The definition of purpose is the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. When my blog was born, way back in the bygone year of 2008, its purpose was another outlet for me to share my long form thoughts and, hopefully, to entertain. I posted semi-regularly, mostly about food, and we had some laughs. Over time the purpose of the blog evolved, although food seemed to be a theme that prevailed (note to self: you really should think less about food).
I write for fun, to some people that may sound strange but I enjoy it. For years I toyed with the idea of writing a book and researched the best practices for becoming a writer. Over and over again the message I found was to write and write often. So the purpose of my blog became a play ground for an aspiring writer.
I wrote on a variety of topics from my own neurosis to food, from interpersonal relationships to food, from highlighting my favorite action movie stars to highlighting my favorite restaurants (seriously man, stop thinking about food). While my blog was still a forum to share my long form thoughts and entertain, it was more importantly a place for me to see what I could accomplish with the written word; a place to flex my burgeoning author muscles.
Much of my writing dealt with my observations and opinions about the things I witnessed or experienced. My favorite posts, though, were when I could tell a story. I love to tell stories, I always have. For me the best stories are those that are only mostly true; stories that have a strong footing in reality with a splash of fiction for flavor.
As a missionary, for five months, I lived and worked in Mandeville, Jamaica. Number 4 Cotton Tree Road housed six missionaries, including myself. Missionaries were paired in companionships and assigned to work in specific areas. Each night we would return home from our assigned fields of labor and swap stories of our daily adventures. I remember one particular night I began to regale the other two companionships with a hilarious encounter between us, a Rastafarian man and his machete. Out of the corner of my eye I saw my companion burst into the room and seat himself on the bed to my right. He looked up at me with all the glee and wonder of a child on Christmas morning. His complete engagement and anticipation for the story caused me to pause. I looked down at him and said, “Why are you looking at me like that? You know what happens, man, you were there.” His reply has always stuck with me. He said, “I know, but it always sounds better when you tell it.”
You see, I knew I could tell stories but I still wasn’t sure if I could write. After years of posting my inane ramblings on my blog I decided to take a crack at a short and simple story and dip my toe into the frightening world of publishing. I wrote a fictional account of an exchange between a hippopotamus father and his hippopotamus son, which I thought lent itself to a children’s picture book. After some thorough Internet research, I sent it to one literary agent that I determined was a good fit for my story. I was soundly, but politely, rejected. It hit me harder than I thought. Immediately I doubted whether I could handle such an outcome with a story that I would need to invest months, if not years, in to tell properly. I still had my blog and so, after licking my wounds for several weeks, I dusted myself off and moved on.
Nearly two years later my brother heard me telling bed time stories to my children about a bird and an iguana. He attempted to cajole me into writing them down and seeking to have them published. I shared with him my previously undisclosed failure and he scoffed at me and told me I should try again. Mostly to shut him up, I decided to polish up my original story and even took a stab at illustrating it myself (my hippopotamus skills are on point). This time I sent it to several literary agents with the hope of increasing my chances, but also to have more evidence to prove how difficult it is to get published. I was again met with disappointment in the former but succeeded brilliantly in proving the latter. By now, however, I had put so much time and effort into it that I thought it would be a waste to just let it die; so I chose to publish it myself as an ebook. It was so simple, and free, that I wonder if it might be a viable option should I attempt a novel.
As a test I compiled the majority of the posts from my blog into one book. In just under a week I had published It’s Called Helping…You’re Welcome. With this new safety net, the very next day I started working on an idea I had been carrying around with me for fifteen years. Once I had completed the first draft of my novel, a year later, I went back to the well one last time to turn a 2009 post, about a harrowing experience in the Hellsgate wilderness, into a novella titled The Gorge.
These were all key milestones on my journey to becoming a published author, a dream that will be realized this February when The Land of Look Behind hits a book shelf near you. So it is with profound gratitude that I say farewell to my blog as it has fulfilled its purpose. Today a new site is born with a new purpose and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Welcome to aaronblaylock.com (so far no food).