This is the last post for The Fly and these are some closing thoughts.
A few years ago I read an article about restaurants. Food service is a fickle business even in the best of circumstances. A good restaurant owner, this article said, is able to tell when an establishment is a hit or if it is time to get out.
There is no shame in closing a restaurant, it said. It’s just a matter of reading the market correctly and knowing when to recover your assets before it is too late. In other words, if you take the exit today, you live to play another day.
Over the last three years, I’ve been putting it out there on this blog for several reasons. First, I wanted to voice a few observations that I felt were underrepresented in the current dialog. I wanted to explore some themes like the state of business, government and society, and the varieties of public behavior. In doing so I hoped to discover one or two things about myself.
Second, I wanted to connect with like-minded people and use the internet to build a bit of community that I find is missing from my workaday life. C.S. Lewis is credited with saying that we read to know that we are not alone. I started this blog for much the same reason.
Lastly, I just wanted a place were I could write what I wanted, when I wanted, and how I wanted, and in so doing refine my craft.
It has become clear to me that–with the possible exception of the third item–none of these things have happened. Or rather, not happened to the extent that three years’ worth of effort would warrant. Now am not so sure that blogging is the solution.
The article about restaurants said that it takes about two years to build your reputation and customer base. By the third year you should be breaking even, and year four and five you should begin to turn a profit.
The Fly was never about money, of course. Instead, I was working with intellectual capital. And I have spent heavily on this effort without yet breaking even. Overall, the results have not been encouraging.
So the time has come for me to leave off and invest in another endeavor.
Thank you to everyone who has visited, liked and commented on The Fly. I have greatly appreciated that interaction.
If you want to continue the conversation, leave a comment below or message me using firstname.lastname@example.org and we can find a new forum.
So off I go to find whatever is next….
A few years ago, Sheryl Sandberg made a stir with her book Lean In.
Except that it wasn’t her book. By that I mean she didn’t write it. It was ghost-written for her, and yet it’s her name on the cover as the “author.”
This is nothing new. Ghost-writers have been used for many years.
The problem is that when anyone can slap a name on a book, what are the qualifications for calling someone a writer? And what is more significant, the fact that someone put pen to page (metaphorically) or the fact that someone is a Big Name?
Sandberg, of course, was already COO of Facebook when she “authored” Lean In.
Big Name wins out, it appears.
Two years ago, I decided to start using this blog as a platform for my thoughts and my writing. One of those thoughts led to writing a short bit about how the smart phone is the new cigarette. It got a handful of views and four ‘likes.’
So I was surprised to see today a piece on LinkedIn about—wait for it—how smart phones are the new cigarette. It has a nifty stock-photo graphic to illustrate it. And it was written (possibly) and posted (definitely) by Tim Bichara, Managing Partner at Nimble Mobile and Co-Founder and Commercial Director at Q App.
It has over 45,000 views and over 1,000 ‘likes.’ In one day.
Now, I’ve never heard of Tim Bichara, in the context of being a writer or any other context, frankly. He has written exactly two posts on LinkedIn. But he apparently is a Big Name.
Being a Big Name means people Read Your Stuff. Yes, his piece is longer than mine, but not more original. The only thing he has that I don’t is an audience, a ready-made following, perhaps from—I can only speculate here—his work at Nimble Mobile or Q App, whatever those are.
Writing, I realize, is seldom about the quality of the thought or the writing. Especially now, it mostly has to do with slick marketing and targeted demographics, just like any other commercial product.
So the lesson seems to be this: go out into the world, make a Big Name for yourself.
Then become a writer.
My wife got a job this week. She’s been a substitute teacher for several years, and now she has a permanent teaching position. In college, she’d planned to be a teacher. But her reservations about it got the better of her and she ended up working for an environmental education organization, then in retail pet supplies. We had children and she stopped working for about a decade. And now she’s returning to where she’d wanted to be 20 years ago.
My brother is an editor for television in Hollywood. In college, he’d intended to be an editor, but life took him to work in retail record sales for a while. He then dabbled in video production, but now he’s returned to where he wanted to be when he graduated.
In college, I wanted to be a writer. But, as life would have it, I worked instead in retail food sales, then got a job in a legal news and information company. But now I have this blog and have been posting my writing for over a year now. I too have returned to what I thought in college that I wanted to do.
Perhaps there’s a lesson here: go with your gut, don’t second guess yourself, believe in what you feel.
You may just end up being right after all.