January 8, 2017
Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, this blog welcomed its 10,000th visitor. That is mind boggling to me. When I started this blog, it was simply a venue for me to share my newspaper columns with family and friends. Somehow, with your help, it has grown to become something far more than that.
So from the very bottom of my heart, thank you! These first two years have been a tremendous learning experience and all of the feedback, support and encouragement have helped me grow as a writer.
Best wishes to everyone in 2017!
July 4th, 2016
In three days, I will celebrate my 3rd anniversary as a columnist with the Mountain Press
When I started three years ago, I never imagined I would still have ideas about things to write about every other week for all that time. Surprisingly, I still have lots of ideas rolling around in my head.
I remember asking Stan Voit, the editor at the time, about how a person gets a chance to write a column and he responded simply with, “send me a sample.” I was so excited, I emailed him two samples within a couple of hours and his response was simply, “Ok. I’ll run one of your columns once a month or so. The first one was too long. The second one is about right. Keep them at around 600 words.”
And so it began – my career as a columnist.
I have also celebrated another amazing milestone recently – over 6,000 unique visitors to my blog page. 6,257 to be exact but who’s counting.
I am pretty amazed by this as well but can pretty much attribute it to one or two columns that kind of went viral on a small scale, I suppose. The most popular column, by far, is Mississippi for Dummies, which has had several thousand views. It is one of my top picks but not my personal favorite which is The Fires of Brazil and has netted me 120 views from Brazil. Some search engine down there likes me and Brazilians keep showing up to read it periodically. I used a few Portuguese words in that column that I stole from a restaurant menu so I hope I am not the butt of some joke like the guy I once read about who got a tattoo using the Japanese Alphabet to say “loyalty.” It was later discovered the literal translation was not loyalty but instead, “noodles.”
I could see a goof like that bringing in 120 Brazilian people to laugh at me. Might bump me up on their search engine too. Darn. Now I am overthinking it.
By my estimate, I have published about 70,000 words in the last three years which is right about the range of a typical novel. I suddenly realize all my arguments about how I can’t find time to write a book are really not too valid anymore. At the very least, maybe I will consider an anthology of my current works plus some new material as well.
I’ll keep you posted.
I have also considered setting up a Patreon page which I typically am not especially keen on but I do find it to be an intriguing way for content creators (a fancy word the encompasses all creative people posting stuff on the internet) to crowd fund a project. I’ll keep you posted on that as well.
Until then, why not enjoy another column?
February 23rd, 2015
I hope you didn’t have any trouble finding me! By now, you have probably gone through the agony of realizing my blog address is michaellcollins.net and not michaellcollins.com which brings you directly to the Linkedin page of none other than Michael L. Collins, Assistant Counsel to Governor Chris Christie.
Trust me, he is waaay too busy with the Bridgegate scandal to appreciate you visiting his web-site. I, on the other hand, am desperate for positive feedback from someone other than my mom, wife and mother-in-law. So, feel free to stay a while and, if you enjoy my work, let me know. I may just write a book someday and maybe I’ll give you a signed copy. Heck, It might be a more valuable publication than all of those Encyclopedia Britannica sets we grew up with in the 70’s now lining our landfills.
The picture you see above is one of my favorite photos. Circa 1955, it shows a young father and son fishing on a pond behind their home in Tampa, Florida. The images in this picture are a reminder to me of two people I never knew. The older man, Wilbur LeRoy Collins, is my grandfather who passed before I was born from a heart condition at the tender age of 52. The young boy in the picture is my father, Robert LeRoy Collins. I also never knew that young boy because, well, my dad was an adult when I was born. Duh. Come on, you didn’t think this site was going to be that sappy did you?
Ok, it may be a little sappy at times.
For example, what if I told you that my grandfather and father were the two best crane operators in Tampa, Florida in 1966 and on a sunny day in March of that year, they were both running cranes lifting massive steel I-beams to help raise Tampa’s next towering, downtown sky scraper. My dad used to brag to me that they could have the crew tie a flag to the end of each of their beams that needed to be connected and he and his dad, could swing each beam in and drop them perfectly in place with the bolt fitters and welders left with nothing to do but bolt fit and weld.
Somewhere in the midst of this mechanical ballet, my grandfather was struck with a massive heart attack and by the time my father shut his crane down and ran to my grandfather’s side, he had barely enough time to say goodbye before his father, my grandfather, passed away in his arms.
That was March 3rd, 1966. Four years before I was born.
I am certain that date was etched in my father’s mind. Not unlike August 30th, 1990 is for me. That’s when my dad died at the even more tender age of 44. His death was not so sudden, brought about by a six month struggle with cancer. I’ll speak more about the death of my father as this blog continues – that may even be significantly what this blog is about. For now, just know that my feelings toward cancer are strong and unforgiving.
Until then, the above is just a hint of what will come. I intend to write some original stuff (I already have a real doozie planned for you) and also, I will republish some of my original work that appears in my bi-weekly column in The Mountain Press.
I hope to post frequently so stay tuned and thanks for stopping by.
Michael L. Collins
(and yes, the L. is for LeRoy, pronounced “Luh-Roy” – 3rd generation!)