It’s been almost two years to the day since we started the café series. Forgive the cliché, but: God, I can’t believe it’s been that long. Back then, I was a spry young 48-year-old, with my whole life in front of me; and here I am today, a tired and withered 50-year-old with one foot in the grave.
Oh stop whining about that description fellow 50-somethings; you know you feel that way sometimes.
Writing can be hard on the soul sometimes: You stuff your very essence into a column, a story, a book or even an Internet discussion board post, and then you sit there exposed to the world. It’s almost like, back in school, when a bully would covertly tape a “kick me” sign onto your back, except that when you write for publication you’re the one taping it on yourself. And the funny thing is that the cruelest blow of all, you soon discover, isn’t actually being kicked, as in having someone criticize your work, it’s in being ignored.
And what this means, I think, is that writers, especially those of us writing in relative obscurity, owe a lot to our readers, and especially to those readers who take the time to send an e-mail or to post a comment. Personally, I think that some prominent Internet writers tend to forget this, and end up complaining a bit too much about the hassle of dealing with mail (I’m not talking about hate mail, you can complain about that as much as you want, although I’ve always found laughing at it to be easier on the soul).
One example of this comes from two of my very favorite bloggers (I won’t name them for fear of cosmic retribution): Both have, from time to time, become enraged to a surprising degree over readers who write e-mails saying things like, “You just have to write about X,Y and Z.” “How rude,” these high profile bloggers say, “I don’t tell you how to do your job.” Then they often add, ominously, that future violators may be sent to — some scary background music here please maestro — SPAM! (the technological equivalent to Siberia). I guess I can see their point; but come on, guys, cut your readers a little slack. I can guarantee you’d miss them if they were gone.
Here at The Last Chance Democracy Café, we’ve made some good friends over the last two years. Our readership for the series of café episodes has never been anything close to huge, but it’s grown steadily, if slowly. (I think — hope — that we’re seeing the same trend toward growth here on this brand spanking new café blog, though time will tell.) And to the extent we’ve had any modest success, there are some people we ought to thank.
First, obviously, a big thank you to all of the wonderful folks at BuzzFlash, including, of course, Mark, the guy in charge, who have not only sponsored the series, but have also supported it in numerous ways throughout. By this point, surely nearly all Internet savvy political liberals are familiar with the great work BuzzFlash does in providing information and commentary to the progressive community. Perhaps less well known is the incredible service the site provides to young (and not so young) progressive writers, by sharing their work with a broader audience.
And a special thanks to Gonzo, the managing editor at BuzzFlash, for his constant assistance (and occasional psychotherapy services), as well as the tremendous job he did as the chief architect of the new web site.
But most of all — and again forgive the cliché, but I really do mean it — thank you to our readers. Thanks for giving what we do meaning. Thanks for spreading the word to your friends. Thanks for whispering our name into the ear of other publications and writers. Thanks for posting about us on your personal web pages and elsewhere on the net.
And thanks for the mail and the posts on our web site. And, by the way, if you want to write to me to say, “You just have to write about X,Y and Z,” I won’t get mad.
From: Steve, proprietor of The Last Chance Democracy Café and unofficial scribe of The Three Wise Men.