The start of my first blog roughly coincided with a long term temp assignment I took to hold me over between freelance gigs. 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. So, I decided to learn how to blog.
Although my intentions were good and my skills were limited, the ability to bring multiple mediums together was uniquely exciting. My first blog featured mostly photography, and while it started out strong it 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.
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,” to “30 Days of Yoga” to “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 more 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, in January 2012, as part of a class assignment. My idea was to create a blog to cover underground culture and I published my first post, Nerd Nite: A Night out for Nerds on January 31st 2012. It was exciting and frustrating, and even if I only earned a B for my efforts as far as I was concerned it was a major success.
For better or worse what started out as a class assignment, quickly ballooned into full blown a self propelled passion project and by 2013 it had come too far for me to just stop. As my employment situation went from better to worse to better again blogging became a touchstone it shined a light into what would have otherwise been a dreary and frustrating existence. Template updates and blog reconfigurations were as constant as my evolving understanding of what multimedia storytelling and the types of stories I was interested in producing. Nerd Nite 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.
Four Letter Word was far more successful than I ever imagined it would be. By 2012 it was visited by thousands of people in more than 125 countries worldwide. Although I never thought I would make a living as a blogger, working on Four Letter Word 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.