Sunday, October 08, 2006

It Was One Year Ago Today...

... that I had the crazy idea to launch this blog. It was the 20th anniversary of "Video Watchdog" and its first appearance in VIDEO TIMES magazine, so it seemed a fitting way to commemorate the continuing evolution of the concept, from magazine column to magazine to blog. Also, once the pun of "Video WatchBlog" occurred to me, I couldn't not do it.

My amigo Steve Bissette (whose blog MYRANT is linked over yonder to the right) deserves all credit for pointing me in this direction. Steve wasn't the first blogger I had read, but much as he helped to make the world of publishing seem more within Donna's and my grasp with the example of his TABOO, the literary, information and entertainment values of MYRANT showed me most appealingly what was possible within the form. I was impressed by the amount of writing he managed to generate on an almost daily basis, but also daunted by it; Steve assured me that the words stacked up quickly and easily, and that the process had become a pleasurable part of his morning routine. 365 days later, I can't say that he steered me wrong; I find writing Video WatchBlog very pleasurable and, to be perfectly candid, I often get a bigger kick out of clicking on "Publish Post" than i get from seeing my own work in print these days. The immediacy is intoxicating. The average blog takes about an hour or two to generate, and I usually write it either before going to bed, or immediately upon waking -- even before my first cup of coffee. So muchos gracias to Steve for being this blog's North Star (though Donna would like to re-train me to make our morning coffee first).

Looking back at my initial blog posting, on this 21st anniversary of the first VW column, it seems that I have broken just about every promise I initially made about this blog and what I expected it would become. I said I wasn't going to offer complete reviews of DVDs here, and I have. (I broke that promise almost immediately; it seems I can't do anything half-way.) I said I was going to use this blog to post information about new DVD releases, and I mostly haven't; I think it's a cheat to post press releases, though I don't mind sharing information that I personally find of interest. Most preposterously, I said I wasn't going to write long entries, and boy, have I ever! I did predict that there would be a certain amount of self-disclosure involved, and for better or worse, I've kept that promise. Looking over all the blogs I've generated, with their miscellaneous reviews, reports, cris de coeur, 100th birthday tributes, poems, and Outer Limericks, I think they represent a fairly accurate (and appropriately erratic) chart of my strengths and weaknesses, my emotional ups and downs, replete with moments of joy, playfulness and wistfulness. You've seen my love and hate for the blogging process, my reactions to the unexpected deaths of heroes and friends, and some odd moments of clarity prompting half-kept resolutions to turn my disordered life around. Many of you have written to let me know that you appreciate/enjoy/sympathize with what I've been up to here, and I am grateful for the feedback and camaraderie.

So what has this blog accomplished in its first year of existence? You, my readers, would probably be better postioned to answer to that question, but I can share with you some interesting basic facts. In the past 365 days, Video WatchBlog has racked up a total of 297 posts (including this one), while the Bava Book Update blog can claim an additional 29. (I've also written a couple that were never posted, and had to rewrite from scratch a few that were obliterated by random Blogger malfunctions.) My goal, at least over the last few weeks, has been to top 300 posts at this blog alone, but even with daily (and sometimes multiple daily) posts these past two weeks, it just wasn't possible. Our total number of page visits is presently just under 345,000 hits, and monthly attendance reached its all-time-high of 33,000+ hits last March. (Why March, I have no idea; it wasn't the month of the Roger Corman Blog-A-Thon, nor a particularly outstanding month in terms of content.) Mondays and Wednesdays seem to be our busiest days, with visits declining as we approach the weekend and dropping off to slightly more than half our weekday attendance on weekends. That doesn't stop me from putting in my time, of course, as with yesterday's two big Jess Franco preview-reviews, which I believe were the first to appear online.

The most amazing statistic of all (to me) I've saved for last. A week or so ago, I spent a few hours copying all the text from this blog into a separate Word document. Blogger had been suffering some irregularities and shutdowns, and it occurred to me that none of the material I'd written for Video WatchBlog had been backed up; therefore, it was all too possible that I might sign on one day to find everything gone, without warning. I couldn't copy over the illustrations, which all remain logged in my computer anyway, but I did pour all the text. I've been adding each new posting to the document since, and after applying standard manuscript specs to the pages -- Bookman Old Style font, 12-point type, double spaced -- the collected Video WatchBlog to date amounts to 870 pages!

That's work I generated not in my spare time, but in my spare spare time -- when I wasn't working on VW, or the Bava book, or my novel-in-progress. I don't say this to be boastful (well, not entirely), but rather to point out what can be achieved in a single year with no more than an hour or two of not-even-daily effort. A fellow writer wrote me last week to seek my advice about how he might better organize time for book writing when job, marriage and fatherhood are claiming most of the hours in his day; I sent him these statistics as proof of what can be done if one writes for only an hour or less, and not even every day, over the course of a year. The important thing is to let the work stack up, to be disciplined. Had I worked only half so hard as I did on this blog the first year, I'd have 400+ pages -- still enough for a book.

The only problem with devoting time to this blog is that it doesn't generate any income, so there's no compensation (other than your friendly e-mails) for the time and industry I put into it, other than the pleasure I personally derive from it, which is considerable. It keeps the machinery well-tuned, enabling me to be more proficient at paying work. It has also filled the breach while VW has been publishing irregularly over the past year, which is a good thing, and it's allowed me to branch out and write about things that don't fall within the general scope of VW -- life, comics, people, music. When he read my eulogy for Gene Pitney, Joe Dante sent me a note telling me that I'd outdone myself, which was one of one of my prouder moments of this past year. Video WatchBlog was also instrumental in achieving some positive changes at Monsters HD and Turner Classic Movies, and to effect positive change is perhaps the best kind of reimbursement.

Some bloggers have Wish List (identified on one blog I've visited as "Buy Me Stuff") or PayPal links on their pages, but I don't want to go there. Suffice to say, if you read this blog regularly and are not already a VW subscriber, you can help to perpetuate both magazine and blog by subscribing or picking up some back issues. We make it very easy for you at our website, accepting credit cards and PayPal and offering a toll-free number. Mind you, since this blog began, we've seen the unfortunate end of PSYCHOTRONIC VIDEO, FILM SCORE MONTHLY, WRAPPED IN PLASTIC, OUTRÉ, CULT MOVIES, and SCARLET STREET. VIDEO WATCHDOG has no intention of throwing in the towel, and especially with new contributors like Ramsey Campbell aboard, we're feeling stronger than ever and are determined to continue as a unique and useful voice in the HD DVD era looming ahead.

Having witnessed the struggle sometimes involved with producing this blog, which I've never bothered to disguise, a couple of you have proposed that I might want to discontinue it after reaching this first anniversary, or once VIDEO WATCHDOG is able to resume its monthly schedule. I have considered both possibilities, but I prefer to keep the door open and use this blog as I will. Perhaps once VW goes monthly once again, this blog can begin to keep some of those silly promises I made back at the beginning, like being short and sketchy and infrequent.

Whatever Video WatchBlog becomes or continues to be, you should know by now that I'll be giving it all that I can.

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