In May 2013, I had a bunch of half-formed and un-sold essay drafts in a folder on my computer, and I decided to make a blog as a place to dump them, even if no one read it. I had only published 5 or 6 essays at that point and had no idea what I was doing as a public writer.
November 2016, this is my 1000th blog post. I’ve had some pieces find good readership, but mostly this is a space for me. The blog has always been about me warming up my writing brain through daily practice, about collecting information and testing arguments, and about having a home for ideas that aren’t sellable due to being weird, off-cycle, or half-formed. It’s worked great.
But also thanks for reading. The consistent 200-2000 people (that’s the range, yes) who read each post, rarely comment here, but routinely chat with me on Twitter and Facebook, have become part of my process as a writer. I learn so much from you all and am genuinely grateful.
A few pieces I like:
- My “should I start a blog?” blog post (I wrote a related essay for The Chronicle on academic blogging).
My only advice for aspiring writers is this – if you blog, make sure the blogging itself sustains you even if no one is listening. Make sure that when you blog, you are writing things that you want to write, that you want to get better at writing, so that the iterative process of homing in on your core arguments makes you better at them. The blogging must satisfy you because surely, you will write brilliant essays that you love, and but 25 people will read it, or 10, or 5, or no one.
If the writing feeds you, sharpens you, gets you ready to say the things you want to say more effectively, then blog. If you find yourself writing only to get readers or make money of advertisements, well, I have no objection to commercializing your prose, I wish I were better at it, but you’re doing something very different than I (I have a great day job; I have privilege) and I can’t tell you whether blogging is a good idea.
The two big post which actually made some news here and there.
- After someone at University of Houston tweeted a picture they took, I broke the story of the Faculty Senate advising faculty to not teach controversial subjects to avoid gun violence. I found the original slide show, posted them here, and tweeted it. Various journalists saw it, shared it, and then went back to the original source for their articles (correctly). But I know I broke that story, lifting it from a small niche of Twitter into the mainstream media.
- I woke up early one morning to find out about Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) making a racist joke at the National Book Awards. Irritated, but also interested in the way people use disclaimers to get away with demeaning humor (relevant to disability jokes), I called up C-Span and made a quick transcript. It was the first transcript, so people quickly shared it a lot.