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A milestone

Today, October 20, it is ten years since I started this blog.

I just realized this.

birthday_candles

So I thought I’d take a quick jog down memory lane. In October 2004 I was, um, ten years younger than today. I had written a novel that got picked up by an agent in London but which failed to sell to a major industry publisher. [This was in the days when you needed the vetting of The Industry and its Gatekeepers to get your work in front of the reading public and oh HOW I DO NOT MISS THOSE DAYS.]

Anyway, I was feeling a little blue about this. I’d spent all this time on that manuscript and for what? [… was my state of mind.] I was never going to write another book. F*ck that.

But I had this annoying habit. I had to be writing all the time. And there was this new thing – this relatively new thing – called a blog. I loved what people were writing. I loved this blog in particular. And I thought … maybe this could be my new thing too.

So I started. First, of course, was to choose a subject and a name. The subject was easy: just write all the drivel that came into my head. The name took a little longer, but when I sat down and started thinking about it, it was easy too. Here is the story about the name.

At first, the blog was hosted on Blogspot and looked like this. [Ahh, I get a big hit of nostalgia looking at that old site.] Life was good in those days. There were lots of funny and talented people blogging, we had blogrolls [remember those?], we commented on each other’s posts. There were the popular kids and the not-so popular kids, and the popular kids only commented on the blogs of the other popular kids while the not-so popular kids  yearned to be “in” with them … come to think of it, yeah, it was a little like high school.

But then the blog grew up and moved to its own pad under its own domain name. And that’s when shit started to get real. Like, we had this whole meltdown situation here on the ice cube. Whereas before my blog had featured blithe little posts about Yule Lads and trips to Penis Mall, we were suddenly in the midst of this economic disaster as a nation. And blogging about the same stuff as before had become impossible.

But I was still blogging about the stuff that was in my head, and that stuff was all about the meltdown. And lo. It turned out that everyone’s eyes were on Iceland, and the world was hungry for information about what was going down there. That information was not readily available in English, but there was some semblance of it on my blog. And so the blog started to get hits. People were reading. Big international media outlets. And some people within Iceland, too.

Soon I was being invited to conferences abroad to talk about the Icelandic situation. The BBC came to my house and did a segment about me writing the blog. I was getting enquiries and invitations constantly to meet journalists for coffee or dinner, to be on radio shows or TV. I had unwittingly become Iceland’s information officer – on a volunteer basis.

But the most rewarding thing [and also the most difficult thing, because some people were really nasty] was having conversations with people on the blog. One question that kept coming up constantly was: how is the meltdown affecting regular people? People like you, or your family, or your neighbours? The media was reporting the big picture – the political, economic, financial situations. But very few were talking about the little people.

And so I wrote a book. [Yep, I know I was never going to write a book again, but … I did.] It was called Living Inside the Meltdown, and it was a series of interviews with people about how the economic collapse had affected them. I published it as an ebook through this website. It did reasonably well. Next I wrote another book, one I had been thinking about for some time. I was called The Little Book of the Icelanders. That one did even better.

Long story short, I have published three more books, and another one is on the way. I tried working with a legacy publisher here in Iceland but it was not a very satisfying experience, so I have gone back to indie. And I love it.

I stopped blogging in 2010. It was taking up an increasing amount of my time, severely impacting my life, and I just couldn’t do it any more. I was burned out. People were constantly asking me to meet them for coffee so they could pump me for information, and I hated having to say no all the time. But I needed to invest my energy into something that would bring me remuneration correspondent to the work I was doing.

I did keep updating the blog’s Facebook page, though, because I had a hard time shutting up completely. It became a sort of “IWR light” and was manageable for me. That page is still going strong.

Ten years ago when I wrote that first post about my dirty kitchen window I could not have imagined what that small step would lead to. But it turns out I was unwittingly moving into a new era, in more ways than one.

[pic found here]

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