To commemorate the 8th anniversary of The Captain’s Speech, I sat down with a film crew to answer some questions related to my blogging experience. Unfortunately, they lost all the footage, but not before transcribing it! Convenient, I know.
This is a blog-mockumentary-documentary.
Welcome to the first-ever blockumentary.
Welcome to, Beyond The Blog: 8 Years of The Captain’s Speech.
TWO WEEKS AGO – 12:51 AM – PAUL’S HOUSE
(The Film Crew Arrives)
Paul: Oh good, you’re early. Come on in, make yourself at home, but don’t touch anything. This isn’t a Wal-Mart. I’m kidding. Mi casa et tu casa…except not really. Cliches really need updating, don’t they?
Crew Member #1: Are you always like this?
Paul: Sometimes. Have you read my blog?
Crew Member #1: Why don’t we just find somewhere to sit down, start the interview, and make some magic?
Paul: All right, but if you’re expecting me to pull a rabbit out of a hat, you’re going to be disappointed when I pull a pizza slice out of a box instead.
Okay, let’s get serious.
Paul sits in his desk chair. It squeaks as he swivels. His desk lurks over his shoulder like a parent holding their 4-year-old still as they talk to a teacher. Nothing on the desk looks like it was placed there to provide a more aesthetic backdrop for this interview.
We ask Paul about that.
Paul: Who am I trying to impress? If the words coming out of my mouth don’t make me sound reputable, the stack of perfectly placed books behind me aren’t going to help.
Let’s shift focus to your blog then. You started The Captain’s Speech in 2013. Did you think you would still be blogging eight years later?
Paul: To be honest, I never really looked ahead. It was always just about coming up with the next blog post, then the next one, and then the next one. It wasn’t until a few years in that I consciously realized, “Oh, it would be cool to have this blog for a long time.”
Was there ever a time when you felt like stopping?
Paul: Not really. There have been a few times when I’ve gotten discouraged, though. Two months into this blog’s existence, the most views I had ever gotten in a day was 32. I distinctly remember thinking, “Well, I guess this is the best it’s ever going to get.” And then I wrote about missing school and my blog exploded.
On September 4, 2013, Paul wrote a post called, “I Miss School, Already”. It was featured by WordPress on Freshly Pressed. His blog recorded 1045 views in one day, which is still his one-day record.
Let’s talk about that “explosion”, as you put it, because you started The Captain’s Speech as a sports blog and that was a post…wasn’t. What was the impetus for that?
Paul: Well, first of all, if anyone watching this wants to start a sports blog – please, don’t start it in the middle of summer. Outside of baseball, there is nothing going on. You can only get so excited about offseason trades in the NHL and NBA.
So, that played a small factor in me writing about something unrelated to sports.
Do you remember that night you wrote the post?
Paul: I sure do. Not being in a school setting for the first September in my life was very weird. It didn’t help that I still had a bunch of friends at school. I was sitting at my desk trying to think of something to write, and all my mind kept going back to was “I miss school”. So, I started typing and fortunately, my keyboard didn’t burn my fingers as if to say, “No! You write sports. No personal. Sports!”
I don’t know why I gave a keyboard poor sentence structure, but there it is.
How did you handle all the extra attention your blog was getting?
Paul: I was shaking for 24 hours. Why are strangers being nice to me?
What did you learn from that experience?
Paul: I learned that I could write about anything and I didn’t have to stay married to the idea of a “sports blog”. It also taught me that you never know who your words are going to touch. You really have no clue who could be on the other side of the screen.
Do you remember some of the things people have told you?
Paul: Definitely. Being told that my words were an escape, and that I could make them smile and laugh – that means so much to me.
You write about a wide-array of topics and sometimes they are very random. How do you come up with them?
Paul: How do I say this so it makes sense? As I go about my every day life, I feel like I’m constantly asking myself two questions. 1) How can I turn this into a blog post; and 2) What can I do that I haven’t done, or seen someone else do, before?
Does that explain some of your different blog series like: Chef Paulo, 50 Thoughts, and First Time Watching?
Paul: Sort of. By the way, the series is called Paulo’s Kitchen. Common mistake – don’t worry, I won’t tell Paulo. But yeah, I dare you to find the blogger who created a fictional television food host who cooks simple dishes and acts like they were made by Gordon Ramsay.
You can’t, and that’s why I did it.
Your writing style is one where you sound like you are talking directly to the reader, rather than putting words on a screen that can be read. Is that an accurate description?
Paul: I think so. I try not to think too much about the sentences I’m typing. I just let the words flow from my brain to my fingers and if they take their time getting there, that’s my cue to close the laptop and try again another time. If I have to sit here and think about what I want to say, then I’m not ready to say it yet.
Interesting. So you’re basically making it up on the spot? Do you have an outline of things you want to say? How to you get from Point A to Point Z?
Paul: For me, most blog posts are all about a single idea. I could spend a few days, or weeks, mulling over possible directions in which I can take that idea. And if it excites me enough, that’s when I know I’ll write about it. That’s the extent of my preparation.
I don’t know how I get from Point A to Point Z, so to speak. It’s like climbing a set of stairs – you don’t really think about lifting your legs, you just do it. That’s me and writing. When in doubt, I add more humour. I stop typing when I run out of stuff to say.
Shifting gears, though we touched on it a little bit earlier – what’s the blogging community like?
Paul: The best way to put it is: it’s a collection of all the people you would want to sit with at lunch. I think bloggers are the nicest people on the internet and it caught me off-guard at first because, well, this is the internet. You share your thoughts and someone is bound to criticize you.
That doesn’t happen here. Everyone is supportive and friendly. It’s almost too good to be true, but it is true.
Is that answer kumbaya-enough for you?
You’ve made real friends here.
Paul: I have. I’m in group chats and fantasy sports leagues with blog friends. On many days, I’m talking to bloggers more often than people I know in real life. I’m so thankful for these friends that I am entirely too comfortable with.
What motivates you to write?
Paul: I wish I knew, sometimes. I feel like 70% of blogging is getting the motivation to write. I like the process of creating something and then sending it out for others to hopefully enjoy. I also like how I feel after I press “Publish”. It’s a feeling of joy and relief that I like chasing.
You don’t really have a set schedule for when you write. Talk about that.
Paul: I am in constant awe of bloggers who operate on a fixed schedule. I just can’t do it. It’s too much pressure. It’s not like this is school and I’ll be punished for missing a deadline. If I don’t feel like writing, I don’t have to.
Okay, let’s get into some rapid fire questions.
Paul: Let’s do it.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about starting a blog?
Paul: Your first post may get six views and a couple of those views will probably be you. Don’t let that stop you; keep writing. People can’t read your blog if you give them nothing to read.
What is the cure for writer’s block?
Paul: Apple juice?
What is your favourite time of day to write?
Paul: Any time after midnight. It’s a distraction-free philosophy. That’s why we’re filming this now.
Do you listen to music when you write?
Paul: Yes. It forces me to make the voice in my head louder than the one in my laptop speakers. Sometimes, it gets to the point where I don’t really hear the song. I’m too busy being in the zone.
What is your blogging pet peeve?
Paul: Stop apologizing for not writing a blog post in a long time! You owe no one an apology. You’re allowed to take a break without having to explain yourself.
Do you go back and read your old posts?
Paul: Not really. Whenever I do, I find myself not liking the post as much as I did when I wrote it.
Are you satisfied with your About Me page?
Paul: No. Did you have to bring this up? Bloggers don’t like writing a description about themselves, that’s why we have a blog – so we can deflect.
What’s the hardest thing about blogging?
Paul: The omnipresent feeling that “no one cares” never leaves, no matter how many people follow, like, comment, or read my blog.
What has blogging taught you about yourself?
Paul: I can’t stay under 1000 words.
Okay, what has blogging taught you, in general?
Paul: We are all just searching for someone to say the things that we are also thinking, so we know we are not alone.
How do you see this blog impacting your life over the next three years?
Paul: I’d be lying if I said I’ve never thought about this blog leading to something else. I’ll just say it: It would be cool if someone would let me attend sporting events for free and maybe write something about them. Heck, if someone wants to send me to the Olympics, I have a bucket of ideas. I don’t think I’d ever be a serious reporter/journalist – that style is too boring for me. I need humour; I need to do it my way. So, we’ll see if that ever happens.
And, finally, where do you go from here? You’re eight years in, what next?
Paul: To sleep. That’s where I go from here. But after that, it’s back to the imaginary drawing board in my head, and getting my creative (apple) juices flowing again because the most important blog post is always the next one. And that excites me.
Roll the credits. I like that ending. End it there.
Eight years is a long time to maintain a blog, especially in an era where the public seems to prefer video content. However, that doesn’t seem to discourage Paul. If anything, he sees it as a challenge. Only time will tell if this Captain can navigate the ever-changing seas of social media.
Paul: Hey, voiceover guy. Can you tell the viewers that “Captain” isn’t a nautical term in this context? I know there’s been some confusion in the past and I just want to clear that up. Thanks.
For eight years, on a ship, far far away, there is but one Captain. His name: Paul. And boy, does he have a story to tell on his blog, The Captain’s Speech.
Paul: NOT A SHIP CAPTAIN.
Thanks for watching.
Paul: OH, COME ON.