The start of my first blog roughly coincided with the start of a temp assignment I took to hold me over back in February of 2009. Other than a regular paycheck the only major saving grace of the assignment was that with minimal expectations I had about 6 hours of quiet time every day to get my own work done. I wasn’t entirely without responsibilities but there always seemed to be long stretches of downtime bookending periods of furious activity the effect of which was enervating. Other than quit, I had two options. I could sit and stare at the ugly partition walls all day, or find a better way to channel my ennui. I decided to learn how to blog.
Although my intentions were good my skills were limited. Evenso the ability to bring multiple mediums together into one narrative was uniquely exciting. My first blog featured mostly photography. It started out strong but quickly devolved into a hodgepodge of innocuous links, photos and obnoxious Seinfeldesque observations. As I got more comfortable with the idea of what a blog could be. I started trying to improve the narrative, first with a more cohesive group of images and then by incorporating accompanying text.
In the beginning I filled in my office based downtime with tutorials on everything from editorial calendars to basic HTML. I made a lot of mistakes and I committed all the major blogging sins. I wrote about myself, I had no real focus and sometimes I had a little bit too much. Even though my early blogs were not by any definition particularly good, successful, or read outside of the few friends and family members I coerced into reading them, they were very instructive. There was no real method to my madness, and I happily flitted from blog to blog in rapid succession frankensteining new blogs from old with each iteration being a slight improvement on its predecessor. I went from ”Ubiquitous,” “Days of Yoga” and “Julia Lite,” and failure however frequent was irrelevant because like any good mad scientist it just gave me another opportunity for success.
Determined to make something of myself in 2011 I traded my office for a classroom and headed back to graduate school to pursue a Master’s degree in journalism at Northeastern University, where Four Letter Word was born. My idea was to create a blog to cover underground culture. It only kind of worked out that way but I published my first post, Nerd Nite: A Night out for Nerds on January 31st 2012. It was exciting, frustrating and kind of a rush and even if I only earned a B for my efforts as far as I was concerned it was a major success.
Major life changes are always a powerful mix of exiting and never wracking and in what was an almost perfect metaphor for my post graduate life, Four Letter Word was easy enough to start but there always seemed to be a lot of work to be done. With only a vague idea about what I wanted to pursue professionally, no job lined up, and no money to speak of I figured I might as well continue blogging while the job search was on.
What started out as a class assignment ballooned into full blown a self propelled, passion project and by 2013 it had come too far for me to just stop. Template updates and blog reconfigurations were constant, as was my evolving understanding of what multimedia storytelling could be. Nerdnite while still on my radar no longer sufficed and I branched out, first with “Grown Up Night at the Children’s Museum,” and then with “Decentralized Dance Party, Boston,” and eventually I included trend pieces, essays, and guest contributors, and branched off into writing about art, and digital media which I had always wanted to do.
As my employment situation went from better to worse to better again, the changes on my blog were as much a symbolic action as a practical one. In a world filled with economic uncertainty and cultural aspersions regarding under and unemployment blogging became a touchstone for me and somehow helped keep me focused on my goal of gainful employment, while I continued to build and hone my new skill set, and waded back into the workforce by way of part time retail gigs. Building a good blog was work in itself and at times all consuming, particularly since I had a very specific vision for Four Letter Word, but it was also fantastic, fun and shined a light into what would have otherwise been a dreary existence.
There have been a lot of ups and downs in the five years since Four Letter Word began, and there were always moments where I wondered, why the hell am I doing this? Four Letter Word has been far more successful than I ever imagined and it has been visited by thousands of people in more than 125 countries world wide and in many ways it changed my life. Although I never thought I would make a living as a blogger working on Four Letter Word has opened doors for me, helped me start down a new career path, and proved to me that despite what some people have said there is an interest in the stories that I want to tell.