A New Undertaking in Writing…and a New Beginning
Even though it doesn’t seem that long, I’ve been doing blogging for an entire decade, and then some.
This whole adventure started with a general-purpose platform for my silly writing excursions on my “main” website of scottrobertsweb.com. You see, around 2006 and 2007, me, being a website designer, whipped together a rudimentary content management system (for you non-techies, I’m referring software such as WordPress that runs on the back-end). I hardly knew what the topic theme was, so basically winged it.
As the newly-formed blog slowly creaked its way out of the internet train station and I got flowing creatively, my focus was on three main areas of discussion: technology and coding, spicy food, and general and miscellaneous matters; the later kind of being the catch-all category for goofy and intriguing things I’d stumble across the web, almost like a non-leftist version of Boing Boing.
I liked writing. When I was afforded some creative leeway, the writing process was always an easy one for me. Many of the Roberts family have been gifted when it comes to artistic talents, so I’ve always found that drawing, painting, music, (later in my life) graphic design and web layout, and writing can be a breeze to me. But I’ve always been envious of those who can seemingly churn out book after book, article after article, or whatever, and here I am with my pencil and paper or computer keyboard in front of me, and I’m like “uh….” feeling uninspired to put any words down unless I’m in the mood. When the fancy strikes, or if the subject matter is exciting and personal to me, words can flow out of my fingers like autumn leaves flutter down upon the grass on a crisp Fall day.
At the onset of all of this, I had created a sortable database page for the heat levels for dozens of hot sauces and chile pepper varieties, measured in terms of capsaicin content contained within. Called the Scoville Heat Scale (named after scientist Wilbur Scoville, who first tested the perceived hotness of chiles), this page on my website became an early magnet for web traffic for curious heat seekers.
Time to Turn Up the Heat!
My burning passion for chile peppers and hot sauce increased exponentially over the following year or two. Naturally, the content focus of my blog shifted to almost entirely all spicy foods.
My free time (outside of being with my wife and kids) was consumed with reviewing hot sauces, BBQ products, wing sauces, and various other “flavor enhancers” (a general term I apply to all sauces, condiments and seasonings). I began attending fiery foods trade shows and festivals (early ones included the Fiery Foods & BBQ Show in Albuquerque, New Mexico and ZestFest in Ft. Worth, Texas) and got acquainted with both the major companies behind some of my most loved artisan food products, as well as the personalities behind them. These people – both sauce makers and devoted fans – made up a family-like, tight-knit community called “chileheads.” Just like “trekkies” (or the now-more-preferred nomenclature of “trekkers”) were to Star Trek, this group loved conversing about and eating the hottest foods on the planet, but without having the need to dress up in silly cosplay outfits.
For getting word out about my blog, I used both savvy web marketing and search engine optimization skills I learned while being a web developer and for a large stable of corporate clientele in the ’00s. I also immediately jumped on-board the burgeoning social media movement when today’s internet juggernauts like Facebook and Twitter were just starting to gain traction, and I taught myself to how to utilize them for self-promotion, when others had barely heard of Twitter. It was all of this, along with a pedal-to-the-metal work ethic producing a prolific output of fresh blog material, that I rose to become the most-visited spicy food website.
I had made inroads in other areas and was branching out. I became involved with the online BBQ community, and eventually was scooped up by radio host Greg Rempe to become the official on-air sauce and rub reviewer for his BBQ Central Radio Show. I started the first YouTube show on hot sauce and fiery foods in The Weekly Firecast (I do credit Australian chile grower Neil Smith for doing a handful of entertaining pepper pod-eating videos before me, though). I got hired on by publisher Rick McMillen to scribe for Chile Pepper Magazine. It became a “second job” of sorts
Monkey Wrenches into the Machinery
And then…”life happened.” Things got busy, and times got tumultuous, both in good and bad ways. I went through a divorce (yes, I was the one who filed, but for anyone who’s gone through the process can tell you, it’s still a heart-jarring life episode). Through a near-nervous breakdown series of events, I gained full-time custody of my boys, and I was the sole financial provider for them. I dived into podcasting, and did co-hosting duties for a handful of podcasts for TV shows and entertainment properties, such as Showtime’s Dexter, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Kevin Bacon’s The Following. I was in a few highly stressful relationships with women. I got back to God and to church, but my commitment levels fluctuated drastically. My video Weekly Firecast program went through a phase-out and then the remaining show concept metamorphosed into an audio podcast. My full-time employment started to venture from short-term contracting gigs as a developer, to beginning to do more things like voice-over and freelance creative work. My blogging efforts fluctuated drastically from being highly active to having sparse output several times. I had aspirations of somehow, someway breaking out into being some national authority on hot sauce and fiery foods, but my inconsistency of having laser-like focus at all times tripped me up a time or two towards becoming one (I did enjoy being contacted for occasional interviews from radio stations and magazines across the U.S. and internationally). There was a “close call” or two with almost getting tied down to the wrong woman; and the subsequent break-ups, in hindsight, I know were absolute blessings from God, for I shouldn’t have even been involved with those ladies for reasons I won’t get into at this time. I’ve had brutal financial downfalls and wondrous monetary bounce-backs. And with the grace of Christ, I survived.
Life has changed so much, and I have learned and lived and loved more in the past six years than many folks “on autopilot” do in thirty. It’s beat up my heart, fueled me full of fantastic confidence, taken me down to the pits of despair, given me fantastic opportunities, and has provided so many “near-misses” and stressful moments. Through it all, stability, meaning, and peace were missing. Correction: they were there, but only when I wasn’t being so selfish and looked to Jesus Christ. Other than those little happy glimpses that I allowed God to show me in my life, crushing chaos ruled the day.
A New Beginning
Here I am in 2017, glancing back at the past and assessing my current situation. I can sense that something big is in the air. God is up to something in my life. Since Jesus Christ is the only way to get true peace, happiness, clarity and direction, therefore total surrender to Him is simply the best and wisest thing to do. It’s a no-brainer to do so. There’s a new woman – a God-fearing woman – in my life, and it’s made an immeasurable difference in wonderful ways I can’t even describe. So there are going to be changes in my life.
Is it being “born again?” Well, that had already happened to me decades ago when I accepted Christ into my life as Savior. Jesus had said that the very act of accepting Him requires this. Jesus stated, “no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” in John 3:3.
It’s more of a complete change of heart through faith in God’s grace. The Apostle Paul’s passage in Ephesians 4:17-24 describes this beautifully, saying that through true faith in Christ, you will “lay aside the old self” and be “renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
The world has phrases that hint at this act, such as “shedding skin” or “turning over a new leaf.” That concept sort of applies, but it’s deeper. It’s more real, and not based on ourselves (such as our own willpower), but through the powerful grace of God and the transformative power of the Holy Spirit.
So, what does this mean? That with Him working through me, things that I focused on more in the past may not seem all that important now. Hobbies, goals, interests, dreams, plans are changing. Therefore, some of my once-beloved pursuits have dropped off my radar, and will continue to dwindle down to nothing as I seek God and His will for my life.
Although I cannot have knowledge of every exciting thing God has in store for me in the near future, there are already many things I can speculate on, and tell you how He’s working on me currently:
- My food blog, along with everything it entails – product reviews, coverage of fiery foods happenings, and more – just don’t hold my engagement the way they once did. Hot sauce and barbecue will still be in my little corner of the world for a while, but regular blogging will be a thing of the past.
- My Weekly Firecast podcast is dead; and in fact, I would rather others take up the mantle of spicy food coverage and run with it as both technology and the fiery foods industry itself evolves.
- Outside of bread-and-butter, 9-to-5 web development work, I don’t have the desire to work on freelance website gigs that don’t involve a non-Christian focal point.
- I feel called to write. It’s up to me to ask for the guidance and tugging from the Holy Spirit to find out exactly what topics I should sink my teeth into.
- It may be kind of obvious, but activity will pick up on this new website that you’re on at this very moment. Fiery foods blog posts will featured be over at scottrobertsweb.com, but things that take on on more personal thoughts will be posted here. For the few of you hot sauce and chile pepper guys who have come over here from there and are interested in following my journey, I humbly invite you to bookmark this site and send me your thoughts.
- Friendships, relationships and connections may change based on my more fervent beliefs – hey, it’s inevitable that many may be turned off, and “fall off the radar” – or that fact that I’m not seeking out and engaging in every new hot sauce company that pops up.
- I also feel compelled to serve, both in the church and others that are in less fortunate places in life, and to grow in my relationship with my girlfriend.
- Of course, I want to be there more for my two boys as they finish their high school careers and move out into the world.
I’m filled with joy at the things that God has in store for me. I cannot wait to continue on this journey!
I Want Your Input
If you want to comment, chat with me, pray with me, have any questions about anything, or give your opinion on any of this, I welcome you to engage with me and this website.