A Website Keeper’s Journey; Or, Why This New Site Exists

This may go long, but I need to get a few things into the open to explain why I’ve started a new website and blog.

Re-launching my author website was a long-overdue project. I had to say goodbye to a crusty, cranky old friend, the Blogger site I started 2007 but have hardly touched since 2014. It wasn’t even my first website: I’ve toyed with personal websites and blogs since the early 2000s, almost from the moment I even knew what a “blog” was. (Yes, Angelfire was involved.) Over those nearly twenty years—something honestly terrifying to write—I changed as a writer and discovered what I wanted from an author website and blog.

The first time I created a blog was with (shudder) LiveJournal. It was crude, and I wasn’t a published author yet with any clue about how to represent myself. When I started the Blogger site, I was more ambitious about publication, but the blog remained a wandering thing of shreds and patches. I’d ramble about bits of my life, haphazardly review a movie or book, post photos of my newborn nephew, and fill posts with more random blather. The site was a combination of a lark and a someone trying to hone his skill as a nonfiction writer. Not a combo that could work for long.

In 2008 I started regularly writing for Black Gate at the invitation of editor John O’Neill. In 2011 I won the Writers of the Future Award and suddenly had a professional publication. The blog started to slant toward articles about books and film, but it still wasn’t focused. I placed more analytical energy into my articles for Black Gate, and more and more the blog started to feel like a waste of time. It kept some traffic coming to the website itself, where I placed links to my publications and pitched my first ebook. The older posts started to feel embarrassing (“Did you know people sometimes tell me I look like Tobey Macguire?”), but I needed the website around.

Then 2013 happened–although this requires a bit of a prologue.

I trudged through a four-year stretch without a steady job since I was let go after nearly seven years toiling at a commodity brokerage firm. I stumbled into this job almost by accident, and although I have no interest–then or now–in the world of finance or business, I managed to stay at the firm working in the compliance department (I never traded and felt nauseous at the thought of it) because, well, I was an employee who actually showed up for work every day and didn’t have a cocaine addiction. This low bar should tell you the kind of work environment I was trapped in for most of the 2000s. Have you seen the movie The Big Short? I was a low-level drone in that world.

In September 2008, the economy cratered. In March of 2009, the firm let me go. (A few years later the entire company died a ghastly and deserved death when it came to light the company’s founder and CEO had embezzled over $200 million from customers over thirteen years. Yeah, about that work environment …) At first, I was elated. The burnout during those final years at the firm was the worst I’ve felt at any job, and once cut free with a few months of severance, I experienced one of my best creative periods. This was when I wrote “An Acolyte of Black Spires” and my favorite of my novels, Turn Over the Moon. But when there was no more severance pay, I was surviving on savings and borrowing. A few temporary jobs popped up, including working as a tutor for a fraudulent company that used sneaky tactics to not pay tutors. I ended up the victim of three months of wage theft.

And now we’re back to 2013. In August I landed a professional writing job with a marketing company thanks to a college connection. The only problem was I had to relocate from Los Angeles to Irvine. It wasn’t a cross-country move, but for an almost lifelong Angeleno, sliding south forty miles to Orange County was a seismic, unpleasant change. “The Orange Curtain” is real. But I had a regular job again, one in my field of expertise that paid well enough for me to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment for me and my cat in Costa Mesa. 

Unfortunately, the massive life-shift threw me off. I’ll talk about the serious issues I have with chronic depression another time—it’s relevant to my Ahn-Tarqa stories. The short version is I almost stopped writing outside of work entirely. I went absent from Black Gate for a year and half, and the last update to my website was in September 2014.

There have been improvements. In December 2016 I returned to writing for Black Gate, and I put more effort into professionally crafting my articles than ever before. But the old blog seemed too … dead … for me to return to it. Black Gate took up all my nonfiction attention. However, I still needed a website, and I planned eventually to shift over to WordPress (which I use both at my day job and Black Gate) to make a fresh start.

I recently got the jolt I needed to energize me into making the change, something I’ll discuss at a future date when the information is more concrete. For the moment, here is the new website. The blog will focus less on long articles and more on using my own voice to express casual views on writing, movies, fiction, and my own projects. I’ll also provide links to articles published elsewhere. The old Blogged site still exists, but it’s no longer public. Since there were some good posts, I’ll use occasional necromancy to resurrect old articles in new shapes.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to my super-secret project involving The Silmarillion and The Hour of the Dragon.