[Note: Funny thing: I’ve been feeling trapped in “writer’s block” for the past year, even recording my supposed plight a couple of times in my journal. And yet. . . Looking back at the blog posts I’ve put up since June 1, 2020, the start of the eleventh year of “Retired But Not Shy,” maybe I’ve been exaggerating the whole “writer’s block” thing. Let me explain.]
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When I launched this blog in June of 2010, I decided that one post a month would be my limit, and for the first few years that worked. Then, as my confidence grew that I could produce sufficient material to go beyond that initial goal, I began to build a collection of “future blog posts,” which enabled me, once I converted my notes into deathless prose, to put up two per month, between 2014 and 2018. Then, sanity reasserted itself, and I cut back to a single post a month, a plan I’ve followed pretty regularly.
When Year Eleven began, I had only four posts remaining in that “future file,” two on my favorite “Dead Georgian,” John Wereat; the others on factions and parties in Georgia from 1807 to 1845, which would complete my blog history of political party development in Georgia between the Revolutionary Era and the eve of the Civil War. I was concerned at the outset that I would use those four posts early on and be at a loss for the rest of the year, but fortunately that did not happen.
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Year Eleven began June 1, 2020, with the annual “birthday post,” followed two weeks later by a Father’s Day post honoring my father, Ben Lamplugh, “Ben as Dad,” whose history had consumed large chunks of 2019-2020 at “Retired But Not Shy.” In July, my yearly homage to the nation’s birthday took a different form: rather than simply link readers to an earlier offering about how the Fourth was celebrated in Antebellum Georgia, I offered instead an edited transcript of an Independence Day address offered in the small Georgia town of Hawkinsville in 1838, along with commentary.
August’s post grew naturally out of the searing debate about the fate of Confederate monuments in the modern South in the era of “Black Lives Matter” that was roiling the state and the country. This essay was heavily informed by things I’d seen and heard on the Internet over the previous few months. The idea for the post came just when I needed it, and I was pleased with the result.
Last Fall, “Retired But Not Shy” devoted three posts [go here, here, and here] to a comparison and contrast of two books I’d read about the impact of the Vietnam War on American culture(s), published a generation apart, in 1985 and 2015. The series was an itch I had wanted to scratch since publishing “Growing Up with Vietnam,” in Year One, between December 2010 and March 2011. And, as was the case with the various posts put up in June, July, and August of 2020, the Vietnam Era essays were newly-written, not drawn from what remained of the “future posts” I’d been nurturing for several years.
I ended 2020 and opened 2021 with two posts on my historical “bro-mance” with Georgia’s John Wereat, whom I’d grown to know while in grad school and continued to find fascinating as I considered his role in the American Revolution and later in Georgia’s infamous Yazoo Land Fraud. The two-part Wereat series [go here and here] gave me a chance for closure–farewell, Mr. Wereat. . . .
The post in honor of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in January 2021 was a change from previous MLK entries, offering “A Prayer for Our Country” from the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer—and an explication, by yours truly—against the backdrop of the tumultuous events between election day in November 2020 and the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
February’s post , an essay on the art of the book review, used two reviews of the same work, J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, one by my friend Joe Kitchens, the other mine. In March, I finally was able to post an appreciation of a great book—one of my favorites—Melton McLaurin’s memoir, Separate Pasts: Growing Up White in the Segregated South—which I had referenced numerous times over the years but had not found time to review.
Then, in April and May, Year Eleven drew to a close with the posting of the two-part study of factions and parties in Georgia between 1807 and 1845 that had been in the offing since I published a book on the topic in 2015. And these posts stripped my WordPress “dashboard” of the last completed “future posts” in the backlog.
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So, does this mean that I’m in trouble? Not really, at least not yet. I already know that the June 2021 post, the first in Year Twelve, will be the annual “birthday post,” i.e., the one you’re reading now. And the July post will be yet another visit to the Fourth of July in Antebellum Georgia, using excerpts from a holiday oration published in the state press.
All of which means that, if Year Twelve of “Retired But Not Shy” is to flow as smoothly as the previous eleven years, I must return to my bulging folder of notes for “Future Blog Posts” and whip them into “post-able” shape, to carry the blog through at least May 2021. Please stay tuned. . . .
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Next, we turn to a series of “top-ten” lists, statistics, provided, as always, by wordpress.com.
All time (2010-2021) [Excludes “Home Page/Archives” and “About”]:
Year Eleven–2020-2021 [Excludes “Home Page/Archives” and “About”]:
[Note: The sudden popularity of this post in 2020-2021 took me aback. It concerns a purported survey of “American history,” The Dispossessed Majority, written by a white nationalist. In 1989, my older son was taking New Testament in summer school, when free copy of this volume in question arrived at our house–and at the homes of the other members of the rising senior class. My son’s Bible teacher asked if I would talk about the book, and I readily agreed. The Dispossessed Majority interpreted the nation’s history through the warped lenses of a white nationalism, racism, and anti-Semitism; thus, it had almost nothing to recommend it.
Yet, three decades later, those same ideas reappeared, during the latest phase of the “culture wars” in the U.S., and this led me to post my review, in February 2018. It was not until 2020, though, that the number of readers visiting that post really took off. And I wonder why. Were some visitors fans of the work? Were they just curious about the title? Ah, the joys of hosting an Internet blog. . . .]
[Note: This post’s recent burst of popularity also puzzled me, until I realized that the surge coincided with McTell’s birthday. Thank you, Blind Willie fans!]
New Posts, Year Eleven–2020-2021 [Excludes “Home Page/Archives” and “About”]:
Let me end by calling attention once again to the enduring popularity of this blog’s posts on the Blues. Six of the ten most popular posts since 2010 come from the “Blues Stories” page; the same percentage holds for the top ten posts in Year Eleven that come from years one through ten. In Year Eleven, however, there are no new Blues among the top ten, but that’s because I did not put up any new “Blues Stories” this past year. Gotcha! Oh, and thanks to all those Blues fans out there for finding this blog and continuing to visit it. I don’t know where I’d be without you!
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For those interested in reading more of my reflections on history, here are links to my books on the subject: