"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Missing an unlikely 14th birthday, a story and toast

 I meant to celebrate a 14th birthday in May, put it off, and then forgot. So here's a toast with post number 2,678 in the 170th month of my blog Coffee with Clark. 

These arethe obligatory explanations and reasons, because in May, Coffee with Clark, turned an astounding 14 years old of almost constant activity...very unlikely in the blogosphere, and in my changing life and priorities.

In all those years there have only been two months out of 168 that have not recorded a single post.

I'm aware that May just passed with only one post, that of a photo of me with two dear friends, Mary Carver and Christy Vincent, receiving her retirement painting.

But that epitomizes the changes in the blog over the years, which began in May, 2009 as a largely journalistic effort, even with published doubts if it would last long. I didn't "reckon" it would, but then it became habit, a necessity and an obligation over the years.

I started it because at UCO we  needed a blogging class for our journalism majors. You need to be able to do what you teach is our ethic. It became a tool for story-telling, for teaching, for personal self-expression, certainly for professional pride and accomplishment.

Those first eight months saw a 321 whopping posts...the highest annual I've ever done. Last year was the lowest, with just 60 posts. This post is only the 15th this year.

There have been a total of 2,678 posts in these years, having be read by people in more than 150 countries, back when I was keeping count. There were times when I posted at least once a day, and perhaps more often. But not now, but even if it seems it's either hibernating or comatose, it's still breathing.

As a journalist ( ink is always in the blood), and artist, I'm proud it's alive, with more than 450,000 views, and growing even as I type this. The flag counter shows 115 flags of viewers, but it's a late comer to the blog. I used to write a year-end review of the blog, but missed that this year. Here's the 2018 link for one of them, listing stats and lists of readers' countries: https://clarkcoffee.blogspot.com/2018/12/state-of-blog-nearing-decade-even-north.html

What has changed? The times, yes. My life, certainly. Retirement for one. Changing my identity and focus from a professor to aging retiree and artist. The blog is no longer the priority it once was, but I still value having a creative forum, rather than just a job. Now if I'd ever figured a way to make money from it, I might feel differently, but it's not a "niche" blog, so it is a wonder it's still alive...because most individual blogs never last 14 years

And, a side affect I didn't anticipate...I really have to make myself sit down and write any more...it's not an aversion, but  an avoidance for sure.  I just don't want to spend the time necessary to produce decent writing. Just this post is an effort, taking almost two hours to get "in print." But I still drink coffee.

The blog has changed to more of a record of my art life and DIY education, and my paintings usually provoke thoughts and thus writing to go with them, which results in shorter essays or "meditations" as partners. One of the results  saving the blog  has been when I post many of the Christmas cards every December. that I produce for family and friend,,,they all tell stories of some sort.

In many ways, art is keeping the blog alive, and probably me too. All artwork, and paintings, I've realized, has stories to tell, both for me, and for those who view it. As friend Mark Hanebutt told me about continuing painting, "You have more to say."

Mantra--"There are so many more stories to tell." 

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