Oh, good: I’m not the only wanna-be-Internet-famous daddy blogger wallowing in obscurity while sucking down a tall glass of dashed hopes mixed with a paralyzing fear of failure

Sometimes, dreams come true … and all of the twists and turns in the road suddenly make sense … and all of your hard work finally gets you where you want to be … and all of your obsessive dedication to a seemingly fruitless quest is vindicated.

Or so I’m told.

And sometimes? Sometimes you have to settle for finding comfort in the fact that you’re not the only guy to have dreamed your particular dream, and that another guy with the same dream is standing beside you outside the fence, looking through the bars, both of you watching your shared dream frolic by the pool with the more fortunate souls who’ve gained entry to The Place Where Dreams Come True.

I only just recently discovered TellingDad.com, whose author, Greg, yesterday published a blog entry that he wrote after stealing my thoughts … which explains why I’ve started wearing this tinfoil hat … but that’s another story.

Anyway, as I read Greg’s blog entry, titled “Top 5 Reasons Why I’ll Never Be Famous,” I was, quite frankly, a little freaked out by just how much I could relate to many of the things he had written:

“I’ve come to the realization that this blog will probably never become what I initially hoped it would be. I suppose I’m okay with that but I can’t pretend I’m not disappointed. Without traction I’m sure there will come a day when the hours I spend without reward will whittle my motivation to where I no longer find pleasure chasing the carrot. For now, I’m keeping my eye on the prize and remaining hopeful that my visibility increases.”

Admittedly, Greg is a more self-actualized person than I, because, as he states above, he has come to a “realization” and is “okay with that.” I, meanwhile, remain in a fierce state of denial, because on those rare occasions when I let the reality of my seemingly futile quest seep into my consciousness, I am so not OK with it.

“I love to write but that alone doesn’t make me a ‘writer’ in the way I want to be remembered. I think I’m good at it, I’m told I’m good at it, but either I’ve overestimated my talent or others have underestimated my potential.”

Here we have a clear-cut example of Greg literally reaching into my brain and snatching out complete thoughts. (On a related note: I need suggestions for how to keep a tinfoil hat affixed to my head while sleeping. Thanks in advance.)

As for Greg’s “Top 5 Reasons Why I’ll Never Be Famous” list itself:

1.) I Don’t Make “Top” Lists

“Every time I see a Top 10, Top 25, Top 50, or Top 100 list featuring the ‘__(insert feel-good adjective here)__ Dad Bloggers’, I am predictably missing.”

I’ve made my way onto a couple of “Top” lists. Fame, fortune and a deluge of traffic have not followed. You’re not missing out on much there, Greg.

2.) I Don’t Do Product Reviews

“Because I don’t branch out beyond personal posts, there’s really no other reason for people to visit my blog. There aren’t deals to be had, freebies to obtain, or prizes to win if you spam the bajeebers out of your Twitter and Facebook streams. When you visit TellingDad.com, you’re coming for the humor. My site is one dimensional by design and I think it’s that very focus that impedes my growth.”

I have, in the past, held a couple of giveaways, but when I recently re-launched this blog, I decided to no longer hold such giveaways or seek out sponsored schwag, because those things have nothing to do with building a loyal audience whose members are here solely because they feel compelled to read my writing. I will talk about this more in my forthcoming book, “Integrity: The Express Lane to Obscurity.” Just kidding; I’m too obscure to land a book deal.

3.) I’m Not Controversial

I’ve been controversial, albeit by accident. And, yes, my brush with controversy had a fantastic impact on my traffic stats and overall visibility … but Greg’s explanation as to why he’s not purposely controversial mirrors my own philosophy:

“I don’t want to exploit controversial topics or fuel impassioned arguments just to experience a deluge of traffic.

“If people bombard my site, I want the inspiration to be rooted in enjoyment, not angst. Gaining one visitor by way of laughter is worth more to me than gaining a hundred because I inflamed a volatile topic. I get a total high when people tell me I made them laugh and THAT is what drives me to continue. In my case, the quest for that reaction is eternal.”

My daddy didn’t give me enough attention as a child either, Greg. Seeking validation in the form of praise from strangers is a normal response.

4.) I’m Nowhere Else

“Many popular bloggers branch out beyond their own URL by writing for a number of different publications and online sites. This provides several conduits through which new visitors and fans can find them. My reach is only so far, and without Jenny [The Bloggess], dozens of you wouldn’t have any clue I exist.”

Further evidence of the heretofore unknown Greg/Jon mind-meld: He shares my intense adoration of the comedic genius that is Jenny Lawson, a.k.a. The Bloggess. Jenny is so funny that I can’t help but read everything she writes … which is unfortunate, because when I read what she writes, it makes me feel like I’m an unfunny hack who should give up writing altogether. Bitch.

Greg advertises his blog via a text link on Jenny’s site. I used to do this, too … you know, back before I had to choose between electricity or advertising my blog on Jenny’s site.

5.) I Can’t Be Succinct

“People seem to love short posts yet I find it difficult to write them. I fear that if I don’t deliver substance, people will feel I took the easy way out … that I’m lazy. That I’m losing my touch.”

“Sometimes I just want to write a short paragraph and attach a photo of something I found funny, but I talk myself out of it.”

I occasionally post a Featured Photo (formerly Photo of the Day, which I’ve renamed, because the term “of the Day” completely misrepresents the frequency with which I post them), and often write a short little something to accompany each photo rather than grinding out a more substantial piece of writing. When I do this, I feel like I am cheating, and it doesn’t bring me anywhere near the same satisfaction as the longer pieces I write. Some would say “overly long.” Like this one, for example.

Hello? Anyone still here? I suppose I can just pretend someone’s actually reading this.

So, as you can see, I share with Greg many of the same roadblocks on the path to blogging success. Sadly, though, my path is further impeded by two additional and formidable factors. Please allow me, if you will, to append Greg’s list with a couple of my own items:

6.) I Say “Fuck.” A Lot.

As prominently noted on Greg’s blog, his writing is “F-Bomb-free.” He has written a manifesto that explains why he has chosen to go this route, and I fully respect his decision to do so. Having said that, I founded this blog with the intent of capturing my true voice … and my true voice includes profanity.

Of course, this sometimes creates an internal conflict for me, because I don’t want to scare off potential readers who might regularly visit my blog were it not for my inclusion of a handful of words that some folks find offensive.

For example: I love Ree Drummond’s blog, The Pioneer Woman. I comment there regularly, and often receive readers who have followed my comment links back here. And on those occasions when people coming from Ree’s wholesome, down-homey, bad-word-free blog are greeted here by a profanity-laden post, I feel like I am clubbing baby seals. I swear (no pun intended), I can hear the collective gasps of fine, respectable Midwestern housewives and grandmothers, and those gasps make me think for a moment that perhaps I should censor myself.

But here’s the thing: I curse when I speak and think and write … and whatever few qualms I may have about doing so are rooted not in an internal belief that doing so is wrong; they are rooted in the fear of offending others. And, truth be told, I’d rather have a modest-sized audience full of readers who not only allow me to express myself as I see fit, but who prefer and enjoy it when I do so than to force myself to communicate in a manner that feels constrictive and less than genuine in order to have a larger, more easily offended readership.

7.) I Don’t Post Often Enough

I remember reading in the late nineties an interview with Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, who at one point was asked why it had taken him five years to release a follow-up to his previous album. I don’t recall the exact quote, but Reznor said something to the effect of: “I remember hearing that Kurt Cobain wrote ‘Nevermind’ in three weeks. That pissed me off. It takes me three weeks to find my notebook.”

I don’t know how Greg does it, but the dude manages to crank out a new post almost every single day. I, meanwhile, am lucky to post once or twice per week, and the process of doing so feels not so dissimilar from what I imagine childbirth to be like.

So, Greg, do not despair, for you are further along the path to blogging success than am I. Everything is relative, my friend. (You might want to consider doing product reviews, though. Controversial product reviews. I’m thinking something like “flasks for toddlers.”)

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36 Comments

  1. Posted September 8, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    I am a new follower and found you thru Ree’s blog. I am a “fine, respectable Midwestern (non) housewife too. But I work in a Prison, so your language and humor suit me quite nicely. Like the blog BTW.
    Kel´s most recent blog post: The Magic School BusMy Profile

  2. Paige
    Posted September 8, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    I’m one of those who found you from Pioneer Woman’s site and I have to say that although I am F-bomb free in my vocabulary that I respect that this is your blog and am not offended or feel like I am being clubbed when I see you type out any profanity.

    I have been reading your blog for a very long time and appreciate the perspective from a Dad’s point of view of raising kids, being married, struggling to fulfill your dreams, losing family members, moving, and working in a cube.

    Yes, I read every word. 🙂 I love when you post.

  3. Posted September 8, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Honest to God, I could have sworn you wrote that after you left Boston. Eerie! And never remove the f-bombs, please.
    Meg at the Members Lounge´s most recent blog post: Tally-Ho! We Are Rich!My Profile

  4. Posted September 8, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    For the record, I came from PW’s site via one of your comments. I read your About page and immediately knew my husband would like your blog and so do I. Don’t worry (not that you are) about not writing more often. Lately, I’ve found myself skipping past the daily posters and only reading the ones that aren’t filled with fluff. I despise fluff.

    I kind of have a blog also but have hardly posted at all in the last 4 or 5 months. I guess I got bored with my own voice. Maybe I realized that no one gives a shit what I have to say and so I just got tired of saying it. For me it started to feel so self-serving. Hhmm…maybe I need to be more self-serving since I’ve felt sucked dry by everyone around me…Oops, it looks like I’m writing a blog post right now. Perhaps I should go write this in my own space.
    Rebekah´s most recent blog post: Paper TherapyMy Profile

  5. Posted September 8, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    F bombs? Maybe I don’t notice them because I have a potty mouth. Yeah, this list sounds familiar. Not famous, don’t get paid and have little traffic. But after what happened to a friend of mine who got national attention for one of her posts? Not sure my skin is thick enough.

  6. Posted September 8, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    You’re really funny when you’re feeling sorry for yourself. So there’s that.
    BuenoBaby´s most recent blog post: September 2011 Masthead – Engraved on our wedding bands.My Profile

  7. Posted September 8, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    GET OUT OF MY MIND…………….. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Um, sorry, MY tinfoil hat was in the oven under a chicken, but I’m putting it back on now. 🙂
    Sarah´s most recent blog post: TLC – The P.T. Barnum of Cable TelevisionMy Profile

  8. Posted September 8, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    I too found you from PW…..not offended at all by the language you use. Back in the day, we used to try to see how many ways we could throw fuck into a sentence, as noun, verb, adjective…what ever. It was fun.

  9. Posted September 8, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    I found you and your blog through the one and only Bloggess, and have become a regular reader. I thoroughly enjoy reading the content you post, and feel as though the f-bombs just make it easier to relate to you in a “he-speaks-my-language” kind of way.

    This post was discouraging though. I still don’t know what my intent was when I started my blog, but if some little nugget within was vying for some varying degree of success on the internets, this post has squashed that dream. The only “Top 10 Lists” I make are the ones I write myself about recent encounters with poop (and I don’t even have kids), the only time I reference a product or company is when I post a ridiculous letter I wrote to them to complain about their product or service. I’m not controversial in the sexy way that draws readers in, and I don’t have the time, energy or creativity to be posting on multiple sites. This comment should be proof enough that “succinct” is a lost concept on me, and it’s a fuckin’ celebration if I post more than twice a month.

    So, my friend…if you feel like Greggy-boy is ahead of you, then please find comfort knowing that you are light years ahead of so many others.
    Loonybin´s most recent blog post: Happy BirthdayMy Profile

  10. Posted September 8, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    So very beautifully put, both of you.

    “I will talk about this more in my forthcoming book, ‘Integrity: The Express Lane to Obscurity.’ Just kidding; I’m too obscure to land a book deal.”

    *snort*
    Julie´s most recent blog post: One of My Favorite Brands Unfollowed Me (and my subsequent obsession)My Profile

  11. Posted September 8, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Yo! I don’t think you have anything to worry about. 🙂 I was shocked at how many people thought I was standing on a ledge about to hurl myself into the pits of despair but my post wasn’t meant to be perceived that way. Still, it was wonderful to hear their responses.

    The reason I wrote that post was more for its cathartic appeal. It felt good to release all the stress I lumped on myself over not being considered in the top tier of blogging echelon. I’m cool with it, I really am, and it won’t detract from my writing. If anything, I’m more inspired than ever because I realized that while I may not have millions of readers, those I do have, are AWESOME!
    Greg – Telling Dad´s most recent blog post: Well Played, DMV. Well Played.My Profile

    • Posted September 8, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      I hear ya, dude. Mostly just havin’ a little fun … but the best gags are rooted in truth. I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t love see to a few more zeroes tacked on to the end of my traffic numbers … and paycheck.

      Thanks for the writing prompt. Hope you don’t mind me cannibalizing your post.

  12. Posted September 8, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    I am wracking my brain over here trying to remember how/through who I found you….and failing miserably. I find that the tin foil hat is wreaking havoc with my memory.

    I think that blogging is for you. Although, you think it might be nice to reach that pinnacle of success as a blogger; it probably isn’t all that it seems to be.

    Besides, I consider you a successful blogger. What more do you need? When you post, I quickly hit the link to read. Feeling secure that I won’t be bombarded with crap.
    Gigi´s most recent blog post: These Things HiddenMy Profile

  13. Mommyknows
    Posted September 8, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Your the only dad blogger I follow regularly. That makes you number one on my list.

    Going to fashion myself a tin foil hat!
    Mommyknows´s most recent blog post: DIY Lavender Sugar ScrubMy Profile

  14. Amy K.
    Posted September 8, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Sometimes your f-bombs are the only thing keeping me sane after saying “Honey, we don’t hit/kick/fillintheblank!” in my Mom Voice 1,000 times a day!!!! Please don’t stop!

  15. Amy
    Posted September 8, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    I honestly don’t know where I found your blog, but normal people use those words. I don’t associate with idiots who can’t cuss judiciously and correctly, because sometimes the only word that truly expresses what you’re feeling is “fuck.” To “water it down” dilutes the feeling it descibes!

    And, duh, to sleep in a tin foil hat, you have to wrap the tin foil around the pillow too!
    Amy´s most recent blog post: A Beautiful MindMy Profile

  16. lasersmith
    Posted September 8, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    i don’t remember how i found you, either. i’m usually a total lurker, but i wanted you to know that i enjoy your posts. i’m on an rss feed to keep up with them, so i have no idea if that counts me as a follower in any statistics you can access about your readership. just wanted to say thanks for your writing. there’s probably more of us (usually) unheard-from fans out there than you realize.

  17. Anne
    Posted September 8, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    I am neither Midwestern nor a grandmother, so curse away. You are, in fact, second on my blog list after Ree (whereby I found you in the first place), and you provide a nice contrast. Feel no need to apologize or change.

  18. Posted September 8, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    I found you through Dooce when you were commenter number one for several weeks. I like to think that the world is a better place because you say Fuck on your blog. Carry on, good sir. Carry on.
    Pink Dog´s most recent blog post: No toilet paper wedding dresses, pleaseMy Profile

  19. Catherine McP
    Posted September 8, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    I’ve read you for quite awhile now. I’ve always checked in with you. I love your humor. I hope you can make money off this crazy World Wide Web shenanigans. I have no blog of my own. But I will always check in and read!! Thankyou.

  20. Different Janice
    Posted September 8, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Have you tried to crazy glue the tin foil on your head? (rimshot)
    Found you through Dooce as someone else mentioned, you are usually first commenter.
    I have a rather skewed view of men in general (okay, daddy issues) and find your blog healing. You and your wife (like the BlurboDooces) seem to be doing a great job raising functional humans while admitting it ain’t easy and you love them with your heart and soul. Keep up the good fuckin’ work.

  21. Heather
    Posted September 9, 2011 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    Let me just say that you’re the only non-craft related blog that’s on my Facebook feed. I occasionally read other blogs, but I actually look forward to yours as I’m always sure to get at least a smile and usually a laugh. You actually made me tear up on one post, laughs like that are priceless. Sorry you can’t get paid by the laugh, you’d be rolling in $$.

  22. Posted September 9, 2011 at 2:43 am | Permalink

    Sometimes I don’t read Dooce or Jenny because it can be so damn depressing. They’re so good, and they find meaningful (or hilarious) things to say. Regularly. I’ll never be that writer, and it pisses me off.
    Amanda´s most recent blog post: The Romance of the RubleMy Profile

  23. Posted September 9, 2011 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    i found you through the PW blog, too. I’m definitely not mid western though and have a tendency to curse like a sailor so i find your blog is right up my alley. i appreciate your candor/honesty/the fact that when i read your blog i feel like i am having a conversation with this guy i’ve never met but totally know. so thank you and write on, writer. (get it? like right on, but write on? huh? maybe? k, i’ll stop).
    Sunday´s most recent blog post: Our First EggMy Profile

  24. Posted September 9, 2011 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Lemme see, how did I find you? Hmmm? Oh, okay–you were the guy across the room who kept saying “fuck” above the din of the crowd, and I thought to myself, “That gentleman seems like my kinda chap. I think I shall join him for a drink …or seven.” And I’m glad I did.

    (not that my opinion counts, but you’re a bigger deal in dad land than you may think)
    Clark Kent’s Lunchbox´s most recent blog post: Ice Box Art: The Ratio of Hotness to Craziness and The Life-Cycle of DatingMy Profile

    • Posted September 9, 2011 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      Your opinion counts. So thanks.
      And I’m glad you did, too. Looking forward to having another drink or seven in Austin next spring.

  25. Allyssa
    Posted September 9, 2011 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I’m a long-time reader (found you from a comment on dooce’s website), but I follow you on Google Reader, so I don’t post comments often (there may be a way to do this, but I’m not tech-savvy). I follow you b/c I like to see I’m not the only neurotic person in this world. I also use the f-bomb liberally in my thoughts, though having children has put a damper on my oral use of the word. I love your blog and love when you have a new lengthy post…maybe I have too much time on my hands (I don’t–I’m constantly busy). I’m not getting the fame and fortune angle though…if you want to write/blog, then blog b/c you love it and b/c it touches people. If you are lucky enough to make a living out of doing it, then good for you, but it seems really weird (insincere? disheartening? I don’t know) to read a blog and in the back of my head be wondering, “is the writer just putting this out there b/c he wants a certain number of readers or to increase interest so he can make money off of us reading?” I haven’t ever felt that from this blog, but when I think deeply enough about it (and while I am now, about 30 seconds from now, I won’t remember I wrote this-SQUIRREL!), it feels like it cheapens the story you are telling. I almost feel used. On the flip side, I get immense joy out of reading your blog, so maybe I’m using you. Maybe that’s how you feel that you are just putting it all out there, and we’re experiencing things with you, and what do you get in return? Interesting. My brain hurts now, gotta go.

  26. noah
    Posted September 9, 2011 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    I like that you use Fuck. I like your long posts. I like the once or twice a week posts. And, I like that you are still contributing to the Blogosphere.

  27. Posted September 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Well, *I* think you’re hilarious, though I’ve never been at the top of the popularity charts sooo…
    I also think your comments on Dooce are the most hilarious ones.
    I’m not sure if I have any good advice, but….keep writing, I at least am enjoying it!

  28. Carole
    Posted September 9, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    I found you through your comments on thebloggess some time ago. I remember it was another “lemons into lemonade” post. I bookmarked you that day & have been lurking ever since. I like your fuckin’ style, dude.

    Yeah. Midwesterner.

  29. Posted September 9, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant. I would like to be your friend.
    Allison´s most recent blog post: Blowhole PhysicsMy Profile

  30. Nancy
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    I’m another lurking reader. I read one of your comments at Jenny’s site and ended up following you after reading one post. And I should probably comment more often, even if it’s just to say “thanks, I enjoyed reading that.” You’re a great writer and I love your sense of humour; it amazes me that some folks manage to write humour with a sense of timing and I sure appreciate it.
    (So, thanks, I enjoyed reading that!!)

  31. Posted September 11, 2011 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    I’ll admit that I found your blog via The Bloggess, but I felt it important to point out that I was literally just passing through her site via a link from http://27bslash6.com/ and that it was your site I ended up reading “cover to cover”. Jenny is insanely funny, sure, but I sympathize and empathize with your posts. I know exactly what it is like to knock over tiny cactus’s and to have my child stuck in a plastic contraption from which she couldn’t readily be removed (in my case it was a high chair/booster thing). Your posts resonate with me, that’s what keeps me coming back.
    Abersade´s most recent blog post: Surgery AnxietyMy Profile

  32. Posted September 11, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    Being a mid-west mom, I find it refreshing to read blogs that curse when necessary! Although I don’t like to say the F-word outloud, (under my breath instead), reading it gives readers a sense of realness.
    Britt Greenwood´s most recent blog post: Nursing pillow cover – no zipper neededMy Profile

  33. Posted September 12, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    I can’t remember how I found you. I remember being disappointed you couldn’t come to NYC in August 2010. And then I saw you at M3 shortly afterward. Wait, was that Sept ’10 or Sept ’09? Hell.

    In any event, a bunch of great artists were obscure right up until the time they died. A few (or several) years later, the world realized their genius. Maybe that’ll be you in, like, 2205 or so.
    the muskrat´s most recent blog post: how she’s fared since coming out of the closetMy Profile

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