Stop Worrying About Your Readers

My daughter asked me to tell her about every girlfriend I have ever had and to focus on the ones who broke my heart.

I laughed and told her I didn’t know how many girlfriends I have had nor did I have any idea how many had broken my heart.

Confession: I lied about some of those things.

I have a general idea about how many girlfriends I have had and I know who broke my heart and who didn’t but she doesn’t need to know those things right now.

Maybe later, maybe never.

At just a few minutes before bedtime I wasn’t interested in getting into a conversation that I knew would send her mind racing off to a million other questions that would keep her from falling asleep.

There are boundaries in blogging and boundaries in general storytelling.

Stop Worrying About Your Readers

Once when I was in sales another salesmen told me he didn’t understand why I didn’t adopt a “customer is always right” approach and suggested I could sell more if I gave them what they wanted and didn’t worry about what they needed.

If my daughter were older and I felt like being transparent with her about some of my dating history I would tell her that some of the women I dated got what they wanted to hear because it got me what I needed.

It is not something I am proud of but when I was a younger man I didn’t always date the woman I needed and so I went after the one I wanted.

Those relationships rarely lasted very long because I never let myself open up to get what I really needed and consequently I just got what I wanted.

As you might imagine the few who broke old Jack’s heart covered both what I wanted and what I needed. If I opened myself up to possibility I often stumbled into opportunity.

Sometimes that led to heartbreak but it always led to growth too.

I think somewhere in between or after heartbreak and lots of living I figured out that I was always happier when I focused on what I needed and not what I wanted.

Can’t say when I adopted that approach as a sales technique but I found it to be effective because if I understood what the customer needed I could serve them better as a trusted advisor than a salesman who said yes to whatever they asked.

And that is part of why I stopped worrying about what my readers need.

Niche Bloggers, Cars & Tech

My car is 15 years old and I am about ready to replace it.

Sometimes I wonder how some bloggers get gigs where they are given a car to drive for a while.

I know the car manufacturers hope it leads to a post in which the blogger praises the car and recommends it to their readers.

And I know bloggers who have done it but I have never reached out and asked them for details or help. Heck, in eleven years of blogging I have spoken to two PR folks from two different car companies but it never led to being given a car to drive or any of the experiences other bloggers have done.

The obvious response to this is to ask why I haven’t done more to try and change this. If my kids approached me about a similar situation I’d ask them if it made sense to sit idly by and hope that someone approached them or if it made more sense to be proactive in their approach.

Might be nice to get a car I am thinking about buying for a weekend in exchange for a post. Would make it easier to figure out what I want, now wouldn’t it.

And then I think about all of the cool tech that is out there and how I could be one of the bloggers that gets a chance to use and review it.

Might be nice to get my hands on some of that tech and write about it. Might offer a chance to carve out a new role and maybe even a cool career.

Maybe I should rethink my approach and become a niche blogger.

Why I Don’t Worry About My Readers

There are more than 983,883,993 blogs out there or at least that is what it feels like to me.

I do my best not to succumb to blog envy and get irritated by those that are more successful but provide inferior content.

Can’t say that I am always successful but most of the time I am. And most of the time I am happiest when I just write from my heart and share whatever comes from my head…within limits of course.

I could adjust my focus and spend my time trying to give people what they want. I could focus on my stats and write solely about the biggest traffic generators.

I could spend more time trying to drive traffic by writing about current events including the controversial stuff like religion and marriage and be confident that it would increase the number of readers here.

I know that it works because I have done it but it is just not as interesting to me as it used to be.

What I write about are the things that touch me now. Does that mean I still giving people what they need and not what they want?

Probably not, but no one has to pay to read this so those of you who are hanging out are here because you choose and or want to be.

And that is why I don’t worry about my readers. You’ll keep coming as long as it serves you and the best way to serve you is for me to be engaged in my writing.

I think that is a win-win.

What about you?

Would Stephen King Be A Good Dad Blogger?

Dear Stephen,

What is new in your world brother?

I don’t think I have reached out since I wrote Dear Stephen King or maybe it was A Conversation With Stephen King and it is not because I haven’t thought about you because I have.

But man you have to understand that when people don’t treat me well, act inconsistently or ignore me I notice and sometimes I respond in kind.

Sometimes my thick skin isn’t quite as thick as it could be but most days I am too busy to spend time wondering or worrying if my friends are really my friends or if they are treating me the way they should.

And even if I wasn’t the girl drama I hear from my daughter and her school friends is enough to wear me out.

Ok, I don’t know if it is all drama but girls are so very different from boys. I think it is because we tend to be more direct.

If a boy/man doesn’t like you there is usually no question about it. We don’t need to analyze what was said, how or with whom.

That is not to say we don’t have our own shit to deal with or never create our own form of chaos because we do but it is easier for me to understand so there is that.

Would Stephen King Be A Good Dad Blogger?

Someone once asked me if you could do what I do and I laughed because to me it seems like a ridiculous question.

The hardest part of blogging is sitting down and putting pen to paper. It is taking the time to share stories about parenting in a way that makes it possible for people to relate to.

It is figuring out how to share stories about dealing with mean girls, school stuff, summer camp, diapers, teenagers, summer camp, questions about life and all sorts of other crap for the long haul and not just for a couple of months.

So I figure an author who knows how to write stories that are turned into books and movies has not only the writing chops needed to succeed here as well as the temperament that will help you sustain your effort.

That sustain your effort bit is something I have always wanted to speak with you about because I am curious to hear your take on how your ensure that the well of ideas never runs dry.

Blogging Is a Funny Sort Of Animal

A friend of mine read a post I wrote about blogging called If You Write It They Will Come and said he thought I made it sound far more difficult than it is.

I must have scrunched up my face when he said it because he told me he was sure it was much easier to get readers than I made it sound.

When I told him he was fooling himself if he thought he could put links to his posts on Facebook and that all of his friends and family would read them he said I was being negative.

I politely told him he needed to remove his cranium from his rectum and take a more honest approach to what might happen but he thought I was being a jerk and told me to stop deluding myself.

I said I would be happy to let it go but reminded him that sometimes those who accuse others of being deluded suffer from the same disease they think others have.

The whole thing reminded me of some conversations I have had with my kids where they have tried to convince me that my experience as a student isn’t as relevant as I make it sound because I have been out of school for so many years now.

That always leads to my saying “you can’t screw an old head on young shoulders” and some eye rolling on their part.

It also reminds me of how my friend pointed out some blogs that are relatively young that appear to have great success.

The kids can always point out something that is different between now and then but it is never significant enough to make me agree that the differences are too big for me to relate to.

I had good teachers and bad, homework, tests, finals and had to deal with all of the same kinds of people they do now.

Perspective Is A Funny Thing

I have to tell you Stephen that I would definitely ask you about perspective and how you develop your characters. I want to talk about how you create them and what kind of method you use to give your creation…life.

When I write fiction I always use an amalgamation of people I know as part of the foundation of the character and just work from there.

Sometimes I make a point to create some that I dislike because life is filled with all kinds of people and I won’t limit my tales to only heroes who only save the day.

That is because sometimes heroes fail and the happy ending they would have brought about never happens.

Oh Stephen, did I mention I have often wondered what life was like when your kids were little.

If they came to you and said they had a nightmare did you listen to their story and think to yourself, “that is not scary at all” and then want to tell them a scary tale so they would know the difference.

I kind of pictured something like, “Dad, I had a dream that some kids and their dogs were chasing me.”

You always respond with a comment about whether they came from the Pet Cemetery and were joined a clown driving a classic car with a rabid dog in the front seat.

I don’t get scared easily, but even that might make me think twice about being alone in the dark.

Happy Father’s Day Stephen

Since you never responded to the last post or two I am going to guess you probably won’t comment here or email either.

That’s ok with me, I understand what it means to be busy so I’ll just wish you a Happy Father’s Day and say if you ever do think about becoming a dad blogger or even just a regular blogger and want to talk shop you know how to reach me.

Another Social Media Experiment

I don’t know about you but I am a learn-by-doing kind of guy. If I watch you do something a few times I’ll probably pick it up, but I am rarely satisfied unless I try doing it myself.

Don’t know if it is because of an independent streak that makes me prefer not to rely upon others or an inquisitive nature that pushes me to find out how things work and to explore what happens when I push the envelope.

Whatever it is that combination is probably to blame for the number of times I have blown up the blog or created issues for myself by messing around with plugins and design without always knowing what I was doing.

It is definitely played a significant role in my finding a way to accidentally turn off the RSS feed here for a significant chunk of time.

Or in other words it was an excellent way to try and kill some of the traffic here.

Had it not been for messages from some of the readers who wondered if I had finally given on blogging I still might not be aware that technical difficulties were impacting things here.

Another Social Media Experiment

In an effort to avoid taking that kind of hit again I am going to request that you consider subscribing to the blog. You can do so by using the subscribe bar that lies under the word discussion or by clicking on the large link in bold below:

Never miss one of my posts by subscribing to me on Feedio.

There is no obligation to do so nor any promise of rewards for doing so other than the opportunity to stay in the know about what is going on here.

If that works for you that is great and if it doesn’t that is cool too. I have told more than a few people no one is obligated to read anything I write nor am I obligated to explain your misunderstanding anything I have written.

Why Are You Grumpy Jack?

I am glad you asked. I am irritated with the misbehavior, misunderstanding, mischaracterization and mishegoss that some people have forced me to deal with.

I am irritated with some people trying to apply their perspectives, fear and uncertainty upon me.

I am frustrated with having to deal with a bunch of unnecessary crap from people who think they have more influence over my choices and decisions than they do.

That being said I follow the same advice I give my children as outlined in the Emerson quote above.

Confession: A few hours ago circumstances proved to me that I am indeed not 20 anymore.

A disagreement with someone infuriated me and there was a moment where the idea of tearing the doors off of the hinges and putting my fist through every wall I could find sounded like a good idea.

The difference between then and now was I took a deep breath and thought about a saying I read on Pinterest, Not My Monkeys, Not My Circus.

And then I thought about that Emerson quote above and decided it was my choice to give them the power to irk me and I could take it back.

Does that mean I wasn’t angry or hurt anymore?

No, because I was but I didn’t have to react or do anything stupid.

Instead, I chose to set it aside and think about what bothered me about it and then I could decide if it merited more attention.

Why Do People Follow You On Social Media?

The obvious reasons are because you educate, inform and or entertain them.

There are lots of different ways to do that but this post isn’t about any one of them. This post is just me sharing some thoughts and ideas with you.

It is me saying that sometimes I think the misunderstandings between people occur because of a communication breakdown.

Sometimes we get frustrated because we feel like our words are intentionally twisted or because we feel like we have been lied to.

I tend to think the truth might lie somewhere in between those two points and that maybe if the parties got a chance to really flesh things out they come to a place where they understood each other.

That might not mean they ever agree but they would at least feel like they had been heard. Sometimes that is all people really need.

The more I read online the more I think the reason some of us are out here writing is because it is the only place we feel like we are heard.

Did I mention:

Never miss one of my posts by subscribing to me on Feedio.

“A little talent is a good thing to have if you want to be a writer. But the only real requirement is the ability to remember every scar.”
― Stephen King

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of. ”
― Joss Whedon

“Some things are hard to write about. After something happens to you, you go to write it down, and either you over dramatize it, or underplay it, exaggerate the wrong parts or ignore the important ones. At any rate, you never write it quite the way you want to.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Blogging For The Sake Of Writing


Today marks another year of riding the earth around the sun.

Some call it birthday number 46 and others refer to it as the entry into the 47th year but me, well I just smile and say I am not dead yet.

They ask what that means and because I am in a peculiar sort of mood I respond with a non-answer.

Ambiguity lends itself to a variety of interpretations.

Maybe this peculiarity is to blame for why I book-ended this post with two quotes from Emerson.

These are thoughts and ideas I believe in, stuff I try to pass along to my children because there is merit in making these into part of our core.

There is a value that you can use for our entire lives in these ideas and that is the sort of work smarter and not harder philosophy I like to incorporate.

Blogging For The Sake Of Writing

A while back someone told me we shouldn’t be blogging for the sake of writing, at least I think someone told me that.

It is possible they did not and what I think I heard was something I read. Have I mentioned that whenever I read post, article or book I always hear the voice of the author in my head.

Of course it is just what I imagine said voice to sound like, sometimes I discover it is nothing like I imagined it to be.

Kind of like life, it doesn’t always resemble what I imagined it to be.

Anyhoo I think the point of their comment was that every post should tell a story that the readers could follow and that you should never write anything that didn’t have a beginning, middle and an end.

My response to that sort of commentary is, “That is fucking stupid,” unless I am talking to my children or in a professional setting in which case I say I disagree.

The province of the writer in a blog isn’t to produce sterile garbage that neither moves nor motivates people.

And it is to share parts of pieces of ourselves so when I tell you that my current employment isn’t as a writer you will ask why that is because you know it is what I do.

Or maybe you’ll say Steiner isn’t the writer he thinks he is so not writing for a living isn’t a big deal.

And then I’ll tell you I don’t care if you or anyone else believes I should be because I do and my vote outranks all of yours.

I’ll tell you that I want my children to feel this sort of connection to something, this kind of passion and to have the gumption to go for it.

Enjoy The Journey/Work For The Prize

I need to start using that line in my conversations with my children.

They need to remember the importance of being present in the moment because you never know when something special, major and or important can happen.

If you aren’t awake you tend to miss those things.

And you/they need to remember if you are working in a position that isn’t feeding your heart and soothing your soul you can do something about it.

You can and you should.

Some of you won’t understand this.

Some of you will think I am exaggerating but part of the reason I am feeling crazed right now is because the support for my dream is being crushed and the position I am in is choking the air out of the fire that fuels it.

Bad things happen when you get bored with blogging but that is nothing compared to what happens to those who choose to tolerate the intolerable.


On my 46th birthday it is worth noting how some people have misunderstood my silence and work ethic to mean I have accepted situations I found intolerable.

When that has happened they have often been surprised by the eventual eruption that followed these moments.

Can’t tell you how long it took or provide any sort of benchmark to reply upon, all I can say is if I wasn’t given the opportunity and or freedom to make the changes I had to make things could get very ugly.

I don’t consider that to be any different from any other person.

What I see as important, significant, meaningful and distinct is the willingness to take action.

When you reach those moments you have the choice to allow them to crush you or to do something about it.

You don’t have to accept that as the end of the story. You can choose to take the next left or jump on or off a train.

It is about the journey.

Sometimes these posts are written as much for us as they are for the readers.

What Kind Of Writer Do You Want To Be?

It is late Friday night, well past midnight and somewhere into that place others call the witching hour when I wander into my teenager’s room.

“It is your birthday dad.”

“Yeah, it is. You need to get to sleep soon.”

“I will. What do you want to tell me?”

That leads into a short conversation about what this moment in time. He tells me about the end of middle school and I share a few thoughts about where my head is at.

He asks me about the job and I don’t say much other than it is fine for now but that I never forget I am a writer.

He asks me what kind of writer I want to be and I say I am the kind who writes because he has to. When he asks for further explanation I promise to do it during daylight hours.

Later I lie down in bed and realize I haven’t spent enough time here lately nor enough writing in general.

This has to change and it will.

Words are air and I am choking.


Who Are You Blogging For?


One of the old timers asked why I don’t update my blog seven days a week anymore and told me they wondered who I was blogging for.

“Nobody comments on blogs anymore and if you are not getting any comments who are you blogging for?”

I didn’t have to think about my answer because I knew the gut response is always the same but I decided to take a moment to try and dig deeper to see if there was more than the I write first for me and then for you.

So I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try to dig around in the archives to see how many times I have addressed the question and to try to figure out how much has changed.

I stumbled onto The Sloppy Kisser and knew it had to be included because it is a story and it wasn’t me airing out my thoughts about this and that.

Flipped and clicked my way over to What I See- Part One and What I See Five Years Later and realized I have to write part 3.


Because that will provide a quick snapshot of life in 2005, 2010 and 2015.

When I read the first two parts I smile because I remember the man I was for both of them and recognize I am not quite him anymore.

Too much has happened, too many major changes have led to an evolution that would have taken place anyway but is probably more significant than it might have otherwise been.

This time in life is all about who I am on the way to becoming and not who I once was.

Life Changes Are A Writer’s Best Friend

If you want to tell a good story that is entertaining, educational and informative then you are going to want to get up close and comfortable with life changes.

They don’t have to be good changes any more than they have to be painful ones because both are useful.

Real life experiences do more than provide credibility, they help you paint a better picture for the readers.

When my son tells me he is nervous about entering school or when my daughter gives me a list of places she is willing to move to and those she isn’t I can smile and say I understand.

I know all about children and changes and can write about it from multiple perspectives.

Ask me to talk about what it is like to lose your job and fight to keep things afloat and I can tell you about it at length.

I bought a home and felt like I owned a castle and then when things went to hell knew the time had come to sell it because if I didn’t I wouldn’t get a dime out of it and all I had worked so hard for would be taken.

Those experiences are weighed against the joy and laughter of life, measured in small increments called moments in time.

Most possessions have become of limited interest to me, except for the few have morphed from ordinary into extraordinary.

Self Reliance
Blogging at times is a funny. unpredictable and unreliable beast.

The posts you are most proud of because they are finely crafted examples of your finest writing are often ignored, passed over and overlooked.

Replaced by silly tales about how to hard boil eggs or stories about how you tore your pants and spilled coffee on our shirt.

Laughed at by stories of the time you tried to change a diaper and were peed on by a baby whose bladder couldn’t possibly hold that much liquid but somehow did.

My stories about supermarket mayhem, fist fights with Santa Claus and drunk and horny clowns always out perform the posts that I think display the best examples of my writing abilities.

It used to bother me because I was worried that I was developing a brand that was too narrow in its focus but once I took a hard look at it things changed.


Because I am a writer and a good writer is required to make people feel something.

Those posts did their jobs and they helped provide opportunity and reason to continue.

They also helped build a foundation for writing other posts that are not necessarily based upon stories that have the traditional beginning, middle and end but are more…abstract in nature.

If I had any particular criticism of the abstract it is that they are less likely to inspire comments than some of the others.

Why You Have To Keep Writing

The reason why you have to keep writing and the reason I keep going is because I can’t imagine not doing it.

But it is also because of the unpredictability of it all. I never know for certain what people will love, like or hate so I keep swinging.

Babe Ruth

I like swinging for the fences but I never forget that sometimes a post that fails may still contain some gold within.

You never know when you might coin a phrase or parse together a few sentences that are both magical and magnificent.

That alone is worth it to me.

What about you?