Blogging at 92
Blogger Lloyd Mattson spends a few hours nearly every day writing. He fires up his flatscreen desktop computer in the bedroom of his Woodland Garden apartment, opens up his blog and sends some thoughts into the abyss which is the Internet.
But Mattson is not your typical blogger. Most bloggers range between the ages of 13 to 30. Mattson will turn 92 on Aug. 29.
The blog started when Mattson's wife, Elsie's health began to deteriorate. It started as an email newsletter that Mattson wrote to keep his kids, grandkids and close family friends up-to-date. By the time Elsie died in 2009, Mattson was used to writing nearly every day and his email list had expanded to nearly 50 people.
"After she died, my sleep habits were shot because I had shared a room with her for five years and slept when she slept. So there was this hole in the night when I would wake up and think about things," Mattson said.
Mattson began to write his thoughts and stories down in what he called "The Hole News." He kept emailing his friends and acquaintances until the list grew too long to manage on his own. A friend in Arizona recommended he turn his emails into a blog.
"She set it up for me on Wordpress and showed me how to use it and I've been going ever since," Mattson said.
Today Mattson has about 300 subscribers. He calls the growth a "spontaneous combustion."
"My friends would forward the emails on to their friends and so on," Mattson said. "I never advertised it or promoted it. It just grew by itself."
He says he knows many of them in real life, but about a quarter of them just stumbled upon his website. He has subscribers from across the United States, Canada, Africa and Ireland.
"I hear from them every now and then. I get a comment or an email saying they liked this or that," Mattson said.
One such subscriber is Iron River, Mich. resident Deb Fries. She found Mattson's blog three years ago via mutual friends not long after her husband died.
"My friend connected us because he had been a widower for some time and knew what I was going through. I started reading his blog and it was a real comfort to me," Fries said.
Fries reads Mattson's blog posts once a week to catch up on his latest adventures then emails him with comments or questions. Through their correspondence, a friendship has blossomed.
"I like to think of him as my big brother. I ask him for advice and look up to him. He's not afraid to try anything and he's a real inspiration to me," Fries said.
Mattson was no stranger to writing when he started his blog. He has self-published six memoirs, written several camping guidebooks for the Baptist General Council and numerous articles in magazines. He has many copies of his books and loves to give them to strangers and friends.
He remembers the first time he sold an article to a magazine back in 1958.
"It was a piece about trout fishing in the river. I sold it to a magazine for $10. I should have kept that $10," Mattson joked.
However it's Mattson's other job as a baptist preacher which influences his writing the most. He keeps his blog posts under 400 words and tries to get to the point.
"My preaching theory was one, quit talking before the people quit listening and two, make one point for people to carry home with them," Mattson said.
This style of writing appeals to readers like Deb Fries.
"It's very simple, to the point and he makes you think. And he has so many good stories," Fries said.