Today is a momentous occasion. I'm stunned and amazed that there's no mention of it on the BBC, CBC or CNN. Maybe they're going to run a special feature on tonight's news instead.
Yup, today marks one year since my first post.
I started this blog while away on a conference. It's an open secret that I wasn't happy in my job at the time, since all the meaty writing assignments I'd been promised were few and far between and I was spending most of my time editing product inserts. Hardly the experience I was looking for in my long term goal of making a living by writing about science. Bored and frustrated, I started reading and commenting on various blogs - Pharyngula, This Week in Evolution, Genomicron, ERV; namely the ones with a fairly hard core scientific content. I loved those online conversations and realised I hadn't lost my love of science.
So, on a flight down to LA, I had an epiphany. Why not start my own blog? I started scribbling in my notebook, and by the time we landed I had a rough draft of my first post. It's perhaps not surprising that I chose to write about a purely academic pleasure - seeing my own papers cited in new publications.
There was lots of down time at the conference, and I set up my Blogger account and uploaded my first post from my hotel room. No response, as predicted. I made my way over to Pharyngula, left an on-topic comment, entered my shiny new URL into the relevant box, and some kind souls were nice enough to click through and leave me a comment.
I was hooked.
Without the comments, I don't know how long I'd have kept writing. I see some blogs where the host never replies to the feedback their readers give, and I think, what's the point? This is supposed to be a conversation, right? That's why I do my best to reply to every comment. It sounds corny (not to mention pathetic and tragic), but the first thing I do when I switch on my computer every morning is to check my inbox for comments.
By the time I got back to Vancouver, I'd written several more posts, including my first "journal club" (which earned me my first link - from Makita at Everything and More!). Within a month or two I was brave enough to give my URL to a couple of friends, and got some lovely supportive feedback. It sounds really bizarre, but I felt my brain kick up into a higher gear. I'd been idling for a while, so the feeling was very welcome. I actually felt smarter.
I can't know for sure, but I think this blog helped me to get my current job. I was torn about applying, mostly because it was advertised so close to my upcoming wedding and four week honeymoon, and if my brain had still been in neutral I might not have taken the excellent advice I got from my postdoctoral adviser (basically, you're an idiot if you don't apply, but in a nicer way). I even included the blog in my CV, under "science communication experience", and at least one of the several people who interviewed me had a look.
Of course the irony is that once I started the new job, my itch to write about science in my spare time subsided, and it is no longer suitable for inclusion on a job application! Especially since I got noticed by someone at Nature (and for those who've asked, no, they don't give me any money!) and transferred all my scientific content over there. Luckily, you all seem to enjoy the silliness.
So, happy blog day to me! Thank you so much for reading, for commenting, for linking, for writing your own blogs, for being part of a conversation. I really appreciate your input and I truly feel like part of a community.
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