The Blog as a Garden

I’m about to get a little meta—reflecting on where I’m at with Cleo’s Autism Awareness—with the intent to repeat this process semi-annually. Reflections are an integral part of my writing process, same as the lists I used to illustrate first-drafting a couple weeks ago.

By setting two meta-guideposts a year, I can assess where this blog is going, and where it needs to be. To put it another way, I can step back and figure out the larger narrative.

By writing about how I’m lost, I hope to realize what I found.

If a fellow blogger reads through this thought process, then wants to offer insights, comments are welcome! Otherwise, I’ll quietly tend my virtual garden until I figure my compost out…


Lately I’ve been toying around with aesthetics for this blog.

I’ve tried a couple of templates. The current one is a burning red response to the “Light It Up Blue” movements, Re: Autism Speaks. (Aside: The link tracks back to a year-old post that works as a good compare-contrast with my “tread carefully” self and “I’m over ableism” self.) I like how the template is very round; circles and hearts feel good to me.

Yet I’m not sure how to handle graphics.

Since I use the Color Therapy App as a stress reliever, I could incorporate colored .JPEGs from their black-and-white repertoire into many of my posts—including the post on lists and my writing process, shared last week.

Yet I’d rather commission artists on to help them develop their portfolios. It isn’t terribly expensive. I could manage this investment at $25/month. I tried it once already, just to see if the theoretical plan worked. The featured image for this post is one of those submissions.

But then I think about the annual fee for this blog.

I think and I think and anxiety bubbles, toil and trouble.

I’m not sure how to make Patreon work well, though I have one. I tried Amazon Affiliates and got removed after failing to achieve five sales. That frustrated me. Yet that was also when I realized I was not working on a professional project here, but a personal one; and that is fine with me. Surely the skills for the professional moments will emerge from the personal ones. Either that, or I’m meant to sort it all out another way.

But I’m scared of income sinks like hobbies, just because I don’t think in terms of superfluous income. I’m an adjunct professor. It’s a work of love, not a work of pay. In a different life, I was a high-spending hobbyist. I foolishly thought myself lucky then.

I am still far more fortunate than many because I have a supportive family. I’m indescribably grateful for this.

(As an aside, I think it’s frustrating when wordsmiths call something “indescribable,” because the expectation is that we can define everything—that’s a myth, though.)

Anyway, I paid for that fictitious luck. There was a time when I had to choose between physical abuse and homelessness—where my corner felt very, very tight—and after that rollercoaster, in the rattled reality of today, I spike into terrible anxiety trying to solve simple dilemmas, like how much to invest in blog aesthetics.

I’m a hot mess over .JPEGs.

Perhaps, until/if I can figure out Patreon, I could engage in trades on So if I freelance there, I can spend that freelance on graphics for improving the aesthetics of this blog.


I’ve also been taking courses online in HTML, CSS, and Java Script, since I know under-the-hood control will help aesthetics tremendously.

The languages I really want to learn are LISP, Prolog, and Python, though…

I could jostle a work-of-pay out of those languages, maybe?

I’ve got a wobbly track record with decent-paying employment. I seem to gravitate to jobs that are rewarding for the soul—like teaching, or managing an online gaming community.

Anyway, I’m not willing to juggle the online community college courses for web development alongside self-studying for artificial intelligence development. One programming language at a time.

I’ve been prioritizing learning how to code aesthetics into my blogs and websites, at least for now. At the end of the year, gears will shift a bit. This fills me with a sense of urgency, like I have to reach a certain point with this blog before then.


Tending to the appearance of my writing projects is like gardening. While it’s entirely unnecessary, it’s immensely relaxing—except when it’s not—so I think about aesthetics for self-care’s sake. Perhaps that sounds silly. It’s fine if it does. Hear me out.

I don’t want to say I tend to aesthetics as a thing of pride—this blog could use editing (my 2020 project is to edit my 2018-19 online writing); the graphics aren’t cohesive, since they’re from different mediums; the overall narrative of the blog could use some work, to make content flow better together; the SEO is currently poor—and all the loose threads are okay with me.

It’s more like I find relief and accepting it’s a continual work-in-progress.

Accepting a blog is good practice for accepting the self.

If I’m going to be honest with myself though, the purpose needs to extend beyond mere self-exploration, self-love. That was a great starting place; but if an adventurer just says they’re going to challenge the mountain, that’s not nearly as compelling as challenging the mountain for the dragon’s treasure. It’s about time to think about what’s compelling.

So what’s the treasure I’m trying to unearth?

What am I gardening?



Kourtnie View All →

Kourtnie has an MFA in Creative Writing from CSU Fresno and a BA in English from CSU Fullerton. When she isn't writing or making art, she's moonlighting as a professor at community colleges. Read her writing at or

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