Welcome. And happy new year. This is an introductory post. I'll try to make it relatively painless. I started blogging in August of 2002, a couple of weeks before I started law school. I'd never read a blog before I started my own. I'd seen an article about Blogger and it sounded like exactly what I wanted to try. So I did.
I'd spent the time after college graduation and before law school working in Texas for a software company named Trilogy, in their marketing department, writing brochures and webpage content and things like that. I'd send long e-mails to friends about it. I'm sure it got annoying. I wanted a place to write things, to store my thoughts, to feel like I was communicating with the outside world about what was going on in my head. In college I wrote sketches and songs for a theater group. Afterwards I missed that. I missed writing more than I expected I would. I wanted an outlet. I wanted a way to force myself to write every day.
The blog did that, and in a way I was very lucky with my timing. There weren't that many law school blogs when I started. Blogging was relatively new. Now there are tons of these things, but I was able to build up an audience relatively quickly not only because of the content, I think, but because there just weren't a ton of other ones competing for the same audience. I continue to be surprised about how many people keep coming back to read what I have to say.
Since law school ended, my blog has felt somewhat devoid of purpose. I've been writing partly because I want to, but partly because I feel like it would be silly to drop it at this point, and lose the audience and the goodwill that I may or may not have built up. I like the feeling of connectedness to the outside world. I've made a fair number of actual real-world friends through this, and a lot of e-mail friends. It's very nice to have this other way of meeting people, and of engaging in the world, in addition to the normal ways we meet people and interact. Doing this has made me a happier person, I think. A more fulfilled person. And a better writer. It's forced me to look at the world in a different way, noticing things that are interesting, that are unusual, that are worth writing about. I observe better than I used to. I feel like I do normal things with a bit more of a purpose, because there's potentially a story even in the trip to the post office, if I watch closely enough.
Part of the feeling that my blog has lacked purpose lately has been because I've been extraordinarily lucky and fortunate that it's done more than I could ever have imagined it would do as far as helping me to figure out a way to write for a living. I started blogging thinking, perhaps naively, that this was a pretty terrific way to get my writing out there into the world, and at least make it possible for something good to happen for me. No one was going to see anything I was writing if it lived in my desk drawer or on my hard drive. Probably no one was going to accidentally stumble on an e-mail I sent to a friend, and offer me some terrific opportunity, no matter how far it got forwarded. But the weblog was a way for me to at least know that if lightning wanted to strike, I was doing something to put myself in a position to receive it. And for most of the time I've been blogging, it's very much been to try and hit that right nerve. I wrote a law school purity test I thought was pretty neat and would get some attention. It didn't. It's hard to predict. I wrote a couple of presidential debate parodies that got linked in some cool places. The audience built. I felt like I was doing something right, and doing this well enough to get noticed.
On a whim, I started Anonymous Lawyer. It wasn't part of a plan, I didn't know it would resonate, I didn't know I'd be able to do it for as long as I have, and building the kind of audience it's built. I started it partly because I stumbled on a site called How Appalling, which parodied Howard Bashman's How Appealing, and kind of wished I'd come up with the idea. It wasn't so much that I thought parodying How Appealing was such a tremendous idea, but it was something new with the blog form, that wasn't being done, and so I started thinking about other things that weren't being done with the form. I knew there were a bunch of a associates with blogs, and solo practitioners, and other lawyers like that, but there weren't any partners writing blogs. So I started Anonymous Lawyer, thinking I'd be able to keep it going for a week or so, no one would care, and it would just die out pretty quickly.
It was more fun to write than I thought it would be, and the rest is still kind of bizarre and unfathomable. The New York Times ran a story on it, and I've somehow gotten the opportunity to write a novel based on the character, which is what I'm doing now, saving me from actually having to practice law, at least for the time being.
So, fair or unfair, part of why my blog has felt sort of aimless recently is because I don't have all of my eggs in this basket, and I'm not putting my hopes on this blog that it will be the vehicle through which lightning will strike. Lightning already struck. Now I just want a place to keep writing, and to keep forcing me to come up with new and interesting things to say, and to maintain that connection that blogging creates.
But that's not good enough. It's not fair to anyone who's coming to read this, and it's not interesting enough to keep me writing. That's why the new site. I wanted a fresh start. The law school stuff lives in the archives back at Blogger, it's not going anywhere, I'm very proud of it, I think there's a lot of interesting and worthwhile stuff there, but, like television, I feel like things run their course and sometimes you need a new slate. This is the season where three of my characters are all getting pregnant, someone's dying, and we have a guest star signed up for a 10-episode stint. Or something like that. I want to do my best to make this feel as relevant and interesting and worthwhile as it did when I was writing about law school and people were reading. This is a journey to find that content. To figure out some things that people aren't doing with their weblogs now that I could be doing, to write some worthwhile and compelling content, and to make this a destination worth visiting.
It's also a place for me to write about something I haven't read that much about, but feel like I might want to chronicle. I don't know what happens once I finish writing my book. I feel like the meeting where I go and look at potential covers is probably worth writing about. I feel like whatever starts to happen with the marketing is probably worth writing about. I feel like, in the spirit of Anonymous Lawyer, "Anonymous Author" might be interesting. Perhaps it won't be. I'm not sure yet. But you can discover that with me, if you like.
The one thing this blog has that the other one didn't is comments. I'm wary of the comment function. I think there'll be posts where it's enabled and posts where it's not. One thing that isn't being done all that effectively on the Internet is getting a select number of voices together to have coherent and substantive conversations. There's lots of long and hard-to-follow message board threads, on all sorts of topics. There's some small and well-informed two-, three-, four-person discussions. Slate does that very well, especially with its movie reviewers, but also in some other contexts. The Huffington Post does it relatively poorly. Daily Kos and anything like that are all too big to support content that creates real value. We tried something like that on De Novo last year with a little bit of success, but it was hard. I'm thinking about ways to make comments actually provide some value. I'll see what happens.
Okay, this hasn't been as painless as I hoped it would be. This is a long post. Tomorrow you get a different attempt at an introduction: shorter, funnier, and hopefully worth checking out. Enjoy your New Years Eve. And happy 2006.