Having a personal website can be liberating. Sharing my thoughts into the world, even in the tiniest corner, still gets something out there. I have a public presence! But on the other hand, it's public, and that's intimidating. Any random stranger can view my thoughts and judge me for it. Even in the midst of writing this post, I still feel that sense of knowing that someone is going to laugh at me. I've always been self-consicious about various things, and I tend to stay pretty private, especially on the Internet.
So why now? Why have a website, with a blog? I'm still figuring that out, but I just want something out there.
I took a creative writing course in college, and surprisingly, I enjoyed it. The lesson I learned out there was just write something because the target audience is yourself, no one else. Will someone else come along and find this? Probably. I didn't write anything for them, just me, but if they learn something, then great, kudos to me.
There's a few things I'd like to write about. Having a space to put some not-quite-private thoughts, that I own, is the primary goal. Sure there's services like Medium, Substack, Twitter, and a littany of other short- and long-form writing destinations. But I'm beholden to them and their choices to keep my data. I like having my own website, that I'm 100% in control of, on my own domain. Okay true, I'm not in control of 100% of the workflow: I push code/posts to GitHub, have Netlify deploy it and have Porkbun direct my domain. Should something go awry, I can move the entire source of my site elsewhere, even my own hardware.
Some other ideas I may write posts for include tutorials, projects, recipes, and whatever else I feel like. The fact that I have full control means I can do anything. And I love that freedom. Again, it's for me, the target audience.
The big struggle for me when it comes to writing is not coming up with something to write about, but the actual act of writing.
I bought the spencerharston.com domain back in early 2020. It was previously owned by someone else and I just had to wait until it expired. I jumped on it as soon as I had the chance. But as you can see, this post was created in May 2022. So what took so long? I'll tell you why: procrastination.
I put it off so many times. The most I did was setup GitHub pages on a repo that had a sole README, that said
The website of Spencer Harston - coming soon!
Yeah, pretty exciting, right? It was that way for over two years. Between then and now, I created a couple other one-off projects for kicks, including a very basic CSS framework. Oh, I've also had three jobs since then, bought a house, dealt with a pandemic, and had a kid (who is a very fun and active toddler right now). So yeah, things happened, and this was probably near the bottom of my priority list. But I kept putting it off. I know domains aren't very expensive, but I just kept feeling that I had wasted my money if I wasn't going to do anything with it.
Given that I had switched jobs twice as well, I need some sort of online presence. Not necessarily for a resume/portfolio purpose, but more to show a sort of "professional" online presence as a software developer. I mean, if I can write software, surely I have the skills to make a website, right? In the end, I still managed to get those jobs without a site, but hey, it's still a nice to have.
When I finally got around to updating spencerharston.com, it took several weeks in January this year just to figure out the layout and create a very basic site. I consider it a rough draft, but at least there were colors! Another couple months went by, and finally, I started really building it. Eleventy had just reached 1.0.0 status, and I decided it was a good time to pick it back up and dive in. It's taken a month and about three dozen-ish CSS revisions, but here it is.
In addition to the events above, I've come to realize that not only do I deal with procrastination, I also have some subset of ADHD (most likely executive dysfunction, of which procrastination is probably an underlying effect). All these ideas and desires to do things, yet I can't actually start them. I've learned more about it and slowly recognized my particular habits when it comes to ADHD. It has improved a little, but like creating this website, things take time.
I really don't know what the future holds. This website has taken me nearly two years to get up and running. Who knows if it'll still be around in another five? I hope it is. If I've written one post every year for the next five years, I'll consider that a win.
I am planning on a full write-up on how I built this site, and all the little things behind it. It's been quite fun, and I've learned some things along the way. ↩︎
I would love one day to explore self-hosting everything, and being in charge of my sites end-to-end but that's for another time. ↩︎
I probably changed the font a dozen times before I settled on the current font. And I'll probably do it again. ↩︎
Later on, I hope to write up a post detailing some of my life-long struggles with procrastination and ADHD, but given the fact I already struggle with those things, it may never get written. ↩︎