*Since the publication of this post in April 2017, the blog has changed its name to Welcome to Eclectic. Pack Mule for the New School was the blog’s title from its inception in 2010 until June 2018.
Seven years ago today, I published the first post on this blog, Pack Mule for the New School, in part because I was sick of playing the submissions game: write something, send it out, wait, maybe get an answer, maybe not . . . then look up after that slow process and realize that the piece is outdated so there’s no choice but to scrap it. I started blogging because I wanted to go straight to an audience when I was ready. Maybe a post only reaches two people— but that’s two more than those words would have reached if I went the traditional route, waited, and got a rejection letter— or got no response at all.
In the last seven years, I’ve thrown a lot up here, about 800 posts whose subjects have run the gamut: from explorations of Deep Southern culture to examinations of education policy, from ruminations on teaching practices to pictures of plants I think are beautiful, from elaborations on the importance of voting to celebrations of hokey old horror movies, from opinions about beer and whiskey to ideas about true happiness. Over seven years, I’ve shared the ideas that one Generation X-er in the Deep South thinks about: reconciling my deep roots in this confusing place with my notions of possibility and progress, wondering out loud what would happen if education and voting were as important as college football, and even looking into the unfairness of student-loan debt. Any marketing-advice article will tell you that a writer should maintain focus and develop a niche. It should be pretty clear that I have some difficulty with boxing myself in. I just lump it all under the heading “Deep Southern, Diversified.”
Not too long ago, my children asked me what my favorite song is, and I told them that I have two that I can’t pick between: “The Weight” by The Band and “Wasn’t Born To Follow” by The Byrds. Both appear on the soundtrack to Easy Rider, which is one of my favorite movies, and both songs express, in different ways, how I feel about life: I can see what everybody else is doing, but I’m going to do what I’m going to do. Maybe this Pack Mule for the New School thing has rambled around some, but that’s the way my mind works.
Since seven is a lucky number, and since spring is a good time for airing out and shaking off the dust, I see the signs telling me that it’s time to do something different. After 168 writer-editor-teacher quotes, twenty Southern Movie posts, ten Passive Activist posts, twelve Some Other News from Around the Deep South posts, eighteen Chasing Ghosts posts, a few Deep Southern Gardening posts, and whole slew of others, a few minor aspects of Pack Mule for the New School are going to change.
Mainly, many of the posts from 2010 – 2017 will remain available, though I’m removing some of them to trim the fat, taking down the posts that announced events or appearances, that commented briefly on then-important matters, etc.
The image above was taken by tapestry artist Tommye Scanlin in the summer of 2010 (about the time I started this blog) in the woods behind the Lillian E. Smith Center in Clayton, Georgia. The man in front of me, with the machete, is artist Robert Fichter.