In September of 2006, I started blogging. Sort of.
I have a friend who moved to London from Canada, and kept people up to date on his doings through a LiveJournal account. (He’s still blogging, though not there. He’s Mr. Topp. I may have mentioned him before.) I found the link, somehow (probably through Facebook), and I started to leave comments on his posts, re-connecting with him after a few years absence. I had moved to California ten years earlier, and I was just getting back in touch with high school and university friends from the mid-90’s as Facebook and social networking started replacing Classmates.com as the tools of maudlin reminiscing.
I was annoyed at having to re-enter my credentials every time I wanted to leave a comment on one of his blog posts, though, and I saw that if I were to start my own LiveJournal account, I could leave non-anonymous comments on his entries. This made me happy, and cost me zero dollars. So I opened a LiveJournal account. Then I posted an entry of my own.
- Sep. 23rd, 2006 at 12:43 AM
I’ve joined LiveJournal.
I had no idea what to do with it, really. I found another person from high school, and one of my favourite authors, on LiveJournal, and started following their blogs. Over the next year and a half I’d expand my circle of blogging contacts to, I think, four.
Erin was born about seven months after I started writing LiveJournal entries (basically for myself and the four people who also had LiveJournal accounts and who cared at all about what I was doing), and so my posts became more about what I was doing as a father than just what I was doing. I started exploring the online world of parents, and at home dads. I saw things I liked, and things I didn’t like, and I would write about them, all without ever really thinking that someday people might actually read what I was writing. I kept writing about my day-to-day interests, or things that annoyed me, or pleased me…I grew into a blogger.
When Erin was old enough, I finally started using the backpack we’d purchased for me to carry her around in. I walked everywhere with her. I would walk all over my town, and take the train to other towns and walk all over those places. It became a thing. I was this guy who went everywhere with a baby on his back. It was an all-day hike in San Francisco one fall day, though, that made me start thinking of myself as “Backpacking Dad”. I had been reading parenting blogs and forums for a little while, and when I finally decided to start participating, “Backpacking Dad” was the only pseudonym that felt right to me. So I renamed my LiveJournal, and started leaving comments as Backpacking Dad on sites outside of the LiveJournal community.
In March of 2008, I finally opened a Blogspot account, and called that blog “Backpacking Dad”. I started with Blogspot (which was also, confusingly, Blogger) because I could do it through Gmail, and because there seemed to be a lot of parenting bloggers using that service. I had never heard of WordPress, or Typepad, or any other blogging service. Blogspot was easy.
It was only after I moved to Blogspot that I discovered there were people who actually wanted to read the things I was writing (apart from those four LiveJournal friends I’d been writing to for a year and a half). It was completely addictive. To find other people who said funny, interesting, insightful things and tell them how funny, interesting, insightful they were and then to have them come over and read things I’d said and leave comments and add me to their blogroll (blogroll? What the hell is a blogroll? I had to have one right away!) was intoxicating. I had been a stay-at-home dad for about six months, and here were people who could relate, could help, could appreciate…
I was hooked.
I’ve thought about quitting, but never seriously. I’ve thought about “re-branding”, since the Backpacking Dad persona came about because of my activities and not because of a mission. (I’m not here to sell backpacks, though if more dads used a backpack instead of a stroller I think the world would be a better place.) But it’s only recently that I’ve thought of myself as anything more than a dad with access to a keyboard: Now, sometimes, I think of myself as a writer. I imagine that a time will come when I don’t want to write as Backpacking Dad, but just as Shawn. I won’t want to worry that I’m writing outside of my niche. The time might come when I want to go back to writing the way I used to when I first opened my LiveJournal account. Not as unaware or unvarnished as that person was; but as unrestricted, perhaps.
That time is not now, though.
Welcome to my seventh year of blogging. This here is Backpacking Dad. It’s a dad blog.