An important announcement on the future of Da Blog

You may have noticed that posting on Da Blog has slowed to an absolute crawl this year, and I’m long overdue for an explanation. Simply put, I’ve failed at my intended plan for Da Blog.

Call me a wide-eyed idealist, but I believe everyone should be able to make a living doing what they enjoy doing. By which I don’t mean simply “having fun” but whatever their passion is, what they would do if there were no need to make money. If you enjoy making tables and chairs and get a release out of it then maybe you should consider taking up a career in carpentry. This is, in fact, the only reason the Internet has created so much content that’s not directly paid for: people doing what they enjoy doing, people doing what they want to do. There are probably a wide variety of fields that I would be good at, but they wouldn’t be me. I would be working solely to pick up a paycheck. I want to work on what I’m interested in.

I created Da Blog, and later the forerunner to, in large part to serve as a repository for my work on topics I was fascinated by, out of a hope that enough people would be interested in what I had to say about them to make Da Blog popular and possibly allow me to make some money off it without having to work in some grunt job or something out of a Dilbert cartoon. Once Da Blog was popular, I could use it to push some of my more controversial but profound thinking and build my true greatness. I’ve made several attempts over the years to build Da Blog’s popularity, from the various sports projects to Sandsday to the webcomic reviews to 2008’s October of Politics fiasco.

The webcomic reviews have been the most successful, or should I say least unsuccessful, of the lot… so naturally there may be no part of the site that has suffered more over the past year. One of the top two most popular posts in the history of Da Blog was the 2009 State of Webcomics Address, a post I was reconsidering my thinking on even as I was posting it, only to watch in horror as I was called on to defend views I was no longer sure I held, and given rebuttals I wasn’t sure I didn’t already agree with. One of my biggest regrets is never having posted a clarification to the Address giving a more refined version of my thoughts.

That I haven’t had the work ethic to work on all the posts I’d like to, that I haven’t been as fast or as committed as I’d like to be, has always been a problem of mine hindering Da Blog, but my time has also been restricted by the need to work on schoolwork. I’ve always attempted to juggle schoolwork and Da Blog, with a sensitivity towards the time-sensitivity of much of what I work on on Da Blog, and a desire to build upon what little I have. Honestly, my work on Da Blog has wound up having the impact of limiting the amount of schoolwork that gets done, and I wind up prioritizing the assignments that seem to me to be really important.

Everything started spiralling downhill last summer of 2009, when I took a summer class. Under normal circumstances, at my school most people take three classes at a time; as it happened, through a series of events early in my college career I was led to the conclusion that I was best off taking two classes at a time. But summer classes are very condensed and designed to be taken one class at a time, meaning for about a month, my schedule was equivalent to taking three classes at a time. The resulting time crunch was such that I decided to abandon following my RSS feeds (except for Order of the Stick).

A month may not seem like much to catch up on, but even before all this, my RSS feeds took so long to catch up on that I had to spend a significant portion of every single (week)day catching up on them. Combine this with the fact I wasn’t quite done with the work the course required, and while I made a fairly sizeable dent in catching up on my RSS feeds by the time regular classes started up again, it was far from complete.

Due to procrastination on my part, I was signed up for only one class when classes started up again instead of two, but fall is typically one of the busiest periods of the year for Da Blog because of all the football stuff, and my progress on my RSS feeds, slowed by the launch of the new site, had been derailed by my decision to commense an OOTS archive binge that, because of a related associated project, turned out to take far, far longer than I ever anticipated. Then, right as I finally finished the work for the summer class, the screen of my laptop broke, and it took at least a month before I finally got a new one, which hamstrung the work on the football projects and halted the archive binge, since I was having a hard enough time working on the work for my one class without a laptop. I still haven’t caught up on more than one feed since then.

The Christmas break was utterly unproductive, so I was still behind on the OOTS archive binge. That project wound up dominating my time for a good chunk of February, and in the meantime an old enemy flared up again. Despite writing some occasionally angry posts over the course of 2009, I had, in fact, figured that I had mostly shaken my old tendency to flare up in angry outbursts that got me into trouble and kicked out of classes. But one result of that was that I stopped seeing my therapist, and didn’t start up again even as the stress of not being able to keep up on my RSS feeds and the OOTS archive binge started getting to me.

So the end result was, I wound up kicked out of a class. Then, right as the quarter was ending, I had another outburst that would have gotten me kicked out of the other class if the quarter wasn’t ending. And at that point I was given an ultimatum: If you want to stay at Seattle University, you better make damn sure this crap never happens again. Otherwise you can go off to some online school for all we care.

For over a week I thought about it. On the one hand, leaving Seattle University would mean going all-in on Da Blog and hoping it works out, when it hasn’t worked out yet. But on the other hand, the requirements for staying at school – the steps needed to take to reduce the chances for another incident to as close to zero as possible – would involve strictly keeping up with the assignments and not falling behind on them at all, lest the stress of having to catch up cause problems, and to maintain that pace would require me to virtually abandon Da Blog for the two-plus years it would take to complete my degree.

I did eventually decide not to take the quitter’s way out, and I’m still going to Seattle University for the foreseeable future. But that means I can’t really juggle Da Blog and my schoolwork the way I used to while trying to get ahead with Da Blog anymore. I intended to use the summer as a way to wrap up a few projects of mine (as well as more schoolwork I didn’t get done during the actual school year) while making a last-ditch effort to make Da Blog popular enough to support itself, but thanks to TV Tropes and some other distractions, I wound up doing virtually none of that. Honestly, I don’t think that, at least in my case, colleges do a good enough job of reflecting and supporting their students’ true passions, instead boxing them in to a certain mode of living and learning.

Over the next couple of weeks I do intend to get one of my projects out of the way, an attempted reprise of the October of Politics with lessons learned from the past, but after that – unless it catches on – expect posting frequency to drop precipitously, and for the paucity of posts seen over the past year to become the norm. I’ll still get out a new State of Webcomics Address containing the aforementioned clarification of my views, and even finally catch up on my RSS feeds. But I’m probably not going to test the Line of Sight rankings this year, and once my desktop gets fixed I’m probably going to adopt the 2007 solution of posting only the RTFs of the regular College Football Rankings, at least for this year. Beyond that webcomics posts are probably going to be restricted to the summer only if at all, and summer in general should see the greater portion of the posts for the year over the next two years.

I’m not shutting down posting on Da Blog entirely, but if this new project doesn’t work out I think it’s very possible I may be back to square one in terms of finding something to do with my future. I need to find something that won’t grind down my soul, something that will properly use my abilities and that I’ll be able to enjoy at least a little (I need to find a word between “enjoy” and “tolerate”). Da Blog seemed like the best approach for my affinities, and I may now be back to Plan B, and the road ahead seems downright murky.

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