That’s right. Not only am I doing my own personal “clip show” (which actually proved a surprising amount of effort to compile yesterday), I am also making it a two-parter. Oh yes. Today’s look back looks at some posts from my first forays into daily posting and beyond.
For the uninitiated, the whole One A Day thing came about towards the beginning of 2010. A number of writers from diverse corners of the Internet decided to try their hand at posting something on their blog every single day. I came to the whole thing a little late — my first post was on January 19 — but have kept it up ever since, which, it has to be said, is more than can be said for the vast majority of participants in the 2010 experiment. (The only other one I’m aware of who is still going is Play Magazine’s Ian Dransfield, who remains consistently ahead of me in terms of “number of posts”, though has resorted to the “miss a few days and catch up later” strategy a few times.)
Anyhow, the guiding principle of One A Day was very simple: just write. No rules, no minimum length, no set topics, just write. For you. If other people happened to enjoy it, so much the better, but it was primarily an exercise in churning out content on a regular basis and keeping those “writing muscles” well and truly exercised.
It’s been an interesting experiment for me, as the things I’ve talked about on here have grown and changed over time according to my life situation and my own mental state. In the early days, for example, I was very much of the opinion that my career in the teaching profession was probably going to kill me, but I was also excited by the fact that I was going to escape my (temporary) position in time to go to PAX East. PAX East, as it turned out, was an amazing experience and remains, to this day, my Favourite Thing I’ve Ever Done.
It was around this time that I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands. I’d left my job and didn’t have anything else to go to, and I was (foolishly, as it turned out) hoping that I’d be able to support myself with freelance writing and private music teaching. I got a bit of income coming in thanks to the fine folks at Kombo.com (most of whom I now count among my most beloved online friends) but that, unfortunately, didn’t last forever.
Neither, to use a hideous segue that I don’t particularly like thinking about, did my marriage. I was an absolute fucking wreck as a result of the events which came to a head in May of 2010, though in retrospect it helped me produce some fine, emotional work such as — bear with me — this rather personal ode to a bacon sandwich. It also encouraged me to unscrew my head and put it on a different way just to try and stop myself thinking about Bad Things. Or just to get really, really pissed and then take stock of the disastrous attempts at texting and social media I’d made while inebriated. Let’s do itcagsin sometime.
Fortunately, I had Stick-Pete to keep my mind off things. (His first appearance was here.) Stick-Pete was a conscious decision to try and give my blog a distinctive aesthetic, and I make no secret of the fact that my decision to incorporate poorly-drawn visuals rather than the stock photography I’d been using previously was entirely due to my discovery of Allie Brosh’s rather wonderful blog Hyperbole and a Half, which I extolled the virtues of here. I was initially worried that people might think I was ripping off Brosh’s work, but I developed my own distinctive look over time which has, itself, changed and adapted as time goes on.
Stick-Pete and a series of characters I plucked out of my imagination seemingly at random were excellent ways to clumsily illustrate the things I was writing about, and a number of posts were designed with illustration in mind, such as this guide on How To Laugh on the Internet. Certain characters were, I noticed, making appearances more regularly than others, so I thought it would be an interesting experiment to start drawing a comic to illustrate my posts. Here’s the first post in which that appeared. I kept that up for a surprisingly long time, though eventually guilt at not being able to post if I went away for a weekend (my comic-making tools of choice were on my non-portable Mac) got the better of me and I eventually stopped. Now I just feel guilty that Alex, Lucy and Phillipe aren’t getting regular outings and opportunities to insult me, so it’s entirely possible they may return at some point in the near future. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, this post from the start of 2011 helpfully reintroduced them all.)
As time went on, the years passed and my life situation started to gradually improve once again, so I tried a couple of things, some of which you’ll find linked to in the sidebar. Wasteland Diaries was a 30-day “improvised narrative” experiment, for example, in which I attempted to write a coherent(ish) story over the course of a month, similar to what those NaNoWriMo people do. (I had wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo for a while, but various circumstances had always made it impractical. This was my less-structured, less-disciplined approach — but I saw it through.)
I also cemented my view that writing on this ‘ere blog was a good personal outlet. Obviously I don’t mean that in the sense that I use it to badmouth people (I don’t! You can look back and check!) but rather that it was a good place to get things out of my head and onto “paper” — things that other people might feel somehow “ashamed” to talk about. One such subject was the visual novel Katawa Shoujo which is, for those of you who don’t know, a rather wonderful interactive love story set in a Japanese school for the disabled. It was a fascinating, well-written game worthy of some deep analysis and criticism, so not only did the Squadron of Shame take it on for a lengthy podcast, but I also felt inspired to write about it a great deal. It touched me deeply, and the subjects explored therein resonated hugely with me. I’m not disabled, but a lot of the underlying themes in the game’s various narrative branches were actually nothing to do with the characters’ disabilities, and really got me thinking.
As you can see, I’ve been busy. And somehow there’s been something to write about every day, even if it hasn’t been very interesting. (For that I make no apologies. Although I seem to have picked up a small but dedicated readership over time, I’m still writing this primarily for my own benefit.) There’s plenty more interesting times in the future — good and bad, no doubt — so I’ll look forward to sharing them (or avoiding thinking about them) via this page for a long time to come yet, I hope.
Now, to just resist the temptation not to post tomorrow and make everyone believe I’m dead…
Hah. Just kidding. Writing this blog is so entrenched in my daily routine now that I’m not convinced I could give it up, even if I wanted to. So like it or not, you’re stuck with me. (And thanks for sticking around this long. Incidentally, if you want some more links to past material, here’s another “clip show”-type post. Enjoy.)