I have been blogging for over 12 years now starting in 2001. At the time I was literally uploading static .html files via FTP to a web server as there wasn’t any dynamic or automated way of blogging at the time.
Quickly, though, one appeared that suited my fancy (or at least my girlfriend’s fancy) and I began writing in what we now understand as a structured Content Management System publishing posts in reverse-chronological order. My first post using this system (Xanga) went live on May 6th, 2002.
Truth be told, the first few posts were absolute shit – for example, here was one of first public blog posts that I published:
I swallowed a jagged jolly rancher, which, tore my esophagus on the way down. now im drinking hot tea and it buuuurrrrrrrrrnnnnnnnnnsssssssssss…
I was an idiot and wasn’t exactly the most “strategic” blogger back then (although not much has actually changed since then…).
Random aside: Isn’t it fascinating that the post post actually looks like a tweet? It’s about the same quality of most tweets being tweeted in these tweet-heavy techno-social days, right?
Here’s the archive of the post, screencapped forever:
On the following day I picked it up a notch and I wrote an epic 2,867 word rant-fest about all of my life in it’s entirety, from work to relationships to school to family and back again. It was ugly writing but honest; and for one thing I didn’t know how to hit the return carriage as it appears I had 3 paragraphs for nearly 3,000 words.
Again, idiocy and immaturity at its finest. But I’m missing the point of this blog post so I’ll endeavor to get it back on track.
Why, Write? Why, Blog?
Most simply, I write for myself. In fact, I started journaling in a physical notebook at a much earlier age (thanks Mom!) and I can remember the soft cover to my diary that had a gold lock on one side and had a picture of a teddy bear on the cover (I had no sense of “fashion” then and never did acquire it myself – thank God I married a fashion-conscious person!).
I wrote in that diary because I needed a place to clarify my thoughts which allowed me to make sense of the world. That reason hasn’t changed in the slightest and it’s the same reason I write today, thousands of words both privately and publicly.
And now, in many ways, I’ve discovered that it has fully become my obsession. There are few activities that have been more consistent than writing for me and as time passes it is getting close to becoming the #1 activity for my life. In other words, I can think of very few things that I have consistently been doing for as long as I have been writing.
What does this mean, then, for my readers? What are the natural corollaries? It means, simply stated, that I do not write for you. But try not to be offended as this means that I’m not writing for anyone else either. I’m writing for an audience of one; I’m writing for me.
This doesn’t meant that value isn’t created as a natural consequence of my writing – that can be easily proven if you look around the blog for a bit and especially at the Goodies section! It just means that everyone benefits (me, you, the general and random reader) when I write. And I’m very, very happy for that (and very happy that it has helped my “career” if you will as well)!
Although, I must admit, in no way am I suggesting that my writing is exceptionally good to begin with and that it’s worth your time and effort to consume – the only thing that I’ve really got going for myself is the fact that I’m consistent; I write 1-3,000 words (at the minimum) every single day, publicly, for the last 12 years (private is a different quantity and quality).
And it’s the “public” aspect that’s been the most fascinating part of my writing journey to be sure. Writing publicly requires me to practice self-control, discipline, and solicits nuanced behaviors from me that are neither natural or easy to come by. But I believe the consistent act of putting thoughts down on (digital) paper has helped me innumerably become a better communicator, in every form, and a more critical thinker of important (and not-so-important) matters.
The public publication element has not been without heartache though. I detest the idea of opening myself up to criticism, especially some of the incredibly harsh criticism that I’ve received historically, and the fact that I often feel pressured to “edit” myself at times to appease a much-more sensitive audience. This is why I still write privately, again for my own self and for my own sanity. It’s also why I have often written under a pen name or incognito as a nameless and avatarless writer.
I imagine that I shall endeavor to continue writing and blogging publicly and privately. I am, as I said before, completely obsessed. This is my life and it has naturally bled over into the technology and software that I use and that I build and create.
It hasn’t ever fully paid for all of my financial needs but it certainly has satisfied me fully many times over. It’s not a hobby. It’s not a calling. It’s not a job, a career, or a vocation either. It’s definitely not a role nor a responsibility. It’s just me and it’s why I write.
(Oh, and this long-form thing is infinitely better than Twitter.)