David Grosssman sent me an e-mail with some questions about me, so I figured I would just answer them here, in case they’re of interest to others. Well, I guess by “answer” I mean more “free-associate based on his general areas of interest.”
I started blogging in 2003, on Blogspot, while bored at a day job. I’d written a lot before that - one of my undergrad majors was creative writing, I did arts stuff for my college paper, I made a zine, I was a regular on mailing lists and discussion boards - but that was my first experience of that sort of writing. I started to read other people who were blogging. I linked to them. Sometimes they linked back to me. (My first blog started as a politics blog, but the politics bloggers didn’t care; the music bloggers were way nicer, so I wrote more about music.) Sometimes we talked by e-mail. I developed a group of people I liked to read a lot and talk to online. Some of us started getting noticed by bigger media outlets. Some of us started getting small paid gigs. We would recommend each other. Some of us started becoming editors and would hire each other, because we liked each other’s writing. I started writing for Idolator and that got me a decent bit of attention. I wrote for the Awl and that got me a decent bit of attention. Idolator happened in 2007, four years after I started blogging and only once I’d quit the day job and gone to grad school, so I had time during work hours to blog. The Awl happened in 2010, seven years after I started blogging. It took me a long time. I’m incredibly impressed with younger writers who are doing this shit in college (and very well, too, I should say) but for me it took quite a while to figure out what the fuck I was doing. (Haha, “figure out.”) The best piece of advice I can give is to develop sincere and strong relationships with other writers in your peer group, i.e. who are in the same stage of their career as you. If you’ve got good taste in writers (a really important thing), you’ll challenge each other to do better and think harder and investigate more widely, and everyone’s writing will improve and become more targeted toward what people want. It certainly happened with me.