12th Jul2013

West DECADE Ever – 2003-2013

by Will

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On July 10th, this site turned 10 years old. I never thought I’d see this. Mainly, it’s because I’m morbid and kinda thought I’d be dead by now. Ya know, wrong place at the wrong time. Also, I never really had any long-term goals for this site. It started out as something to do when I was bored at work. I’d just graduated from college about a month prior to my first post, and I had NO clue what to do with my life. Here we are, ten years later and I find that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Over that time, however, I’ve made some friends, written some stuff of which I’m really proud, and I’ve tried to make my mark on this enormous entity known as the Internet.

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Not Sergei

The site wasn’t always “WilliamBruceWest.com”. No, it started out as a Blogger site, with the title “The World According to a Russian Exchange Student”. There were two reasons for that. First of all, I was an exchange student to Russia when I was 13 years old. It was my first time away from home/out of the country/on a plane, and more. While there, my host was Sergei, who was just a cool dude, with a wide-eyed approach to the world. Since I lean toward the sardonic, I thought it might be an interesting project to try to write from his optimistic point of view. “How would Sergei approach this?” Well, that was the idea. It never really got off the ground, as I’m just too lazy for all that. Second, I liked that the acronym for the site was WARES, which was a big term in the file sharing black market of the early ’00s. I thought maybe someone would find me by accident while looking for the new Nelly album or a cracked version of Starcraft, and then stay to read more.

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A LOT has happened since I typed up that first post. Let’s see…3 relationships, 6 jobs, 60 lbs, and 1 wedding – it’s all right here. I didn’t start this blog for other people. No, that came later. Like a Livejournal, I started out by writing quarterlife crisis-y stuff that no one cares about other than the author. I’d say that for the first 5 years or so, I wrote like no one was reading. Mainly because no one was. Sure, there were college friends James and Jenn (and I think Austin was lurking at the time), but that was about it. If you didn’t know me in real life, you didn’t give a shit about what I was saying. And even that wasn’t a guaranteed reader! With the dawn of social media, however, I knew that someone out there might find my stuff kinda amusing. I’m no Jerry Seinfeld, but I think I’m a funny guy. Someone other than me had to find this stuff interesting, right? Right?

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Gradually, I started to pick up more readers here and there. I cultivated a bit of a Twitter circle, and they’re still with me to this day. Still, it’s a battle getting folks to read every post. I’ve yet to become a “destination site” like Dinosaur Dracula or Topless Robot. It hasn’t always been easy. I pimp the Hell out of each post on Twitter and Facebook, and I still feel like there’s a sect that has simply decided not to promote or publicly acknowledge me in any way. I have a lot of days where I ask myself why I still do this, but the answer’s simple: I don’t know how to stop.

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So, where did I expect to be now? I’m not entirely sure. I never saw blogging as a long-term thing, but once I got going I couldn’t stop. I did, however, think I’d be writing for other sites by now. This site would’ve served as a one-stop hub, but I thought I’d be farming out my services. There’s one big problem with that, though. You see, I made the mistake of reading way too many Motown biographies, and the takeaway message from all of them was “Always Own Your Masters”. Make sure you own the master recordings of all your songs, ’cause that’s where the money is. Not that print works exactly the same way, but I kept that mentality. I didn’t want to sign my stuff over to some site, where they’d own it and could do whatever they want with it. It’s not that I think my stuff is that valuable, but they’re all my babies. Some are more popular and not as ugly as others, but they’re all my kids. So, I’ve done more guest posts for free, and have actually turned down paid gigs because I’m so paranoid about relinquishing ownership. That’s definitely something I’d like to change in my next decade of blogging.

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What didn’t I expect? Well, I have to say that I’m a bit surprised by the “Will West franchise”. Not only is there a blog, but I was also able to spin off my own e-store, Will’s World of Wonder. Not everyone knows about this, but I went to college to work in the toy industry. I just never thought that “dream” would be realized by selling junk out of our guest bedroom (I’ll forgive the fact that only about 1.4% of the people reading this have ever ordered from me!). I’ve also enjoyed a nice run as a regular podcast guest. I’m especially appreciative to UnderScoopFire, Cold Slither Podcast, Nerd Lunch, and Zac Shipley for having me on multiple times. I never imagined people would want to read what I had to say, let alone listen to it! I’ve had a ton of fun doing it, and it’s great to just chat with cool people.

Anyway, I don’t do sentimental rambling all that well, so I’ll cut this off before it just runs on and on. Before I go, to commemorate this occasion, I thought I’d share 15 of my favorite posts from the past 10 years. Since most of you have been with me during the “Twitter era”, I figured I’d give ya some deep cuts that you probably haven’t read before. There’s something for everyone, so get to clickin’!

15) Black History Month is Back-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack!

14) Forgive Us Our Trespasses AKA Malled To Death

13) The Anniversary Post

12) Charlottes, and Boybands, and Attraction! Oh, My!

11) My Life with the Power Rangers – Reader Response

10) Comic Book Women In Space: The Beer Goggle Effect Of Science FictionWord Problems

09) At Long Last – My Comic Origin!

08) Leon On Me: A Brief History of Black Cinema’s Charo

07) San Diego Dreaming Part 2: SuperBad, Heroes’ Hiro & Rosario Dawson!!!

06) OutBlacked!

05) Women In Space: The Beer Goggle Effect Of Science Fiction

04) Affirmative Action Gets Supernatural: The Winston Zeddemore Story

03) The Racial Incident

02) Can’t We Just Shake Hands, Like White People?

01) Marion Barry and the Gay Bar

I just want to thank all the readers, friends, folks who share my posts, and those who have me in their blogrolls. And special thanks to Jenn Fang. No one would be reading this without any of you. Trust me.