I used to be a newspaper reporter. It was a good gig, but I had to do a lot of stuff I hated. I had to cover crime scenes. I had to read arrest reports. I had to go to city council meetings. Also, despising unprompted social interaction with people I don’t know, I wasn’t particularly great at it.
But in my spare hours, I was also writing posts for a website called Joystiq.
As much as I enjoyed it, I realized I was straddling two worlds, trying to be a traditional news guy and a member of the new world of online media. One afternoon in 2007, I sat in the field behind my house and asked my wife to trust me as I dropped my actual, real adult job with benefits to become a guy who professionally makes jokes about Mario’s hat and photoshops speech bubbles onto pictures of babies dressed like pirates.
I had no promise that the Joystiq thing would turn into a full-time job with benefits (in fact, that took a few years), but I knew that writing at Joystiq was the first thing I thought I was genuinely good at. My wife gave not only her blessing, but her adamant insistence that I had to do it. I was, is and will forever be indebted to her for her faith.
Because she trusted me, I’ve had some of the most amazing experiences of my life. I got to record a podcast and write for a website with some of my best friends in the world. I got to see a community grow around our work and got to meet many of its members, all of whom are just the best people. I got to record a show called My Brother, My Brother and Me and actually get people to listen to it. I also played catch with George Lopez.
Now, some five years later, I’m asking you, the people who care about the stuff I read and write to trust me in much the same way as I announce that I’m leaving Joystiq. A WordPress blog is nowhere near as picturesque as a West Virginia landscape, and we’re not all sitting together, but the sentiment is the same.
I’m taking a huge risk in letting go of the single best thing that’s ever happened to me, but I do it only because I think amazing things will come of it that you’re really going to love. But I need you to hang in there with me, to have faith that it’ll all be worth it. I ask you this because the fact that you care enough to listen to me, to respond means more than any job, any title or any paycheck.
Joystiq will pass into the hands of the amazing Ludwig Kietzmann and Co., all of whom will do some incredible things and I’m heartbroken that I won’t be a part of it. No matter where I go in my life, I will always carry with me a hole in my heart shaped like Joystiq.
But as nervous, sad, scared, excited as I am about 2012 (both due to my new gig and the world-ending return of Quetzalcoatl) what I feel most is gratitude. Thanks to Chris Grant, I had the biggest opportunity of my life. Thanks to the every member of Team Joystiq, I’ve become a better writer with a better collection of friends and animated cat GIFs. Thanks to my wife, I have a fantastic reason to step away from the keyboard now and then.
Finally, I appreciate you, the people who read or listen to my work. For a husky, not-so-popular kid from a state many couldn’t find on a map, the fact that so many of you like me is a gift I get to unwrap everyday.
There’s a running joke that whether the recipient is a stranger or friend, I give the world’s greatest hugs. It’s only now that I can reveal my secret, one that I hope I haven’t kept too well over the past five years:
I love you all so very, very much.