Where Am I?

If you don’t know where it is you want to go, you’re not going to know when you get there.

After so many years when this website was either neglected by the writer, ignored by readers or sabotaged by hackers from Croatia, I don’t quite know what to do, now that the site’s health and future availability have not-so-suddenly returned.

I do know that I have not been comfortable with PUSHING posts into reader-subscribers’ email inboxes via Substack. I’d much prefer readers be DRAWN to this twenty-year-old website where I lay out what I want to tell them, and they come when and if they want to read the latest installation.

I have a pretty good idea that I will be both the only writer and the only reader for any words or pixels added here over the uncertain months ahead. But I am investing in Fragment’s future continuity because I have poured so much of myself into it since May of 2002 when it began. It is my commonplace book, natural history journal and scrapbook. If there is a single place to come to revisit memories of places, people and those very many topics of peculiar personal interest for Fred First, this is it. And it matters to Fred First. End of story.

But honestly, I don’t know where I want to go with Fragments. By now, I have settled in at Substack, like it or not, for two and a half years. I have a few readers there, and even some paid subscribers to whom I feel responsible for content worth their investment.

And yet, of the 135 subscribers, less than half open and read the posts. So let’s say 60 read some portion of a post, and of them, 2 or 3 will typically click on any link provided. Why do I bother? I’m obviously not reaching readers with the things I choose to write about. How important is that? And am I motivated to spend an equal amount of time posting here on this blog, newly taken off the vent, with even fewer readers now that blogrolls have dried up and everyone is off tweeting or on the Book of Face.

I confessed in the title: I’m kinda lost in space. So what I can predict with a high degree of uncertainty, is that, going forward, I will not be concerned with a readership here. It will be my private journal with the front door open and the book laid out for anybody who happens to drop by and peruse my curios and precious things. And he is still the Strange Farmer of Erehwon.

Reprise: Of Memories and Hopes and Golden Dreams – Fragments from Floyd

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Hey Fred,
    Keep up the good work. City folks are beginning to see the need for more connections with nature. Even the Sierra Club, which has become ensnarled in may issues of the day, sees a need for more outdoor activities.

  2. Hi Fred. I can say as one who has tried to follow your wandering use of self publishing platforms for about two decades, that I am happy FFF is still going. I celebrated the 17th anniversary of my own sometimes neglected blog(?), North Carolina Mountain Dreams just today. I am always happy to see it still listed in the Links on the sidebar. I will sometimes run your links just to see how many souls are still out there pushing out their truths. And though I’m sometimes lax in posting on NC Mtn Dreams, I am back in the habit of posting something on one of my sites daily.

    It’s sometimes hard to believe that before Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok and their brethren we fought our way to making blogs work. But the world moved on and the kids would rather watch a video about a meme than read a post… And that’s all good. I plan to keep doing me until I run out of energy.

    Hang in there Fred, it’s been a ball knowing you and walking that slow road along side you.

  3. Yo Gary, we soldier on. Not sure of the campaign or the prize, but I’m happy to have you with me in the trenches.

    David, in my more hopeful flashes I have the a vision of a teachable moment when minds and hearts actually change. I just hope we don’t run out of runway before that hope gains elevation and wheels up!

    • Gary,

      Maybe substack and matter.com etc have spoiled me. It is so easy just to drag and image onto the page and have it optimized for size, with options for display size.

      I’m find the “resize and down-res and upload to media library and set as featured image…way more than a bit flow-breaking.

      Do you have any solutions up your sleeve? I have done a screenshot of an iPhoto image, then rectangular selection, set dimensions (1200px x ??), save as, yadayada. But I doubt I will tend towards WP post when it can be done way more easily in Substack.

      I have been away too long. So much has changed. And hasn’t.

    • Chris, I am struggling to decide how, when and where to spend my remaining keystrokes. I just was not able to put Fragments out to pasture with any finality. What lies ahead, amongst us remaining blog-dinosaurs, could be interesting! Or not. Thanks for stopping by–for a lot of years now!