Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Reflections of an Insurgent

Now I’m not an actual insurgent. I don’t set roadside bombs or kidnap journalists but I have been an outsider using nontraditional tactics to reach my professional goals. I borrow the terminology of Dr. Mark Grimsley, a professor of history of The Ohio State University, who used the term “insurgent” to describe the role that blogging has in the field of military history. Since I am about a month away from my third anniversary of blogging I thought I would reflect on where I’ve come from, my original goals, and where I am going.

The Ohio State University is one of the best schools in military history and Grimsley’s award winning blog is a standard in the field so I followed much of his advice. I focused on a particular subject. Since I have an interest in politics, foreign policy, music, movies, and an active personal life I could have gone in many different directions for my blog. But focusing on one topic allowed me to become the “go to” spot for one subject, instead of offering a little bit on many topics. I also wasn’t clever enough to come up with a clever title so I went with a straight forward title.

Grimsley also described blogging as an insurgent medium. He said that it is impossible for one person to acquire an air force, operate large armies across the sea, or do many things that modern nations can. But an insurgent can make a crude bomb, he can pick up a gun and take pot shots at a passing convey of soldiers and he can still fight. Applied to blogging, I don’t have the degrees that many people do. I didn’t have access to a publishing organization, but I did have ideas and desire. So I started a blog and in one sense started “publishing”.

One of my stated goals was to explore the many thoughts I’ve had about The Book of Mormon. While they may not have been the most refined thoughts, publishing them on this blog has produced numerous advantages. I’ve received unsolicited fiction and nonfiction books involving military history and The Book of Mormon. In my count I’ve had three books, an excellent fiction book, and two academic books. I’ve even had an academic publisher, Oklahoma University Press, ask me to review books for them. I’ve had calls for papers forwarded to me. This allowed me to present a paper at Claremont Graduate School, which will end up being published next year.

This shift in “publishing” medium presents me with some very good problems. As Mao Zedong described an insurgency has three phases. The first phase is a local insurgency. The second phase involves taking physical control of remote areas. The third phase involves a transition to a traditional campaign to seize power of the national government. So what this insurgent blog has done is help my career from the first to the third phase. Instead of operating my blog as the only outlet to discuss my preliminary thoughts it has become an accompanying medium to advertise my success in publishing in traditional mediums. So I’ve gone from a guy with a roadside bomb to living in the palace of the old dictator trying to figure out how to form a provisional government.

Just today I received confirmation that I will be writing a chapter in a World Civilization textbook from American Public University Press. I am refining my paper about the American Civil War for publication in a Journal. And I am making suggested revisions in what will be a chapter in Mormon Perspectives on War. I also received a new book from OU Press to review. This is all in addition to my waiting to receive word about my book manuscript, and several presentations next year.

This has a huge time requirement. Every one of these papers has a different citation style and publishing in traditional presses requires more editing and a higher standard of writing than preliminary thoughts on a blog. Next, I am wondering about the function of this blog. It is hard to rail against the machine when you are the machine. At the very least it requires a change in the stated goals of this blog. It seems it is now a way to advertise my more traditional publishing outlets. This means I will most likely, and sadly, provide far fewer posts that analyze scriptures. Change might be tough but in my case it is both easy and necessary because I am still full of ideas but simply publish them in different places. The final problem involves the pace of those traditional outlets. While I publish my preliminary thoughts on a weekly basis, books and journal articles take longer. Hence my publishing frequency here will slow down as well.

I appreciate all of you taking this journey with me and I look forward to continuing to provide quality posts about warfare in The Book of Mormon.


David said...

nice Article great work

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Mormon Heretic said...

Morgan, that's awesome. I'd like to follow in your footsteps and use my blog to publish.

Mormon Heretic said...

Morgan, that's awesome. I've been able to review some books too, but it sounds like you're farther along the path than me. Congrats!

Morgan Deane said...

Thanks MH. I hope that goes well for you. Let me know if I can help at all.