Three Month Assessment
April 26, 2022
I began this blog on January 10th to run concurrently with my “Year of Memoir” class, and I decided to write out some guidelines and do a quarterly assessment on my progress. The goal was to capture my experiences as I write and to build blogging into my daily writing practice.
Looking back, I realize there were so many things that happened in the first three months of 2022 that pulled a lot of my focus from my own story: W. Kamau Bell’s documentary on Cosby, Book Banning in the Mid-West, Wordle, Superbowl Halftime, Olympic doping, War in Ukraine, Justice Jackson on SCOTUS, The Slap, just to name a few.
So much history happening all around us, all the time, how do we keep our focus? Admittedly, I have trouble in this area. Which is why this exercise has been so helpful.
Don’t get me wrong. So far, I suck at it. I’ve had my own distractions to deal with. I was expecting to go back to my consulting job in April, but found out in March my return date was pushed back. Job anxiety is my number one PTSD trigger and the news I would be unemployed longer than I expected sent me into a fog of worry. It doesn’t help that my fate seems to move in inverse proportion to the rest of the world. Everyone else is getting out and having fun and I’m stuck at home afraid to spend any money without the prospect of future income.
Whether or not this stress triggered a killer migraine I don’t know, but I spent nearly four weeks with pain, the scale of which, I have not experienced in years. The first week, I could not keep food down for five days straight. Slowly, the nausea subsided, but the twisting in my brain, ringing in my ears and dizziness have come and gone like a roller coaster. The last two days, I’ve been mostly headache free and I’m trying to get back on track.
As a refresher, here are my guidelines from January 12, 2022:
(1) Writing is not a resolution. It is a practice. I must dedicate time to writing each day and not become distracted by obstacles which will invariably arise.
(2) As a practice, writing will never be perfect. I will do my best and not allow perfection to be the enemy of progress.
(3) Blogging will be stream-of-consciousness. I won’t become distracted by looking up terms or doing research. I tend to go down too many rabbit holes when googling.
(4) Each blog post should be short and concise. Ideally, I should be able to write it in a half-hour and it should be readable in a few minutes.
(5) Writing requires discipline. I need to set reasonable goals and stick to them. When I try to do too much, I get overwhelmed. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint.
I definitely have room for improvement. Here are my thoughts on each of the guidelines above:
(1) I write most days, but not every day. Mostly, this has been due to my headaches, which are very big obstacles. But, I’m not giving up even though it has been difficult. Since I enjoy writing, this is an easy commitment and I will strive to do better.
(2) I’ve done pretty well not fussing over the small stuff. I’m not afraid to write shit or throw shit out. I’ve never been precious about my writing and this attitude has served me well.
(3) I’ve utterly failed about being carefree with writing the blog. I love doing research and have spent more time than I would like with many of the essays. Partly, this is from lack of focus. Instead of writing my story, I’m caught up in world events. I recognize this characteristic in myself and need to try harder to narrow my field of interests and to focus on these subjects.
(4) My published blogs have stayed within my targeted word counts, but I have many unpublished pieces that I’ve spent many hours writing. Since I also want to start writing essays about subjects related to my memoir, this has been good practice, but a bad habit. Going overboard has had the effect of making me less enamored of writing the blog and what started as a fun daily exercise quickly became a chore. I need to do better keeping to my guidelines and staying out of that rabbit hole.
(5) I think it’s a positive thing that I’m self-aware enough to be able to anticipate my worst habits. Now onto the Herculean task of doing better.
While I didn’t set a quota for number of blog posts each week, I started off posting five days a week on weekdays. (I use the weekends to focus on my other projects.)
Week 1: 5 Posts
Week 2: 5 Posts
Week 3: 5 Posts
Week 4: 4 Posts
Week 5: 2 Posts
Week 6: 4 Posts
Week 7: 4 Posts
Week 8: 1 Post
Week 9: 1 Post
Week 10: 1 Post
Week 11: 2 Posts
Week 12: 1 Post
Week 13: 1 Post
Week 14: 1 Post
Again, these data bear out the “distractions” theory I mentioned above. In Week 8, when I made only 1 post, I found out about my return date being pushed. Weeks 9–13 were spent fighting off the migraine. I’m actually impressed I was able to drag myself to the computer to write anything during this time. But being able to rise to the occasion has always been one of my super powers.
In retrospect, I was able to foresee where I would go astray, but wasn’t able to stop it. The important lesson though, is not to let the distractions become permanent. When you fall off the horse, you have to get back on and keep going. It’s taken me many years to accept there will never be a perfect time or set of circumstances for what I want to do. I just have to make the best of what I have.
Finally, I would like to quote from Episode 0413 of Designing Women. (From the Designing Women Online Website):
MISS MINNIE BELL WARD (Played to perfection by the extraordinary Beah Richards):
“….I thought as I got older, the bold outline of truth would be revealed to me, but it hasn’t happened. When I was young, I was in such a hurry. And now, I’ve been here a hundred years. It seems like only yesterday I held my babies in my arms. I’m glad to be going home. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen my family. And I wish for all of you, all the love and happiness I had in my life — and I hope the world keeps going toward freedom. And I hope that people everywhere can learn to live together in peace. As my pappa used to say……we ain’t what we should be, we ain’t what we’re gonna be, but at least we ain’t what we were…..”