Monday, December 17, 2007

I am a Blogger

Other than my name being part of this blog’s URL, I’ve tried to stay somewhat anonymous since I began posting in early 2006. In fact, the only reason I put my name here at all was to provide myself motivation to not be a total crackpot. I believe in the principle that people behave better in community, where there is some semblance of accountability. That’s why there is so much nastiness in chat rooms and big cities, and such heroic efforts to provide the appearance of civility in small towns. For myself, I find that if my words can be traced back to me, it forces me to at least try to be reasonable.

But I also had good reasons to want to be anonymous. The main reason is that I was a partner in the software firm of SourceGear LLC. The last thing a small business needs is irrelevant reasons for people to not buy their products, such as one of the partners having a fixation on the faults of George W. Bush. This is especially important when the other partners are not terribly political, much to the frustration of said partner with fixation.

Another reason to desire anonymity is that although I tend to have strong opinions, I’m also a middle child, and not a natural attention seeker. I’m content to let the oldest children suck all the oxygen out of a room, or let the youngest entertain everyone with their well-honed skills for demanding scraps of attention. I’m happy to be the one that sits off to the side, observing and enjoying the chaos. I may be whispering snide comments to those snickering around me, but I do it quietly, so as not to draw attention to myself.

However, my personal situation has changed (except for the middle child part). Last summer, after a year sabbatical, I decided to leave SourceGear. This was a hard decision, not the least of which because I had the best two partners anyone could hope for in Eric Sink and Corey Steffen, as well as an incredibly smart and talented staff. Nonetheless, even though I had always found ways to be successful in software, my heart was never in it. The profession of software was mostly a strategy to avoid living in alleys and eating in soup kitchens, and in that sense, it suited me quite well. But, the mismatch in interests eventually caught up with me, and I found I could no longer put in the energy that it deserved.

So, with enormously mixed emotions, I sold my shares in SourceGear back to Eric and Corey (which I sincerely hope to regret someday, for their sake), and have a few years of breathing room to “pursue other opportunities.” I had spent 20 years fantasizing about “pursuing other opportunities,” but never had much idea what those specific opportunities might be, other than having nothing to do with software. If I were lazy or lacked a social conscious, it would probably have something to do with playing golf or honing my atrophied gaming skills. But, alas, I am cursed with the need to achieve positive things in life. Besides, although my buyout gives me a few years of breathing room, my wife won’t support me for too long without some value-add to the world.

I’ve always enjoyed writing, and that is where I plan to spend my energies for the next phase of my life (in addition to parenting, of course). However, the “occupation” box in my blogspot profile has confounded me for awhile, because “working on writing” and “being a writer” are two entirely different things. A “writer” has collections of words printed in publications where the bar is higher than the ability to press a “Submit” button. That’s why I have never thought of blogging as “real” writing. It may be good practice, but I can’t actually call myself a writer until I am able to exchange my efforts for something of value (money, space in a magazine, a goat, a barrel of oats, really, I'll take anything).

Regular readers have no doubt noticed that I’ve been blogging more in the last few weeks. The idea is that instead of getting mired down writing long, poorly conceived and worded essays, I use the blog to develop the disciple and craft of writing. It gives me the external pressure of deadlines, even though they are arbitrary and self-imposed and the "writing" sometimes consists of one sentence and a stolen YouTube video. I honestly don’t know how long I will try this, and I’m not even sure it is a good thing to publicly post pieces with such highly uneven quality, but it feels right for now.

I still have plenty of ideas for longer essays, and I keep toying around with the idea of a spiritual journey book, or maybe some short stories. I doubt I’ll make much progress on those if I blog everyday, but this might not be the time for them, until my prose and discipline improves.

So, until that day when I can legitimately call myself a writer, I’ve decided to simply call myself a blogger, which I can certainly do with integrity. I think of an independent blogger as ranking somewhere between “writer” and “submitter of angry letters to the editor of the News Gazette.” But at least I have a professional goal again - to earn the right to put “writer” in the occupation field in my blogspot profile.

So, in keeping with tradition, my first official statement as a blogger is to announce that I am taking a vacation. I'll try to post some silly Christmas stuff this week, but I doubt I'll post much, if anything, between Christmas eve and New Years.

4 comments:

sumonesmum said...

Dan,

Congratulations on this decision to focus on writing. I have enjoyed your blog for a while and am looking forward to more great stuff in the new year. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

-Gloria

Dan S said...

Thanks Gloria, and Merry Christmas to you as well.

Fingtree said...

I'm not sure if "vacation" would be the right word or politically correct?! Are you a minor blogger?
I wish to extend a Money Christmas and a happy cashier to you; mild mannered middle kid minor blogger! $$$$$$$xmas

Dan S said...

Merry Holidays to you too, and a holly, jolly, tinsely, tannebaumy, brightly, shinily-lit fingtree as well.