I have a blog – so now what?

This is my first blog post.

It’s amazing how long it took to write just these six words. I do not mean that it took me an extended amount of time to literally write these six words, but instead am referring to the amount of time it has taken for me to begin blogging. I first gave consideration to the idea of blogging approximately a year-and-a-half ago. Then before I knew it almost that entire time period had passed me by without so much as a single sentence typed. After attending the Dallas, TX stop of the CodeWorks 2009 tour on September 26 and 27, and meeting a venerable list of PHP’s who’s-who, I was once again inspired to begin blogging. But then again, all of the activities of life once again seemingly got in the way. My son had an ear surgery – there went a week. My wife and I attended 30 hours of training to become foster parents – there went, well, 30 hours. A project at work experienced issues – another week gone by. When would I ever finally have time to begin blogging?

I am going to diverge from the previous train of thought for just a moment, but I promise that I will come back around to it in just a moment. I have owned two moderately successful businesses in my past, with one of them having actual real employees who oddly enough required actual real cash dollars every payday. The reason I share this is to say that I am an individual who is not unaccustomed to challenges. In other previous employment endeavors I have been an instructor, both in commercial and educational settings. The reason I share this is to say that I am an individual who is not intimidated by being a resource of knowledge for others. I have been developing with PHP since early 1999 and am a Zend Certified Engineer. The reason I share this is to say that while I am always continuously learning, like all good developers should be, I’ve got solid grasp on the ins and outs of web application development using PHP.

Now here’s where I get both of these trains of thought back together on the same track. Despite having previously faced challenges and enjoy continuously doing so, despite being able to command a classroom with my leadership and despite being an experienced PHP developer that currently leads a team of developers, there is something daunting and somewhat terrifying about the prospect of blogging. It is one thing to start playing with a new piece of technology or software in the privacy of your own office, to implement the tried-and-true “Hello World”, where no one will be aware of how many iterations you had to suffer through before getting right, and it is quite another to do so in full view of the rest of the PHP community and the glaring lights of the not-so-private internet. Please do not misunderstand me. I am not for one moment saying that the PHP community is not one that will welcome a newcomer of any caliber, contributing in any capacity, into its fold. Quite the opposite actually – the PHP community is extremely welcoming with many tremendous members. But what I am saying is that it’s one thing to be judged only by yourself and another to subject yourself to judgment by a multitude of others.

During the five weeks since CodeWorks, when I decided (again) that I was going to begin blogging, I have been going around and around in my head about what my first blog post should be about. I have had several ideas, but was quick to dismiss them as being to ambitious or needing more time that I had at the moment to devote. I finally realized that these were just excuses. The same types of excuses that had kept me from blogging for the past year and more. I was then reminded of two different blog posts I had recently read that spoke, to me, on this subject. While at CodeWorks I had the honor of meeting Chris Cornutt. You should follow him on Twitter: http://twitter.com/enygma. It was two of his blog posts, titled “The Beginner Pattern” (read it here: http://blog.phpdeveloper.org/?p=198) and “Mom Always Said to Share” (read it here: http://blog.phpdeveloper.org/?p=169 that I kept coming back to. Here is what I took from these posts: it does not matter what you are blogging about as long as you are blogging for you. There is not one style that everyone should follow or any one way in which to “correctly” blog. Just as each developer has their own style of coding (within the guidelines of best practices of course), they should also have their own style of blogging. I had allowed myself to become consumed with how I thought my blog posts would be received to the point that I had not even created a single post to be shared. Now I know these exact words are not in either of his posts, and perhaps this exact interpretation was never intended, but this again speaks to my point. Every reader will get something different from my blog posts. It is only my responsibility to be true to myself.

So there it is – my first blog post. What started out as a difficult first six words to write has now turned into over 900 words and counting. For those of you who have stuck with me this whole time and are still reading, I sincerely thank you. If you are an already-established member of the PHP community, likely already with your own blog, I thank you for welcoming me further into the PHP community. If you are someone just starting out I strongly encourage you to jump in with both feet and never look back. As for future posts, I am certain there will be one about my first-time experiences contributing to the Zend Framework, for while I do have a Contributer Licensing Agreement (CLA) on file with Zend, I have somehow always seemed to find something to keep me from ever actually getting around to contributing. As Chris Cornutt says in his post, “Don’t be afraid to put you and your code out there!”

I am now off to shamelessly promote my first post!

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