I was out on a sort of mini-book-tour for my first book (Dreaming in Code
), in January 2007, when I got the idea for my second book, Say Everything
. It didn't arrive in a lightning-flash of inspiration; I did not hear choirs.
I was having dinner in Portland with Matt Haughey, the founder of Metafilter, someone whose work I admired but who I didn't know all that well. At one point in the conversation, Matt remarked, "Gee, no one's really written a good, thorough history of blogging."
I think my immediate answer was something like, "Yeah, and nobody will." I proceeded to list all the reasons: The story is too diffuse. Where do you begin? Where do you end? How do you decide who to include? And how do you tell the stories of all these people who have been telling their own stories for so long?
I moved on. But over the next few weeks Matt's comment stayed with me, the way a scrap of music or poetry will hang around in one's mental foyer, refusing to be dismissed. The questions I'd asked remained daunting, but the idea grew steadily more attractive nonetheless: I came to realize how much this subject meant to me.
I'd moved my journalism career online in 1995 after more than a decade in newspapers, written one of the first articles about blogging in 1999, and started a blogging program at Salon.com (along with my own blog) in 2002. The story of the rise of blogging was one I'd witnessed; I cared about getting it right. And one thing I'd learned in writing Dreaming in Code was: Make sure that you love the subject of a book, because you're going to be living with it for years.
Now Say Everything is out. And while I'm hardly done with its subject matter yet, I'm just beginning to think: What next? I'm guessing I'll find my next subject the way I did last time: By not looking too hard for it. By listening to smart people. And by watching out for the idea that simply won't take my "no" for an answer.