Well, guess what: today, January 17th, 2011, is The Hurting's Seventh Birthday. Who the hell saw that one coming? I always know as soon as I see Mike celebrates his blogiversary that I'm next in line. There's a bunch of us all clustered together there - the "Class of Journalista 1.0," I guess you'd say.
It's weird - it really is - that something which started as more or less of a lark has lasted so very long. I'm nowhere near the "Expert Class" blogger that I should be, by all rights, considering how long I've been doing this: I've still got the very same ugly orange Blogger template that I started with (I switched the template once for about a month and then got sick of it). I've never branched out to my own domain name. I've never so much as thought about going back in time and cleaning up old entries and getting rid of dead links - there's seven years of rubble trailing behind the wreckage of this site. I actually like the slightly ramshackle nature of the site - it's like traveling back in time to the dawn of the universe, a time before Facebook or Twitter or Youtube. That's right - I've been around longer than Facebook. (Only by about two weeks, but still!)
Looking back at that first month, January of '04 - wow, I guess all blogs start out kind of rough. "Hey, look at me, I have opinions on things - the JLA Unlimited cartoon is kind of fun, DC Comics sure are violent and unpleasant" (I guess some things never change). Thinking back on where I was personally all those years ago is especially weird - now is not the time for personal reminiscences, but damn, this has sure been a weird 7/10ths of a decade. And through it all, this blog has become a fixture of my life - sure, a fixture which sometimes goes weeks without updating, but a fixture nonetheless. And even when I don't post I always feel guilty about it, which I guess says something right there. Every time I think about calling it quits, every time I think the whole damn thing is more trouble than its worth, I always think better. I don't know what I would do without the damn thing, and I don't know what I would do without the feedback from my loyal readers - all three of you! Here to stay, I guess. I'll post when I feel like it and no more, that's my vow to you - and you will always get what you pay for.
So that's The Hurting: never offered a job writing comics for Marvel (not that I'd turn it down), never started a webcomic with an up-and-coming cartoonist (not that I haven't considered it, just too lazy), never bothered to check my web stats or hits (I don't know how). Always full of piss and vinegar. Don't really care what people say - I've made a few enemies along the way. Usually too tired to do anything but blather on about 25-year-old superhero continuity.
One of the most valuable lessons writing this blog had taught me is that there really is no accounting for taste - my taste, when left to my own devices, is pretty horrible. That's OK: most people have horrible taste. It's whether or not you let your personal tastes dictate or obscure your ability to differentiate good from bad, that's where the problem arises. I can say, for instance, that I personally dislike Edmund Spenser - as far as canonical English poets go, I have to side with Virginia Woolf in her general apathy towards The Faerie Queene. But I know why Spenser is important and I furthermore know why he's good, even if I don't read him for pleasure myself. The corollary to that would be that while I dearly love Secret Wars II I am not stupid enough to insult your intelligence by trying to convince you that it's particularly good as anything more than an artifact of passing strangeness.
I think that's something that separates mediocre critics from good writers: a mediocre critic spends all their time trying to defend their (indefensible) taste, whereas a good writer disregards the category of "taste" and merely writes about that which they are most enthusiastic. Whether you're writing about an awful comic or a fantastic comic, it's besides the point whether or not you like it if you have something interesting, insightful or funny to say. That's something that not everyone gets: writing about bad comics is fun. Writing about awful but interesting comics is fun. Sometimes writing about truly great comics out of a sense of duty or responsibility can be an awful slog. If that makes me seem like a moron at times - well, so be it. I'm not trying to prove anything to anyone - and you shouldn't be, either! Intellectual insecurity is no excuse for bad writing. This is a hobby, after all - if you're not having fun, don't do it.
So if you want to take anything away from my seven years in this crazy business we call blogging, those are my two cents. Hopefully I can make it another 365 days around the sun without completely self-destructing.
(And for those of you who like the music, maybe you should click on the comments.)