The pitfalls of specificity

Congratulations to me. I’ve made it through my first year of blogging. Setting out, I had no expectation on frequency. I had hoped to have posted more than I did. It would be folly to ruminate on failing to meet a self-imposed, yet unestablished expectation. Especially about something that matters not. Nevertheless, as an aspiring writer, I felt it important to understand why I was writing little (and posting less) for the blog. While I haven’t gone looking for the answer, I was receptive when it came to me: 

I am not especially motivated by the blog’s theme, “What life has taught me.” 

At least not anymore. Starting a blog is something I saw as a logical step in growing as a writer. It was not something I wanted to do for its own sake. I’ve been blogging to support my writing, rather than writing to support my blog. Yet the blogging experience has been good! Starting the blog was by no means a mistake, and I plan to continue and – yes – grow it. The mistake, as I now see it, was settling on a theme too soon, or maybe at all. I follow blogs that cover specific topics. And some that are broad in scope. Both are valuable, and enjoyable. 

When I set out, I understood that a good way to build a readership is to be consistent. A consistent theme to draw in and keep readers, I saw as essential. As I tend to do, I selected a theme based on what I had been writing about in the moment. In life, I’ve made so many decisions this way. They tend to fall apart long-term. I spent close to 20 years focusing my education and vocation in Information Technology. It’s what I was interested in at the time. That one kind of worked out, but I confess that I spent way too long in that field after I stopped enjoying it. While basing my entire blog around my life lessons was not conducive to me putting my writing out there, the theme did work. Essays for “What life has taught me” has done more for me than it could possibly do for any of its readers. Often, I’m organizing my thoughts in real time as I prepare a piece. Like dandelion seeds in a summer’s breeze, my writings always find their own way as they develop – often arriving far from their intended destination. Therefore, the bulk of my work fails to fit in the box to which they are assigned. 

Going forward, my posts will no longer adhere to a specific focus. I have a series I’m working on at the moment. As before, it is narrative non-fiction. However, the emphasis is more about the story itself, than the outcome. The theme tying the essays together appears to be specific on first glance. Really, it’s just a way for me to generate some interest around otherwise bland short story anecdotes. Interest for the reader, and also for me, as I select which bits I wish to share. I have a few pieces in progress. They may constitute the entire series, or it may grow exponentially. I’ll also be throwing in bits of random writing along the way, including fiction.

This very piece you are reading is the quintessential “What life has taught me” post. So in recap, I’ve learned that I settle on things too soon. Almost serially. I’m not sure how I’ll prevent that going forward, but it seems this realization is a good first step. Also, most things can be salvaged. Whether they are worth salvaging is something else. I’m pretty good at identifying failures, and quitting. But there’s a lot to be said for knowing when and how to pick up the pieces, and move forward.

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