It’s my birthday today, and to celebrate, I thought I’d post a blog about this very website, MJRyder.net, which turned 10 earlier this year. I can’t believe that a whole decade has passed since I started the project, and it’s certainly had its highs and lows, however, I’m glad to say it’s going as strong as ever, and I’m really happy with the way it’s been taking shape. Here’s to another 10 years!
The MJRyder.net project started around 2008, way back when I was a bright-eyed undergraduate at Brunel University, London. I had previously left a degree programme in Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College to follow my real passion, books, and found myself as a fish out of water trying to strike a balance between my love of the arts, and the technical skills that got me onto a prestigious engineering degree.
Those first few years on my English degree were tough – far tougher than I might have imagined. This wasn’t so much because of the subject matter, but rather because I found it hard to identify with my fellow students, many of whom didn’t seem to have the same passion for English literature that I had. Most of the students on the course didn’t have any prior work experience, and most were 18 years old, while I was in my early 20s, with a much better idea of who I was and where I wanted to go.
One of the biggest challenges for me was coming to terms with the feeling that I had in some way failed by giving up my place at a world-famous university to do what many would describe as an ‘easy’ degree. Of course, English is certainly not an ‘easy’ degree (if you put the effort in!), but being a working-class lad from a council estate in Ramsgate, I knew that opportunities don’t come around very often, and I really worried that Imperial College might have been my one and only shot at success.
With these feelings in mind, I came to the conclusion that if I was going to embark on an English programme, then I was going to do it ‘properly’, and seize every opportunity that came my way. It soon occurred to me that one way I could stand out was to create a website to boost my profile. To this end, I spoke to a few of my more technically-minded contacts, and acquired the domain www.mjryder.net (the others were taken) and set up a fairly basic site using the content management system MODx.