One year ago today I began a new adventure. 365 days, 117 posts, and 31,496 visitors later, the Flat Circle Blog has reached its first anniversary. In the one year that I have been blogging I have learned so much about writing, the world of pop culture, and myself.
I started The Flat Circle after feeling stir crazy for a few months. I wanted to create. I wanted to write. I wanted to find my voice. I needed to find a way to express myself. The urge to create something took over me. I had to write something. I had to walk down a different path and discover the voice within me, even if it would be devoted to debating the holiday spirit in Die Hard or looking ahead to the third season of True Detective.
The first person to spark my interest in writing was Jayson Stark. I can still feel the ink on my hands after reading his columns and pouring over the weekly baseball statistics in Sunday editions of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The way he observes and discusses the statistical quirks of baseball formed my early love of baseball. It takes a special person to instill my love for the pitcher who struggles to throw an intentional walk or position player ERA leaders.
The second person was former Inquirer writer and current WIP host Glen Macnow. He taught a journalism class at my college (Saint Joseph’s University) for a few years. It is the single most impactful class that I ever took. Morbidity aside, I began to realize how much I loved writing when he taught the class how to write obituaries. It is not that I enjoyed writing people’s endings, but I loved to tell their stories.
If I could name one dream job, it would be something that allows me to relay people’s stories every day. Perhaps one day I will find the proper way to do that through the Flat Circle or another medium.
This is my second attempt at a blog. My first blog, www.longafterdark.net, only focused on music. While I lament that I couldn’t transfer the name of the blog to this domain, I am glad that I decided to expand my new blog to cover a wider variety of material. By examining different shows, bands, podcasts, and films, I feel like I have grown as a consumer of entertainment. My principle hope is that by sharing this, people have been able to take something away from my own experience.
Outside of the introductory post, the first post on The Flat Circle looked at the amazing series Big Little Lies. I wanted a second season and HBO obliged. It can’t get here soon enough.
The post that made me realize this attempt at blogging could be rewarding was a piece that I wrote detailing Wendi McLendon-Covey’s brilliant acting on The Goldbergs. That post was picked up on Twitter by show creator Adam F. Goldberg and Ms. McLendon-Covey and it was cool to discuss the piece and show with them online. After that brief interaction it was crazy to realize that just eleven days into The Flat Circle, I was onto something good here. It was an experience that I never had with the old blog. Indie bands are less likely to share a post where you spell their name wrong (sorry, Wendi).
The blog also changed how I watch movies. This year, I made an effort to watch every movie that was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. By seeing those movies in such a short period of time, I was able to note the styles of different directors and writers and how little things can make a big difference in making a good movie a great one.
While every post I create is personal on some level, there are pieces that I write because I think sharing clips of Conan O’Brien in Ireland is fun and those that are very much a part of me. To date, there are two pieces of writing that took a part of my soul with them. One is a paper that I wrote in Macnow’s class on the closing of SJU’s Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse. The other is a piece on this blog about Tom Petty’s death last October.
I have never shied away about how much Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers mean to me. Exactly two months before his death, I had written about my experiences of seeing the Heartbreakers on the road. I was stunned that the person I had seen so many times was no longer alive. Writing about it was the only thing I knew how to do. In a way, writing was a cathartic way to heal.
As part of an effort to make my blog more personal, I created a new series of posts that will recur on every Monday. The posts will examine some selection of music from either my collection or from travels across the Internet. Coincidentally, this Monday’s post looks at Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell and how he has begun to play the band’s music.
So many of my family and friends have supported me along the way. There are too many to thank before the orchestra starts playing me off, but I am deeply appreciative of everyone who has clicked, commented, and shared Flat Circle material within the last year.
Thanks to Joe Greenwich for suggesting a reference to the amazing first season of True Detective as the blog name. Thank you, Rosemary Connors for being a cheerleader. Thank you, Warren Good for providing some much-needed words of inspiration at a low point in my creative energy. Thank you, Britt Lytle for always understanding.
I would also be remiss to not thank those in the blogging community who have guided me over the last year. Professionals Kate Toon, Darren Rowse, and Joe Pulizzi have been excellent teachers. To the fellow rookies in the Facebook group “Blogging For New Bloggers” and the members of the Culture Pit, it’s been a blast to exchange ideas with you.
As always, a shout-out to my cat Hobbes, who continues to sit on my keyboard at the worst times. Without you I wouldn’t have had to spend 15 minutes this week figuring out how to fix my mouse pad.
My Mom, Dad, and sister Jennifer (who has her own great blog), have been incredible to me for such a long time. My wife Janet has been a patient editor and sounding board. It takes a special person to listen to someone go on about learning Search Engine Optimization at 11:00 PM… four nights in a row. Without her, binging Stranger Things, getting upset about Game Of Thrones endings, and my Oscar movie quest would be the loneliest things in the world. With her, it helps me realize how much fun it is to indulge in these pursuits and enjoy life. My family and friends brings out the best in me and I can only hope that I do the same for them.
Thank you for reading the Flat Circle this year. I have exciting things in mind for Year Two and I hope to keep growing the blog as a way of sharing the music, movies, podcasts, and shows that make life fun.
– John Saeger
www.flatcircleblog.com is a Philadelphia pop-culture blog that covers television, music, podcasts, and movies. Follow along on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, or subscribe by e-mail to catch all posts.