Here is a story I am unafraid to tell. I started this blog, Simplicity Relished, in the middle of a panic. It was late winter in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and I had a senior honors thesis to complete. This was a project that had been not only selectively funded but also eagerly anticipated by some excellent scholars who were deeply invested in my education. Furthermore, I was told that the senior thesis would be the “crowning jewel” of my college academic career– and that unless I was to pursue a Ph.D., it could also be my final foray into pure academic research. With the thesis due in mid-March, I was feeling some pressure.
I mention the senior thesis because to a college senior, it was a really big deal. (Outside of the undergraduate History department, however, perhaps not.) At least for us, whether or not we wrote a thesis would come to define our senior year– namely, whether we would work hard or play hard. But somewhere in my tired intellect and diminishing confidence was a desire to step outside. The howling winds and snow-turned-ice were hardly a welcoming environment, but neither was the drafty library in which I found myself holed up, day after day. I daydreamed of a simpler life (though, arguably, reading and writing all the time is pretty simple), where there would be an oasis to which I could escape from the pressures of my narrow research niche, which felt a bit more like a burrow at that point. Perhaps a getaway was just beyond my reach, and if I tried hard enough I could go there without leaving my desk.
So I created Simplicity Relished that very moment. I had no idea what it would become, but I allowed myself not to plan anything. I wrote my first post, Desperation and Creativity, within the 10-minute break I gave myself.
The release was magical and immediate. It gave me momentum to find my nonacademic voice alive and well. And it seemed I could write about American intellectual history again. Just knowing I had a space that was just my own, without creative expectations or the burden of a due date, I felt better about my “real” work.
Now that I’ve graduated from college and am transitioning into a new stage, Simplicity Relished has become more than just an escape from intellectual turmoil. I write to encourage, to remember, to confess, to comfort and to reflect– with close friends and fellow bloggers alike. I have already begun to look back at older posts and appreciate the moments I captured in words and photographs. SR also reminds me that despite all the senseless noise in this day and age, someone is always saying something soulful, and we should listen.
Perhaps my blogging story is a bit dramatic, and you wonder why anyone else should start a blog, or why I should keep mine going. To encourage us all, I would like to share Joshua Becker’s reflections on why we should blog. His listed reasons have given voice to my new desires, now that I have long recovered from my thesis.
So why do you blog, and what do you look for in a blog? I would love to know!