On WordPress, when you post on a blog, there is a screen that tells you how many blog posts you have published. I recently hit 400 posts here at BCC (I think this is 402). That didn’t really mean much to me until I did a little math. My first blog post here was published on January 24, 2006 (as you can see, the Bloggernacle was already pretty mature by the time I got in the game), which was approximately 6.5 years ago. That means I’ve averaged over 61 posts per year, or over 5 per month. Now, that’s nothing like what Ardis does at Keepa, but still I was kind of surprised at how prolific my blogging has been; I had had no idea I had posted quite that much.
I do enjoy writing. Of course, professionally I do a lot of writing, but that is highly technical, legal stuff that wouldn’t mean much to the average person. But as a boy I did a lot of creative writing, and it was something I thought was fun and did pretty well at.
I think the genesis of my career as a writer was in junior high. My 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. Zielke, on whom all the boys had a major crush, was a huge influence on me. She seemed to laugh almost all the time, and for some strange reason she seemed to think I was funny and that my writing was golden. Her encouragement meant the world to me, and gave me the confidence to actually try. A couple of friends and I actually started a newspaper called The Blab Gazette, which we ran off on a mimeograph machine (am I givng away my age?) and sold for something like 3 cents each, or 2 for a nickel. In addition to writing stories, I drew a comic strip, “El Marko,” a superhero I created based on a series of commercials for a certain brand of pen.
Somewhat later I wrote a whole series of thinly veiled autobiographical stories about the exploits of my group of Church friends, beginning with my classic “The Boy Who Ate 12 Hot Dogs and Died of Puppy Love.” My friends would fight over who got to read them first and argue over who was whom in these stories. This was sort of my Charly phase.
In high school I would illuminate my English papers with various drawings. Most of my teachers got a kick out of that; a few were annoyed; one even suggested I should look into getting art credit for the practice.
On the mish I gained an interest in scholarship, and I began to try to write in that vein. I even typed up a couple of “scholarly” papers on an old manual typewriter we had in one apartment. These of course were terrible, but one has to start somewhere!
After my mission, when I returned to BYU I saw an ad for a student writing contest. I decided on a whim to enter, and I won my (sophomore) division, complete with a $50 prize and publication in the student journal. Like my seventh grade teacher, the journal editors were very encouraging, which I greatly appreciated.
While I was in law school I published my first real scholarly article, on the Joseph Smith Translation in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. After I got an actual job as a practicing attorney, I stopped writing for several years, until one night my wife basically kicked me in the butt and told me to write something. The Ensign was running their annual writing contest, on the Old Testament, so I took a crack at it and ended up winning first place (this became my only Ensign publication, on Hebrew poetry; you can find it in the June 1990 issue). From there I began to write more scholarly articles on a regular basis, most dealing with Mormon scripture. I haven’t counted, but I think I’ve published about 30 such articles.
In the late 90s, e-mail lists were all the rage, and I was on several: SAMU-L (a BoM oriented list run by Martin Raish of the BYU library), Scripture-L (run by Greg Woodhouse; that was where I first e-met Julie Smith), Morm-Hist, LDS-Phil, Eyring-L, and maybe a few others. Eventually the e-mail list went the way of the dodo bird, being replaced by message boards and blogs. One of the lists I mostly lurked on was lds-law, the active participants in which eventually created Times and Seasons. In February 2005 Kaimi invited me to do a guest posting stint at T&S, which I did. For one example of my posting there, see this post on Temple Marriage Policy.
About a year later, Ronan Head invited me to become a perma here at BCC. I wasn’t all that familiar with BCC at the time, but I had a tremendous amount in common with Ronan, and I figured if this was a good home for him, it would be a good home for me. And it has been. My blogmates are really good, sharp, compassionate people, and our readers are (almost) universally intelligent and interesting. Blogging has been a great way to negotiate my relationship with the Church, and for me at least that has been a very healthy thing.
So thank you for reading me, commenting and participating in the process. I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey!