Essays on Technology and Culture

On Ten Years

Ten years ago, I registered In truth, my parents paid for the domain and my first year of hosting as a High School graduation present. It began as a replacement of my now long defunct LiveJournal. I built a design in Dreamweaver, set up Greymatter as a blogging platform, and spent a period from the summer before my first semester of college until my eventual fail-out, journaling my life. Over the intervening years, I’ve struggled to find a format that suits me. Among the various things I’ve tried are a personal journal, semi-weekly experiments in fiction, vaguely lifehack-esque productivity wank, blogging about literature and books, and finally what you see here. There have also been fallow periods where the site consisted of little more than a placeholder page. [1] If you’re genuinely curious, you can plug my URL into—I refuse to do you the favor, so as to spare myself easy embarrassment. It’s been two and a half years since I last started over, opting for another clean slate, when blogging about literature failed me—or when I failed blogging about literature.

Though I refuse to link to it, it is interesting and informative to me to rediscover the roots of my voice as a writer and put myself back in the mindset of my eighteen-year old self. Ten years ago, I was preparing to move to New York City, trying to determine who I am, wondering what I would become and what my future would be. Now, I’m preparing to move back to New York City, trying to determine who I am, wondering what I will become and what my future will be, now with an additional decade of experience and knowledge under my belt. In that time, Ideas have risen and fallen, projects have started and been abandoned or failed on their own. I’ve learned failure, repeatedly. I’ve designed and re-designed and re-re-designed this site at about once a year. The constant has been, in one form or another, maintaining this site and pouring out words. I keep at it, hoping, for some reason, people will want to hear what I have to say.

Some people do want to hear what I have to say, but if they didn’t, I’d still keep at it. I’d still keep writing and clicking that publish button as often as I can. The words come from somewhere inside, sometimes in a trickle, sometimes in a torrent. Some of them land on a page. The words never stop coming, but the frequency waxes and wanes. One reason I publish on here so infrequently is that I’ve come to believe in curation. What I put up for public consumption deserves to be the best of what I can create, not just unfiltered brain droppings. For that, there’s my Twitter account, and I’m trying to apply some of the same focus to that.

As I write, big things are happening. Crush On Radio is picking up steam. I’m quitting my jobs, packing up the bare minimum of my posessions, and moving to New York City to be with the most amazing person I know. I’m learning new things about myself that I never expected to learn. I’m seeing big, exciting things happen in the lives of my friends. I’m simultaneously falling back in love with my home town even as I get ready to leave it. There’s so much happening condensed into so little time that it’s hard to keep it all in focus.

Focus may well be the watchword here. The next few months will give me the unfettered freedom I had in my lost year writ even larger. To survive, both creatively and financially, I will need to focus: focus on doing the work—focus on finding work, focus on making the work better. This is the test of all the lessons of my last decade, an open book, open notes, open ended essay format test with no length limit and no time limit, graded on the steepest curve imaginable—my own. At least I have help, or more help than before. The flip-side of focus is commitment. I’ve committed to this relocation, and I’ve committed to producing a podcast every week. I’ve made commitments before around Sanspoint, too. The question is: “Who am I making this commitment to?”

The successes I’ve had came from committing not to any theoretical audience, but to myself. Sure, I have the aid of my co-hosts for Crush On Radio, but I’ve taken on the heaviest lifting. If I don’t sit and record and edit, if I don’t write the post and compile the notes, there is no show. If I don’t make the time to sit and write and edit, there is no Sanspoint. The artistic dilemma inherent in this case is quantity versus quality. Andrew Marvin has something new every single weekday, short or long, and I respect and admire that. I don’t think that’s what I should be doing.

Ten years in, I’m committing to myself to make this thing real. Each week, one new thing that goes up, of length and substance, the sort of thing you could and would throw into Instapaper for later perusal if you don’t have time to read a thousand-plus word essay. That said, I don’t want to force myself to hit an arbitrary word count if I can’t. What is most important is having well-written, well-thought out, long-form work under my name, because that is what I choose to write and it is what I want to read.

  1. Primarily, this was because my previous host had been hacked, and someone injected malware code into all of my pages. I jumped ship to MediaTemple and never looked back.  ↩