Thank you for being here.
I’ve been blogging in some form since 2001, when I made my first website using a platform called Homestead, and had an online diary on my own site. In 2003, a friend sent me an invite to a website called Livejournal, where I not only blogged regularly but met hundreds of new friends - a handful of whom I’ve met in person, dozens I’m friends with on Facebook, and one of whom’s wedding I attended last month.
I’ve kept multiple Livejournals, Wordpresses, I briefly tried Tumblr, I have maintained probably a dozen blogs over the years and each one fizzles out as I try to stay “on brand” with my content, but lose my drive to keep making more with any consistency.
Once the blog fizzles out, I end up trying to motivate myself by starting a NEW one, and then I have to make the awkward first post, which always feels stilted and like I’m trying too hard. I decided this time to make the most painful one into a wicked meta reflection of it.
I’m a very extroverted person. I love to write, but when I sit down to compose an essay, I become obsessive, compulsive, perfectionist, moody, and it takes a massive amount of energy to get me to sit down and just do it.
The most consistent place I’ve ever written is Facebook. I’ve been there for 16 years now, posting multiple times daily for at least the last 10. I suspect the instant feedback tickles my extroversion just right, and the lack of pressure to compose something of a particular length or on a limited topic or scope helps me to just produce the content and press post without really fussing over it.
It’s served me well. My most viral content IS my long form content, shockingly, when I rant about a current event or explain a complicated situation or experience.
I have thousands of friends and/or followers, high engagement on my posts, and it’s helped me negotiate fees for speaking or photographing events - or even just helped me get invited to speak or photograph events. I should really do the math on how much free stuff I’ve gotten thanks to my following on social media, because in retrospect it’s a lot.
Despite all this, I constantly crave to return to a platform where I curate higher quality content, more carefully phrased, somewhat evergreen essays that inspire people to share them.
This year, some of my friends and audience left Facebook. Many of my favorite writers moved their regular writing to Substack, and I mulled over how to take the best aspects of my Facebook productivity and motivate myself to produce content with regularity here. One part was telling myself I don’t need to stick to politics OR culture OR pets OR memoirs OR food. I can just talk about all of it, just like I do on Facebook. I’ll make oddly specific life advice out of the things I write about. That’s my theme. It’s all stuff that interests Avens.
So I set out to start this, sometime in February. Then it became March. Then I told myself I’d get it done for April 1st. Then I didn’t.
I pushed myself for today. Just about 24 hours ago I posted to invite my friends to subscribe here, paid subscriptions optional, and I found myself 24 hours later with coming up on 100 free subscribers, and multiple people who choose to donate more than minimum for their subscription. I recognize so many of these names in my subscriber list, yet several that I don’t, and both thrill me.
All of this makes me very grateful.
About ten years ago I really pushed myself to start saying thank you more often - for little things and big things - to acknowledge good things received, and express gratitude for them.
I’m not one of those “law of attraction” people who thinks you just wish things into existence, but I do think that having a grateful mindset and expressing it tends to make people enjoy inspiring it. I am profoundly grateful for so much of what I have in life.
My partner Judd and I say “I love you” to each other fairly often and without reservation, nearly nine years in, but we haven’t always done so. Back before we were completely comfortable with it, we substituted with the phrase: “I’m so grateful for you”. We use both regularly now, but that one really feels like the basis of us, even more than “I love you”s. We’re profoundly grateful to have one another and I often feel like we’re playfully in a competition to convince the other that they’re the lucky one while being entirely individually convinced ourselves that we’re the lucky one.
It’s sickeningly cute. Prepare for more stories of us. I love us.
Meanwhile - I’m so grateful for you.
My family, friends and strangers who have shown up to see what I’m doing next. I’d do it with or without you, but the attention certainly motivates me more and I’m not afraid to admit it.
So thank you.
I promised I’d be delivering an essay each Thursday, but I’m so grateful that you get two today. The next one posts in about an hour.