A Little Trip Down Memory Lane

Feb 9, 2021 | No-Niche Posts

Who Doesn't Love a Good Game of Tag?

Nostalgia, indeed.

It has been years since I played a good game of blog tag! Thank you, Ming Qian, for bringing back a bit of fun and for nominating me, in your post, “What Inspires You to Write? #BloggingNostalgiaTag

Now, I hasten to add that I know of few bloggers who didn’t swear off accepting “awards” sometime in the early 2010s – so I’m not sure who I can nominate for this without getting my back plastered with “Kick me!” notes.

I hope I can think of some good sports before I finish this post, and luckily for me, most aren’t local – so they can’t really kick me.

Click the + icon to the right of each section to expand and read.


Intro + 3 Fun Facts

Here’s the copy-pasta blurb:

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; and A New Leaf for Lyle. She draws inspiration from her family, from her own childhood adventures (some of which only happened in her overactive imagination), and from readers both young and young at heart. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, J.J., whose love and encouragement make writing books twice the fun.

Three fun facts? 

I started college at age 12. But then I went back to 7th grade. I didn’t actually earn my B.A. till I was 18. Despite a prodigious start, I have not cured cancer or done anything Nobel- or Pulitzer-prizeworthy. Yet.

I was a “wanted woman” in Missouri for about 18 years. It was the principle of the thing. I wasn’t speeding and everyone who knows me knows I wasn’t about to lie and admit to something I didn’t do. They probably still have my check for $62.50; I’ll bet they framed that thing.

I have gone parasailing upside-down, and been dunked head-first into the Atlantic from a 2000-foot cable. I’d do that again in a heartbeat. 

First Blog Platform + Name

Apparently, I have been lying about this for years – looking back through the Wayback Machine, it seems I completely forgot about nPorta logs. Fine, you go search Google for it. I’ll wait.

And then there was Xanga. I mean, I guess? I always thought of Xanga and Live Journal and Windows Live as journals…

That’s a pretty stupid distinction. I see that, now that I’ve typed it out. So my first blogging platform, technically, was not Blogger. But read on – there’s more info about this under “A Fun Blogging Memory.”


Why I Started Blogging

Two reasons: I like to try new things, and I’m a little lazy. Before I integrated a blog into my website, I had to wait until I was on my own desktop PC, at home, in the evening, to update it with anything I thought would make a great addition.

When I heard of weblogs, logs, blogs – whatever you want to call them, and learned that I could update them fairly easily through either a browser interface or email, I was hooked. It was fast, easy, and much more interesting than an infrequently updated, static website.

Looking back, this “rush to publish,” this impatience so many of us share, has not always served me well. Sometimes it pays to let things simmer, to hold off and sleep on it before hitting Publish.


My Favorite Part About Blogging

I think that my favorite part of blogging is the interaction of writer and reader. Blogging and commenting are a conversation. In a way, a blog is like a well-moderated forum. The blogger starts off with a topic, and readers are invited to comment. 

It’s unfortunate that social media, and I include blogging, here, is so fraught with “landmines.” There are too many spammy, contentious, hostile, trollish comments out there, and too few genuine conversations happening on blogs, these days. For every real comment I get, here, my spam filter discards ten. If this blog were at all popular, that would probably be 100 – even 1000. 


What I Blog About, by the Queen of the No-Niche Niche

So, the original question is, “What do you blog about, and why did you choose those topics? Is your blog related to your field of study? Why or why not?”

I blog about anything I feel like writing on a given day, which is one of the happy trade-offs to not blogging for money. (Next question: “What do blogging and sex have in common?”)

Back in 2009, I took a free online course from ProBlogger (Darren Rowse): “31 Days to a Better Blog.” And there was one assignment related to discovering or choosing your niche. All I could think was, “I want it all! I don’t want to be pigeonholed!” I announced to Darren that it was my intention to “dominate the no-niche niche!” And my online writing, back then, was “me time.” It was supposed to be fun.  

That explains why I have no regular “posting schedule.” I’ll go months between blog posts rather than let it turn into a chore.

Is my blog related to my field of study? This question is going to out me as “old enough to be Ming Qian’s mother.” It’s been a long time since I thought of it in terms of a “field of study.” But I guess you could say that it is related, since my undergraduate degree is in “Rhetoric & Writing.” And you might dredge up a post or two on copyright law, so I guess I’ve dragged the Law degree into it on occasion. 

It’s convenient to be a lifelong learner; in that sense, I suppose anything I write about is related to some field of study – even if it’s not a “major.” 

If Fame and Fortune Were No Object, What Niche Would I pick?

Well, they are no object – so I’ll stick with the no-niche niche. If fame and fortune were an object, and given I’ve already confessed to being both curious and lazy, I’d have found an easier and more reliable way to attain both fame and fortune – blogging isn’t it.

A Fun Blogging Memory

I was blogging when Blogger, co-founded by Medium’s founder, Ev Williams, was still a baby. You might say that I’ve come full circle. You’ll see, in a moment, how little has changed in the past two decades.

There Are Adults Who Haven’t Been Alive as Long as I’ve Been Blogging

One of my first blog posts was me trying to define what the heck “blogging” was — I didn’t imagine anyone else would read it, and no one knew back then that “the Internet is forever.”

At some point, before the term “vanity surfing” was coined, I searched for my own name and found a mention in The Hindustan Times, where my definition of blogging was quoted and I was referred to as a “veteran blogger.” Once I stopped laughing and realized what a venerable publication that really was, and not some little fly-by-night website like my own, I was stunned. I wrote to their tech columnist, Deepak Mankar, and confessed to him that I was anything but a veteran blogger, but thanked him for the compliment of quoting me in the newspaper and calling me one.

Neither of us can find that clip, now — but at least I made a friend!

Before There Was Blogging

Mark Zuckerberg did not invent “social media.”

My first online chat happened on CompuServe in 1981, and by 1989, I was working as an unpaid moderator (SysOp) on GEnie. The Writers’ Ink RoundTable — the first to “hire” me — had a forum, a chat room, and a place to store files. I’d say it was at least as much of a “social network” as any overcrowded, contentious platform we think of as such, today. And somewhere in between, there were independent little user-run “bulletin boards” (BBSes) that had chats, online games, and more. Your parents weren’t running around with the dinosaurs, kids.

I See Dead Trees

In the early days of the commercial Internet (around 1994–2002), there were printed directories of websites, categorized like the Yellow Pages, and sold in brick and mortar bookstores. I had no idea, until tonight, that I was featured in one of them!

My first website, Scraps & Scribbles, or The Writer’s Corner, was a writing site. It was, as the book above says, “a list of links.” I only started it because I wanted to learn HTML, and all the websites back in 1994 or so consisted of rudimentary lists of programmers’ CD collections. That seemed awfully boring, so I focused on what I knew and started a writing site. There weren’t many, back then. But let me tell you in my own words —from nearly 20 years ago:

Tuesday, April 17, 2001


A Short History of Scraps & Scribbles


When I first started Scraps & Scribbles (originally called The Writers Corner), several years ago*, my main goal was to learn HTML. That didn’t seem like reason enough to add clutter to the Internet, and I couldn’t see me doing another one of those “Hello world, this is me, isn’t my CD collection just the kewlest?” personal home pages.


I was determined, from the start, to provide links to some of the best writing resources on the Internet — not just to collections of other people’s favorite links, but to sites containing primary content of interest to writers and readers.


Turned out to be a fairly time-consuming endeavor. And there weren’t 50 gazillion writers’ sites on the Internet then, as there are now. Just finding some of them proved to be a daunting task.


Always, tucked into a deep corner in the back of my mind, was this nagging feeling that some of that “primary content” really ought to be written by me. The other nagging feeling, not quite relegated to that dark corner of the mental basement, was that I was already spending too much time online! (Anyone here remember the movie, “The Beast in the Cellar”?) Anyway…


Flash forward to January 2001. I discovered two “new” things to play around with, and threw myself into them with zeal. The first was the “pay-per-click” writing sites, like Epinions and Themestream. I wouldn’t have found Themestream, if not for the fact that Epinions temporarily shut down while their site was being redesigned.


Don’t ask me what’s addictive about writing for a site that pays a measly $.02 or less each time someone reads your work. Even though technically it’s worth less than a token payment, like contributor’s copies of a print anthology, it’s money. Legal tender. In four months and 40+ articles, I earned a whole hour’s wages. (I do write for a living.) I’ll never see a penny of it, either. Themestream sent out an announcement last week, saying that the company would cease operations on Friday the 13th (how appropriate) and that it would be highly unlikely that they would be able to pay all their creditors — or their contributors.


But you know what? Thanks in part to Themestream, I finally put my money where my mouth was, got off my duff, and started writing something besides user’s guides — and now I’m able to move most of those articles to my own Web site. I finally have some of that primary content, not just great links, and it’s mine!


The second thing I discovered to play with on the Internet was Weblogs (like this one!). nPorta’s Logs (www.nporta.com) are probably the easiest and fastest to set up and maintain. And they’re easy to change or delete, as well.


Two others are more robust, but these are sites dedicated to “blogging” and don’t offer the same useful, customizable news features, or the handheld/wireless-friendly design offered by nPorta.


Blogger (www.blogger.com) and Xanga (www.xanga.com) are definitely worth a look. I would recommend Blogger to anyone who wants to integrate their log into their own personal Web site (and has FTP access to upload and download their own files). I would suggest Xanga for anyone who might want to set up a free Web site or log but who doesn’t necessarily want to become an HTML guru in the process. Here are some samples, if you’re curious: my Blogger page, integrated into Scraps & Scribbles (http://users.ev1.net/~hjahangiri/blog/dayjournal.html) and my Xanga page (not integrated into the Scraps & Scribbles site, but linking to it; http://www.xanga.com/HollyJahangiri)


I Am NOT a Publisher!


So don’t ask me to publish your writing on my site. I’d be delighted to do it, but I can live without all the potential legal complications.


I will, however, add links to other people’s writing sites. If you send me an email with the subject:


LINK for Scraps and Scribbles


I will add a link to your site, provided:


(a) You include your name, email address, URL, and a brief description (no more than 3–5 lines) of your work; and


(b) Your content is not inappropriate (pornographic, hate-mongering, racist, scatological, etc.) Mild erotica, strong opinions (clearly stated as your own and not argued with specious logic), diverse political/religious views, and such are, of course, fine.


* Scraps & Scribbles has been around, in one form or another, since 1994. Debbie Ridpath Ohi (whom I met in GEnie’s Writer’s Ink RoundTable a couple of years before that) was just beginning to build Inkspot into the deservedly popular writers’ site it was soon to become; and her site was one of the very first links added to mine.

Not much has changed, has it?

I may even have found that definition of a weblog that earned me a mention in The Hindustan Times:

What, you ask, is a Weblog? A Weblog might be a virtual journal, a daily news update, a group’s bulletin board, or a feature of a Web site. You’re reading a Weblog right now; I use it to post update notices and other tidbits to Scraps & Scribbles, and I can do it from any PC that’s connected to the Internet, any time. This Weblog was created using Blogger (www.blogger.com). Blogger lets me create and use my own template, so that my Weblog can be seamlessly integrated into my own Web site. I’m not forced to use someone else’s idea of a cool layout; every element is under my control. I can archive messages, too.

I was lazy; I just wanted a way to update the contents of my website without having to log in, download and edit pages, save and re-upload them — there had to be a better way. And that was what I found appealing about Blogger. I could integrate it into my own website, with a little effort, and then update things on the fly, from anywhere.

And while I was working, full-time, as a technical writer, designing Windows Help for PCs, and teaching others how to code HTML, other writers moved in and dominated this writing “niche.” Now in 2020, the whole topic of “writing” is so broad that it’s no longer a niche at all, and doesn’t even count as a topic on some websites and indices. We’re all writers, now; writing about writing is so “meta.” But I digress.

Back in the Olden Days

Once upon a time, we had “web rings.” These were little bits of code people set up that would act as Previous and Next buttons, but instead of taking you to the next post or page in the blog, Next would take you to the next site in the ring. This is how we turned blogging “social.”

What Ever Happened To Webrings?

Once upon a time, we had “web rings.” These were little bits of code people set up that would act as Previous and Next buttons, but instead of taking you to the next post or page in the blog, Next would take you to the next site in the ring. This is how we turned blogging “social.”

The closest thing we seem to have, now, is Linky Tools and InLinkz. Not a bad substitute – if people will use them.

And then there were “blogrolls.” I kept asking developers to make mine cinnamon with extra vanilla icing, but they just rolled their eyes and tried to explain that’s not what a “blogroll” meant.

Sometimes, it’s fun to play dumb. Till someone believes you are.

Rules, Rules — We Don’t Need No Steenkin’ Rules!

Sharon Hurley Hall writes, “We were excited about this new way of sharing our writing and we blogged regularly. There were no rules about how long posts should be or what should be included. There were no images, for the most part. It was just you, your words, and your fellow bloggers.”

Except that’s not how I remember it. Some of us were excited about this new frontier and its lack of rules, but others were equally excited to invent and pontificate at length about what the rules of blogging were, or ought to be. It was almost as if they had nothing else to write about, so they had to tell everyone else how not to write. I have criticized and satirized these early “listicles” to death, and I urge you to hold fast to the notion that there ought not to be any rules but good writing.

By “good writing,” I simply mean “that which does not bore the reader to tears and make them beg for death.”

Money for Nothin’

The Internet is full of some of the laziest people I’ve ever run across. They seem to honestly believe that they can earn money doing absolutely nothing — or by “blogging,” but their definition of it is not Sharon’s or mine, and doesn’t involve writing original material. It means using cheap software and tricks to scrape and spin other people’s content, sell ad space, and earn revenues by getting all their friends to click on the ads.

It means shoveling half that cash back into someone else’s $497 web training program on how to do it faster and better.

Or, maybe, they actually did believe they could get rich quick by blogging, and this is why there are 15,973,456,002,009 abandoned blogs and disillusioned former bloggers working in retail and claiming that “blogging is dead.”

Blogging makes great business sense if you have a product to sell and plenty to say about that product. If the product is paper, maybe you write about sustainable forestry or less stinky methods of producing paper products. If you’re selling antivirus software, you’ll never run out of cybersecurity topics to write about. But you do need to be an expert, or hire an excellent freelance writer like Sharon Hurley Hall who understands enough about the topic to write credibly about it, or you’ll just end up looking foolish.

We all know by now, surely, that only a small percentage of writers get filthy rich, and none of them do it in their sleep. But those folks who keep on churning out crap like, “I Made $34,982 on My Last Medium Story, and You Can, Too!” are just getting rich off P.T. Barnum’s “suckers.”

They tend to ruin it for the rest of us.

How? By running off the audience.

In the end, though, those of us who started out blogging for the fun of it, or just to enjoy honing our writing skills on topics of our own choosing, will still be around. Medium feels like that “old school blogging.” There is a community, here, comprised of writers who support and care about one another as people.

And slowly, bit by bit, our audience will return.

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien!

“If you could start over, what would you do differently?”

Not one darned thing. 

I take that back. I would strive to develop a more consistent habit of writing for my own pleasure. Not just blogging, but short stories and poetry – imaginative play. 

Blogger Who Inspires Me


Mitch Mitchell is the first person to pop into my head, for a number of reasons. First, he has established the kind of regular habit of writing, reading, conversing with other bloggers, and recording video blogs on YouTube that I wish I had the dedication and discipline to emulate. And he has been commenting on my blogs, cajoling me into writing more often, pointing out my typos, and encouraging me to try new things – like letting him interview me when I felt so awkward about speaking on camera that I shooed my entire family out of the house to do it!

Writing, Writing & Writing with Holly Jahangiri  

Blogging Nostalgia Tag Instructions

  1. Insert the blogging nostalgia tag banner anywhere in your blog post.
  2. Thank the person who nominated you, and include the link to their responses.
  3. Answer the 9 questions in the blogging tag. You do not have to come up with new questions in this blogging tag.
  4. Nominate up to ten bloggers, do not stress if you cannot come up with ten names!
  5. Notify the nominees via any channel that is convenient for you (e.g. email, Twitter, Facebook, blog comments, etc.).
  6. List the rules on your blog post, preferably before you attempt the blogging tag.
  7. You are not required to include the words ‘blogging nostalgia tag’ in your blog post title or URL slug. We understand that some bloggers will want to optimize this blogging tag for SEO. Therefore, a brief mention in the body text will be sufficient!

Blogging Nostalgia Tag Questions

  1. Introduce yourself and share three fun facts about you.
  2. What was your first blog platform, and do you still remember your blog name?
  3. Why did you start blogging?
  4. What is your favorite part about blogging?
  5. What do you blog about, and why did you choose those topics? Is your blog related to your field of study? Why or why not?
  6. If you could pick any blog niche without considering web traffic or monetization potential, what would it be?
  7. Share a fun blogging memory with us.
  8. If you could start over, what would you do differently?
  9. Finally, is there a blogger who inspires you? Name the first blogger you think of and your favorite three blog posts from him or her. Do not overthink this question, we are not playing favorites here!
Tag, You're It! And the Nominees Are...

Corinne Rodrigues, whose guiding word for 2021 is “Yes,” so I’m hoping she’ll join me for this fun!

Mitchell Allen, who shares my down-the-rabbit-hole curiosity, silly sense of adventure, and never fails to join in my online reindeer games.

Marian Allen, who is the creator of my alter ego (a character who shares my name, my love of purple, and my feather boa – but who serves as Head Librarian of a Living Library on Llannonn), and whose writing has entertained me and distracted me from my woes for a decade or more.

Mitch Mitchell (never to be confused with the other Mitch(ell)), nominated here because I think maybe he’ll forgive me since I called him “inspirational” or something earlier in this post. Not to mention he’s got plenty of “blogging nostalgia” stored up, I’m sure. (It’s not a “blog award,” Mitch – it’s a game of TAG! C’mon, come out and PLAY!)

Jyothi Nair, a (relatively) new friend of mine in blogging, but a “veteran blogger” in her own right.

Parul Thakur, who recently celebrated:

8 years
931 posts

Vinitha Dileep, a fine writer and poet, as well as an intrepid online adventurer and fellow “veteran blogger.”

Shinjini Mehrotra, a talented artist and writer, avid reader, and “seeker of soul” who has been blogging almost as long as I have!

Esha M Dutta, a self-described “late entrant” into the world of blogging (2014!)

Shilpa Gupte, who will probably manage to weave all answers into a work of wit and brevity, as she is a master of flash fiction!

Roshan Radhakrishnan, because his posts have consistently lifted me out of the doldrums for the past couple of years – he always manages to find the gems that restore my faith in humanity.
If I did not name you, and you’d like to play, consider yourself TAGGED! 





Holly Jahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle, illustrated by Jordan Vinyard; A Puppy, Not a Guppy, illustrated by Ryan Shaw; and the newest release: A New Leaf for Lyle, illustrated by Carrie Salazar. She draws inspiration from her family, from her own childhood adventures (some of which only happened in her overactive imagination), and from readers both young and young-at-heart. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, J.J., whose love and encouragement make writing books twice the fun.


  1. Mitchell Allen

    Holy mackerel! you’ve outdone yourself. I like the “spoiler” style layout. Your memories are so interesting, and the kinda do intersect with the Jurassic…LOL

    Thanks for inviting me. So many damn instructions, though. I’ll probably ignore them, because, I always did.



    • Holly Jahangiri

      I knew you’d add your special touch to this! 😀 Thank you. It took me about a week to do this post. Totally NOT my usual. I think WordPress counted about 42 revisions!

    • Ming Qian

      Hey Mitchell, well… I had a hand in drafting the instructions, but I broke some of them myself, too! You can do whatever you want with the blogging tag, it’s only meant to be a fun prompt after all.

  2. Bob Jasper

    Fascinating history. You have been blogging for a while. Thanks for the nostalgic visit back to the 90s. I remember those chat rooms we accessed via a 28k modem using AOL or some such. I remember downloading 15 or 20 files and stitching them together to get a 5-minute video. And, to think, you were there chatting away somewhere, too.

    • Holly Jahangiri

      Indeed, I was! Isn’t it funny how our paths have probably crossed in a relatively small subsection off the universe, but we only fairly recently “met”?

  3. CorinneRodrigues

    I will respond as soon as I get past the fascinating tech stuff you’ve pulled here! Hugs and thanks, Holly. ♥

    • Holly Jahangiri

      The “fascinating tech stuff” is all thanks to Divi from Elegant Themes. I can take no credit for coding any of that – I just customized it a little bit. They’re pretty awesome, once you get past the “I f***ing HATE THIS!!!” part of the learning curve. Let’s not sugarcoat – the learning curve’s a bit steep, but their support folks are kind, and once you yell “Uncle!” and admit it’s all over your head, they might even do it for you (if you have a membership that includes support). I adore it, and them, NOW. It took till late last year, though – and Divi’s been out for YEARS. It might be the least painful way to make the shift to WordPress and its stupid block editor, too. (Same thing – Divi just as a lot more to it.)

  4. Ming Qian

    I loved reading your responses! I’m quite sure I’ve read the entire section on a fun blogging memory when you published it elsewhere. Even so, it amazes me how much more I picked up on with this second reading. I guess some of it is still quite unbelievable to me.

    For instance, I started a Blogger account when I was nine or ten, and I remember thinking I was going to master HTML and customize my blog theme! Meanwhile, you’re talking about HTML on a different platform that I have never heard before. Recently, I also purchased an HTML and CSS course from Udemy, and reading your response makes me feel as if I have come full circle somehow.

    Alright, it was a great mental break from marathon lectures and Zoom tutorials, but I must get along with my day now. Thanks for rising to the occasion and responding to my blogging tag!

      • Mitchell Allen

        I second that. I spent hours on those practice forms, watching how the different attributes affected the display.



    • Holly Jahangiri

      And I had fun digging up the “evidence” that I’ve been blogging for so long, Ming. I think I really have reached “veteran blogger” status – FINALLY.

  5. Marian Allen

    I humbly decline, my darling. I lack your industry and your attention span. You ARE the queen! Also: Godzilla.

    • Holly Jahangiri

      Well, that’s the nicest rejection I’ve had in a long time! (And I’d almost forgotten the Godzilla thing!) 😀 Thanks, Marian! I kind of though you and Mitch would say no, but I’d have been terribly remiss not to ASK.

  6. Modern Gyspy

    It was lovely to read about your blogging journey, and thank you for tagging me. These are some interesting questions to ponder over, especially with all the talk about turning your blog into a business, which more often than not just does my head in!

    • Holly Jahangiri

      I can’t imagine ever running this blog as a business. It would be nice if it supported sales of my books, now and then. 🙂 I think most authors feel the same way. I’ve practically given up writing them, though – with self-publishing, there are just so many “authors” out there and they’re working ten times harder to market and sell their books than I do. I’d rather just write, at this point in my life. Maybe I’ll write the story of an author who secretly writes a novel to be discovered by her children and published posthumously… Of course, then, they’ll be disappointed to learn that it doesn’t exist.

  7. Vinitha

    Wow, look at that page! It is completely different, so unlike a blog. You say you are lazy and you come up with all new techie things to show off, Holly! 😀
    After reading your blogging history, I wonder why you claimed that you are not a veteran blogger! Quoted in The Hindustan Times! Wow!
    I like the questions. I will respond to the tag soon. Thank you for tagging me and calling me ‘a fine writer and poet, as well as an intrepid online adventurer and fellow “veteran blogger.”’ That’s so nice of you, Holly. 🤗

    • Holly Jahangiri

      Oh, I might be a “veteran blogger” NOW – but back when Deepak quoted me, I was a complete n00b. Not to being online, not to writing, not even to “social media” (yes, such existed before Facebook!) but to blogging and even running a website? Yeah. I was pretty new to it. So it struck me funny (and I was quite honored) that he would choose MY definition of “blogging” to quote in his column.


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