In March 2001, on the eve of the publication of Walking the Bible, I started a website, www.brucefeiler.com. I did it on a whim. “Authors should have websites,” I thought. It changed my life. Not just my professional life. My life life. The experience of having people write me, in the middle of the night, two days after finishing a book, on the eve of a discussion in their book group,thirty-five years after teaching me in kindergarten; from Japan, Kuwait, the Philippines; in Spanish, Portuguese, Farsi; in appreciation, in tears, in rage; while watching me on PBS, while listening to me on NPR; while sitting with their dying spouse, while serving in Iraq, just after sending their grandchild to Israel, just after nodding off on the side of Route 1 in California while listening to me on an audiobook; has been the unexpected gift of nearly two decades of being a professional writer. Publishing books, appearing on television, giving a speech, succumbing to the occasional temptation of being the glib, knowing witmaster pundit (like on Stephen Colbert) are mostly one-way forms of interaction. My site enabled me to communicate, in the best, two-way sense of that word.
Last fall I launched my third major redesign of my site, and added a bunch of features designed to incrased communication. Many of the old features were still there, including descriptions, an excerpt, reviews, and links to purchase each of my nine books. For my last three books – Walking the Bible, Abraham, and Where God Was Born - we enhanced the very popular interfaith discussion guides andother materials for readings groups or classes. I now have a newsletter where people can learn of upcoming appearances. Also, on the events page, I keep a perpetually updated list of where I’ll be speaking and a have a link to the wonderful folks at Royce Carlton who help arrange my schedule. And, of course, I have a way to send me an e-mail. In over five years, I’ve answered every single one.
I also launched a blog at that time. I called it Feiler Faster. I did this for a number of reasons. First, the ur-blogger Mickey Kaus is an old friend of mine. Though he may deny it if given the chance, he and I used to run a happy hour together, with a mutual friend, in New York a decade ago. One night while attending a reading of the ur-vlogger Bob Wright, we got to talking about politics. It was a day or so after the New Hampshire primary in 2000 in which John McCain had upset George W. Bush. The SC primary was a few days away. Could Bush bounce back, or would the NH bounce carry McCain to victory? “People process information so quickly these days,” I said, “by the time Saturday rolls around there will be a backlash to the McCain bounce.” Or something to that effect. Mickey, in his genius, preternatural understanding of the blogosphere, turned this into a theorem, the Feiler Faster Thesis, which he later shortened to FFT and has used periodically since. Well, it became a thing. It has popped up in news accounts over the years, it has a Wikipedia entry that is actually longer than my own Wikipedia entry, and it showed up in a review of WALKING THE BIBLE on PBS in the NYT. So, since his description of the FFT begins by saying I had an idea I said I said he could borrow, I asked him, somewhat nervously, if I could borrow his enhancement of my name. He was generous and matter of fact: It was my theory. And so, riding on his coattails, I claimed it back. Also, for someone who writes books for a living and has never held a job (except as a circus clown), the idea of having an outlet where I could write faster, as opposed to my day job, which is essentially Feiler Slower, the name seemed appealing.
Around the time I was beginning Feiler Faster I attened a party for David Kuo and reconnected with some old friends at Beliefnet. I have had a distant connection with the site since it was launched, as some friends of mine worked on the launch, back in its fat-and-happy days. I wrote the odd piece very now and then, and they have been kind enough to cover my writing over the years (like here and here), and even named ABRAHAM the “Best Spiritual Book of 2002,” a rare honor. They suggested I consider moving Feiler Faster to Beliefnet, and, well, it took a long time, but here we go.
If you’re new to Feiler Faster, welcome aboard. You’re find that a number of topics we’ve been discussing for some time. I’ll try to fill in the backstory along the way. Otherwise, it seems sill to list what I blog about, because, among other things, it changes by the hour. I look forward to reading your comments. And I’ll let you know now one of my philosophies of writing that has served me well from Japan through the circus to the Bible and beyond. I like to be loving, but blunt. And I invite you to be the same.