically. For her, I don’t think she would call it narrow subject at all.
Sometimes I do get stuck and think there’s just nothing left to say, but that only lasts until the next idea pops into my head, and then I’m off and, well, writing. I like to read too, so that takes some time. I also write music, which really requires focus. I correspond with a number of people. Some of them I write to daily by email, but I write some actual letters as well.
To tell the truth, I’m not sure how I ever had the endurance to work full time. I’ve been retired for several years, and I think I’m as busy as I’ve ever been. I’m not really sure where the word “blog” came from. I don’t think it was actually a word when I grew up. We called it a journal or a diary, but that’s not quite the same either. I did look it up, and it is a combination of the words web and log. A web log is a blog. I tried to come up with a comical explanation from which an acronym was derived, but it simply eluded me.