There was a time when I did not think I would make it to twenty-five blog posts, yet here I am today, at 800. Is that considered a lot, or a little, after seven years? To me, it’s a hefty amount. It’s a “bring in the wheelbarrow” amount.
Since this is a milestone post, I thought I would look back on the blog posts that made me (Yes, I borrowed this verbiage from, The Movies That Made Us) and take you behind the scenes a little bit. I will explain what I was thinking when I wrote them, as well as what they mean to me.
1. Leading Off
This is my first post and I hate it, although it is slowing growing on me in a “so bad, it’s good” kinda way. I didn’t even introduce myself in it. Nowhere does it say, “My name is Paul.” All I did was welcome you to a sports blog, explain why I called it The Captain’s Speech, and then tell you about my writing style.
It took me over an hour to write that short little post. I remember crafting each sentence one word at a time because I was trained to believe that people on the internet are ruthless and criticize every little detail. Also, my head was still in “university essay” mode, so letting words flow freely wasn’t as easy as it is now.
By the way, do me a favour – say, “The Captain’s Speech”, out loud. I didn’t realize until a few years ago that the “s” in “Captain’s” and the “s” in “Speech” run into each other, so for a brief moment you sound like a tea kettle.
This is the blog post that started it all, really. If I’m not mistaken, it was my 22nd post, and one of the first times I wrote about something other than sports.
I still remember the night I wrote it. I was sitting in front of a blank screen, trying to think of something sports-related to write about, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how all my friends were back at school and I was at home for the first September as a graduate.
Eventually, I got to a “screw it” moment in my head, and wrote about missing school. I had tears in my eyes the whole time. It was worth it.
The feedback I got from friends was phenomenal and made me realize that we all feel the same things, but sometimes you need one person to say how they’re feeling first, so everyone else can too.
The next night, I received an email from WordPress, telling me it was going to be featured on Freshly Pressed (now known as Discover). A couple of days later it was up, and my notifications and views would not stop.
I had been blogging for just over two months and my record for views in a day was 32. Well, that was crushed. On September 6, 2013, this blog had 1067 views. That is still my single-day record.
I spent that day shaking. I’m not exaggerating. I couldn’t believe how much my post resonated with so many strangers. That was my first real introduction to any level of “fame”.
Writing that post made it okay for me share things from my heart and not worry about how they would be received. It went on to garner about 2800 views that month.
I think it will always be my favourite post. If I didn’t write it that night, I don’t know if I’m here right now, writing this.
This post was also featured on Freshly Pressed, seven months after my first one. I was proud of the fact that I got a sports-related post to be featured. That seemed rare.
At the same time, I wish it would’ve been a more positive post.
The 2013-14 Toronto Maple Leafs were not very good, nor were they fun to watch. I don’t think I watched a game from start to finish that year. I was tired of all the analysts picking on them and all the negativity surrounding the team.
I think it was after this, when I came across someone’s blog and on their side banner they said they’d been featured five times on Freshly Pressed.
Right then and there, I made the “Impossible Goal” to be featured at least five times as well. Why not, right?
What the “Impossible Goal” actually did was push me to make every blog post as good as I could. It wasn’t about wanting to be featured, it was about hitting the “Publish” button and feeling proud of what I had written.
Eventually, I would be featured five times on Freshly Pressed/Discover and the “Impossible Goal” came true.
With 1166 likes and 715 comments, this is my most popular post. I think it also had over 100 re-blogs. Just a mind-blowing amount of attention. That being said, it is not my most-viewed post. It’s not even second.
A small part of me regrets this post. I don’t like reading it back because I think I sound whiny, or overly assertive for no reason, in some parts.
The motivation to write it came from constantly hearing people on TV complain about millennials, or just saying “millennials” and scoffing at the term, as if we’re bird droppings on a car.
So, I took it personally and basically became the self-appointed voice of a generation.
But, my words resonated with a lot of people. And all I was trying to say was, every generation is going to grow up differently than the one that came before them. Our age and the development of the world is merely a matter of circumstance.
This was my third time featured on Freshly Pressed.
Long title alert.
October 16, 2016. The second debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was held.
This was the birth of what is now known as “Viewing Notes” on my blog. The series where I watch a TV show (mainly The Bachelor/Bachelorette) and make notes as I’m watching.
This was something we did in my Grade 11 Media Studies class, whenever we watched a movie/show/documentary/anything on the fat-back TV. They were called, “Active Viewing Notes.”
There was one assignment where we had to pick five topics from a list of eight, and write a one-page report on it. I decided to write about the Presidential Debate at the time – Barack Obama vs. John McCain.
A line in my report was, “When Barack Obama talks, people listen.” Where is the lie?
Eight years later, here I am applying the things I learned in high school, to my blog. The post was well-received, so I did it again for the third debate.
The “Viewing Notes” title officially debuted on my blog a few days later, when I watched the movie, Halloweentown. Then I did some Viewing Notes for a few episodes of The Office, before starting on The Bachelor in January 2017.
6. I. Am. Poet.
On May 26, 2015, I wrote this fun, little rhyming poem, which reads more like a rap. It wasn’t meant to be taken seriously.
People seemed to love it and then I received a comment along the lines of, “This isn’t really poetry, all you did was rhyme a few words.”
I must’ve deleted the comment because I don’t see it there anymore.
For some reason, their comment irked me, even though it was true. I knew it wasn’t real poetry. I knew all I was doing was rhyming words. But them pointing it out, bothered me.
Let me make the joke. You don’t have to tell me that I’m making the joke. I know I’m making the joke!
Because of that comment, I told myself I’d start writing poetry and get really good at it. I took it as a challenge to prove that I could actually do it without relying on witty rhymes.
This brings me to #7.
This was written about 10 months after “I. Am. Poet.” It is my most successful poem and 7th most popular post, in terms of likes (115). I also really like it.
To me, it symbolizes that I can write a real poem, without relying on humour, and have people like it.
So, in your face, random commenter.
I haven’t written a poem in almost a year because I feel like I have nothing new to say in that format. And if I ever go back to poetry, it’ll be more in the form of lyrics, I think.
Back in 2016, I announced that I wanted to write letters to other bloggers. I wouldn’t send them in the mail, I’d post them on my blog.
The idea to do this came to me at about 6AM. It was a very spur of the moment thing.
I thought I’d get about 10-15 requests and be done with them quickly. Little did I know I would end up writing 40 letters and take, exactly, 19 months to do them.
It was a draining experience and the thought of, “I still have __ letters to write” was always lurking in the back of my mind whenever I wrote about something else.
I’m glad I did it, though. It allowed me to connect with other bloggers in a different way. Plus, it challenged me to make every letter sound different, which was half the fun, honestly.
9. 50 Thoughts
There is a sports broadcaster in Canada named, Elliotte Friedman. I’ve been a fan of his since the early 2000s. He’s currently a hockey analyst. In recent years, he’s been doing a monthly article called, “30 Thoughts”. And since the NHL expanded to 31 teams, he expanded his column to “31 Thoughts”.
His thoughts mainly revolve around hockey, but he will throw in thoughts about other topics, too.
So, that’s where the inspiration for “50 Thoughts” came from. I just wanted a collection of random thoughts that pass through my head to be presented on a screen.
I have a note on my phone that I add thoughts to, and when I get about 20-25 written down, I’ll know it’s time to do another edition of 50 Thoughts. I like to think of the remaining thoughts while I’m typing the post because that ensures they are random and hopefully fun.
As of a few days ago, I’ve put out 32 editions of 50 Thoughts. It’s one of the posts I look forward to the most, and I know some of my readers love it as well.
The early part of 2015 is one of my favourite eras of this blog. I felt like I had a new idea every day. The creativity was just flowing. That is when Paulo’s Kitchen was born.
Paulo’s Kitchen is a fictional televised cooking show, which features my alter-ego, Chef Paulo. He cooks the most basic meals and goes into too much detail explaining how to prepare them, because in his head, he thinks they are complex dishes and if he doesn’t teach others how to make them, they will never know.
He thinks he is a cooking savant, but he is actually a Chefsplainer.
His Cameraman, Sam, is the pain in his side, who is constantly making quick comments that Paulo knows are intended to make him look bad, but he’s not entirely sure how they make him look bad.
The idea for all of this came when I saw other bloggers sharing recipes and pictures of really nice of food.
I thought – well, I can never do that. I’ll let the experts post their lovely recipes, and instead of trying to do what they do, I’ll do the exact opposite, while pretending that this simple “dish” is the most extravagant thing ever made.
That’s how Paulo’s Kitchen was created. By the way, it should actually be, “Paolo” but I didn’t realize my mistake until it was too late, so now I just see the misspelling as another quirky character trait for him.
This blog series actually motivated me to learn how to cook new things in real life, so I never run out of content…even though I just went a year without a Paulo’s Kitchen post.
This concludes my list of blog posts that made me.
I love this blog. In many ways, it gives me a sense of purpose. Coming up with a new idea, or blog series, is fun for me. What can I do, that no one else has done? I constantly think about that.
I am not afraid of running out of things to write about because I know I never will. There will always be something, no matter how small, that I will try and turn into a post.
Besides, blogging is 10% content, 90% personality, isn’t it? When in doubt, just write about what you like in the most you way possible.
People go to your blog for you, your content is just extra.
Of course, none of this would have been possible without any of you cool cats and introverts. I don’t make it this far without your friendship, feedback, and willingness to go along with my ideas. It means more than you know.
Thank you for laughing, thinking, crying, smiling, and punching the air with me for my first 800 posts.
May this never end.