The Verdict

This week’s post requires some context. For that I suggest reading this post from two weeks ago and this post from last week.

For those of you who don’t want to bother with that (and I don’t blame you—I doubt I would) here’s the summary: I was in a deep blogfunk and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with this thing. I got many positive responses (more than I expected, to be honest). I responded to some of them in last week’s post. Today, I make my long-awaited pronouncement. (No, I’m not actually that full of myself.)

Warning: I’m about to ramble on and on and on about nothing. Unless you’re the die-hardest of fans, feel free to move on to tomorrow’s post. Unless, of course, it’s still today and there is no tomorrow post, at which point you’ll just have to come back tomorrow. And since that’s a whole day away, you might as well just spend some time reading this post, so … um … yeah, never mind.

Why Blog?

The first question a blogger must ask him/herself is simple: “Why am I doing this?” Everyone has a different reason. For some it’s fame. For others it’s fortune. For a very small percentage of us, it’s to have something to talk about at our next high school reunion.

Do you want to know what my reason is? Well, to be perfectly honest, I wanted to advertise. Specifically, two things: 1) that book up there in the upper left; and 2) me. I know this sounds superficial at first, but it is the truth, and I’m just keepin’ it real here.

This isn’t to say I’m not being genuine. Anybody would see through that after two or three posts. And that’s not to say I’m not here to help anyone, because I am: that’s all part of the package. The primary topic of this blog is a very sensitive and emotional area for some people and I really do like the idea that I can connect with people and help out, even in small ways.

Now About That Book

The blog is about struggling with weight control. The book is about struggling with weight control. So given that, this next statement might come as a surprise: I’m not a dieter. Yes, I diet. But it’s not my life, my living, or my livelihood. I’m no more a “dieter” than I am a “shoe putter on-er” or an “unleaded gasoline buyer.” Sure, I do these things regularly, but that doesn’t mean they define me. And for that reason, I don’t want to be known as “the diet guy.” There’s more to life than worrying about snack crackers.

A bunch of years ago I decided I liked writing and so I started writing. I wrote and self-published eight editions of two video editing books before I realized that was getting me nowhere (as an author). I then decided to “write what I know” and created this humorous book on weight management. Then I realized that books do not fall into the “if you build it, they will come” category. So I started the blog to help get the word out about the book (short term goal) and to get the word out about Charlie the Author (long term goal).

And how’s that book doing? Well, let’s look at the balance sheet:

Expenses: many, many thousands of dollars
Income: a few hundred dollars

I may lose money on every sale, but I’ll make up for it in volume! You don’t have to be a CPA to realize this isn’t a sustainable business model. Of course, all businesses start with a loss, and you have to keep at it and keep at it and keep at it. But then I always think about one of my favorite Demotivator posters:

It’s a bit harsh, but it sure drives the point home.

Mid-Blog Crisis

Many comments remarked on my ability to come up with a post every single day. When I relaunched Back to the Fridge (as we know it) back on August 25, 2008, I wanted the blog to look serious. Sure, the content is humorous and entertaining, but in order to build a fan base I deemed it was necessary to make this as professional as possible. It had to be more than just a blog. So I created the fridge look and feel, and established my daily categories, and told myself that if I didn’t commit to five regular posts a week, then don’t even bother.

Things went well for a while. According to Google Analytics, traffic began to grow. I got more and more comments. My technorati ranking kept going up. I felt like for once in my life one of my crazy schemes might finally work. Then we hit the holidays and readership began dropping off. “It’s okay,” said Roni. “That always happens around the holidays. Come January, things will pick up again.” They didn’t. Readership steadily dwindled, as did the comments, as did the technorati ranking. Book sales were few and far between, even during the many book giveaways. Lots and lots of people always posted, “Sounds awesome! I need to read this.” Few follow through. The weight of it all was getting to me. I was reminded of this line from The Two Towers.

‘Well, let us go on,’ said Gimli. ‘My legs must forget the miles. They would be more willing, if my heart were less heavy.’

I know how you feel, Gimli.

Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is

And just when I hit my low point, I decided to look at my time-tracking data. If you people think I’m anal about weighing myself every day, I’ve got a time-tracking application I’ve been using since 1999 to basically keep track of every minute of every day. It’s because of this I can tell you with great certainty that I have now spent 647 hours on this blog. I only spent about two hundred hours writing the book itself! That’s a lot of time for someone who basically works seventy hours a week at the day job and still has other non-blog, non-work obligations. That’s a lot of time to watch readership dwindle, sales piddle, and blog ranking drop like a rock.

So now what?

Two weeks ago I was fully prepared to just throw in the towel completely. But then a funny thing happened. A few of you said you actually enjoy this rambling I do. (Not counting today’s rambling, of course.) It suddenly didn’t seem like such a thankless burden. I thought, “Hmmm… maybe there is something to all this.”

And so now, eleven hundred words and one and a half hours into this pointless post, I’ve decided that for the summer at least, I’m going to go with a combination of options 3 and 4. Namely:

3. If that’s too much, Charlie, I’d be happy with “when you feel like it.”

4. Sounds like you need a vacation. Take some time off, and we’ll be here when you get back.

I think this will likely translate to about one post per week. I’ll keep up with the Magical Mystery Tour category, but try to make it a little more interesting. But the official frequency will be, “whenever!”

The Future

I’m not a dieter. I’m not a blogger. I’m an author. I have no actual proof of this yet, but I feel it. What really got me down the most about that six hundred and forty-seven hour revelation isn’t so much the time spent on this but the time not spent on the next book. I can only write about pizza and cheeseburgers so many times. I have to grow. I have to produce the next book. Because one of these days I’m going to write a real damn book and it’s going to be good. I’ve been trying that for sixteen years now and so far to no avail. Rest assured that my “blog vacation” is not a vacation from writing but a vacation for writing.

So don’t be surprised if things look a little different around here when things resume in the fall. I will be ready for the Next Phase by then. Hopefully that works for you too.

Peace out…

18 Responses to “The Verdict”

BigFatPie said
June 4, 2009 at 2:43 am

well, having read all that I am still leaving you in my blog feed and shall be here when you return……go forth and WRITE! It’s a great idea…….


Katy said
June 4, 2009 at 6:33 am

I read many, many blogs and never, ever comment but I felt compelled to this time. Your blog is excellent – I can’t remember how I found it but I read it everyday on my lunchbreak and I bought and read your book too. Both often have me chuckling out loud and I like your lighthearted yet informative approach to what is often an incredibly difficult topic. Good luck with your break and I’ll look forward to your return.

Janet said
June 4, 2009 at 7:52 am

Hi Charlie – I bought your book and I loved it. I lent it to my sister-in-law, but I’m sorry for that, I should have made her buy her own.

Have you considered placing ads on your blog? Might help you rationalize those 647 blogging hours? From what I’ve heard, you could be missing out on at least $0.03/hr!

Biz said
June 4, 2009 at 8:05 am

Have a great summer blog vacation Charlie! Of course, unlike your other readers, I can just pick up the phone can call you!

And yes, you have to make my bacon wrapped meatloaf!!

Tom Rooney said
June 4, 2009 at 8:20 am

Good for you. I’ve always enjoyed your writing and even envy your wit and style. You have a gift that must be cultivated so take the necessary time and I will be happy to come back.

Live long and prosper.

meg said
June 4, 2009 at 8:23 am

Good luck with the writing and I totally respect you for following your heart. Guess what…you have inspired me to stop dragging my feet on the book I am working on…a little different from your writing, but I am working on a children’s book and have been kind of stuck since it is unchartered territory for me. Thanks for writing this post and pushing me ahead in my writing endeavors too.

Michelle said
June 4, 2009 at 9:15 am

I look forward to hearing about the new book. If it is 1/2 as entertaining as the first book, I’ll be running out to buy a copy. Have a good vacation and come back as witty as ever.

MaryBe said
June 4, 2009 at 10:04 am

Be a kid and enjoy your summer vacation! Eat ice cream, lay in a hammock, read (not just write) a book, go to your favorite swimming hole. I’m keeping you in my reader too, and when I see a post from you it will be like Christmas!
I’ve said it before – you feel like a brother to me, and since I read both of your sisters blogs, it seems even more like family. And just because I don’t hear from m family every day doesn’t mean that I forget about them

Jenn@slim-shoppin said
June 4, 2009 at 10:46 am

I have found that my favorite blogs I go to don’t post every day.

I first got started my blog because of this girl who had a site called

I would visit it every day, she had great recipes, I would comment, I made a bunch of her stuff, then nothing…for 11 months! But I would still check back to see if she had posted something and sure enough she posted something in Feb. I quickly commented, “You’re back!!” which then followed by nothing since! My point is people will always come back. If they know you aren’t going to post something every day, then it will be a treat to see what’s been happening with you. I have gotten a little less worried if I don’t post something every day. I still find that people will still stop by, and for the blogs I go to that still have the same post up for a few days, I just check back.

I agree, spend some time on writing your next book I know it will be awesome!

Kelly said
June 4, 2009 at 10:51 am

You are in my reader and when you do post I will see it. No matter what, you have to do what works for you.

emily said
June 4, 2009 at 11:19 am

Hi Charlie! You’ve got me out of lurking with this one. I do enjoy your blog and will be back here everytime you post. You are on my reading list on my blog and have been for some time. I’d imagine you have more readers like me who do enjoy your site but don’t always say so. Thanks for being you and letting up glimpse into your life with this blog.

Shelley B said
June 4, 2009 at 11:52 am

I will miss you Charlie! But I am excited that you are writing another book…and I’ll even preorder it on Amazon when it’s ready for launch!

Have a nice blog vacation…remember, you can still drop by our blogs and leave a comment so we know you’re doing well!

Sagan said
June 4, 2009 at 11:56 am

I know what you mean- you have to do what you ARE. Happy writing!

PS I so very much enjoy your rambles.

Anne (Happy Fun Pants) said
June 4, 2009 at 12:01 pm

Looking forward to reading the good stuff that you will undoubtedly come up with!

Landileigh said
June 4, 2009 at 1:14 pm

I can’t remember how I found you, but your ramblings were why I stayed. We all need a blogging break every now and then. Take yours, and when you return, we’ll be here.

Quix said
June 4, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Take a break, come back, and we’ll be here. Right now, my blog is just my outlet for the random spaghetti that comes out of my brain and the posts are what sticks to the wall, but someday I have aspirations of actually being an AUTHOR outside of my regular employment gig. Keep us updated on how you’re doing though! Inquiring (nosy) minds want to know!

Anonymous said
June 4, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Congrats on taking the first step on a new book! I hope you have as much fun writing it as I did reading your last one. 🙂

Tyler said
June 6, 2009 at 3:45 pm

The book will work out. It’s never easy at first.

We’ll be on the look out for it in NYC.