I started A Geek in the Wilderness on New Year’s Day after an 8 month hiatus on my previous blog of 7 years, having burned out so badly that I honestly didn’t think I would ever blog again. The itch to write did eventually return after so many months, but I still had no desire to blog on my old site. I wanted to start out fresh, with a new name, a new blog, and a new purpose. It was probably the best thing I could have ever done.
Before, I had initially started my blog with the belief that I would become a lawyer, and my theme would revolve around my experiences in the legal profession. When that didn’t work out (thank GOD), my blog underwent an identity crisis for the better part of 2 years. I just didn’t know what to write about, only that I wanted my site to somehow gain enough traffic that I could make a living just from blogging. If I couldn’t be a lawyer, I reasoned, then I decided I wanted to be a self-made man instead, beholden to no one. Thus I would spend endless hours crawling nearly every corner of the web trying to find that magic bullet that would turn my blog into a money making machine. I enjoyed some success, going so far as to making over $600 a month at one point, but it wouldn’t last. In the meantime, my posts seemed to be one big screed after another. Honestly, it was embarrassing to read them. The endless euphemisms in place of curse words, the excessive use of emoticons, the constant wailings. It was so insufferable even I wanted to strangle me after reading a few posts.
The worm only began to turn sometime in 2009, when I paid off all my debts and started to travel more. That’s when I had my next “brilliant” idea, which was to become a travel blogger/writer. So I would travel, then write about my experiences, sometimes being given complimentary gear or free stays at hotels in exchange for doing a write-up on them. And so I tried to keep that up. Yet as much as I loved traveling and writing, writing ABOUT travel didn’t seem to suit me. It felt forced, unnatural, and it was a chore to do. There was a certain drudgeship to it that mirrored my regular job, and if this was how it was going to feel being a full-time writer, then what was the point? Might as well stick to my boring soul-sucking job, with its awesome dental plan and work so meaningless nobody would notice if I came in two hours late. It was kind of hard to beat a job where there was virtually no consequence to anything I did, right or wrong. Writing for profit as it turned out, was not quite so liberating.
From law school to money making schemes to railing about my failed love life to travel writing, the only consistent thing through all that is that I hated nearly everything I wrote. I’m actually surprised that I hadn’t burned out sooner.
So what made me take it up again? During my hiatus I started using Facebook and Twitter more, and occasionally, words would come out that really didn’t seem suited for these networks. My muse was slowly returning, yet whenever I felt inspired to write there seemed to be no proper medium for it. Gee if only I had a blog from which I could post my thoughts—
Start a new blog then? Hmmmm, I’ve been down this road before, haven’t I? But maybe now I could do things differently. The right way. Design a blog that more befitted who I was as a person rather than what I wanted to do with my life (which seemed to change more often than the weather). With simplicity and emphasis on writing in mind, I started out using the Squarespace platform, albeit with less than agreeable results. I had used WordPress for my old blog before, which had given me all sorts of grief over the years, but I finally understood running it successfully meant not forcing it to do more than it could handle, (whereas before I would load it up with a bazillion plugins that would constantly break things and bloat the site). After dropping Squarespace I gave WordPress another chance, installed a professionally made theme with 24/7 support, and kept my plugin count to no more than 10. The difference in performance and stability was night and day. It was like my blogging had been given a new lease on life, and it all started to come together from there, carefully installing powerful but well coded plugins that automatically sent post notifications to all the social networks I was on, and easily publishing new photo posts from Instagrams I’d take from my iPhone as well. I had finally (and successfully) created a hybrid tumblelog/blog that suited me.
I went from the dark and dreary theme of my old blog to a more light design, using images I’ve taken over the course of my travels as my background to give it color and a bit more flair. The metamorphosis was complete, and now I can honestly say that I LOVE my blog. It’s so me, no longer constrained to write a certain way or adhere to a certain theme. I can be as eclectic as I want and write about whatever fancies me, whether it’s simply a verbal/visual stream of consciousness such as what we see on Tumblr, or more structured in tone. Anything goes. At last, true freedom.
After a year of blogging on A Geek in the Wilderness, I’ve already surpassed the average traffic count on my old site, even though I’m content to keep this blog more low-key. On the whole, it’s been a successful year, and I hope 2014 will continue to see my muse grow as I embark on new journeys and adventures, maybe at last seeing the realizations of those hopes and dreams that have long since eluded me.
Happy New Year.