I started The Siding Spring a year ago today. It isn’t my first blog, but it’s the only one I’ve stuck with. My previous attempts at blogging were all dismal failures, primarily because I never committed to an overarching concept that allowed for honest writing.
None of my old WordPress atrocities still exist, and my memories of them are mercifully dim. I opened my first blog in 2009. I forget the name, but I remember the posts attempted to be lofty and philosophical. It was even less fun to read than a stack of philosophy papers written for a junior college course.
At the end of college, I tried to start a humorous literary criticism blog in 2011—something else I’m too dumb to pull off compellingly. The only post I recall attempted to explain why Charles Bukowski is more fun to read than Earnest Hemingway. Regardless of which taciturn drunk you prefer, this blog was as painful to read as it was ill-conceived.
Lastly, In mid-2012, I started a blog the day after being dumped by my girlfriend. Project D.A.N. was the most cringe-inducing of all my blogging attempts, because its ethos of relentless self-improvement led to PAINFULLY emotionally and intellectually dishonest writing. I wrote dozens of posts about things like the benefits of not reading celebrity tabloids and why I make my bed in the morning. The writing was so insincere that if Tony Robbins ever read that blog, I’m sure he would’ve changed his name and sworn off inspiring others forever.
None of these efforts lasted long. Lying to yourself in a public space for no one’s benefit isn’t a motivating activity—the enthusiasm for writing about something you don’t care about quickly wanes. After giving up on Project D.A.N, I didn’t even try to blog for a couple years.
But then, in late October 2014, the idea for the Siding Spring came to me pretty much out of no where. A blog to collect the things I think are interesting. No strained attempts at perfection, no writing about subjects I have no knowledge or interest in. Among other things, it could be a place to review the books I read.
Reading had started to feel like a futile exercise. I would read a book then move on to the next, doing nothing with the information I’d gathered. It wasn’t learning so much as it was a scanning over of interesting information. After reading a book, it would soon grow hazy in my mind, until a year later I might as well have never bothered with it. This blog forces me to work harder at reading. Highlighting and then typing out the 3,000 or so most important words of each book is helpful for absorbing the material. Being forced to summarize a book in just a few paragraph is difficult but makes me clarify why that book was worth reading. It’s a painstaking process but has made me into a better writer.
I’m enjoying blogging now more than ever. My goal for the next year is to actually garner a readership. Hopefully I can do this without promising that this blog ‘will make your life better’—most writing on the internet is disturbingly aspirational. To be successful by being informational without making any overblown promises might be impossible. Who knows, and who cares? Finding readers won’t be easy, but I have a few ideas that if done correctly will lead to more interesting and appealing content. Here’s to another year!