[NOTE: This is a slightly-edited repeat of a previous post.]
When blogger Andrew Sullivan bit the blogging dust and quit, I took special note of his departure for personal reasons, because you might actually say that it’s actually because of Sullivan that I became a blogger myself.
When I first began reading blogs around 2002 and was shy even about commenting on them, back when Sullivan actually seemed to have some reasonable things to say, his was one of the blogs I read daily. He used to feature a single email a day from a reader, one he thought particularly noteworthy and wanted to highlight. He didn’t have comments (I don’t think his blog ever featured comments, which I think was a failing), but he had huge traffic back then. So if your email to Sullivan was one of the lucky few published there, it was assured a very wide audience indeed.
I took to emailing him quite regularly with my own point of view, and Sullivan (or some aide or interne of his) seemed to like what I had to say, because my email was often the one featured. But after a year or two of this, one day when my son was visiting me he said, “Why are you working so hard for Andrew Sullivan?”
His point was that I was spending hours on these emails to Sullivan, which were really tantamount to blog posts, and why? “Why not start your own blog?” he added.
This was an idea that literally had never occurred to me before. I’m not at all sure that, without my son asking me that question, it ever would have occurred to me. As soon as he asked it I rejected the idea. “Never!” I said. “I’ll never do that!”
But my son went to Blogger and showed me how easy it was to set one up. “No!” I said. Not interested.
But in a spirit of fun, he asked me to choose a name for the blog, a color, a template, and he designed one for me. It took about five minutes, and there it was.
“I’ll never use it,” I assured him. “You’re wasting your time.”
“Well, it’ll be there anyway, just in case you change your mind.”
I didn’t change my mind, at least not right away. The first few posts I put up there a while later were just copies of emails I’d sent to Sullivan which had been published on his blog, and I published them on my own blog out of boredom and just to see how the whole process worked. I didn’t have a sitemeter, because there didn’t seem to be any traffic on the blog and I didn’t expect that there ever would be.
The election of 2004 came and went, and I hardly ever posted anything. But in February of 2005, for reasons I no longer recall (although I wish I did), I decided to post more often, although not yet every day, to see what would happen if I tried to do this blogging thing in a more serious way.
What had changed my mind? I don’t know; my recollection is that it was just an idea that came one day, an experiment: if I post nearly every day, and try to network with other bloggers and send them links, what would happen? I figured I’d try it for a month or two—and install a sitemeter, to monitor my progress—and if nothing changed I’d give it up. Things took off much more quickly than I’d thought they would, thanks in no small measure to helpful and simpatico bloggers such as the late Norm Geras, Dr. Sanity, and Gerard Vanderleun of American Digest. The rest, as they say, is history.