Goals are a funny thing. It seems like we’re never finished with one than we find ourselves another. And that’s not a bad thing by any means. To quote Hudson Hawk, just one of many of my favourite movies that no one else likes, ‘Happiness comes through the achieving of goals.’ If that’s true, then it’s a good thing that we keep making them. It would be a shame to simply reach one and stop. The character who made the above quote found himself in a unique and, in a way, unenviable position. He had been so successful so early in life that it had become nearly impossible to find any more goals worth working toward. It took the dream of world domination to inspire him again and, thankfully, the vast majority of us find that inspiration comes a bit more easily. But as important as goals are, and as nice as it is to achieve them, it is also important to know when to let them go, even if it hurts a bit.
Today was to be my 50th day in a row of posting on this blog, and I had resolved that after today I would take a break (for just bit) and let the perceived need to post every day subside somewhat. 50 in a row seemed like a fine goal indeed, and had it not been for getting yesterday’s post in an hour or so late, I would be hitting my 50 mark tonight. I was sour this morning a little after 1 a.m. as I finally uploaded my latest post. I had been so close to reaching that goal, and missing it right at the end made me a little sad. The overall importance of achieving this goal was minimal, of course, and I knew that even then. As my friends and I sped back to Ljubljana from visiting another friend of ours yesterday, I was well aware that I would never make it back in time to post what I had written, and I was alright with that. I had had a great afternoon and evening with my friends, and I wouldn’t have traded any of it for the chance to post a silly blog before midnight just so I could say I did 50 in a row, like I had told myself I would. But yeah, if I’m honest, it still kinda hurt.
So I’d like to talk a little bit about this goal and about blogging in general. Interestingly, a ‘post about posting’ was precisely the topic I had envisioned for today when I decided that 50 posts would make a good stopping point. A little less than fifty days ago, with a couple of posts in a row under my belt, I had decided to try to post once a day for a month. It would be like my own personal little 365 Project, except more of a 31 Project, and the idea was to get myself more into writing this blog. I had created this site in July of 2011, after much encouragement (read: nagging) from my brother, and then written a grand total of three posts before letting it slip away from me until April. After another few fits and spurts I had come to enjoy it, as my brother had told me I would. Every few months he had pestered me to write more, and as with any habit I had argued, ‘But I meant to start so long ago, and now so much time has passed.’ That argument never really makes any sense, but somehow we all end up using it. So finally I dismissed it for the fallacy that it was and posted some things. Roughly a month later I began trying to post once a day, and then the goal was born.
Shortly after setting this one-month goal for myself, I realized that I was leaving for two weeks in the Balkans and that I would only have 21 days before that trip began, so the goal was reduced to three weeks. As I left on my travels, I truly did not imagine that I would have the time and the internet access to keep things going, but soon I reassessed and set my goal back at 31 days. This quickly became a goal of reaching 50 posts total, rounding it out with the post I’m writing at this very moment, but as I had more and more to say about my travels, I soon changed my mind again and decided that 50 posts in a row would be even better. It worked out well, as I was able wrap up my travels and even honour my dad with a Father’s Day post, all leading up to number 50 which I would post today. But life happened, as it often does (I think I’ve said that before), and although the literal critic in me shudders to have ‘failed’, the free spirit in me rejoices in the memory of these 50 posts and in the wonderful day I spent yesterday with my friends. Does an hour and a half really make the difference between posting one day and posting the next? If it takes you past midnight, then yes, it does. But does it make enough of a difference to cause me to regret my decisions? Not a bit, and that has been worth considering today.
The fact that I got to 48 posts in a row was a true feat, especially considering my trip home from Kosovo. It was sheer luck that the Coffee Time café had Wi-Fi and I was able to post the strange Icarus poem I had composed in my half-sleep that morning. Would it have mattered if I hadn’t been able to post anything that day? Ultimately, no, but I know that I would have been disappointed. The same feeling hit me last night and again this morning. What I am thankful for is that I have the sense of proportion to be able to look at that failure and say, ‘Big whoop, dude.’ The fact that I can do that means that I’ve come a long way.
I am reminded of a book that I (and probably most of the Americans that see this) read sometime in grade school. It was called How To Eat Fried Worms, written by Thomas Rockwell, and the premise was that a kid had bet $50 that he could eat a worm a day for 15 days in a row. They came up with creative ways for him to eat these worms (I don’t remember if he actually ate a fried one or not), but one time he was tricked into eating a fake worm made of beans. The guys he had made the bet with were getting worried about actually having to fork over the fifty bucks, so they figured if he missed a day they would get out of the bet and be $50 richer into the bargain. Conniving little twerps. But the hero somehow realized what had happened and went over to one of their houses and woke them up just before midnight so they could watch him eat a raw worm that he dug up out of the yard. Not the best way to do it, but it got the job done. He was still in the game.
In my quest to post every day, whether the goal was 50 days or only 21, I did my utmost to make each post worthy of carrying my name. I didn’t want a raw worm post that simply filled a place and kept the streak going. Did I sometimes post things that were older or that I had written quickly in hopes of getting one in that day? I did, but I still felt with each of these that there was a level of quality that I had achieved that was representative of what I was putting out on other days. Even old poems and ‘memoirs’ did not make it up before being reedited and put into context, and in many ways this process was as enjoyable as writing something new. It gave me the chance to dip back into the past and remember where I was in my life and in my head when I wrote them, and that was a journey in and of itself. Nevertheless, I realized somewhere along the line that trying to post every day was eventually going to make me sacrifice quality for quantity, and that was not something I wanted to do. Not every post is as good (or bad!) as another, but I do feel that my level of commitment to quality has remained high. I hope that you agree, dear reader 🙂
Keeping this quality-over-quantity approach in mind, I knew that I did not want to continue to post every day in an open-ended way. I needed a goal, as much as I was enjoying the daily posts, and 50 was where I landed. What had begun as an experiment, even a challenge, had become a passion, and yet I could even feel this past week that there was a burden attached to my daily posts. I did not like this at all and was happy that I had already decided to cut myself off and let things rest a bit. It has been difficult to keep up with, as exciting and enjoyable as it is, and I look forward to posting regularly without putting myself into the box of posting every day.
One of the things I most look forward to about this change is getting to read more blogs. I have so enjoyed the likes and comments I have received, and I have been flattered that so many people have decided to follow my blog. Up until now I have only been able to read a fraction of the posts of a few of those fellow bloggers, and I am very excited to explore more of them and find out what the rest of them (you!) have to say. As I have made clear before, I am very new to this kind of forum, and the etiquette/depth of commitment was initially lost on me. I know that each individual can choose how deeply to go into this world, but I also want to show my interest to those who have shown theirs to me, and I am anxious to take the time to do this.
Another thing that I am looking forward to is navigating the social networking aspect of blogging. When it comes to this I am an absolute novice. I have a Facebook account and even LinkedIn, but I honestly have no clue how to get my stuff out there and connect with people who would be interested in reading my posts and who have work of their own that I would be interested to read. I have been fortunate thus far to have so many cool blogs fall in my lap from people who have found mine, but I am enthusiastic about learning more about social networking in general. With that in mind, I welcome your advice on the matter. Any tips or suggestions that you have for a blogging beginner would be much appreciated!
What I have enjoyed most about the last 50 days has been the chance to write something from start to finish every day, or in a few cases to look back over something I had written before, as I mentioned above. Writing truly is an intense passion of mine. I have been doing it as long as I can remember, in some form or another, starting in the 3rd grade with ‘Peter’s TRUE Future Autobiography’, an intended collection of wild misadventures that I was convinced were going to befall me, which was only realized in the form of one story about a shark attack while surfing. To this day I have never surfed nor seen a shark outside of the zoo, but I do wonder sometimes if 9 year-old Peter Woods had something of the second sight.
It was not until a few years ago that I began writing in earnest, completing the stories that I started (which was a new one on me), and working on them more than simply writing down the ideas and moving on to the next one, as I had always done before. It has been a fantastic three years of writing, producing over a dozen short stories and a novel, all written in my spare moments from my full-time job as a graduate student. But as I have come to realize, being a writer is a full-time job as well. I am constantly hounded by my stories, in good ways and in bad, and hardly a moment goes by when I do not see or think of something that sparks a tangent related to one story idea or another. This has been the great thing about blogging: the chance to write short(er) posts that are at once self-contained but also relate to others and have within them the potential to grow.
I am preparing to go home to the US for a few weeks, visiting my family and attending a good friend’s wedding. I will be traveling a lot over the next several days, and keeping up with a blog is just not going to happen. This is truly the perfect time for a rest, and I am thankful that it has come when it has. This is not the end for this blog, however. I have many more ideas for posts, some of them already half-written, and I do look forward to posting again soon. I may even one day return to posting every day, but I believe I will not make it my intention to do so until I have finally finished my degree and have more time to devote to such a task. Expect the posts to keep coming, though. I love doing this, and it makes me very happy to share all of these thoughts and experiences. I have also loved hearing from all of you and look forward to your comments and suggestions. Take care, have a wonderful evening, and I am excited to learn more about you all very soon as I turn my attention to your blogs. Good night.