Relaunching Ethan's Essays

I launched this blog back in August with a post promising several articles a week. I obviously quickly fell short of that. While I don’t want to fall into the trap of posting apologies for not posting, I will briefly say: 1) there’s nothing like proclaiming a deadline to the world to induce writer’s block and avoidance, 2) finishing pieces from my pool of partially written articles took more time than I expected (recall the humorous ninety-ninety rule that, in this context, states: The first 90% of writing an article takes 90% of the time, and the last 10% takes the other 90%.), and 3) some articles required feedback that required time to receive (because my reviewers, strangely enough, wouldn’t drop everything they were doing immediately to read about sick cookie monsters and such).

Now I have a pool of completed pieces to work from, so I am “re-launching” the blog for the new year. Expect to see new articles first thing every Monday and Thursday morning (excluding holidays), along with intermittent shorter posts — links, brief comments, and more.

I called my first launching post “Blog in Search of a Theme”. One theme has definitely emerged: humor. I would sit down to write a technical piece, get stuck, and an Onion-esque news article would emerge instead. A recipe turned into a story of a funny kitchen fiasco. So I went with this flow, then took the best of what emerged and ran them past other people to be certain someone other than me found them funny. I’ve posted a few already, with more to come. Humor writing has its pitfalls, but just letting yourself be silly is freeing, even exhilarating at times.

I found that some ideas I had didn’t fit the mold of a conventional article very well, so you’ll also seem some experiments with other formats, including cartoons, spoken (audio) pieces, and perhaps even some videos.

However, for now I’m not going to make humor the theme of the blog, as I do have a number of pieces serving other purposes. I can’t foresee the exact mix yet, but I hope that you will always find them entertaining or informative, and perhaps even both.

Blog in Search of a Theme

Welcome to Ethan’s Essays!

Most blogs have a subject, a theme, or a particular audience in mind. So when I decided to start blogging, I considered many possible subjects for either a single blog or multiple blogs. I already had a number of articles partially written and ideas for many more. However, no one theme could encompass most of them, but neither did I have enough for any one subject to stand on its own. Rather than delay further, I finally decided to get on with it and start writing and posting in the hope that the themes and audience will develop.

This is not intended as a personal blog to be read only by my friends and family, though I’m sure it will be a while before my audience extends beyond them. These are bits of knowledge and ideas presented to the world with the intent that many others will find them informative, interesting, or entertaining. Is this exceedingly optimistic, perhaps even entering into the realm of hubris? Of course! Most writers posses this audacity, or else they are possessed by the burning need to write. Why else would we write, especially amidst today’s vast online din?

I’m writing because writing has been one of the few things that has really energized me recently. I dedicated a period early this year primarily to writing, mainly working on part of a novel, but also working on some of the aforementioned pieces from a large collection of article fragments that I had written. During this time, I felt more focused, more energetic, and more impassioned than I had in years. My close friends confirmed this was clearly visible to them, that I “came more alive” then.

Yes, I have discovered I may simply be a writer (or have become one). It’s not necessarily something one would chose: for writers (or anyone in the arts), the line between your being and your vocation can be painfully blurry, and the line between your vocation and your job painfully distinct.

However, my primary income stream has become tiresome and draining, and it has always been distressingly uncertain. Scaling that back to spend the time writing instead can only enhance my life.

Unless I go completely broke doing so. Now, there are definitely people who make non-trivial money by blogging. A few have done so by achieving blogging stardom, but most seem to run multiple narrowly targeted blogs, i.e., the exact opposite of what I’m beginning here. Now maybe I’ll go the former route, becoming the next great American essayist. But the practical plan is to spin-off new blogs when particular subjects grow to some self-sustaining level. While I do know that it will be a long time coming, I do hope to profit from this blog or its children eventually.

This blog may still serve a useful purpose even if blogging yields little direct income. I’ve been investigating various freelance writing possibilities, but it seems clear that I need a writing portfolio to pursue them. I am confident of my writing skills but have only a few highly technical scientific publications to demonstrate them. A blog with a variety of significant articles provides a straight-forward way to start such a portfolio, as well as an ideal venue for enhancing and broadening my writing skills.

What can you expect to see here next? I plan to post two to three significant articles per week, plus perhaps small notes and references. A few things I post will be re-runs and adaptations of things I’ve posted on my personal blogs. Given my background — I have a Ph.D. in physics — some of the articles inevitably will have a scientific or mathematical focus, though they will definitely be aimed at a general audience. I have a few essays on politics and religion, pieces that are — or are at least intended to be — humorous, reviews of a couple products, some recipes, articles involving computers and technology, stories about cats, and (also inevitably) discussions about writing and blogging. I may even try my hand at serialized fiction sometime down the road. I may not know where I’m going, but I think it’ll be an interesting journey. :) I invite you to come along for the ride.