Every time my Dreamhost subscription comes up for renewal, I look at the bill and I wonder if there is maybe a better solution. Maybe something cheaper than Dreamhost, and hopefully something better than WordPress.
Don't get me wrong. WordPress has been reasonably good to me. I've only suffered a couple hacks, which I was able to throw money at and make go away. But it always feels so heavy, whether I'm changing themes, or adding a plugin, or even writing a blog post.
The Search for a New Provider
This time around, with a broader experience in cloud-based solutions, I took the time to look around and see what's out there. I looked primarily at AWS to begin with, but after a short free period, which I didn't qualify for, it was nearly as expensive as Dreamhost.
I finally decided on Digital Ocean, which I've seen advertised here and there, and I was impressed that they offer a virtual server for $5.00 a month. Granted, it's $5.00 American, which, I'm sure is some ungodly amount up here. But it was the cheapest I could get without committing to more than a year's subscription. I didn't want to be paying a huge up-front fee only to find out that the service I signed up for is crap. Digital Ocean actually only charges for up-time, so if I get a week in and decide to switch to Blogger or something, then I'm only out a buck-fifty. I will grant that going with the smallest server works only because of my limited reach, and, honestly, it was a pain in the keister to set up, but it's up and running, to which you can attest, since you're reading this now.
"So what?" you might say. "You hardly ever blog anymore, anyway. Why would you go to the effort of switching over to a cheaper provider, to eventually pulling the legacy content you actually want to keep over to a new blogging platform, when it's not something you really ever do anymore? Why not just fold the tent up and walk away?"
I will concede, o straw man, to some of what you say. There are times when my blog goes neglected. But I do want to write more.
I've made a sort of ... I don't want to say resolution, because it isn't that strong. I've set an intention to take a step back from things when I get stressed or anxious, a sort of attempt to nip things in the bud. And I think that writing absolutely has a place in that. I am more able to set priorities, to break down problems, and even to find starting points to understanding when I put my pen to paper.
I have made some good traction with this intention recently, but the thing about writing that you keep to yourself is, the quality doesn't really get better. There's no feedback, whether on style or substance, there's no challenge to the ideas I have presented to myself, so there's a limited amount of growth there as well. Finally, there isn't the sort of self-editing that I do when I know that someone else might read it. I've spent a lot of time silencing my inner-editor, just pushing through self-doubt and keeping the words flowing. It's been really good for building a first draft to a story, and it's been really good for journalling. But, while my writing has been more copious, and that is a skill in its own right, having an audience, even if it's just a couple of people, will help me to rediscover my ability to edit my own words.
Yeah. I had to call the blog something. Words for the Ether sounded to defeatist and pointless. I have a target for the words. It isn't the nether, it isn't some unknowable gods. It's you guys. Words is concise, gives me something to focus on, and gets it out of the way in a hurry.
Where to, then?
Well, I've got this shiny new blog, and all of this need to write. I think they go together well. But I want to be consistent, and I want to be accountable. So I think I've found something that works for me.
Three blog posts a week seems like something I can work with. Not a hard requirement, because without some compelling coercion, I know how easily I watch those fly away. But a recommendation, let's say. Enough to keep me invested, but not so many that I'm burning out.
I might be up for a blogging challenge or two in what remains of the year. I don't know if I'll need to be invited, or if I'll take the reins on something like that, but that's for the future. For now, I'm going to concentrate on eight main areas I want to write about, with the obvious caveat that this list is subject to change without written notice:
Writing about writing. I want to get better, so I want to discuss techniques in writing, in planning, in revision. I'm not so crazy about publication or submission at this point, but that could change.
Yeah, I'm a programmer. I run into challenges at work a lot, and even when I'm doing personal projects. If I come up against a particular noodle-cooker, I'll write about it and put it in this category.
Book reports, recommendations, open letters to authors, stuff that lets me explore my love of reading.
You know, that thing that makes life worth living. Kim and the kids have a lot going on, and if I write about it, it'll be here.
Once upon a time, stuff happened to me. I like going over old stories. I have no intention of stopping.
Finished pieces of writing, snippets, even writing exercises that I think could use an extra pair of eyes.
Shit is happening in the world. We have to deal with it. If I have thoughts, they will end up here.
Blog about blog? Sure. What am I doing now?
So, welcome to Words, and thanks for paying attention.