When I first built this website in 2008, I only wanted it to do one thing: Prove to the world that I could do everything.
I’d spent busy years learning the skills and acquiring the tools to transform myself into multi-threat digital creative. And in the midst of the Global Economic Collapse, with the journalism business I’d just escaped in terrifying freefall, I didn’t know where my future was going to lead.
So I not only wildly customized the CSS on a stock WordPress theme, I also edited the php to transform an advertising widget into a randomly generated page banner.
I posted videos I’d directed, shot and edited. Photographs that demonstrated my ability to cover assignments. I promoted my Illustrator and Photoshop skills. I showed off my reporting and editing credentials, but also my design chops. I even posted an entire page devoted to my ideas about 21st century journalism — a directory of essays and columns and blog posts, with links to multiple blogs, websites and platforms.
I was fresh out of the newspaper business in those days, with a wife, four kids and a mortgage, and no clue whatsoever about how I was going to earn the money to keep all that together.
I’d have gladly produced videos for the rest of my career, or kept on writing freelance assignments until the checks bounced. I’d just been certified as a web designer, and figured I could always fall back on that. But everything was provisional in those days. Nothing felt sure or solid.
I didn’t expect I’d become a Chicago-based media consultant, but it happened. I didn’t know I’d walk away from the consulting business entirely once the new paywall schemes descended, either. But they did, and I did.
I never guessed that I’d try to start a software company, either. I didn’t know I’d wind up running my own mobile bike repair company, writing novels, and setting the all-time single-season attendance record for the oldest professional soccer club in the United States.
But all those things happened. Believe it or not.
Hell, I even moved to the country at 53, started an organic market garden, and sold the tastiest heirloom tomatoes in the county until the pandemic hit and wiped out our local farmer’s market.
Didn’t have either one of those on my Life’s Work Bingo Card.
I have a lot of interests, and I got to try doing a bunch of them. Most were fun while they lasted.
But here’s a secret that age whispers in you ear: There are all sorts of things you can do. But if you’re lucky — really, really lucky — you’ll figure out the one thing you just can’t stop doing.
In my case, it turned out to be typing.
More specifically, typing novels. Telling stories that just don’t leave me alone until I work them out. Because Great Gawd, I’m really just insufferable when I’m not doing that, and there must be some limit to what Janet is willing to put up with.
So when I accidentally blew up this website in late 2020 while making plans to relaunch it with a sole focus on the novels I’m writing, I didn’t cry. Didn’t even feel wistful for the days when I actually cared about the latest trends in web design.
Whether that was a sign from the Goddess or not, here’s the message I finally received:
Put all your eggs in one basket, Dan. And then mind that basket!