granite and chisel

9/13/06

I’ve been keeping this blog running like clockwork (with the occasional power outage) for four and a half years now, which makes it among the longest-held online diaries out there. Something like 90% of all blogs are abandoned in the first three months, so many of you are already beating the odds. I mean, I’m no Evan Williams or Dave Winer, who have been doing this for ten years, but I’m doing pretty well.

However, this site has reached a midlife crisis, or at least a bumpy adolescence. I have several things working against me: I can’t write anything concerning my job, which would get me millions of more hits because I’d be discussing famous people and facets of entertainment that you, the reader, consume every day.

In addition, I am no longer in the lead-up to Lucy’s birth, my wedding, a piece of history, a Presidential election or a naturally-occurring phenomenon that necessitates breathless commentary. And in the face of such horrendous leadership by our current American leaders, my political posts have become apoplectic with rage. The kind of rage that is so intense that I can barely begin to write anything that isn’t laced with profanity and the kind of ill-wishing that would land me on a FBI watch list. But ceasing to write about politics in this era would be like keeping a blog in 1349 and not mentioning the Black Death.

The last of all these reasons has proven to be the most destructive. I know many people have stopped reading this blog because of the politics: my Doom ‘n’ Gloom™, and the inevitable heart-stopping intractability of the conservative commenters. The political debate on these pages has gone from vibrant to disastrous. More often than not, the people on the right wing have simply outlasted the writers on the left (or middle), by parroting the same talking points and occasionally devolving into mania. My progressive compatriots have simply packed up and gone home, only returning for the occasional pictures of Lucy.

I’m to blame for it, because I believed so whole-heartedly in a free debate; I’m the one who brought up the subject and provided a “comments” button. I let J-Booger (now posting under a variety of pseudonyms before I can block his IP address) harass me and my family for months until I took action. Many of the other right-wingers are good guys whom I’ve met, but they seem to be the only ones left standing.

Every blogger has a reckoning. They all come to a begrudging acceptance of the imperfection of the blog form, or else they quit. I’m at that crossroads right now. Greg T. once mentioned how I’m always “one bad hair day away from retiring,” so I know how boring and self-obsessed I can sound when I contemplate why I do this, but I am either going to have to change my approach to an online community, or get serious about my drum lessons.

Nobody listens to anyone any more. Everyone goes into every situation with their mind made up, waiting for their turn to talk. It has been 14 years since I saw an opinion change. For my part, I feel like I’m open to different viewpoints if someone were to present a strong argument.

I am not out to solicit praise. Someone please tell me how I can do this blog differently, or what they would do with this space. Dialogue is all but dead, and the rest is gossip. If this is merely a place to put photos, I could do it on Flickr. Are blogs really just the domain of knitters and people who are still dating? If we’ve all made up our minds, why are any of us still talking?

52 thoughts on “granite and chisel

  1. Beth

    I have to meet a friend for running in a few minutes, but I had a couple of things to say upon first reading. My husband and I were just out in CA for a week and spent two of those days in L.A. While there, we were either seeing something off of CP’s generous list (thanks CP!) or thinking about what it must be like to be in your screenwriting shoes, Ian, based on that wonderfully vivid entry about your all-nighter. I sought out a computer one morning to catch up on my xtcian reading–the only thing I did on a computer all week outside of occasionally checking my e-mail–and Jack and I spent a while over dinner that night talking about our memories of music in the 90s and post-college experiences. After I lost my dog, I was consoled by thinking about Chopin and Fezzik and the emotions that you and Michelle shared after their passing. I’ve been reassured by the stories you and Anne D. have told about getting past flying fears (mine concern driving). Some of my political opinions are in fact shaped by the discussions held on this site, despite the occasional vitriol. You were directly responsible for our switch to green power (and this line of thinking continues: I just switched to a compact-fluorescent desk lamp). I do believe that we’re all able to hear one another, whether we realize it consciously or not, and I’m grateful for the latitude you give us in these discussions. These are just the things that occur to me off the top of my head. Maybe you’re feeling the blog is in a valley or, as you say, a bumpy adolesence. And maybe not every entry is relevant to every reader. But what you give us, Ian, is valuable, and the miracle of it is that I’ve never even met any of you. How is this not seminal, even four and a half years later?

    Reply
  2. Alyson Peery

    I have my doubts about whether everyone’s opinions are so intractable. If nothing else, there’s always the nuance to be discussed. Most people have some idea of pro-this and leftist-that, but there’s so much more to the American political landscape than those basic opinions. In fact, I think that’s what this blog does a good job of addressing. Your entries about politics, even when they’re bordering on being just long screams, tend to contain lots of facts and finer points. So there’s that.
    And, as Beth pointed out much more eloquently than I could, you’ve spoken about plenty more topics than just politics or major life milestones.
    Is the blog the realm of knitters and daters? God, I hope not.

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  3. DFB's&T's

    Ian, please keep your head up.
    I am one of the conservatives on this board and am proud to read it every day, along with Drudge, lucianne, townhall, etc. I try very hard (with success 99% of the time) to keep my anti-liberal vitriol to a minimum.
    The one major thing I have learned by reading this blog is that crazed liberals and crazed conservatives have 1 thing in common: they are both crazed. But, somehow, neither group owns a mirror. Every time a liberal says that one of the conservatives is merely spouting talking points, it is most often the case that the liberal is doing the same thing. In that way, the two sides are not very different.
    I encourage you to try to look beyond the ink of the blog. Your entries have actually led me to engage in nice conversations with some other posters. Sure, sometimes we think you are an out-of-touch boob, but other times we laugh at how our experiences mirror your experiences — re UNC, dook, fatherhood, pop culture, etc.
    Last piece of advice: don’t take everything so seriously. I used to be an angry Republican and then realized that my anger fixes nothing and only makes me miserable. There are only 24 hours in a day and a limited number of teeth-clinches or headaches you can give yourself in one day. Seriously, as much as a person can bitch and moan about politics, it really does not matter a lot in most folks’ daily lives. For example, on a grand scale, has there been any real difference in the federal budget since GWB was elected? Nope, if anything, the budget has merely continued to explode out of control.
    Dude, in the words of Bob Marley, Bobby McFerrin, and Elmo the Little Red Monster: be happy. If you choose to be happy, there is nothing that crazed conservatives, crazed liberals, crazed politicians, crazed environmentalists, crazed oli barons, or crazed dookies can do to ruin your day.
    As always, in order to end my post with a point which everyone can agree: dook sucks!!!!!!!!

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  4. Alan

    Advice? You mainly blog about yourself and your most important people and things – which for some time has struck me as something that takes a huge amount of time. I do not include family or work in my blogging at all but I do include vintage lawnmowers to mix up the politics. I would think that a period of time on the less serious and less intimate may be a good reset. Consider a series of chewing gums you have known. Maybe light fiction, too. I go there once in a while, though maintaining the continuity gets wearing.

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  5. gr

    My blog is newish, but I am a knitter, in a way, so the focus there is on every stitch. Always new material. I am impressed by the idea that right wing bloggers, as you say, are outlasting those on the left. I have been caught up in the same rage as you, and the pretzel twisting logic and turns of argument can become blinding. My progressive views aren’t going to change, and those on the other side are not listening either. Their tone comes across as hateful sometimes, which must be the energy powering their staying power.
    Most blogs are boring and trivial. Yours is not. Take a break, there is nothing wrong with that, take some time to renew your focus.

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  6. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    Of course your blog is having a mid-life crisis. You are pushing 40, no? If I were you, I would not change a thing about your blog. I come here at the start of every day (even when I am on vacation!), and I always enjoy hearing what you have to say. And, as inflexible as I am, you have managed to change my opinions on a variety of topics. Personal growth through Ian’s blog! Thanks!
    Keep writing for no other reason than this: you now have a permanent (inasmuch as the Internet is permanent) record of your thoughts/experiences/feelings that can be shared by Lucy and future generations of Blake-Williamses. I would have LOVED to have an inkling of what my grandparents and great-grandparents thought of the current events of the time, or even to get a sense of their humor/personality. Your future descendants will treasure this blog!

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  7. Salem

    It seems like a great burden to carry on a daily basis., but then again so was Wednesday’s Child and so will be your first big TV series. It’s what you do. There are stories that need to be shared and lives that need to be celebrated. Who better to share these things than a friend? The magic of Wednesday’s Child was the insight and honesty that connected with everyone on some level. Politics would have poisoned Wednesday’s Child.

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  8. Salem

    On the other hand,…if ending the blog gives you one more hour to spend with Tessa and Lucy, fuck it. You have brought a lot to the table already and you don’t owe us a damn thing.
    Love ya, Salem

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  9. the Other Lee

    Don’t sell the farm Ray
    I enjoy the blog, even though I came to it later than most. You have interesting topics, well thought out commentary, an interesting point of view and this blog is well worth it to me and likely everyone that reads it everyday.
    I mean just look at the link you made to the NC music history site, that link made it to InsideCarolina.com and some other websites frequented by people that would otherwise not known about it. I even forwarded it to one of my coworkers who had no connection to NC music and went to Texas A&M but still loves Let’s Active, the dbs and other NC bands.
    Don’t sell the farm Ray and don’t give up the blog Ian.

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  10. Claudia

    All bloggers eventually go through some kind of crisis, and most go through many. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that you have no upcoming life-changing events to focus on, and, therefore, your personal life is pretty steady. And not being able to blog about work holds back many a blogger. I think you should hang in there; you’ve got a going concern and just need to ride out the rough spots.
    I don’t think everyone’s mind is already made up. In the past eleven weeks alone, my mind has undergone so many somersaults and my opinions have changed so radically and back again that, for the time being, I’m just holding on tight to the overhead strap. I don’t think either Officially Sanctioned Party is the licenseholder for morality, stupidity, rigidity, or any other “idity.” And I think your readers, for the most part, simply love to argue. It’s fun. However, politics are, frankly, pretty boring these days because the same issues are played out over and over again.
    How about some posts regarding your views of non-obvious controversial issues, both serious and light? Anything that avoids liberals on one side, conservatives on another, like a junior-high dance.

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  11. Annie

    Eighthing the sentiment, Please do not stop blogging, Ion! Obviously there are several of us who show by regular commenting that we are regular readers and that we are stimulated by the discussion here, and then just as often pops up a lurker who’s been reading for years and comments for the first time, demonstrating that the xtcian readership is going strong after nearly FIVE years…amazing.
    I also want to echo Beth, Alyson, and DFB&T, that I view this blog as a healthy and vibrant field for debate between the right- and left-leaning of (mostly) our generation. I too have had fixed opinions revised by listening to the (mostly) intelligent debates we have on this blog. None of us can ever have all the facts, and those we do have we evaluate and prioritize differently, but for me–someone who does not read Utne Reader, the Economist, or other blogs (except my friend Kimowan’s)–this is a great place to take in new information and factor it into the equation, to listen to another interpretation of the facts, and also to encounter voices that articulate my own positions more precisely than I’ve ever been able to.
    Of course, I am an Old Friend ™ and I would want you to keep the blog even if it did nothing but rehash Michelle’s visits to the farmhouse, Kije, and your job at Gumby’s. However, you must be able to see that the blog is so much more than that to so many people, and we don’t know what we would do without it. Whatever we can do to help, I know we will hop to (for example, Alan’s suggestions of blog topics). But please, for now, heed Kate Bush’s advice and Don’t Give Up.

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  12. Lara

    Most days, I only have time to read one blog and this is the one I read. Not because I feel like I owe you for keeping me from falling into a black hole of despair after the 2004 election, but because I find it and much of the commentary interesting, entertaining, thought-provoking, moving and hilarious, sometimes all at the same time.
    As for the vitriol, it does get old and tiring, but it is usually more pathetic to me than anything. I’ve learned to recognize the difference between the conservative commentators and the hate-spewing morons within the first few words of the post and simply skip over the latter. Not that I think you should ignore any personal attacks on you and your family, which is the lowest of the low, but as for the rest, just let them rant and move on to something worth reading.

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  13. kevin from NC

    It does suck when you have a big portion of your life (that you are obviously passionate with) that you are unable to share.
    I would miss your coments. They make me think and further make me think about things not always in the headlines.
    I would miss posts like Jif’s yesterday w/o your blog.
    Can you take a break..like the Boondocks?

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  14. Anne D.

    Ian, please keep on keepin’ on. Sometimes your blog entries resonate strongly; sometimes I’m not all that engaged… but I *always* come here, every morning, to see what you’ve written. How many writers can boast such reader loyalty? You must be doing something right.
    If the blog is bugging *you* and sapping your energy at a time when you really need it, take a break. We’ll cry, but we’re presumably grownups and can cut you some slack. :-)

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  15. Julie

    Hey Ian- I often read your blog (when I have time to read stuff) and your posts are constantly engaging. Whether the topic is personal, political, or the purpose to share photos or lament our hideous govt, your views and experiences are well expressed. I’d be sad if you gave up on your blog.

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  16. Piglet

    Hi. This is Chuck Schumer, calling to ask you to join me in voting for Senator Hillary Clinton. I’m proud to work side by side in the Senate with Hillary on the issues that matter most to our state…

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  17. K. Schwartz at the DiTcH

    Ian,
    I think that the kick of reading you has always been how you write, not necessarily what you write. So that’s always going to be unique, regardless of subject matter. And a writer writes, no?

    Reply
  18. Mom

    Ian, I am possibly the worst person to give you advice. As IAN’S MOM (TM), it may seem to anyone reading this that I can’t possibly be objective, and to some extent, that’s accurate.
    On the other hand, I have lived longer than pretty much everyone who writes here (including you) and I think I have earned the right to say what I think. Thanks to you (and your siblings) a long with paying attention, I have “kept up” with a lot–music, politics, po culture, current trends–and at the same time, I have the perspective of my years. So for what it’s worth, here’s my advice:
    1) The minute a person makes him/herself “available,” by being famous, outspoken, an achiever n any level, whatever, that person will be the recipient of slings and arrows as well as accolades. Good reviews, bad reviews, it’s all part of the package. Try to take every nasty, destructive comment in this space with as much attention as it deserves, which is as little as possible. Thoughtful comments, even those you disagree with, or which may seem rigid, should be given consideration and blog room. Purely nasty, destructive crap should be ignored. even blocked or deleted. In spite of my passionate belief in free speech, the world doesn’t need it.
    2) The best thing about your particular blog is the variety. Knitting blogs are great. You know what you are in for, and they serve their public. With yours, I never know what I’ll find, and I pretty much like it all. And the comments (also wildly varied) are often fabulous, informative, witty, or moving, and worth reading. The stupid ones are easily ignored. I don’t read all of the NY Times, either.
    3) The comments so far on this entry are really worth taking into consideration. From Beth’s excellent evaluation on down.
    4) You once said that the egregiously horrendous and nasty comments from one or two particular commenters seemed designed to drive you out of the blogging business, “and it’s succeeding.” Ian, you aren’t on the playground any more. You’re better and stronger than that. You-Know-Who (your apparently have his name blocked) and the others are pathetic, period. As far as “attacking your family” goes, don’t sweat it. We come from a long line of people who walked the plains, drank wormy water, buried most of their babies, and survived and thrived and built lives that increased in productivity and creativity with every generation. F*** You-Know-Who.
    5) I know about the wormy water and because my (your) ancestors kept journals and wrote about their lives. These words have given me courage and have shaped my life as a survivor and as a productive, tough, creative person. Lucy needs to read those old journals and your new ones as well. We are all lucky that you (and your four siblings) take the time to write down so much about their lives and times.
    6) Most important: You are a writer. Write.
    Love, Mom

    Reply
  19. grumphreys

    Ian, I hope that you continue your blog in some form – I always enjoy reading about what you think of the issues of the day. I also enjoy your family updates; makes me feel like i get to see you alot more often than i actually do.
    I know its hard to constantly put yourself out there. Before you pull the plug, maybe consider just doing it once in awhile; whenever you feel compelled to write about something? I’m sure keeping the blog updated daily is an added pressure in your life.
    Re: the intransigence of political opinions – take heart! Many arch-conservatives and Republicans are jumping ship on the current administration.
    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2006/0610.forum.html

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  20. Sean Williams

    1) What writers do you admire from television and why? What writers do you admire from your education and why? What writers do you admire that are currently either famous or extremely unknown?
    2) What do you think it takes to be a success in the arts today? What paths have you gone down that now seem ridiculous, and what paths have you gone down that have paid off, and is it because of the way the world works or is it all largely guesswork?
    3) What aspects of being a father are in line with what you were expecting, and what can’t be imagined? How has it effected your marriage, your extended family and your ability to work? Are there things you hate about it? Are there things you love that one would never guess from the outside?
    4) Obviously, politics is important to you, so… How did the cultural climate from your first ten years make you who you are today, and how are you going to instill that in your own children? What aspects of the cultural climate that we’re living in now are you most concerned about?
    5) How has the role of music in your life shifted over the years? Do you find that, as a writer, you approach your art in the same way that you’ve approached art in the past, or is it more the way you approach your work environment? What lessons from your past (private school education, social chairman of your frat, weekly correspondent for a newspaper, ham radio operator, something else I can’t imagine) inform the way you approach your writing and your career now?
    It’s entirely possible to discuss politics without blame, it’s possible to discuss your career and writing without naming names, and it’s possible to discuss every aspect of being in the family relationships you are currently in without something like a birthday looming.
    You’re a writer. People pick apart the substance of what you write and it becomes a bullshit-flinging party, but the substance isn’t nearly as important as the skill with which it is presented.
    Don’t keep the blog if you don’t want to, you don’t owe anyone anything and the lives of these things are naturally finite. End it whenever you want, these people will find something else to read in about two hours.
    I’d like you to keep it.

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  21. Bud

    Listen to Sean, your Mom and the whole chorus.
    Write what’s on your mind and we’ll probably dig it. Even if you have to leave out some of the best bits.

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  22. Joanna

    I hope you aren’t taking lack of comments for lack of readers. I used to have a lot more time to comment, but then my daughter started walking, climbing and knocking down lamps (and breaking one of the new fluorescent bulbs purchased because of your blog!). I still read regularly, but can’t seem to complete a thought, let alone type it.
    I wouldn’t change much. I think there’s something for everyone. Someone commented that they’d post less personal stuff, but those are some of my favorites. I loved the Nonnie stories and always reread your poetic introspective pieces.
    But are you over it? If you flipped a coin and it landed on the “end blog” side, would you be relieved? You commented recently that you are in a much better place now than when you started. I’m sure all this “journaling” had a therapeutic effect. Maybe you’ve completed something. Anyway, I hope you continue, but I also hope you are asking yourself before you’re asking us.

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  23. salem's little sister

    I’m with k. Schwartz. You keep writing it and I’ll keep reading it. I also agree with LFMD about writing this for Lucy. My and Salem’s dad died before we were old enough to really care about his world opinions much less ask about them. Besides Elvis, I have no idea what music he loved, concerts he saw or books he read. I do know he loved our family more than he loved himself and while that’s most important, I deeply mourn not knowing the man apart from the dad. Lucy is blessed to have this insight in to you whenever she wants it.

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  24. Danny

    Ian,
    If it helps, here’s why I read your weblog:
    1. You write well. More importantly, you are interesting.
    2. Your life experiences correspond with things that are important to me, such as making a living as a writer, trying to stay connected with your friends who have scattered across the globe, music (especially that explosion of creativity from central NC), the importance of your family.
    3. Let’s face it: Lucy. She and I share the same birthday, and watching her grow up is a joy. That I’m participating, even passively, in your attempt to chronicle your life for her to discover later in hers is a treat.
    Suggestions: specific details of scripts or deals (or people) aside, it would be great to read more about your writing life. How do you and Tessa work best, who has the knack for what part of the process, what led you to look at your current gig and say ‘that’s what I want to do’? Oh, and definitely more about NC music – you got me digging around for an Archers disc that’s buried in my moving boxes.
    Cheers, and thank you.
    -Danny

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  25. Neva

    Your Mom rocks Ian! She said what I would’ve liked to – only better. I don’t often comment on the political stuff because truthfully I feel a bit confused and uninformed on some of it. I don’t really feel like getting into a shouting match about stuff I don’t completely understand. Give me something I can shout about and I’ll join in, otherwise I’m reading along and enjoying the ride. I hope you keep it up.
    Your writing has made me happy for a long time and now that it has a regular spot in my life again I would miss it a lot.

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  26. emma

    “‘My idea of good company, Mr. Elliot, is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.’
    ‘You are mistaken,’ said he gently, ‘that is not good company, that is the best.'”
    – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
    With the exception of one main bad egg from the comment gallery, xtcian and its readers are the best company.
    And btw, I think Ian’s mom’s comment is great, as usual.

    Reply
  27. Zel M.

    Just joining the chorus of those who are encouraging you to keep on keepin’ on.
    Although I am relatively new to this blog family and rarely comment on anything other than the political stuff, I enjoy reading about the other things, too. Ian, you have a beautiful family and it appears that things are going well in your career, so huzzah for you – enjoy!
    As for this blog, in spite of the occasional vitriol from the intermittent idiots, I think the debate has been both healthy and productive. And, as your mom said, you’re a big boy and the thorns come with the crown.
    Here’s wishing you all the best regardless of the path you ultimately choose.

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  28. NOLAcathie

    Don’t stop, don’t stop, please don’t stop now.
    You are the first thing I read every morning and no matter what the topic, or whether I agree with you or not, I love the perspectives presented in your blog.
    Your beautifully crafted words motivate, entertain, and inspire.
    I’m 100% addicted…don’t stop now!

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  29. scruggs

    Coming in a little late to the party, but sign me up for all of the above comments. I’ve been in and out of town, and work has been crazy, but I still pull up the site everyday though I haven’t been much for commenting.

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  30. Greg from Winston Dorm

    Of all the entries today, I think “Dean from Bub’s and Troll’s” said it best. I would have simply written Ibid. Supra. Or ditto. But, by the time I replied, I was already 20 some odd comments behind his entry. So, you’re now going to be subjected to my thoughts.
    I came here for the first time after my friend Jame B. (a former DTH writer himself) forwarded your infamous 1990 anti-dook article from the DTH to me. I remember writing to you to get permission to send it out to my list of Tar Heels. Your only request was that I include the link to your blog. I don’t know if my email was the first time a new wave of Carolina alums started reading your daily blog, but I am aware that several of my friends started becoming regulars after that day, because so many of my friends were excited to read the continued musings of “Wednesday’s Child”. Finding your blog instantly felt as though I had a link to my youth, when I often read your DTH column during my treks across Carolina’s campus on the way to skipping class.
    I like the way you write.
    Like a Dennis Miller monologue, however, I find myself scratching my head and scrambling for my dictionary after some entries, but I feel your style of verse challenges me, increases my vokabularry, betters my gramer and makes me a gooder wryter. Just today, in fact, I had to look up: “solipsim”. Not sure I’ll ever be able to slip that sucker into a conversation any time soon, especially during football season, but it’s in my head now and I thank you for it.
    I don’t blog, but I regularly invade the inboxes of some 625 friends and acquaintances (including you and several regular readers of your blog) with my “Jake Chronicles”–periodic updates on my wife’s pregnancy, my son’s birth and his milestones. I often share WAY too much information. And write WAY too long. Apparently, I find it off-putting to send out an update that is less than 4 single-spaced typewritten pages.
    I tell you that to tell you this.
    Like your regular participants who themselves blog, I have a sense of what it’s like to put your heart and soul out there for people to share and sometimes judge. While I personally rarely venture outside the realm of “look at my cute kid” and “dook sucks” (two relatively safe and vanilla topics) I share things which my friends admit they’d NEVER put out in the public sphere. Like you mentioned regarding the negative comments on your blog, I get stung by the occasional negative reply to my emails or the request from a friend to be removed from the list.
    But that comes with the territory. And you know that.
    I marvel sometimes how a white kid who is financially set with a budding entertainment career, attractive wife and adorable daughter could care so much about others who are worse off than him, especially given that his socio-economic stature puts him at odds with his political leanings. Let’s face it, aside from getting some corn shucks kicked in your face in Iowa and being a little socially awkward at times as a kid, you’ve never really known oppression or racism or sexism. You’ve had a pretty happy and carefree life. Yet, you endeavor to be, in some respects, a champion for the little guy. And you readily admit when your own lifestyle is at odds with your stance or when your own experience is lacking in diversity. Such naked admissions are what make this blog so entertaining and your efforts so admirable.
    It’s also a position and role that will subject you to taunts and challenges to the very tenets of your faith and outlook on life. We watch as you take all shots–some of praise, some of valid contradiction and some cheap and unnecessary. The catch is that we’re ALL better for it. If we just wanted to hear ourselves talk and not have any dissent, your blog would be split into little factions and we’d never get a complete picture. The real world isn’t that way. As an aside, I’ve often wondered how schools of only one gender or only one race prepare kids for the real world, when their education denies them the diversity of the world.
    Your blog gives us a relatively safe place to come and listen to the competing ideas without much fear of negative consequences. Except for that time when those two dudes wanted to duke it out. Man, that would have been a great pay-per-view. I still think you could have done more to “arrange” their meeting. But I digress.
    Where do you go from here? Easy. Keep on keeping on. Sadly, our football team is giving you absolutely NO fodder for blog topics. But you can always cheat and put out a CODE WORD blog entry. We love walking down a nostalgic path–even when it’s not necessarily our own. Hell, you can also call on individual guest writers once every week or two to come up with their own CODE WORDS, as Laurie did so admirably one day.
    But enough ego stroking for now, because if you didn’t get re-charged enough after today’s living eulogies, then maybe you DO need to hang it up.
    One last thing. Starting tomorrow, we’re only one month away from the start of college basketball season . . .
    So, at least you’ve got that going for you.
    Which is nice.

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  31. Ian

    Well.
    Wow.
    I hope all of you know that I really wasn’t trying to solicit praise to keep me from taking my toys and going home. Nothing’s worse than a crybaby who constantly craves affirmation, and I hope this entry didn’t come off like that.
    That said, these are some of the nicest, most inspiring words I’ve heard in a long time.
    This post was originally supposed to be about “how can we have a discussion when nobody wants to change their mind?” but what this entry has shown me is… some of you are amazing writers yourselves, and should have blogs!

    Reply
  32. KTS

    I’ve been reading your posts since almost the beginning – when I found your site after googling “Celexa” – and it’s been great. It’s fun!
    I’ve learned a lot about writing just by reading your writing. (And also the commentators.) It amazes me how you manage to make it seem effortless day after day.
    I sure hope you don’t stop the blog.

    Reply
  33. CP

    beth,
    really? awesome! hope you enjoyed.
    as for ian and the blog, for the sake of argument, I’ll play devil’s advocate.
    ian,
    let me first echo the sentiments of my fellow commenters and say I enjoy this blog (the only one I read) for a variety of reasons — it’s my third favorite procrastination website behind online sudoku and checking my gmail, I learn something new whenever I read an entry or a comment, it challenges me to think harder and be smarter, it’s one of the only entirely private things I do (to my knowledge no one I know knows about this site, not even megan or annie before her), and last but not least I love the way you write.
    (I also get a kick out of encountering folks I never would in real life. the cast of characters on here is colorful and I feel like I know these people on a certain level. likewise, I enjoy reading about your family as well, who all seem nice and eccentric in the way gifted people often tend to be.)
    so basically I would be extremely bummed if you stopped writing the blog. that said, what if…
    you took the same time and talent and passion and focus and energy you spend on this blog and instead put it into writing a screenplay or a musical or a novel or some other such thing you can give your fancy 3 initial agency that might possibly take you to the next level both careerwise and creatively? here’s an idea that I think rebecca and salem’s sister originally came up with: write something about a blogger. direct that shiz. cast your famous friends. you have the agent (actually do you post-merger?) and the rep and the connections, if not necessarily the credits, so what’s stopping you? (didn’t you live in a pink house and then make a movie called the pink house?) because if you don’t, ian, I or somebody else just might.
    sorry for the lame-ass facacta pep talk and if I’m talking out of turn, but maybe it’s time to step away and take the next step. just a thought, one in the spirit of differing opinion and intelligent debate. who knows? this blog might end up being your magnum opus and contribution to society or the greater good. it might be about immortality or glory or your great-grandchildren. then again, it might also be an impediment to realizing your fullest potential. only time will tell. point is, whatever you do, do what your instincts tell you and what makes you happy. do it for you, not your public. or do it for your public, not you. or both. or none. (I have no idea where I’m going with this.) let me conclude by saying much respect (to you, your family, all the wonderful commenters on here), and best of luck.
    you have our gratitude.

    Reply
  34. Beth

    Umm, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that what Ian does already? Maybe not about the blogger, per se, but to judge from his entries, it doesn’t seem like there’s any mutual exclusivity between the blog and the screenwriting.
    And yes, CP, L.A. was awesome–in two days, we didn’t get to nearly everything on the list and were left wanting more, much more. We’ll definitely be back. Thanks again.
    See, there’s this marvelous generosity of spirit at this blog, starting from the top on down . . .

    Reply
  35. CP

    no, it’s different. both take a lot of energy I imagine. energy that could replenish his screenwriting or energy that he could use in his screenwriting, apart from the TV stuff he does with tessa. I’m not him so I don’t know.

    Reply
  36. Beth

    But of course!
    (My all-too-transparent ulterior motive being simply to dissuade devil’s advocacy, i.e., to encourage Ian not to abandon la blog.)

    Reply
  37. CP

    b — I’m with that. and feel the way you do too. but at the risk of being the bad guy, was just trying to legitimately answer how ian could “do this blog differently”, one conclusion of which I found to be by doing it in a different (ie. fictional/non-blog) form. very meta.
    glad we’re still friends!

    Reply
  38. Sam

    Ian,
    I used to read you at UNC (88 to 92) and loved your work then. A friend of mine told me about this blog last week and I have been reading daily. I don’t have any profound words of wisdom to offer but I thought it would be worth commenting that your writing is a gift that I am glad to be able to enjoy.

    Reply
  39. Martha

    kjf – too funny!
    ian – I came for Coastopia, but I stayed for the writing. Yours mostly but also the witty, intelligent comments that your readers post. I can’t say it any better than others have here today, so I’ll just say thank you!

    Reply
  40. John Schultz

    Ian,
    I thought the blog was your job! Seriously, I read it everyday because it provides an escape and connection to some interesting people that are, collectively, pretty smart.
    For those of us that don’t “get out much”,
    your blog provides perspective and that is terribly important these days.
    I hope you keep it up.
    JS

    Reply
  41. Hans

    Please, please don’t stop the blog. Please, please don’t stop the blog. Please, please don’t stop the blog.
    You are fantastic. You are wonderful. You are attractive. You are incredible. You are popular. We know that you can’t write about all the stars you are with except when you write about all the demi-stars you are with. We know that you can’t tell us about all the shows you are writing for because those shows aren’t on TV. We understand all that. It’s ok because we know you are fantastic. You are wonderful. You are attractive. You are incredible. You are popular.
    Please, please don’t stop the blog. Please, please don’t stop the blog. Please, please don’t stop the blog.

    Reply
  42. cullen

    Is that Hans really TEssa? Ian, Keep IT up if u know what we mean. I too like to think that the blog is yer real ‘job’ & if Shakespeare had been around for the internet, then to play at the blog is the thing. And if you’ve got a dearth of ideas and the job seems like work or a chore, always remember the bread and butter:
    1. Duke sucks rotten corn
    2. sucking Duke earns scorn
    3. Blew Dook, True Blue Sworn
    Go Heels!

    Reply
  43. CL

    I can’t imagine your writing this for the rest of your life, even though I read it and love it every day – whether it educates me about a certain issue, makes me laugh, or teaches me something about myself. And yes, you *are* having an impact.
    But you are entitled to be selfish and put your family first. So, the questions is, when you do decide to stop writing this, how and why will it end?
    Instead of burning yourself out, why not find middle ground – if you really ever get to a point when you need more time to yourself and feel too pressured, consider writing once or twice a week. I’d miss reading your words every day, but at least you’d still share them.
    Besides your wonderful posts, you do have a great community here, and I think that’s pretty evident by the people above. For an on-line community, there is actually surprisingly little rudeness here, compared to many.
    “For my part, I feel like I’m open to different viewpoints if someone were to present a strong argument.”
    I sure hope you’re not the only one.

    Reply
  44. Josie

    hoowee..look at all these comments!!!…no time to read them, so sorry if what I’m about to say is redundant.
    Assuming you still want to write for us/the blog in some fashion, why don’t you turn the tables on us? I’m talking about a twist on reader driven content.
    You’ve come up with content organically; you’ve asked us questions to allow us to come up with content by comment. What about letting us ask you a question, the answer to which will be your blog for the day?
    You set the guidelines…topics which will be off limits. You choose the topics as they come in…ignore some, pick up a few. Try it for a month; if it goes badly, end the experiment.
    In a way, this might not be much different than having a latte with a few pals. And perhaps, as life becomes more complicated, that’s the feeling you need to keep this going.

    Reply
  45. Anne D.

    Yo Ian: I want an Xtician tee-shirt imprinted with what Martha (several comments above) said:
    “I came for Coastopia… but I stayed for the writing.”
    Cheers!

    Reply
  46. xuxE

    ok, i’ll break my own rule about posting comments on past entries. i was actually in chapel hill yesterday when you wrote this one, so i feel all the more compelled to sign the petition.
    here is my advice/recommendation/philosophy:
    you are entitled to write about your own life.
    don’t feel cornered by other people. and don’t let the business of hollywood compromise your integrity as a writer.
    unless someone is paying you big money to change your words and ideas, don’t change any of your words and ideas. be in control of that choice.
    don’t be so afraid of offending people that you wind up selling out before you even “make it”.
    this doesn’t mean you should start a gossip column, trash friends, family, or people you work with, or drop names as a way to get attention.
    you are a writer and writing is what writers do. everyone knows that. just be good at it. feel free to get away with everything that established/successful/known/admired writers get away with, and 10 times more. you know you can totally rock with your writing when you want to.
    same applies to the conservative right wing haters. let them bash. bash away! fuck all of them. the more they bash, the more you are right.
    go deeper.
    be fearless.
    please yourself above all others.
    get uncomfortable.
    challenge your old ways.
    get edgy.
    get real.
    wrestle demons.
    be yourself.
    and if you find that this one-man-show blog of yours is not the medium, just go for another medium. just make sure you are doing it for your own path as an artist&writer and no one else’s.

    Reply
  47. tregen

    Screw it. Quit.
    J/k. I really don’t consider this a blog for some reason as I feel like I know many of the commentors, although I’ve never met any of you. I think that over the last couple of years there have been some times that I just couldn’t click on the Xtcian shortcut in the favorites because I knew I would end up reading a comment from badbb or jbogie. I tried to just skip over their comments but like a big dog turd on the sidewalk, they were impossible to ignore, unpleasant as they were. Nevertheless, I generally enjoy the back and forth between the right and left but I agree with the comment above regarding everyone more or less following the talking points of their respective ideological heroes.
    Keep up the work you big crybaby who constantly needs attention…. Seriously, thanks for the blog. T

    Reply
  48. portland

    i enjoy your writing. you’re funny. so i look at your blog. but who are you kidding. anybody who posts a blog is saying “look at me. look at me. look at me!” if you don’t want people looking at you, you should quit. it seems from what i read that you have plenty of people to talk to. talk to them.
    and i just don’t read the comments you get from assholes. you could just do that too.

    Reply

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