A Reflection on Three Years of Blogging

The way all good things begin.

Three years ago today, I inaugurated this blog with its first post. At one point in it, I explained that I’d moved to WordPress.com and started a new blog because of issues with my previous host, and I wrote this:

I thought about buying my own domain and not messing around with that stuff anymore, but then I thought, wait a minute. Nobody actually reads what I write, anyway. Why pay for the privilege of writing it?

Well. Three years later, I have my own domain name. I also have a modest following of both friends and strangers, and the blog now gets hundreds (sometimes thousands) of views a day.

A lot of other things have changed since then, and they’ve all impacted my writing. I started college, developed severe depression, got diagnosed, got treatment, and recovered. I did a political 180 and became a passionate progressive. I dropped journalism as a major, picked up psychology, and chose the field of mental healthcare as a career. I gained weight and cut my hair short. I left a serious relationship.

In general, there is very little in common between the person who wrote that first post and the person who is writing this one today.

I’ve learned a lot from writing this blog. I’ve become a better writer, obviously, but I’ve also learned how to argue better, how to take things with a grain of salt, and how to remove myself from the world when I need to.

I’ve learned that calm and careful writing fares better among the commentariat, but that there is a place for snark and anger. Sometimes I’m fucking angry. Sometimes I have the right to be.

I’ve learned that what they tell you about women who are both seen and heard isn’t true. The adults in my life warned me of all sorts of things–that people would dislike me, that men wouldn’t date me, that employers wouldn’t hire me–if I kept up this blog. I’ve certainly lost friends through my writing–well, I’ve lost “friends”–and it’s certainly made things awkward sometimes. I don’t really care.

But these days, most of my genuine friends are people I met through writing. Some of them knew my writing before they even knew me in person, which is interesting. I get messages all the time from friends and from people I barely know or not at all: “I read what you wrote about depression…can we talk?” “My boss keeps making sexist jokes. Do you have any advice?”

I’ve learned that doing what you love will set you free. In my case, it set me free from unhealthy friendships and relationships, from depression, from a terrible career path, and from the feeling of being powerless and insignificant. Three years ago I had no voice. Today, I do. And I use it meaningfully.

I’ve learned to do things for myself and for my own benefit. Not for friends and family, not for lovers, not for teachers–and not just for my resume, either. I write because it’s a joy. I write now for the same reasons I did when I was a kid–because I love to. (I wrote my first creative thing when I was three years old, and it was a song about cement trucks, which were my favorite vehicles at the time–clearly I never really did the whole girl thing properly.)

I’ve learned that, to put it mildly, haters gonna hate. There have been people who seem to be offended by the mere existence of this blog. There have also been people who find everything I write here to be a personal insult to them, and yet they continue reading it day in and day out. This is something I have yet to understand about people. Why not just leave?

I’ve learned that apathy doesn’t get you anywhere. It’s so fashionable and the pressure to cultivate it (or at least learn to fake it) is so high, but nothing good has ever come to me through not giving a fuck. I care deeply about things, people, ideas. I think that’s my strength as a writer and as a person.

I used to be so quiet. I used to tread so carefully. Not much scares me anymore, and the opinions of others matter little.

Blogging gave me an identity, and the whole process is a joy–from the first spark of an idea to getting to a computer, wringing it all out, checking the facts, linking to the sources, reading everything over, giving it a title, pressing “Publish,” taking a break, doing it all over again.

Hopefully for many more years.

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Like My Blog? Think It Needs More You In It?

(In that case, it sounds like you might want to contribute a guest post!)

Part of my mission with Brute Reason is to encourage conversation about things that are often left unsaid, and that doesn’t mean I have to be the only one talking. I’ve already had two fantastic guest posts this week, and I want to open that opportunity up to everyone who lurks on reads this blog.

The rules are pretty simple:

  • It must be thoughtful and intelligent. Well-written is a plus, but if you’re not a strong writer and still have something to say, I can help you develop your post.
  • It can be about basically anything. This blog has an emphasis on psychology, culture, politics, and social justice, but anything goes.
  • Pseudonyms are okay. It’d be cool if you can use your real name, but if not, I understand.
  • Crossposting at other blogs is obviously also okay.
  • Try to keep it under 1,500 words. If it’s longer than that, we could consider splitting it up into two or more posts. Or I might just ignore this rule.
  • Nonfiction only, please. Unless it carries a strong message that pertains to politics, social issues, etc., in which case I might ignore this rule too.
  • No racism, sexism, or any other of those bad -isms. I realize this is completely a judgment call on my part, but hey, it’s my blog.
  • You don’t have to agree with me. In fact, my first guest post directly contradicted one of my own opinions! I’ll publish guest posts that I disagree with, as long as they handle the disagreement respectfully and intelligently. The only exception is in the previous bullet point.

Although any subject is fair game, here are a few that I’m especially interested in because I lack the experience and/or knowledge to write about them myself:

  • Race and LGBT issues
  • Mental illness other than depression
  • Science, especially the latest research/controversies in climate change, nutrition, and other politically relevant issues like that
  • Food policy
  • Non-Western perspectives
  • Economics and business ethics

Sound like something you want to do? Email me your piece or idea at miriam[at]brutereason.net.

I hope to hear from some of you soon!

*update* For heaven’s sake, I will not publish any guest posts from content farms. Please stop trying. Here’s a hint: if your blog name is something like Best Online Colleges 4 U, I’m not interested.

Also! I forgot to mention this before. Please send along a brief bio with your guest post.

Random Intro-type Thing

My old blog, Illogical Paradox, is experiencing some bandwidth issues at the moment (don’t ask me how this happened–NOBODY goes on it, I swear), and since I’m incapable of dealing with that, I just started a new one on wordpress.com. Yay.

I thought about buying my own domain and not messing around with that stuff anymore, but then I thought, wait a minute. Nobody actually reads what I write, anyway. Why pay for the privilege of writing it?

If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, it doesn’t really matter if it makes a sound or not, and if you were the one who shelled out the money to get it to make a sound, well, you’re a moron. Or you really suck at personal finance. Or both.

Then again, I happily shell out about $25 each year for my Flickr Pro account, even though nobody looks at that either. Out of all my photos, the ones that get the most views are the ones with me in them, and usually some creeper has commented “sexy!!!11!” without bothering to comment on the artistic quality of the photo.

*sigh*

I thought that paying for a Flickr Pro account rather than uploading my pictures onto MySpace was meant to prevent exactly that sort of thing.

As usual, I was incorrect.