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Saturday, July 11, 2015

6th Year Anniversary Of This Blog

Today, June 11 is apparently the sixth anniversary of the Japan—It's A Wonderful Rife blog.

The traditional gifts for Year 6 are: candy and iron, and the Modern gift of wood.

I usually have wood, so I guess a more traditional gift is not expected.

I don't need a gift... I get that from just having readers read this blog.

Thanks for the heads up from LinkedIn, and all the kind people within who offered well-wishes on this surprising occasion.

While I had actually begun writing a monthly column entitled "It's A Wonderful Rife" back in August of 1990 after first tripping over my own feet as a rookie JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme participant, because people kept clamoring (either for more or to make me stop), I was soon creating these columns for not only my own JET-affiliated prefecture of Tochigi-ken, but also for Saga-ken and Saitama-ken, because their JET leaders seemed to think I was cute and funny (and not just funny-smelling), as well as for an Utsunomiya-shi monthly magazine for English speakers.

That last one actually had the balls to pay me - something like $100 (¥10,000) a shot… and that lasted for over a year - well after I had actually left Japan for the first time.

I never wanted to become a columnist… I'm not sure what I really wanted to be… maybe an author, but I was always painfully aware that because I personally hated to write description, any fictional tale I created would only ever be either a short story or a novella topping out at 200 pages.I have a couple of those done and sitting unread in my computer. I should do something with them one day. Maybe.

I think I was encouraged to be a writer after I became a literary agent… I read novels from people just like me - except they couldn't write.

They could write descriptively, sure, but dialogue - unh-uh. Dialogue, for some reason, has always been a specialty of mine.

Oh well… I still have never written a novel… and don't see myself doing that… I think I get bored too easily… which is why I like the blog format, where I can change up my focus whenever I feel like it.Daily, actually.

Originally, this blog was entitled the same as what my column was in Japan between 1990-1993, simply "It's A Wonderful Rife"… but at some point around year two of blogging, I added the Japan portion - that way anyone would know what it's about… Japan.

My concept for blogging wasn't really to blog. A blog is a 'biographical' 'log' of one's daily goings-on.

But I didn't and don't care for that narrow-minded definition… mostly because as originally conceived, I wanted the blog to act as a place - a holding ground - for all of those old columns I had previously written back in the early 1990s.

Actually... I didn't want to pay for a website.

Only this and nothing more. Quoth the Raven, 'Nevermore.'

But… rather than just re-type the old Japanese columns, I decided it needed a preamble to introduce who I was and why my commentary on Japan might be interesting.

Here's my opening line to the blog:

"I didn't want to go to Japan. To be perfectly frank, I was just trying to get laid."

Right away you know there's going to be honesty from this writer… as well as humor.

I should reprint some of those early stories, because I know excluding a select few individuals, no one has actually read them.

That first month of July 2009, I had a total of 794 readers - and that's spread out over 12 columns for the month.

I was ecstatic at the response.

The next month, August 1990, it went down to 496 readers for eight new articles, which lead me to conclude that if you write it, they will come. Eventually.

After problems at home in 2010, I stopped writing after January 9 until January 28… at which point I concluded that when the world starts pooping down one's throat, writing was what was keeping me sane.

And so… I began to write again… and write more often, eventually getting to the point where I wrote a blog a day. From February 15, 2011 through to today.

They haven't all been winners… and sometimes it was a real drag to have to write something when I didn't feel like writing anything… and sometimes it was a panic when the power would go off at the house and I hadn't got a blog ready forehand… but it was something I wanted to do.I still never missed a day.

I have been late, however, due to the electrical shut-down, Internet problems, and of course, believing I had already posted it, when in fact I had not. Thanks to Vince for keeping me on my toes, there. As well as for the grammar and spelling checks he provides simply because the big guy must actually like me.

My buddy Mike Rogers who does the Marketing Japan blog (see to the far right of this blog for a link) was, at the time, writing a phenomenal amount of copy daily… and it was my goal to first match him, and then surpass him… poor guy didn't even know (and wouldn't have cared) that he was in a race.

Thanks to the March 11, 2011 earthquake et al, I was posting multiple times a day… and it wasn't to capitalize, but rather to give people that one-stop shop where they could get interesting news, features and stories about Japan.

For 2011, I posted 626 times, averaged OVER two articles a day in 2012 with 731 posts… and then said… I'm going to just post articles I want to post that I think will inform… basically no more news unless I can add to it.

Some of you are going - huh? You hate it when I bring news into the mix… I dig it. But… chances are pretty damn good I have gone to at least 10 sources to combine and compile a more complete story than you will find elsewhere. And I try to write it in a simpler manner that avoids most confusion.

I pride myself in offering a blog that explains things to people, without talking down to them. If you don't ask, how can you learn? I ask a lot of questions when researching material.

I've learned plenty from writing this blog. I've learned about Japan, sure, but I have also learned plenty about people… about the various readers who have written in to me… but I think I have learned more about myself.

Writing about my diary... my days in Japan… is nauseatingly difficult for me. When I began compiling the diary here in the blog, the plan was for me to stop writing the blog when I came to the end of my time in Japan - regardless of what or whom I dragged back with me to Toronto.

I'm at that point in my adventures… I could write one more blog, and follow it up with an epilogue, and that would be it… I haven't decided what to do…

I'm not ready to hang up the fingers yet - that's for sure. This blog is the only sure thing I have going in my life. Hopefully it's not the same for you.

I guess I could re-write those early adventures… I was working on a book a few months ago entitled Japan—It's A Wonderful Rife (unless I come up with something better... and how could I?) - expanding on the original Japan adventures… but I guess I just get melancholy when I sit in the past… thinking about lost opportunities, or awaiting changes in philosophy or new chances…

Whatever… I'll keep writing if you keep reading.

You'll notice I don't have any advertising on this blog. By choice. I don't write this blog for any other reason than I enjoy writing this blog and hopefully entertaining or informing at least one other person on this planet. Trust me - that's still a daunting goal to achieve.

Six years on… Japan—It's A Wonderful Rife gets around 1,600 hits a day… not as great as it was a year or more, when I was averaging over 2,000 - but whatever… most of the hits are NOT for the latest blog I write… I have no idea what people are actually reading, excluding the TOP 10 listed to the right… but those do not make up the general daily reading habits of all the visitors here.

Most people seem to find this blog when they are looking for information on a particular topic - which is great, as I now think of this as my own Encyclopedia Japonica.

It's like a Japanese television variety show… a little bit of this and a little bit of that… just not as stoopid as Japanese TV can be.

Thank YOU.

Somewhere writing,
Andrew Joseph

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