Sunday, December 10, 2017

A modest proposal


After long and thoughtful consideration, I’ve decided to make this blog biweekly instead of weekly.

Now, I suppose I could just stop there—after all, if you’re taking my advice and are not, in fact, reading this blog, then I’m only talking to myself, and I already know why I’ve made this decision.  But there may be a few people out there who are interested, or perhaps I’m talking to myself, but in the future, when I may will have been forgotten why I came to this verdict.  Maybe future-me is thinking, hmmm, I should go back to doing blogs weekly ... it wasn’t that hard!  In which case future-me needs a dope-slap.  Or at least a good talking-to.  Which this post will have to serve as.

See, one starts a blog with the best of intentions.  It’s a way to keep one’s writing skills sharp, for one.  And you can put down all those pesky thoughts that are running your head liked trapped animals: get them out into the world where they might do some good, as opposed to making you crazy with unbirthed ideas.  And you pick a time interval—once a week, say—and you pick a rough post length—1,500 words, say—and you keep to that for a long time.  But eventually you miss one, and then it’s easier to miss the next one, and sooner or later you find yourself missing your goal regularly.  Because life happens.  Life pays no attention to your puny goals ... in fact, life often laughs maniacally in the face of those goals.  Life has a tendency to force you to prioritize, and, while I suppose there are some people who consistently prioritize their blogs over everything else (though I suspect those are only the people that don’t have any other job), most of us don’t.  We can’t all be professional writers, and I’m okay with that.  As I’ve said before, I originally became a programmer just to support myself while I worked on becoming a writer, but I’ve found so much joy in it that I have no regrets.

So, for me, a hard look at the priorities here means that the numbers don’t make sense to even attempt to prioritize this blog over other life stuff.  And such attempts would likely be fruitless anyway.  I mean, I’ve been trying to prioritize the blog over other things for quite a while now, and look how well that’s been going.  Prior to this one, I have exactly 400 posts on this blog, 37 of which are interstitials (that is, posts which essentially say “I’m not doing a post this week”) and 66 of which are partials (that is, shorter entries that I don’t consider full, “proper” posts).  That’s 26%.  But, if we look back at the most recent 100 posts (which takes us back almost exactly two years), there are 14 interstitials and 18 partials, which is 32%.  So the ratio of non-full posts is creeping up on me.  And, to add insult to injury, I still feel like I’m always scrambling to come up with a post.

I mean, I don’t mind if it feels like a chore.  It is a chore: I’ve set myself a goal to write every week, and it’s not always easy to do that, but pushing myself to write even when I don’t want to is part of the whole thing.  So if I was feeling pressure (only from myself, of course, but pressure nonetheless) to come up with 1,500 words every week, and it was a bit stressful, but ultimately rewarding because I was achieving that ... well, that might not be so bad.  But to be constantly feeling like I’m failing, and then to be actually failing on top of that ...

Plus there’s another issue as well, a bit more subtle.  When I first started out, I just put everything here in this blog.  Oh, sure, I labeled them all—gaming, or family, or music, or whatever—but there’s no getting around that this blog is pretty much a tumbled profusion of mismatched topics.  Anyone who might be interested in my music posts probably doesn’t care that much about my family, and may have zero interest in my ideas on business or technology.  Contrariwise, if someone thinks my posts on business are thought-provoking, how likely is it they will also dig my rambling explorations on gaming?  When I wrote my first post about Perl, I put it here.  By the time I got around to my third post about Perl, I started thinking it might make better sense to put it somewhere where Perl people might actually find it, and read it.  And thus my Other Blog was born.  Because it makes sense that different topics get different “faces,” and maybe even different locations, where they can perhaps better find their target audience.

So I’ve been pondering starting even more blogs, such as a separate blog for my music series, or a separate blog for gaming—hell, maybe even one targeted more specifically at D&D—and moving the existing posts over, and then new posts get to live in their respective homes.  On the one hand, this is not more work than I’m already currently doing, because I would never post to two differnt blogs on the same week.  I would still write one post every week, but it would just go to whatever blog happened to be the most appropriate.  It would mean that every blog would have a very infrequent posting schedule, but I’m okay with that.  But, on the other hand, it does require more work, at least at first.  I have to find someplace to put those blogs, and I have to set them up, and add some basic info about who I am, and what makes me qualified to write about the whichever-topic-this-is.  For the gaming blog, I would want to add some info about my experience with the various editions of D&D, perhaps; for the music blog, I might talk about my record-collector father and my introduction to “alternative” music, or my large collection of CDs, or whatever.  There’s a certain amount of look-and-feel that has to go into a blog as well: I personally have never spent much time worrying about that sort of thing (as I’m sure you can tell from the visuals here), but you can’t ignore it entirely.  Once all that stuff gets settled, then, sure: you don’t have to worry about it any more after that.  But you have to get to that point.  And that takes time.  And I’m already at the point now where I feel like I can’t devote any extra time to this whole writing/blogging thing at all.

So I’m going to give myself some breathing room.  I’ve made a decision that I will only make a full post (to whichever blog) once every two weeks.  My initial goal is that I will make either an interstitial post or a partial post—perhaps only a paragraph or two—in the off weeks, but I’m not making that a promise or anything.  Let’s play it by ear and see how it goes.  This will allow me to spend less time on blogging, but actually accomplish more (theoretically).  And with less pressure on myself.  And also I want to set expectations for anyone who might still be reading this, despite my best efforts to convince you that there are better things you could be doing with your time.  Because there really are.  But I thank you nonetheless for reading—I know you have many options for how to waste your time in today’s busy world, and I’m flattered that you’ve chosen me to help you fritter that time away.  So I thought it only fair to let you know that you should only come around biweekly from now on.

Hopefully this new schedule will breathe some new life into my writing, whether that’s here or in new vistas on other blogs.  As always, if I do post to other blogs, there will always be a pointer to it here.  This is my “master blog,” so to speak, and this is the place where I will always go to compile statistics and count words and get (and sometimes post) my overviews.  So, if you were inclined to want to read all my writings (and I know that’s a hell of a big “if”), you can still do so just by keeping up with this one blog.  And hopefully the extra time will allow me to explore new blogs, explore more topics, and explore the existing topics in more depth.  This could be an exciting change.

Or it could totally flop and I could end up missing even biweekly posts.  There’s really no way to know without performing the experiment.  So, here we go.