As most of you who follow along here will have noticed, I took something of a break from posting new content while I soaked in every moment of my Christmas vacation. They say a break every now and then is good for the whatever. Maybe it is. For the moment, at least, I don’t feel like every blank page is the enemy. Who knows how long that will last, but I’ll enjoy it for the time being.
Even though I wasn’t posting, my hands weren’t completely idle during the break. No matter how much down time I think I’m taking, I never really stop making notes or tapping out a few thoughts that might end up being the foundation for an interesting post. Right now, I have six potential future posts sitting in various stages from raw notes to decent drafts. They’ll probably make up the bulk of what I post over the next week or two.
It’s surprisingly nice not to be working from a blank slate against a daily 6:00 PM deadline. Even though it’s entirely self-imposed, the angst to get something ready is quite real. If I were the kind of person who made new year’s resolutions, making sure I had plenty of material in the queue would be a good one. I’m not that kind of person, of course, so I fully expect that by the end of the month every post will be a race against the clock.
I had most of a post written tonight before that rational part of my brain took over and demanded every word of it be consigned to the the electronic trash. It was a good post with an authentic voice, but in the end that wasn’t enough to save it. Throwing those few choice words out to the universe would have made me feel momentarily better. That wasn’t a good enough reasn to hit “post” though.
I let the interwebs get a good look at most of what’s going on in my head, but as it turns out there are a few doors I’m just not willing to open – or more precisely I’m not willing to leave them open long enough for anyone to get a decent look. Some topics I simply reserve to myself not because they’re unfit for publication but because even in the electronic age some thoughts should be private. Some should fester, be mulled over, and chased in that most personal of space between your ears. Although, I’m as guilty as anyone of being in a rush to vent, break “news”, and be a self promoting spectacle on social media there are the occasional thoughts that deserve the right to stay where they are… which is a shame, because writing from one of those touchy areas with a little bit of a chip on your shoulder does make for some damned fine writing. Apparently there are still a few lines I’m not willing to cross just for a good blog post. That’s good to know, but it’s not the cathartic release I was hoping to find at the end of this post.
It seems the Rolling Stones were right all along. Who knew?
Ninety-nine times out of a hundred when you see me, I have a plan. It may not always be a good one, but it’s there informing the decisions I make throughout the course of the day. Even if I know the plan is going to be blown to hell and back by 9AM, I feel better starting the day with a semblance of an idea about where I want to be when the day ends.
That’s true except in the one part of my life where it feels like a plan is currently most needed – the writing part. You know, the part I really, really like. More days than not I find myself sitting at the keyboard after dinner flailing around hoping to strike on a decent topic for the night’s post. That stroke of good luck feels like it’s getting harder to come by lately. That’s pretty much how I know it’s probably time to sit down and look at this thing like an actual professional – planning out posts in advance, working to deadline, and generally not waiting for the good idea fairy to drop ideas in my lap at the last possible minute.
I think I’ve always worried that having posts pre-planned might take away some of the ebb and flow around here. It could make me less responsive to the breaking news of the day that’s just crying out for a heavy dollop of cynicism. It’s getting to the point, though, that I’m feeling like that’s an acceptable level of risk to take so I can try to get the most out of the limited keyboard time I have available. So from here on out, I’m going to do my best to see if the Six P’s are still true. I’ve I’m lucky, I’ll find all these years later it’s still a stone cold fact that proper planning prevents piss poor performance.
Let me say that it’s a big week for me personally and that as a result I’m about to geek out on you guys a little bit. Today marks the 3rd birthday of jeffreytharp.com and running this blog as an independent website. After spending my formative years blogging on MySpace a short stint on Blogger, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having a permanent place to hang my virtual hat. Having the name right there as the web address means you’d damn well better be willing to be accountable for whatever comes flying out of your mouth. Even though it’s occasionally caused some friction, it’s made be a better blogger and a better writer in general. It’s absolutely worth it.
In addition to marking a birthday, this week also saw my 1000th post go live. Since there is still more good stuff coming from the archives every Sunday, I look for that total to keep going by leaps and bounds. All my old blog posts from MySpace are now available here and I’m working my way through the Blogger years every Sunday. I’m really looking forward to finally having all my posts under one electronic roof sometime in the next four or five months.
Finally, thanks to everyone for keeping up with me from June 29, 2006 to today. I know the “about” section claims that I don’t write for an audience, but we all know differently. No one throws this much life and opinion into the ether if they don’t secretly enjoy being the center of attention from time to time. I supposed that’s not really much of a secret anyway.
19,526 visits, 1,003 posts, 314 comments, and 59 countries over the last 1,095 days. For one sane voice in the wilderness, that’s a pretty respectable record.
I always sit down to write with the best of intentions… like taking time to edit whatever it was I just dumped on the page or hitting some topic that’s caught my attention with a painful level of detail. More often than not what actually happens is I hit “publish” as soon as I’m done typing and then fix errors as I find them… sometimes days or weeks later. And detail? Yeah, let’s face it, most of the time I’m lucky to stop rambling long enough to draw out a salient point or two. I’ve noticed that it’s mostly a battle between putting together quality or putting together volume. For the last six months or so, I’ve come down pretty squarely into the volume camp and tried to post five days a week. The part of me that’s curious about such things wonders if I’d write better if I only posted half as often.
One of the aspects of Get Off My Lawn that I’ve always enjoyed is that is has a “as it happens” feel because the posts a function of whatever happens to be going on at that moment. Setting a schedule of posting on say Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, at least to me, seems to take away some of that flexibility. I don’t want to turn this into a set piece affair, writing on some formulaic “topic of the day,” but at the same time I’d like to bring a little more editorial and quality control to improve how things read and look when they come hot off the press.
I read a lot of blogs and know there are many out there who seem to effortlessly produce large volumes of quality posts. It’s not a contest, but I’m definitely interested in how much time they spend composing their posts and where they get their ideas. I like to think I’m a better writer now that I was when I started blogging. I know I’m certainly more introspective now. I might even be more technically accurate, but better? I’m not so sure. Sometimes it feels too mechanical, like I’m posting just to post.