Random 411: Thoughts on the new year (so far)

So, here we are. Twenty-four days into 2017 and I’m wondering if I’ve been productive enough. You know, if I’m off to a good start or not. And as always, I’ve thought a lot about this blog, what it means to me, and what (if any) are the plans for its continuation into 2017. Should I still do it? Should I keep doing things the way I’m doing it? Should I scrap it and start over? I mean, what’s the point? There are millions of blogs out there covering all kinds of topics. And I tend to focus on movies, television, and books reviewing them at my leisure, but there are so many out there. There are so many better ones out there, why do it? What am I contributing this fine industry that is entertainment? And the internet for that matter.

For me, it started off as a jumping-off-a-cliff type of thing. I wanted to get used to writing for an audience. Before this blog, most of my writing was done on an academic level so only my professors and very few classmates got to read what I wrote. For the most part, I did pretty well as far as grades go. I felt like I needed to take the next step. Or a different step. My research papers, essays, creative writings are, more or less, decent on a collegiate level, but now what? Do I try short stories? Do I participate in contests? Do I submit papers to the school journal?

These ideas terrified me if I’m being honest. I suppose they would intimidate anyone who has never considered writing for a bigger audience. A different audience. The court of public opinion (is that being a bit dramatic? Maybe, considering I don’t really have that many followers (when compared to others, that is). Anyway, I needed to take a step . . .  somewhere.

Blogging was all the rage around 2012. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was all the rage earlier than that, but that’s when I stepped into the blogging scene. And because I’m such a data junkie, I took a look at my stats from when this blog was first published on WordPress.com and then moved to WordPress.org in 2015. I was expecting to see lower numbers than I have. I’m not saying I’m doing immensely well, but for someone who was expecting to see maybe a hundred or so views and visits, I did not expect the 1,449 views and the 899 visits in 2016 alone. I’ve gone from publishing 11 posts in 2012 to 367 posts in 2015.

So, what does this mean? I have no clue. Back to my initial point. Why?

I googled “Why do people blog?” I did this to see what reasons are floating around out there. I know your reason is only as good as your reason, but I was curious to see why others do it.

ShoutMeLoud.com published a post listing the top 10 reasons why people blog and those are solid reasons. Things like networking, connecting with like-minded people, self-promotion, to name a few. One reason did appeal to me, though, because it aligns with why I started. To satisfy your creative side. To quote the section on this reason:

To Satisfy Your Creative Side

Sometimes your mind is abuzz with creative ideas, which you are not too sure of, expressing openly, you have a lot of fear of their acceptance, or you are not too sure how to start something like that, blogs are the best option for unleashing your creative ideas.

It not only gives you readers who might admire your work piece but also gives your confidence a boast.

One also has liberty to write semi-professionally.

(Remember to take a look at the complete list of reasons)

Is my mind abuzz with creative ideas?

Perhaps. Okay, yes. I mean, there are these tiny thoughts that populate my mind constantly and while I journal regularly, some thoughts just want to be heard, or written out loud.

Do I have a fear of acceptance?

I would like to answer this one with a resounding YES! because that seems to be the case, right? I wanted to jump off a cliff, so to speak, and get comfortable writing to an audience. But truthfully, I don’t completely fear acceptance. It may be more like I fear rejection. I fear ridicule. I fear negative comments and feedback.

So, where does that leave me?

411 Junkie started as a way for me to voice my thoughts on the information I gather from daily living. To put them into a post. To send them into the internet, curious to see who actually reads and responds to it. To see who provides feedback.

So it’s going to stay that way. Except, I’m going to open up the floor to include anything and everything worth sharing. Focusing on movies, television, and books is advice given by many individuals who gave advice on how to make a successful blog or how to turn your blog into a business. While I find this to be very good advice, I guess my definition of success is a bit different. I’m not set out to make money with this blog (although, maybe, perhaps, one day, I could use it to help me freelance some stuff. Maybe. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get there). And considering the walk-through I just gave myself, my definition of success, the purpose of this blog, was to give my inner musings an outlet.

So, here’s to 2017! To being amusing, random, and freeform!

2017 is here!

And we are on our way to living 2017 to the fullest. Having gone to bed at 0230 today, I’m surprised I’m not more tired. But I’m using this to my advantage.

This New Year’s Eve was the same as it’s always been, and that’s a good thing, so it got me thinking back on all the other New Year’s Eves because, I have to admit, this holiday is my favorite.

And as I was thinking about all the other New Year’s Eves, I realized my favorite tradition during this celebration.

For as long as I could remember, my grandfather hosted a New Year’s Eve party at his home. This party would begin in the evening and last until past midnight. The night would be filled with good food, fun games, and lots of laughter and fun. I enjoyed all traditions honored throughout the evening, but my favorite tradition was the midnight fireworks. It is in this moment family and friends would stand in the dark, eyes on the long strands of fireworks, and ring in the new year.

Firecrackers on New Year’s Eve is a big deal for my family, for my whole state actually. I speculate it has to do with the Chinese tradition of chasing away the bad and ushering in the good with fireworks, but that is just a guess. “Firecracker breaks” dotted the evening, which consists of my cousins and me taking a break from playing games to light a few fireworks before joining in another game. We would hold mini-competitions to see who could hang on to the firecracker the longest or who had the best fireworks. The main prize was bragging rights.

As midnight drew closer, my uncles would gather around a table to string together a whole bunch of long strands of fireworks. They would often take a strand that was around 10’, tie it together with a whole bunch of other 10’ strands to create a long firecracker belt that could last up to five minutes. When lighted at midnight, these firecrackers would snake their way to the end of the strand, usually hung on a tall pole, and end with a huge firecracker ball at the end that would cause a quick succession of bursts to end the long strand with a final bang.

In the moments before midnight, we would hand out chilled sparkling cider to drink at midnight as a cheer to the new year. Someone would turn off the lights while another member would light the strand as soon as the clock read 12:00 and we would watch in silence as the firecrackers popped their way to the end. It is this moment, between the old year and the new year that makes this tradition my favorite. It always feels like time freezes and as I watch the fireworks pop, my thoughts always turned to the past year and speculate about the next 365 days, simultaneously.

This moment is never overlooked.

When the firecrackers popped their last burst, everything goes silent in the seconds after until time unfreeze and we start hugging family and friends wishing each other a happy new year. The moment is brilliant. I stepped over the threshold into the new year and there is no turning back. I may not do all the things I thought to do in that frozen moment, but that does not matter because those first few minutes into the new year I am happy, at peace, and ready to conquer anything.

Every year.

So, welcome 2017! Let this be a year full of laughter, adventure, and joy!