The Original Blog

Back in the day, I got bit by the blogging bug. Back then, social media (which wasn’t even a thing yet) meant AOL or the ancient Usenet forums. But if you were a writer, you needed a blog. And I noticed that both Sarah Weinman’s Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind and John Scalzi’s Whatever looked like newspaper columns with comment sections. (I really hate the comment sections on news sites now.) Well, I always wanted to be Dave Barry.

So I signed up for a Blogger account and announced to all and sundry that I would blog about… Whatever. Sometimes I reviewed and interviewed. Sometimes, I just blathered on about whatever struck me as interesting. I entitled it Northcoast Exile.

Only Blogger was, to put it mildly, crappy. But for $15 a month, you could have a Typepad account. So I moved Northcoast Exile over to Typepad, and the thing just blew up. I couldn’t import the old blog (one of the reasons Blogger sucked.) But it was so much easier to grab content and share it. So much easier to link content. I met a lot of writers because I was up to 500 hits a day. Not John Scalzi numbers, but respectable. The blog was personal. I think that was its biggest appeal.

But eventually, I had to justify spending $180 a year on a blog that didn’t pay off on anything. Plus I noticed that people began sending me emails of “Hey, are you okay? That rant was kind of intense even for you.” I eventually turned off the old Northcoast Exile, saving what I thought were the best bits. I moved over to WordPress, which provided both more opportunities to sharpen my tech skills (Dick’s blog is self-built and self-hosted on a standalone WordPress install.) and at the same time not have to deal with any of that.

Besides, I’d picked up a couple of trolls on the old blog and, in one case where a commenter did not have a concept of personal boundaries, a cyberstalker. The irony is the cyberstalker once told a friend of mine that a cyberstalker was a sign of success and that he wished he had one. (And now I know whom Tina Fey used to model Jenna on 30 Rock.) And then there are the anti-blog rants of the mid-2000s that sound like the anti-Facebook rants of today. One idiot used to blog about how he hated blogging. (Well, then don’t blog, dumbass. You don’t need twelve steps for that.)

The audience dropped off when I launched Edged in Blue. I think people were ready to move on. My network of fellow writers had started to dwindle, and it became unclear as to when I would have another novel to offer. Besides, the day of the blog as a writer’s primary face has passed. John Scalzi came out of it getting massive hits everyday and a couple of bestsellers. A writer still should blog, but it’s doubtful daily content is necessary or even wanted anymore.

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