I've talked ad nauseum over the years about goals, personal development, and what I think it takes to achieve goals. I've talked about a willingness to be terrible in the beginning, the decision to dedicate time to getting better, and the elimination of distractions in the pursuit of improvement.
One thing I struggle with, and I may have written about this in the past, is focus.
Quite often, I'll be making good progress on something, and I will just stop. I don't know if it's that I get down on the thing I'm writing, or playing, or learning, or if something else all of the sudden flashes as urgently awesome and I turn away from the thing that honestly feels a little bit like a slog right now, and don't go back to it. Regardless of the reason, I have a hard time with follow-through a lot of the time. I mean, we're talking a 90% abandonment rate on things that aren't my job or parenting, probably.
And fair enough. I mean, it's my time, and how I use it is hopefully at least mostly up to me. But the thing is that I want to be able to focus on something all the way through to say I've finished it.
The latest thing that I've found falling by the wayside is the novel I was working on for NaNoWriMo last year. I realized very early on that I would not likely get it finished for the end of November, and I was very forgiving of that with myself, understanding that I could work toward finishing it beyond November and that would be fine. I worked on it sporadically through December, and re-jigged some things on-the-fly so I ended up with a better story. That didn't slow me down. But then something flashed in the distance and I started working toward it.
Hugh Howey writes, on his site, about what he feels are some steps that people should take if they want to be professional writers. In it, he talks about writing short stories and getting them out there for people to see. It's a good piece of advice. It gets you writing, it gets you editing, and it gets your stuff in front of people who can comment and then hopefully make you better at writing. Awesome. But also incredibly distracting when you're in the middle of something else.
I don't want this post to become a critique of his post. I think he makes good points and I think it's really hard for people to accept that if they want to be writers, there's no secret handshake, just a shit-load of writing, reading, writing, revising, and rewriting, not to mention the willingness to take criticism. But I'm going to put that aside for another post another day, and push forward.
What I'm getting at is this: Hugh Howey giving some advice on how to become a professional writer should be a good thing. I should be able to look at that advice, shrug, and say, "Maybe that's something to look at for later." I should not abandon a story that I've spent three months working on to go write some short stories. I shouldn't even be worried too much about someone's advice for becoming a professional writer. That isn't my goal.
Anyway, the only thing I can think of to do in this instance is to leave the short story I started to the side, finish the novel I'm working on, and then if it still seems like a good idea to start writing short stories to put up here, then do it. But take care of the thing I started and that had such good momentum for so long first.
Sean had just started up his blog, Earl's blog was going strong, and I decided to throw my hat into the ring as well. I'd been doing some reading, and In The Now seemed like a good name. Kim joined in the fun, as did Rob and Krista.
There was a strong community of us, and comments on posts turned into discussion threads and sometimes reached into 30+ comments per posts. I know, that's not many for some people, but I've never advertised my blog other than to say when I've posted with my limited social media reach. Soon after that, Cliff and Tim had blogs, Vlad was syndicating our stuff, and occasionally posting his own stuff, and there was James, and Shaun, and any number of hearty bloggers.
I left Blogger for WordPress, having bought my own site, and at that point, I think Sean had left, and come back again, Rob and his wife Krista had also left, or if not, they'd seriously cut back the number of posts they were writing. Tim was always on again, off again, but Cliff moving over to WordPress was the beginning of something big. That year, we had the first ever Summer Blog Challenge. I failed, what with Olivia's birth and fighting through some bad times, but the blog challenge has always stuck around. Chad and Tammy joined the scene about this time as well.
Six challenges in, and with hundreds upon hundreds of posts to his name, Cliff has walked away from blogging. I don't question his decision. It's his decision to make. But it does leave a pretty big hole in the blogging community that has seen more than its fair share of attrition over the years.
Cliff always had a strange mix of topics in his posts. His political rants were always very well thought out, making me learn stuff as I read. His work rants were the stuff of legend -- the man can sell an anecdote, that's for sure. There were the game posts -- both the ones where he live-posted the games he was playing and the board game posts where he talked about his latest steals. I'll admit that there were quite a few times when he and I didn't see eye-to-eye, but he always had something to say.
Cliff, I'll miss your posts. I seriously hope you exported what you had before you let the internet swallow them. I was going to scrape your site and pull them off, but I never got around to it.
And if you return to the blogging world, please know that there are those who will always welcome you back with open arms. And Vlad will always be more than willing to steal your content for his site.
This spring will be the tenth anniversary of my blog. Sure, it's changed names, addresses, and most of the posts have gone the way of the sabre-toothed tiger. Over that time, I've struggled to find a look that works for it. I've tried pretty, with fancy graphics; I've tried dark, with a black background and grey or yellow text; I've tried simplistic, clean layouts that put the focus on the text. I've had a hell of a time trying to figure out the best way to lay it out. I'm going back to a clean layout, as you may have noticed. There's no background graphic to wait for, and, for those of us getting older, it's a little easier to pick out the text than it was with all that detail in the background. I hope you'll bear with me as I figure out what works best for me and for the site. Ten years, and I'm still tinkering. A site whose theme came together exactly the way I wanted it to is the serial story site that I'm posting to every couple of weeks. The page looks the way I want the story to feel, so I'm pretty happy with that. Granted, there are only three entries so far, but they're coming out on regular intervals. Do you have strong opinions on look and feel? It's probably my weakest skill set when it comes to web design. I accept any and all criticism.
I haven't really ever tried to summarize a summer blog challenge before. Mostly because by the time the end rolls around, I don't really want to look at the blog anymore, let alone write more words about how many words I've written over the last month.
I don't what it is this year, whether it's the job, or the commitment to writing, or if I'm just in a groove that hasn't subsided, but I'm not feeling weighed down by the summer blog challenge this year, and, as such, welcome to the first ever summer blog challenge wrap up party.
It was a bit of a drag for some people, I know. It's hard to write every single day, especially when you're not used to it. But every word that got written this month is down. It counts, if anything counts, and you're that many words richer than you were at the beginning of this thing.
I don't want to say there's a winner. In its spirit, the summer blog challenge is a challenge against yourself. Still, if I were to award Awesome Points, they'd have to go to Mike. He posted a blog post for every day of the challenge, even though he signed up late. Still, everyone had good content, things that made me laugh or cry or think. Sometimes all three.
As a way to remind you of how this challenge went, or as a central place to find what everyone did, here's the list of digests I compiled throughout the challenge. Peruse at your peril:
Anyway, that's it for another year's blog challenge. It's been a slice!
Well, we find ourselves here. Right at the end of the summer blog challenge. Right at the end of summer. The leaves are changing, the weather's getting a little more brisk. Probably, this place will go into a little bit of hibernation. That seems to be the case, usually.
Anyway, here's the last day's posts:
Thanks to everyone who participated in the challenge, and I hope to see at least some of you back here next summer.
Until next time,
Happy Monday, everyone! We're real close to wrapping up another edition of the SBC.
I hope to see a whole pile of posts tomorrow morning for the grand finale!
Have a fun Monday... or, I suppose, what ever day you end up reading this!
Sneaking this in at the end of the day because of a wonderful birthday party for my Lily.
This one and two more is all you get, so enjoy them while they're here!
Have a good, blogful day,
Have a good weekend and keep it up!
Bloggin'! I had a crappy post yesterday, suitable for my crappy day, but hey, there's three more posts just waiting for you to read them.
Here they are:
Here's yesterday's posts:
Good day and happy blogging!
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