Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Reflections on a Year of Discovery

It’s difficult to believe in many ways that I’ve been blogging for almost one year.  It’s been an incredible year of discovery and connections.

My first post on Jan. 8, 2010, was about Sebastian’s viola teacher using Tic Tac candy as a way to teach him vibrato.  I’m not sure how many people read it – that was before I had any followers, and before I learned how to track stats about the blog.  My most recent post, about my great-aunt Rosalie, was something that had been brewing in my head for a couple of years, and writing it was extremely rewarding.  It already has been viewed more than 80 times.
Me after my presentation on G. Oliver at the history museum in St. Cloud in November.
Overall, the blog has been viewed more than 5,000 times by people in 69 different countries.  I’ve averaged about two posts a week, which was my goal.  This post is No. 84 for the year.  It continues to surprise me how certain posts resonate with readers.  I also have found it interesting how some posts that I particularly liked haven’t had many views.

The most-viewed one, by far, is one called Yo Yo Ma, Meryl Streep and the Genesis of a Musician.  I think it attracted attention mainly because of the two famous people mentioned in the title; I’m not sure many of those viewers read it all the way through.

What means way more to me than the numbers, however, are the people behind them.  I truly appreciate the interest and feedback from all of you who’ve been reading.  It’s the motivation behind what I do – I want to share my thoughts and reflections with others because that’s how I grow and learn, and how I make sense of my journey into the life of my great-grandfather, G. Oliver Riggs.

One of the aspects of blogging I really appreciate is its immediacy.  As a newspaper reporter, I had to wait until the next morning to see my stories in print, and then I had no idea whether anyone had read them.  Now, I can send these stories out into the world from my laptop and get feedback minutes later, without ever involving a publisher or an editor (although an editor would certainly be helpful at times, especially now as my 43-year-old eyes seem to be failing me).

My intent in starting the blog was to figure out whether all my research into G. Oliver’s life could translate into a book.  I knew I could research forever and still leave some loose ends; it was time to start writing, and make some sense of what I already had.

Since I started blogging, I have never lacked for topics.  A trip to Crookston in June with my parents, and a family vacation in October to Civil War battlefields yielded a wealth of material, as did the Vintage Band Festival, held in August in Northfield.

It’s still my hope to write a book based on the connections I’ve made between G. Oliver’s life and mine.  Now that the year is almost up, I plan to take some time in January to evaluate where I’ve been, and where I’d like to go.

I’d like to publicly thank my friend Randy for starting me on this journey, and for being my sounding board throughout the experience.  I'd also like to thank my husband Steve for his unfailing support, my parents William and Anne for their assistance and unbiased (!) praise, my cousin Kristina for being my unofficial publicist, my friend and blogger Myrna for inspiring me, and other family members and friends who’ve been so encouraging and interested.

I look forward to another remarkable year.  And as always, I welcome your comments, thoughts and feedback.  Happy 2011!


  1. Thanks for doing this blog, Joy. It's been great fun to learn about your great-grandfather and all of his connections to past and present.

  2. Gosh, it's you who inspires me! I think in a good friendship each person feels like the luckiest person, the most blessed. I'm glad we started writing together a few years ago and that our working relationship turned into so much more - a friendship that can't be beat! (hmm, that's sort of a musical reference, isn't it? G. Oliver would like that!)