So it finally happened.
Way back in 2007 I wrote a post called Scammer Code. It wasn't anything spectacular, just a collection of fun words that guys use with each other when covertly checking out hot people. But the post was a milestone, since it earned me just enough points to get me to level 4 "Wordsmith" in the e2 XP system. As of that time I had been writing for e2 for four years, covering niche topics from the Polynesian stink flower Rafflesia arnoldii to beautiful atmospheric phenomena. To make it to this threshold, I had been writing a lot, really pushing myself to dig deep for new topics and committing the time to get it out there, so I felt a swell of accomplishment beholding my new status. But as quickly, I also realized that I'd have to push even harder to get the 3,300 points I needed to get to "Crafter," and that felt deeply daunting. How, I wondered, will I manage to stick to non-fiction writing and climb that 3,300 point high crest? It's too much for right now, I thought. I'll just put it down and come back to it soon enough.
It was around that time that my old grad school thesis advisor took me to dinner and asked me to co-author a book with him. The topic was nifty, and he had been published a number of times, so I thought it would be a good experience. I realized it would probably take away all the time I had for e2. So, I decided that the best thing for me to do was to put e2 on hold until the book was done. We dove into writing that book together.
e2 was a comfortable place to return to, and as I came back to lurk and read new writeups, I realized my old writeups were continuing to get a trickle of upvotes, and I had an idea. I would continue checking in, and see how long it would take my existing writeups to earn me the 3,300 points to get me through level 5 Crafter. No writing at all, just momentum. How long would that take?
Well, I came to the site today, and I now have my answer. Five years. That's how long it took for people to randomly come across old writeups, give 'em a read, and decide it was worth a little click-reward. I even managed to get a few C!s in that time. So now I'm level 6, Artificer, and I realize it's been a busy five years. What's happened since then? Lots.
- My brother and his wife had two new boys, putting my "niblings" up to five.
- I've traveled the world with work, doing the research that begins every project of ours. This included Japan, China, Russia (twice), France, the UK, Ireland, Germany, and India.
- I've traveled to New Zealand twice on some fantastic personal vacations. (Seriously, I know there are other places in the world, but I'm really eager to head back there.)
- I've spoken at dozens of conferences around the world, including being a keynote for MacWorld.
- At work I've climbed up the ladder until I'm now one of the Directors of the small company.
- I've had two major surgeries, both to repair torn labrums: One on my left shoulder, the other on my right hip.
- I broke up with my boyfriend of eight years. I spent two years single, getting good and confident at dating again. I found an amazing new boyfriend, we moved in together, and we're coming upon a two year anniversary together.
- Perhaps most shocking to me and my circumstances, one of my best friends asked me to co-parent a kid with her, and after some harrowing and expensive procedures, we did it. She's just passed her first trimester. So I'm expecting a kid around February 5th. Five years ago I had lost hope of this ever happening, and now it's coming true.
Most relevantly to e2, I've continued writing.
- I've published over 40 meaty blog entries to my company's website. Our founder is quite popular and the blog has a worldwide readership. One of my posts made it kind of viral, and I ended up getting interviewed for a Canadian radio program about it. That was cool.
- I've penned a children's book, but still looking for an illustrator or time/courage to try to illustrate it myself.
- I've kept a personal (and anonymous) blog with my baby-mama and boyfriend about the experience of sperm banks and fertility clinics that have gotten us this far in the pregnancy.
- I've been published a handful of times in an awesome zine out of NYC called FAQNP.
- Most importantly, we're actually about to publish that first book. It's co-authored, but I can honestly say that 80% of the structure, content, and thinking in there is mine. We got a semi-famous author to write our foreword and I was deeply honored/humbled/proud by how complimentary he was.
- I already have 50% of a next book underway that's frankly awesomer than the one I'm about to publish.
As you can see, I've certainly kept on writing, just not here.
Back in 07 I told myself I'd get back to writing for e2 once I'd gained the level and completed the experiment. But in all honesty, I don't think I can. Between looming parenthood, the publication of the new book, maintaining the post-launch blog (until we can build enough trust with fans to take it over) and more books on their way, I don't know that I'll have time.
But I did want to come back and post this entry. Yes, it's for the sense of personal closure that comes with having seen it through. But moreso to say thanks. To thank you for making this site, maintaining it, and letting a guy like me get tough and honest feedback that got me back into the habit of writing, the habit of iteration, the development of a personal voice, and the habit of seeing writing as an act of communication and not just expression. In short, I think e2 made me a pretty good writer, and keep your fingers crossed, hopefully a soon-to-be-successful writer, too.
Thanks, guys. You're fucking awesome. Keep up the good work.