"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Thoughts
April 9, 2010

From Metaphors To Names

“When I (re)started blogging in 2004 my life was a mess. I was in a strange country, struggling with a career change and generally feeling as though everything I did kind of sucked, in a deep and fundamental way. My hope was that blogging would, somehow, help me improve as a writer and establish some […]

“When I (re)started blogging in 2004 my life was a mess. I was in a strange country, struggling with a career change and generally feeling as though everything I did kind of sucked, in a deep and fundamental way. My hope was that blogging would, somehow, help me improve as a writer and establish some kind of foothold back in the publishing world, as an author, or contributor, or something. I mean, other people get published through blogs? Didn’t they?

Five years on, I’m in a different, but equally strange country, my new career isn’t quite setting the world on fire and I’m still prone to periodic bouts of acute self-doubt. Blogging not only didn’t bring me fame or fortune, it didn’t even bring me mediocrity and ridicule. It certainly didn’t help me get anything published.”

I wrote those words in October of 2009, looking back on my reasons for starting this blog in October 2004. My commitment to blogging had not waned, but I was aware that the previous years had been full of a lot of doubts about where blogging was headed, collectively and for me as an individual blogger.

Today I made a small, but for me a significant decision; to change the name of this blog. Fernando’s Desk is no more, from now on this blog simply bears my name – Fernando Gros.

I guess, in a way it is more of an un-naming than a renaming. For a long time this blog was my main presence online. As a blogger I was always an essayist, more than a diarist or journalist. Increasingly I’m offering up more and more photos and music, so the blog is becoming one third of a larger collection of online work.

Originally, I chose to call the blog Fernando’s Desk, because the image of a desk piled high with notes, books and papers was a powerful memory from my first months in India. Reflecting on the origins of this blog, in July 2006 I wrote,

“Words scribbled in notepads and journals; half-finished electronic documents and extended email drafts never sent. I realised, whilst sitting at my desk in Delhi, that a fair chunk of this material deserved to be worked with, improved and maybe even commented upon. That motivated both this blog and it’s current name.”

The desk was a metaphor for the process of trying to edit, sort, file, rewrite and generally make sense of these fragments of life. Through the 90s and up until 2003 my life had been a roller-coaster gathering momentum. Then it all kind of crashed. Making the transition back to music, rethinking my identity as a writer and reconsidering questions of faith, family and friendship left me with a lot to process and consider. That was the stuff of this blog – the desk was a place to try and find meaning amongst the disorder.

The desk metaphor continued to make sense at periods of major transition, such as in April 2006 when I was preparing to move from Delhi to Hong Kong. But, I really hit the wall as a blogger in 2007. In June of that year, I wrote the following,

“I’ve always felt that blogging flows best when the content is already being created through existing patterns of work and thought. My most productive spells of blogging come when I’m working on ideas in real-world and email conversations and writing drafts for papers, essays and the like. In fact, that’s the whole point of this blog, to process. organise and make public the ideas and words that flow across my desk.

When blogging just becomes another activity to add to an already overcrowded “to-do” list, another stand-alone duty, then it becomes hard to sustain – at least with any quality.”

I kept trying to make the desk metaphor work, even as the basic stuff of life shifted. As I wrote in March of 2009,

“A lot has changed in these years. Back in 2004, I thought of myself as an academic who played a bit of music and wanted to be a better golfer. Now, I’m a musician who does some non-fiction writing and wants to be a better cook. It’s not so much that the metaphor for this blog, the stuff that moves across my desk, is broken. Rather, it’s that my primary space for working and thinking is no longer a desk (by implication in a library), but a workstation in a studio.”

Replying to a comment today on a deeply personal post about my faith journey ( a comment that reminded me of something I made in May 2007 about Survivorship Bias And The Myth Of Leadership) prompted me to wonder if the desk metaphor really was dead.

Today the blog reflects more of what I do and how I see the world, than where I’ve been and the loose ends that go with that. So, I’ve decided to set the blog free from “the desk,” to let it wander more widely across this strange, contradictory life that I find myself in. No more desk, just me.

Responses
Foxlore 11 years ago

To quote the bard… “What is in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

I can understand your reasonings for wanting to change, but for myself I was drawn in to your site simply because of good content; personal musings, critiques and images which are all ultimately reflections of the content creator Arguably, it doesn’t really matter if your name is Prince or ‘the artist formerly known as…’ etc, right?

Interestingly, I find my own current state of change partly reflected in your opening statement. Life is a bit of a mess do to a recent move, thinking about a career change, having recently accomplished a long term goal set back in 2001 I am now trying to reevaluate new goals, but question my ability to achieve them. For me finding a form of solace or recognition in the writings of another is I guess what the openness of social media is about.

I have read elsewhere that this is a form of fragmentation of identity. That is, in each area of social media we share a small fragment of ourselves. Some portion comes through on Twitter, another on Facebook, yet another on Flicker or a blog, etc. Not everyone chooses to participate in all forms and even when taken as a whole these forms are still far less than complete picture. So perhaps the desk analogy was in some ways accurate, or maybe the desk becomes Fernado’s Lounge or Fernado’s Corner…or just Fernado Gros. But this just goes back to the first statement…if the content is good, does it really matter? 😉

Toni 11 years ago

Well done for moving forward when you needed to.

Fernando Gros 11 years ago

Thanks Toni.

Fernando Gros 11 years ago

Paul, thanks for your kind words. Career changes are not an easy thing to contemplate, let alone embark on. I’m glad this blog is in some way worthwhile for you.

You are right that the title doesn’t ultimately matter that much. I could call this blog “stuff I picked out of the rubbish” and it wouldn’t make much difference.

The fragmentation you highlight is a part of my decision to change the name. Our self-portrait online is only ever a partial image. But, the fact that I’m not shaping the content here to fit an audience or market, or focussing just one set of interests is significant, at least for me. I don’t think it’s “wrong” to have a narrow focus, or to split interests up into different blogs and streams – just that I’ve chosen not to go that way.

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