TITLE: Five Years On
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: July 09, 2009 3:52 PM
Sketchbooks are not about being a good artist,
Five years ago today, I started this blog as a sort of
sketchbook for words and ideas.
I didn't know just what to expect, so I'm not surprised
that it hasn't turned out as I might have guessed.
Thinking out loud and writing things down can be like
that. Trying to explain to myself and anyone who would
what was happening as I lived life as a computer
scientist and teacher have been a lot of fun.
In the beginning, I was preparing to teach a course
on agile software development and planning to run
my second marathon. These topics grew together in
my mind, almost symbiotically, and the result was a
lot of connections. The connections were made firmer
by writing about them. They also gave me my first
steady readership, as occasionally someone would share
a link with a friend.
Things have changed since 2004. Blogging was an
established practice in a certain core demographic
but just ready to break out among the masses. Now,
many of the bloggers whose worked I cherished reading
back then don't write as much as they used to. Newer
tools such as Twitter give people a way to share links
and aphorisms, and many people seem to live in the
Twittersphere now. Fortunately, a lot of people still
take the time to share their ideas in longer form.
Even though I go through stretches where I don't write
much, my blog has become an almost essential element
of how I go about life now.
is a great example of me writing to synthesize experience
in a way I might not otherwise. I had a few thoughts
running around my head. They were mostly unrelated but
somehow... they wanted to be connected. So I started
writing, and ended up somewhere I may not have taken
the time to go if I hadn't had to write complete
sentences and say things in a way my friends would
understand. That is good for me. For you readers?
I hope so. A few of you keep coming back.
Five years down the road, I am no longer surprised by
how computer science, writing, and running flow together.
First, they are all a part of who I am right now, and
our minds love to make connections. But then there is
something common to all activities that challenge us.
With the right spirit, we find that they drive us to
seek excellence, and the pursuit of excellence --
whether we are Roger Federer, reaching the highest of
heights, or Lance Armstrong, striving to reach those
heights yet again, or just a simple CS professor trying
to reach his own local max -- is a singular experience.
Last week, I ran across a quote from Natalie Goldberg on
Scott Smith's blog.
I first mentioned Goldberg during my
first month as a blogger.
This quote ties running to writing to habit:
they're about being a good thinker.
Jason Santa Maria
If you run regularly, you train your mind to cut through
or ignore your resistance. You just do it. And in the
middle of the run, you love it. When you come to the
end, you never want to stop. And you stop, hungry for
the next time. That's how writing is, too.
The more I blog, the more I want to write. And, in the
face of some troubles over the last year, I wake up
hungry to run.
A few years ago, I read a passage from
that I tucked away for July 9, 2009:
I've often said that I dread the day when I look
back on the me of five years ago without finding
his naivete and misconceptions faintly ridiculous.
When that day comes, I'll know I've become an
impediment to progress.
Just last month, Brian
on the same theme: continuing to grow enough that
the me of five years ago looks naive, or stepping
away from the stage. After five years blogging,
my feeling on this is mixed. I look back and see
some naivete, yes, but I often see some great stuff.
"I thought that?" Sometimes I'm disappointed that
a great idea from back then hasn't become more
ingrained in my practices of today, but then I
remember that it's a lot easier to think an idea
than to live it. I do see progress, though. I
also see new themes emerging in my thoughts and
writing, which is a different sort of progress
I do take seriously that you are reading this and
that you may even make an effort to come back to
read more later. I am privileged to have had so
many interactions with readers over these five
years. Even when you don't send comments and
links, I know you are there, spending a little of
your precious time here.
So I think I'll stay on this stage a while longer.
I am just a guy
trying to evolve,
and writing helps me along the way.