Saturday, March 29, 2014

Five Years

Five years ago tomorrow, I sat down at a computer and wrote my first blog entry. Not my first ever—I had been on Diaryland since 2002, and had a brief dalliance with LiveJournal (don't judge me, we all did it)—but in the spring of 2009, I put fingers to keyboard and began Hipsters Are Boring.

If my blog was a person, it would be in kindergarten. If it was a wedding anniversary, I would be getting myself a big wooden platter (that's not a bad idea, actually). Five years ago, David Miller was still the mayor of Toronto, Lost was still on the air, and Chuck Klosterman had not yet started doling out terrifically off-base advice as "The Ethicist" for The NY Times Magazine. Five years ago, I still ate bread, I hadn't graduated from university, and I still had both ovaries.

 Fast forward five years. Now, I've gone through two or three meaningful jobs—one left an impression because of how horrible it was, and one because of how not-horrible it was (revelatory!). I've gone from single to living with my partner. I've seen friends plan weddings, get married, have kids, go back to school, break up, move away, and come back (this is obviously more than one friend). I've gained and lost forty pounds, I've started eating healthier, I've started sleeping better, and I've gone through three different therapists.

I've started freelance writing, written a novel, and continued giving love to this unchanging, reliable, solid old blog. I'll always think of this as my home on the internet: the place where I grew up, so to speak, as a writer. I gave myself permission to write about anything here. Myself, my friends, my family, my weird fascination with Scandinavia. Feelings, emotions, difficult behaviours, friendships that needed course-correction, inspiration, hopes, dreams. The future and the past. The only rule was that I had to do it every week, regardless of whether or not I wanted to. You don't complete a marathon by thinking about running; I didn't really become a writer until I started actually writing, real words, structured paragraphs, things with a point, day in and day out, over a period of weeks and months and, now, years.

My friend L and I were chatting about finances the other day, and she asked if I was a planner. "I've always been a 'leap and the net will form' kind of person when it comes to money," I admitted, and the same thing holds true for creative work. I had to not look too closely at the act of doing it; otherwise, I tend to get all panicky and red. "What if I'm not a real writer?" becomes much less important when I'm too busy, y'know, writing, to really consider the question.

Writing is an act of faith: that one can do it, and that, once done, it will be good. Without this place to cut my teeth, I doubt I would have had the cojones to start pitching to Real Publications. I used a blog post to shoulder my way in Spacing magazine, and I referred to it again when I pitched my first story to The Grid. It was a great place to balance myself when I was armpit-deep in my novel's first draft, and a good place to keep my momentum up once that draft was sent around to friends for feedback. I've used it as a place to reflect on my life when things aren't going so well/things are being amazing; I've also used it as a distraction when things were so terrible I didn't know how I was going to get through.

In short, I owe a debt of gratitude to this homely little blog. I wouldn't be the person I am today without it, and it's challenged me and kept me fresh in ways I couldn't even really conceive of when I started. Snarky and personal, plaintive and talky, reflective and funny: this is like me, but with an archive. So happy birthday, Hipsters Are Boring.