Why I missed my five-year anniversary

My writing style, summarized.

September 2015 marked my fifth year of blogging, which is funny to think about now. Despite my start as a blogger (like many professional science writers in this era), I don’t blog very often anymore. My previous post was an homage to my grandmother written in early July, and the prior post to that was a webcomic I created in June. In a real sense, I’m not a blogger anymore, and that’s not a bad thing: the main reason I don’t post at “Galileo’s Pendulum” more often is because other publications are paying me to write, whereas this blog is unpaid labor, a luxury. And there’s another reason, which I’ll come back to later in this post.

Five years ago, I was teaching at a small liberal-arts college. One class I taught was a course for non-scientists, which I had some freedom to design, so we examined four forms of pseudoscience that are prevalent in American culture: astrology, psychic abilities, “scientific” racism, and Creationism (both young-Earth and “intelligent design” Creationism). Since I was requiring my students to write essays as part of the class, I decided I should have to do some essay-writing myself, so I started the blog “Science Versus Pseudoscience”. It didn’t take long for the focus to shift from skeptical topics to writing mainly about science news and concepts, so I changed the blog’s name to “Galileo’s Pendulum”.

I owe a lot to this blog. When I started, of course, my readership was basically my father and a few other relatives and friends. However, writing here gradually caught the attention of editors and other writers, and gave me a portfolio to shop around. So, this poor neglected blog is what helped me become an actual professional science writer. I miss blogging sometimes, too: there are types of writing you can do on a blog that you can’t do elsewhere, and certainly nobody would pay me to write that sort of thing (for good or bad).

I’ve been a full-time freelance science writer for a little over four years now. During that time, I’ve written a lot of news articles, long feature stories, explanations of complicated scientific topics, a few commentary pieces, and of course a lot of blog posts, which can serve as any and all of the above. I’m a lucky so-and-so, in that people actually pay me to write (at least when they remember to do it). But there’s a thought in the back of my head, one that says I don’t want to be a freelance science writer at age 70. ‘Cause let’s face it: there’s no way I will ever retire on a freelancer’s income.

As a result, I’m thinking about The Future. One thing I know: I want to keep writing, even if it’s not my primary source of income. And despite my miserable failure to find a publisher for my book a few years ago, I want to try my hand at writing another. (If you want to know the possible topic I have in mind, keep your eyes open for my next big feature article, coming out within the next two weeks.)

I’ve also been trying my hand at another type of writing, which is another reason I’ve neglected this blog. Since November of last year, I’ve tried to spend just 30 minutes each day writing fiction. Since I started that practice, I finished the first draft of a science-fiction novella, wrote two short stories, and began work on a fantasy novel. None of these are anywhere close to publishable yet, but the novella is complete enough that I’m at least willing to admit it exists in public.

I do have a few post ideas in the queue, but this blog will probably stay neglected for the most part, and I can’t feel too badly about that. Not blogging means I have other things to keep me busy, and it ultimately means more writing for you to read, if you’re so inclined. Thank you all for reading the last four years!

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