Why, Hello There...Again
Fourteen years ago, when blogging was young and cool, and had not yet been taken over by a bunch of vacuous SEO consultants writing crap pseudo articles to get attention for their clients, I wrote a weekly piece on a personal weblog. I did it to practice writing and because it was fun. The attention I received from the roughly six-hundred-ish regular readers was also most welcome. Dopamine, dopamine, wherefore art thou my dopamine.
I didn’t think much about the set up. I downloaded Wordpress—back before Wordpress was a bloated frankenstein—and designed an exceedingly simple theme not too dissimilar from this site. The thing ran for a few years before I got the moronic idea to formalize, or maybe better to say, professionalize my blogging.
A partner and I started a site that made just enough advertising revenue to break even. We knocked ourselves out to keep eyeballs by writing several posts every day. One of the casualties of the relentless pace was my personal blog, you know, the fun one. I hadn’t written for it once during the first year of our pro blog, and decided to take it out behind the shed lest anyone notice it had been utterly abandoned.
At the beginning of year four of the pro blog it became clear the only way we were going to keep our audience growing was to write gross sensationalistic headlines. We gave the finger to that convention and to the publication that really took sensationalized headline writing to new lows, the tawdry and reprehensible Huffington Post.
I learned an indelible lesson through that experience: If it’s not fun, and it doesn’t pay well, and it’s not necessary for living, you shouldn’t do it.
About a year ago, I saw that a few of the bloggers I used to read in the distant past had picked up their pens again. After a seven year hiatus I thought it’d be neat to do the same. That’s when the trouble began.
I repeatedly knocked my head against the wall to come up with a clever blog title. Of course, trying to be clever is the surest way to fail at it. This poor site went through four iterations and several hundreds of words of text before I realized I had lost my blogging voice. So I tore the whole thing down.
As is always the case the best way to find something you’ve lost is to forget about it.
Recently, during a boozy discussion about writing, I was asked about the most valuable lesson I had gleaned from the writing program I graduated from at USC. “Write for yourself,” drifted effortlessly out of my mouth. It was a mantra of all my professors. One they inculcated in me, one I had forgotten.
When I wrote this piece as a personal catharsis, I unintentionally found the voice from my original blog. It’s older and more experienced to be sure, but it’s the one that made me happy.
So...I guess I’m back. God help us all.