When I announced last November about the final three episodes of Simple, I had this post in mind, wondering how on earth I would begin it. I’d actually been drafting it in my head slowly since last September when I knew it was coming. But now that it’s finally time to hit publish, I hardly know where to begin.
I’ll start by cutting to the chase, shall I? Here goes… 2020 will be the final year of The Art of Simple, with the last post on the docket for publication on December 31.
It’s a very bittersweet decision for me, far bigger than the decision to end the accompanying podcast (especially since I just launched a new one!). It took me a while to decide this was the right decision. AoS has been my baby for 12 years, back when it went by a different moniker and served a different purpose in the collection of my work. And it’s been a beautiful, awe-inspiring experience that I don’t take lightly.
This website began when my family lived in an urban high-rise apartment overlooking the Aegean Sea, in Turkey. My oldest was almost three years old, and my next-born was a few weeks old. I spent those long hours nursing him reading everything I could about starting a successful blog, which I’d already created for the grandparents to see photos of their faraway grandkids (this was before the ubiquitousness of Facebook and Twitter, and before Instagram was even a thing). But I wanted to create a public blog, one that was mostly for me, but even better if I could connect with a few people that felt similarly.
And so, on an uneventful Sunday afternoon in my living room, I bought a domain name, uploaded WordPress, and tapped out my first post on an ugly blog. I loved every bit of the early work in those days, learning how to make it visually appealing, how to write for SEO, how to attract new subscribers and commenters (remember, pre-social media). I didn’t make any money, but I had fun.
A few months later, I sold my first sidebar ad, a little 125×125 square that promoted another mom-n-pop business, and with the proceeds, I bought myself a latte at the neighborhood Starbucks. The website generated some form of money ever since.
I won’t give a play-by-play of all those early months, but after the first year, I asked a few friends to contribute posts every now and then, and that decision transformed this place to a community-focused blog, where I was never the single expert. It’s never had a year since that first one, 2008, when it was just me.
In 2011 it became a full-fledged business, generating more income than our other jobs, thus shifting it from side hustle to our family’s main source of income. It’s also the year I started podcasting and realized how much I loved it, alongside writing.
A few books, a rotation of contributing writers, a course or two launched, and several iterations of that podcast, and here I am, in 2020, ready to give this beloved space the final bow it deserves.
Like the podcast, I want to end this space well, on my terms, while it’s still a thing I’m proud of — so I’m not making this decision because I no longer think it’s good. In fact, I think last year was one of our best years.
I simply believe it’s time — for this online space, and for me personally and professionally. I’m ready to do new things, and because of the time it takes to make AoS a website I’m proud of, I can’t do those other new things well at the same time.
There are people out there who can spin all those plates with applause-worthy astonishment, and God bless ‘em. I’m simply not one of those people. After 12 years of writing and doing my thing, I’ve learned so much about how I’m wired — and one of those truths is that I’m best when I do fewer things well. In another ten years, I want to look back and say I created my best contributions and didn’t do certain types of work just because They say I need to.
I’m not talking about the necessary work of life, the stuff none of us like but are essential to making society work. I’m talking about doing this weird, online thing in a status quo way out of fear of doing it differently, unwilling to take the risks calling out to me. I want to look back and say I did what I was meant to do in this next decade.
And so, doing this next work I’m excited about means having to slow down a spinning plate, take it off its stick, dust it off, and with gratitude, rest it on its shelf.
What This Means For Me
I’m not going anywhere! In fact, part of this decision is because I want to be even more in the spaces that excite me. All the iterations of my work will be linked at tshoxenreider.com — for the foreseeable future, that looks like more books (including fiction!), The Good List, my subscriber’s newsletter called Books & Crannies, my free weekly companion letter called 5 Quick Things, and leading trips like Literary London. I also hope to add coaching services to my repertoire, and though I prefer spending my day-to-day more analog than digital these days, I’ll still hang out on Twitter and Instagram.
Specifically, this shift means more work time for book writing, which I’m especially excited about. It’s truly where I feel like I can contribute my greatest good.
What This Means For AoS
As I mentioned, the last post will be on the last day this year — so, we’ve still got all of 2020 ahead of us here. And I have every intention of making this its best year yet!
I’ll give you a peek behind the curtain with my thought processes of saying goodbye to something I built from scratch (though I’ll admittedly be more detailed and frequent about this topic in my newsletter), I’ll write a monthly series of letters to myself ten years ago (which is when this blog really took off), I’ll share a monthly countdown of AoS’ most popular posts of all time (the top three are all over ten years old!), and as always, the regular contributors will continue to share their fantastic essays. Together, we’ll write about places we love, books and podcasts we’re into, and our current thoughts about relationships, work, travel, and community.
Speaking of contributors — in this final year, I also want to highlight some of my favorite voices from the past 12 years, publishing them one more time on AoS. (Fun fact: we’ve had over thirty regular contributors!)
I’m not sure what exactly will happen to AoS after December 31, 2020, but I have a few ideas that I think you’ll like. I’ll keep you posted… It’s not cheap to host a high-traffic website with as many words as ours in the archives, but I can’t possibly imagine saying goodbye to these lovely words forever.
Stick around for AoS’s last — and most likely, finest — year. I’m really excited about what we’re bringing you in the next twelve months. And as always, starting from day one on that unassuming Sunday in my Mediterranean living room — thank you for reading our words here. You’ve given me more than you could possibly know, and I’ll forever be grateful.