Monday, February 6, 2012

The End of the Too XYZ Blog

It is with no small amount of irony that less than a week after the (unobserved) two your anniversary of the launch of this blog I should post this to announce what I alluded to months ago; I will be discontinuing Too XYZ. This will be, for all intents and purposes, the last post I make on it.

When I first created this blog in February of 2010, I was no stranger to blogging. My other blog, (which will remain unchanged) called Always Off Book has been a place to share my theatre related adventures, experiences, plans and opinions since October of 2005. Yet during the fall of 2009, as I began to gain an all too temporary and transient esteem from some of the folks at Brazen Careerist, it became clear to me that I may in fact have something to say about things other than community theatre. Things that could help others, make people think, and start conversations.

The glut of self-help and opinion based blogs was obvious to me. Obvious due in no small part to the fact that just about all of them were advising things that were contrary to my natural state. The modes operandi of many blogs then, as now, seems to be, "Shut up, suck it up, smile, and accept the fact that everything in the universe is either under your control, or is entirely your fault. Get on the right side of this fence today."

Not only was that sort of militant "positive" thinking not enough for me and usually ineffective as presented, it bordered on the offensive. Who exactly are these blogosphere drones to tell me that there is one, and only one way to do shit? One way by which to get out of a funk, fix a career, gain money, get published, find a relationship, garner respect, start a business. You name it, and the vast majority of blogs and articles out there insisted upon the same worn out, cookie cutter, "go out there and get it" solutions, all predicated on the idea that luck, privilege and assistance have never and will never contribute to the success or failure of any human being. (And certainly not to their own.)

I wasn't buying that bumper sticker. I knew, from a life filled with disappointment, struggles, failures, limited resources, and at times stupefying bad-timing and bad luck that there was more to the picture than simply wanting it enough. That there had to be something else to be offered to people like me besides, "Want it more! Work harder!". And I felt, in a place deep inside me, that there were others like me who, for reasons they could not quantify, had found themselves unable to catch a break. Unable to get ahead. Unable to even kick open a door, let alone get their foot into same. An entire demographic of people who, like myself, were left always exhausted as well as exasperated by the enormous amounts of energy they spent spinning their tires, and making little to no progress in the world. And even the successful people had to feel this way sometimes, beyond a certain point.

It was those people I wanted to reach, with the help of my Brazen Careerist platform and connections. So I began to plan out a second blog. One dedicated to expressing both how I was too...something, and reaching out to others who were too...something. I wanted a blog wherein I could explore, with other like minded people, why everyone thought we were too poor, too old, too cautious, too shy, too introverted, too, unconventional. A place to explore why we were always far "too"...something. Fill in the blank, I thought. Too XYZ was born.

This was before I was on Twitter, and therefore my blog, and my activity on Brazen Careerist was my key to reaching people. And reach them, I did. For a time. Mentioning my blog posts at BC made me a frequent recipient of the "Featured Post" honor. Comments would come, and conversations would start. It started out well.

But then other things began to happen. Those who enjoyed my candid, zero-bullshit approach when they agreed with what I was saying suddenly became abrasive when I applied it to things with which they did not agree. When I applied my at times acerbic commentary towards my own life, people got testy. I gained and lost several "friends" after the first year of Too XYZ. (Thankfully, I have kept most of them.) My content began to be seen, I imagine, as more of a crusade against the status quo. (Which it was.)

Yet I think a certain demographic of people expected that I was trying to be the next Seth Godin (god forbid that vapid future), and document some kind of personal journey into fame and wealth which I too would enter by kicking doors open and taking the world by storm, as all of their other blogging heroes had done. I theorize many of my initial, enthusiastic reader expected me to adhere to conventional gurudom, monetize my blog, write some damned e-book or another, sell it, talk about it all the time, make money, and polish the all important "personal brand". A brand which would, in essence, be built around the idea of being Too XYZ in a way that was more marketable and conventional. (Even Dan Schawabel shared one of my early blog posts once, which is apparently a big deal.)

This didn't happen. My goal wasn't to be king of the blogosphere. My idea was to start conversations and meet people.

Some would say I failed to achieve my blogging goals because I didn't capitalize on the excellent notoriety and platform I was building. Many left my readership as well as my "friendship" because I failed to seize what they felt needed seizing. I wasn't doing what Gen-Y has been bred almost to the genetic level to do...take what I had built, draw blood with it, and double it every eight weeks. In short, many expected me to become "Ty, Inc." This notion made my skin crawl. I enjoyed posting about and responding to Gen-Y career-related content, yes, because I believe I offered a view that nobody else was considering. But my point was to express that view, and encourage others to express that view in order to make a hole for those of us who know that by and large the Seth Godin and CopyBlogger way is mostly bullshit. I didn't want to use my statements against such things in order to become such things. And I think a lot of my early readers couldn't grasp that. Kicking ass is kicking ass, after all, right?

So I backed away from the "Gen-Y" "How to succeed at your career", type of posts, and moved more into the nature of being Too XYZ in a world that doesn't want to deal with such variables. (The blog's reason for being in the first place.) I initially thought that my success at BC would carry me through in this regard as well. It didn't. I don't want to get into a bashing fest, but suffice to say that like so many other good ideas before it, Brazen Careerist over the course of the next year became anything but Brazen. The same tired, cookie cutter responses, sullied by corporate interest and editorial interference by new employees beholden to same. The sense of exploring the whole person with which the platform was founded, and under which I thrived, vanished in favor of exposure and perks for the already privileged. The elite. The ones with mile long resumes and the connections to rub golden elbows.

In short, I was now Too XYZ for Brazen Careerist. And when the final indignity of being treated like a total newb by one of the so called "editors" took place, I bid my farewells to the place, after gaining 400 followers, (most of which never responded to my private much for networking) and being labeled a "Top User".

But this blog remained, in hopes that I would still reach that same disenfranchised group of people, while at the same time offering an example of my writing skills to those who wished to observe same. By now I had started on Twitter, and was getting the hang of that; I never really adopted it as most others have, but have learned to use it to some small advantage in the networking department. I'd continue to blog on topics of Too XYZ, while also tweeting about same. Only with a more philosophical bent, as opposed to the analytic and critical approach from earlier in the blog's life.

The readership changed somewhat. It remained steady, though quiet. I won't get into numbers here, but most posts didn't match the numbers of some of my early posts from the career-oriented days of BC. There were some exceptions; people on Twitter were eating up my posts on introversion. As well as my occasional posts on my writing. I began to think that if I could somehow meld my views on being an introvert into being Too XYZ, I could perhaps reach those who were both. And if I could share those experiences through the lens of being a writer, all the better. So I tried to do that with my posts. I succeeded somewhat, but the writing was on the wall; the mission of my online content had changed, and this blog, as it was, no longer quite fit that mission.

I was losing the desire to create this "otherness" about what I am. I maintain that there is something different about me, and that solving my problems is not as simple as most people think that it is. But as my posts began to lean more towards introspection, I came to a conclusion, expressed in this post, that I wasn't serving either myself, nor other people that are Too XYZ very well at all. I was conceptualizing the state of being "Too XYZ", and trying to write and discuss that, when what I should have been doing was sharing myself with the individual man who happens also to be, in some areas, Too XYZ. Let people get to know me and what makes me tick, and not just my existential proclivities. (After all, not all of me is Too XYZ believe it or not. I can be damn practical too.)

My research and work over the last few months has been pursuant of this realignment. And by Easter, a brand new website and blog will be the culmination of this perceptual shift.

My new site will still be dominated by a blogging component, but the content will vary a bit more. Instead of posts about being Too XYZ, you will find posts about being me. Not confined to mere navel-gazing, I'll be posting thoughts, experiences, advice, observations, questions and links pertaining to such topics as writing, introversion, daily life, and yes, being Too XYZ. That aspect of my blogging will not vanish, and indeed, 100% of the content from this blog will be folded into the new one, to be categorized appropriately as per the new broader, Ty-Based approach.

In addition to the blogging, I will provide informational pages about me, how to hire me, writing samples, how to contact me, current projects and more. It will not be the fanciest, plug-in crazy website you will find. It will not be dripping with fancy code and all of the latest widgets. It will be, as this site has been, minimalist in presentation. Clean. Clear. Direct. The depth of content, however will hopefully be up to what you have come to expect from me and my writing. Indeed I hope to continue to improve and expand my content as I give a better idea of not only who I am, but what I can do.

If all goes as planned, I'll be engaging to more people. The site will be place where you can come and get to know either one single aspect of me, such as my writing, or multiple aspects of who I am, and what I do and want. Simple at first where content is king, and perhaps later on, if thing goes well, somewhat more fancy, where, you guessed it, content is still king.

The true work on that site begins this very week. And while I could continue to post here as I set up the new place, (or at least continue to repost Too XYZ Classics), I have decided that now is a good time to make the break and concentrate more fully on making the new site. Which is why I'll not be blogging again until the new place is up and running. When the address and domain are set-up I will probably post one more entry here announcing where to find me in case any stragglers show up and read the blog. But for all intents and purposes this is, as I said, the final entry of any substance for Too XYZ.

I want to thank all of you who have read, commented on, and subscribed to this blog over the last two years. Some of you I know, but most of you have remained in the shadows, leaving no contact information with which I can thank you personally. I hope that if you have been a regular reader of Too XYZ, you will make the switch and come on over to read and subscribe to the new place, once it's all ready. In the mean time, if you don't already, do follow me on Twitter @TyUnglebower. I'll be posting site updates and other things there as well. If not, check back here periodically next month for the official address once I create it.

This blog in this space will remain up for the foreseeable future, both for archival purposes and so that I can respond to any comments I might get on any posts. (Yes, I will still engage in conversations about any of the topics I have brought up over the last two years.) But for now, my short blogging hiatus begins. I hope to see you all on the other side of it. Until then, remember we're all a little Too XYZ sometimes, and that is okay.

sincerely, Ty Unglebower


Steph Auteri said...

I often forget that we first came crossed paths on BC, as most of our interactions have been on Twitter and, sometimes, here. We must have "met" at a time when we were both withdrawing a bit from BC activity. As such, this is the first time I'm truly hearing the history of Too XYZ. It can be fascinating to learn about the origins of a blog, and to see the way it shifts over time.

I look forward to seeing your new blog. As the queen of TMI, it should come as no surprise that I'm eager to see you reveal more of yourself to your readers. I've often found that, when focusing on the self, you can find a connection with even more people.

Good luck with all of your new endeavors! I'll be there on the flip side. :)

Ty Unglebower said...

Thanks Steph. I look forward to your readership and comments in the future site.

Amanda said...

Looking forward to the new site!

Susan said...

Ty -- I haven't been reading your blog for very long, but you are always a thoughtful writer. Please do post about your new blog when you're ready -- I look forward to it!