Begin Again

My personal website has (as of writing) been sitting idle for a year. My original aim for my site was to share a bit more often about what I'm working on/learning/thinking/collecting. Oops. A year on, here I am.

I put the writing stasis down to the barriers to getting it done.

I built the first version of this site with Eleventy because it is straight forward enough to get started quickly and helps me avoid getting tangled up in choosing technologies.

However, the biggest barrier I had with the last version is that I had unwittingly created a mix of Nunjucks, HTML, Liquid and Handlebars templates by throwing things together, without knowing what I was doing. The slight differences in templates threw me for a loop when something went wrong. After a while I started dreading coming back to it to do anything new, because the inconsistencies were getting on my nerves.

I stumbled across the tutorial 6 Minutes to Build a Blog from Scratch with Eleventy! on the Eleventy site and it served as an antidote to the poison overthinking has on getting things started/done.

My earlier site had little to no content, so I decide to cut my losses, delete everything and start a new and hopefully simpler site for me to work and write with.

Et voilà!


I have never had a presence on the web where I posted regularly. I'm not placing too many expectations on this site. However, reading Austin Kleon's "Show Your Work", I felt moved to try writing again:

If you want people to know about what you do and the things you care about you have to share.

-- Austin Kleon, Show Your Work

Kleon goes on to say that we are all benefiting from the "ecology of talent" around us. Contributing to that ecology can take many forms, but it involves sharing; sharing what you're collecting and curating, what you're working on, your influences, what you're learning and the process by which you're going about any of it.

Collecting and creating are related

-- Austin Kleon, Show Your Work


Laura Gaetano's take on the embarassment of our former-selves resonated with me:

What do we need to do as a generation, or as a society, to write deeply and thoughtfully on the internet but also to be aware of the fact that we are humans, that feelings and thoughts and opinions change? That we evolve and make mistakes, and we can both be proud and be embarrassed by everything we’ve ever been?

-- Laura Gaetano, The red-cheeked embarrassment of writing on the internet

And Austin Kleon, again:

"If you aren’t embarrassed by yourself this time last year you’re not learning enough"

-- Austin Kleon, Show Your Work

I collect these thoughts and quotes on embarrassment because it feels reassuring to know you're not the only one who struggles; to know that you might too be allowed to try something and begin, again, as an adult. That embarassment - from trying new things, from growing - is necessary.

Begin Again

Don’t start over, begin again...Don’t be content with Mastery

-- Austin Kleon, Show Your Work

Kleon says that when you're starting out, it's a great time to start sharing. But what about if you're in the sticky, vast middle? It can be hard to see how far you've come, what you have to contribute. You're not an expert, but you maybe have the hang of what you're doing.

Ben Myers reminded me in his article Humane Blogging that nothing is truly common knowledge. We have only become so accustomed to knowing something so as to have forgotten what it was like to not know it.

The curse of knowledge is such a real phenomenon in creating technical content, and few topics are "too" basic for someone to find helpful. You never know who will be one of today's lucky 10,000 thanks to you.

-- Ben Myers, Humane Blogging

Accepting that I may barely have an original thought to share really isn't so bad. It's kind of liberating. Everything I do, think, feel is created through exposure to a myriad of influences and information. This article is a collection of other people's writings on the topic of sharing. It started with a series of quotes about the value of beginning again and started to weave toghether the more that I pulled together thoughts to link the quotes.

Beginning in The Middle

I'm 7-ish years into a coding career. However, I often feel adrift in the sea of web development developments, perhaps even more so than when I was a beginner. Somewhere between The Island Architecture and the Sea of SQL, there's me with my little raft. The more I learn, the more I know I don't know about programming. Beginning again feels necessary to understand what I'm doing on a day to day basis. Many of the web development fundamentals (which are not at all 'basics') I skimmed across in an effort to hold down a job. Now the fundamentals take on new properties; they're shinier, more mesmerising, more beautiful, more elegant as part of a bigger picture.

However, the territory of beginning in the middle is a treacherous place. The middle is the spot where you most expect yourself to know what you're doing. As Saron Yitbarek puts it:

"The only thing to do is take those expectations, those feelings of where you think you ought to be, of what you must look like from the outside, of how embarrassing it is to still be in the same position, and start again."

-- Saron Yitbarek, Embrassing

Back to the point

It took about 15 minutes to rebuild the core of the site with the help of the 6 Minutes to Build a Blog from Scratch with Eleventy! tutorial from Zach Leatherman. Plus an extra few hours of messing around with the styles.

I was influenced by the design of Jenn Schiffer's site which has an old-school-new vibe to it, and is only open during business hours. My website is a 24/7 deal, but I aspire to going part-time.

This blog is far from perfect, feature-ful, exceptional, or anything that resembles the "hotness". But it is exactly what it needs to be, for now. A place to share stuff.