Happy birthday, you filthy soapbox!

It’s our blogiversary!

That’s right, it’s been a year since this odd experiment in web interactivism was birthed in the corner of a lowly bar during a lowly happy hour on Hilton Head, as I sat slashing away at the keys in search of some new solace I wasn’t finding in the newspaper industry. Indeed, I only started writing this thing out of a frustrated sense (or premonition) of claustrophobia with the newspaper job, knowing that the bounds of the vestigial print newsroom were constricting around me and other fellow reporters so quickly there was barely time to grab our asthma inhalers.

Lots of people start blogs with the mindset that the world needs their opinion on topics from music to politics to the state of obesity in America. I’ve been lucky never to have such delusions about why I started this. I’ve tried to clean it up over the past year, adding some order among the cranial chaos and occasionally (usually not on purpose) writing about something momentous or of interest to a general audience.

But looking back now, I’m surprised at how reasoned and sensible that first post was a year ago, even though I knew I was shouting into the abyss, before I even started posting links on facebook or attaching my real name to it, when I was still keeping it on the DL out of fear of discovery by an editor or job prospect.

So blog pretensions aside, the only reason I created this was for another outlet, just somewhere else to write that doesn’t involve soul-crushing lede changes or aversion to risk taking found in too many newsrooms. The thing about blogs is, you either devote a lot of time to it and seek to crack the market with a fresh idea and still make a pitifully small amount of revenue, or you do it for the joy of writing and creating a dialogue with friends. And also possibly because some nights you come home half drunk and think everyone wants to know what you think about a direct-to-dvd Batman animated promotion. Which they do.

In the course of a year, I kept track of (and got considerable Google traffic from) trivia team names, channeled unchecked rage at Funky Winkerbean, somehow became the No. 1 Google image search for both “ghostbusters” and “cartoon all-stars,” and wrote in probably unnecessarily detail about a breakup (“I’m not too happy about having personal details about my life out there,” she said after reading it. “Well, it’s my life too,” I said, giving the writers’ “all life is fair material” response. Besides, I said, there’s no one would read this that I wouldn’t tell about it anyway, and better to describe it in precise written words than awkward spoken ones on my end.)

I also kept a sad documentation on the decline of a once-promising local newspaper, then wrote in plain truths about my decision to leave the newspaper industry and to try to pit writing skill against the forces of poverty in New York City. A few times, I even wrote about news events that got linked to and read elsewhere.

And if nothing else, I had a place to write in honest language what it’s like to watch your dad slowly suffocate for the last few days of his life under a maddening blanket of an inconsiderate disease. And I learned writing doesn’t really dull the edge for something like that; it sharpens it to an even finer point most times, but I left the apartment the night I wrote that to go drink a 7&7 (Dad’s favorite drink) at the bar, at least feeling like I had made an effort at turning personal emotions into something concrete, even if it was just ultimately a cascade of words emptying into the mouth of the void.

So overall, I generally tried to write about things that had some broad interest and weren’t just about the limited-interest world of myself.

Some friends have told me they really like this blog, that I should do more with it (others have complained about not being name dropped enough), which is nice of them to say. But I’m the first to admit this doesn’t serve a purpose other than to be just another person out in the internet writing long sentences about things that are important to him, even as people everywhere want shorter and shorter things to read each day.

Since switching to WordPress, I’ve tried to turn this into a slightly more focused site documenting the travels and travails of a young writer navigating the empty void between print and web. Those aren’t the kind of blogs that people read on a regular basis though, you need quick hits like making fun of journalists or poorly edited advertising, and that’s fine with me, I’m not trying to do much here (but please feel free to send me checks out of the goodness of your heart).

Here’s the inaugural post, Feb. 19, 2008: The Powers of Inversion.

If you read this, all I ask is that you bookmark it and maybe check back every now and then to see what’s going on. And maybe even e-mail me with stuff you like, don’t like, suggestions, comments, vegan strudel recipes, cease and desist letters, etc etc at tim[at]timdonnelly.com.

A year later, I’m still sure there’s something else out there that will fill the gap being left by the end of print journalism. Until then, I’m glad to be in New York City, struggling my way through a new media landscape and happy to have at least one outlet in the meantime.

But most importantly, thanks for reading, wherever you are!

4 responses to “Happy birthday, you filthy soapbox!

  1. Aw, Tim. I heart your blog and I find it quite inspiring. Mine shall be up later this week!

  2. Tim. I heart your days of no beard and short hair. But I’m totally fine with you being a vegetarian.
    Clearly, I read this blog because I enjoy it. And because I know you.

  3. My Google Nemesis!

  4. Looking forward to reading another year of inverted soapbox, even if my attention span shortens even more this year amid the clutter and chaos of the blahgosphere…

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