It’s quite a funny thing, having been around on WordPress for as long as I have. I’ve come to gain an audience, lose it, and then gain it again. In fact, Memory of the Star has been my most successful blog to date. Not only do I manage to publish consistently good content on a regular basis, I also manage to hold thoughtful and productive discussions. I attribute this to the skills I obtained in journalism class.
But I think my story of how I began my foray into blogging is actually quite a fascinating one. For my old audience members who have followed me since the start, it will be a nostalgic trip. For my new audience members who have only recently begun to follow me, it will be an interesting piece of background history. It is also particularly relevant because my autism posts gained me several followers, and this will help expand the subject further.
So let’s turn back the clock!
According to my username on the WordPress forums, which use the handle that is given to your account, I created my account on April 24th, 2011. It was at this point that I created Eyes Through the Glass, which was my first blog.
This blog was the direct result of a suggestion from my then-girlfriend that I should blog about my experiences having Asperger’s Syndrome since I was able to articulate it so well. I focused on relaying my personal experience, what it was like to deal with having Asperger’s.
Stranger in a Strange Land
I’ve heard Asperger’s described as being an astronaut on an alien planet, unfamiliar with the customs and language of its inhabitants. One could easily apply this to cultural norms, as an American going to Japan with any knowledge of the culture would be lost trying to wrap their heads around the very different norms.This could be broadly applied to any form of culture shock as a whole, you think “Wow, things are really different here.”
I devised the blog name after my own personal metaphor: Seeing the world through a pane of glass. One may approach the glass, observe the other side, but you are always separated by a barrier of some sort. The glass may move closer or further away, but it will always remain.
In retrospect, perhaps a better metaphor would be those boxes that you use to handle radioactive material. You can interact with the neurotypical world, but your interface with it is always going to be done through the lens of being on the autism spectrum. Yes, you can cradle the plutonium, but you can only do so with protective gloves. There is always a barrier between you and the neurotypical world. While it remains largely the same as the previous example, this metaphor better suits the fact that you can interact with the neurotypical world. It also serves to highlight that one must handle the neurotypical world with care, one mistake and it could come at a great social cost. Yet, I have found that as I have matured and learned social skills, I don’t get the “walking on eggshells” effect that I had once before. I guess things got easier to cope with. Perhaps I should start juggling plutonium?
Either way, the name stuck and I began my blogging career. Initially, my focus was entirely on life on the autism spectrum. What is it like? What are some of the things that I’ve learned? What are some of the things I wanted other people to understand?
I took a lot of risks, I deliberately chose to post under my real name and showed my real face. I continue this practice to this day, for reasons I discussed in my doxing article.
So I had a good thing going. I talked about the usual subjects, handling a diagnosis, sensory issues, theory of mind, and so forth. But I quickly discovered that once I wrote articles on those subjects, there was nothing to really go back to. In response, I broadened my topic range to include my perspective on other matters.
For a time it worked, but my deteriorating mental health due to depression and schedule slips began to add up. More days would go by without posts, I would take to my blog to give angry rants that I would regret the next day, and by the time I decided to move on I had asked Was this really my blog? and Was this really me?
I tried reboots to cleanse this blight but it just came back again. I decided that Eyes Through the Glass, in its current state, could not be saved. In response, I created Memory of the Star on January 1st. In fact, my very first post was about playing Cards Against Humanity with my extended family.
The last mention of Eyes Through the Glass was when one of my audience members like a post on January 30th of this year. It was the post that mentioned that Eyes Through the Glass was closing up and I would be moving to Memory of the Star. Sometime after that, I deleted Eyes Through the Glass forever.
Burns Eternal In Our Hearts
But Memory of the Star was poised to go down that same path, or so I thought. At the time, I was directionless in my life, not sure of what I was going to do. My posts had stopped after some time and I didn’t have much more to say. My depression had caused me to withdraw from school and I had to change my major. I toyed around with being a teacher, then saw my friend Lori working as a journalist intern. I figured if she could do it, then so could I.
As it turns out, it didn’t work out for her. But I nevertheless plugged away. I returned to community college and enrolled in an introduction to journalism course.
I had the privilege of having an incredible professor, songs of praise were given on his RateMyProfessors page. He was influential in my journalistic endeavors, and I have him for my newspaper production class.
I had excelled in his previous class, ending with a solid “A”. Not only that, I had been well on the road to recovery which finally came around during the summer.
I became interested in producing a YouTube channel as a way of obtaining my voice once again. But I opted instead returning to a blog since my command of language is far greater than my command of video production. Additionally, I was concerned about entering a hostile space where my views would likely be targeted. This is despite the fact that I would argue my views are relatively uncontroversial.
As it turns out, journalism was the best thing to happen to me as a blogger. I learned about journalistic formats, practices, and standards. I now regularly consult my journalism textbook when producing posts. A lot of things that bloggers regularly talk about, such as evergreen content, are found in journalism’s concept of “features”. Plus, my posts got infinitely better with more time being spent conveying information and less time being snarky. Not that a well-placed bit of snark can’t be helpful, but it is all-too-common to see posts that are 99% snark.
Since I had experience with many forms of journalism, I took the skills I had learned to my blog. The result has been extremely positive and now Memory of the Star has produced some of my favorite content to date.
I am considering turning “Eyes Through The Glass” into a book project along with “Fear and Loathing on the Internet”. Perhaps a book would be more conducive to the subject matter.
So that’s where I came from. If you stay with me, you’ll be able to see where I’m going and it’s going to be one hell of a ride!