Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Forward Path - 28 August 2012

It’s been about eight months now since I’ve posted an update on The Forward Path.  The goal I set in January was to do one every month.  And that tells you everything you need to know about me and New Year’s resolutions.

So, where do things stand, one year and one month after starting my writing career?

Well, I am now back at work on the Hercules revisited novel. I posted one brief chunk of my rough draft under the name Let the Adventure Begin!, and then abruptly took a four-month hiatus from working on the book over the summer.   Our schedules since May just haven’t allowed me the time to continue writing for the blog and work on the book.   But I’ve resumed work on it now that school’s back in session (more on that in a bit).  You may remember I set a goal to have a rough draft done by the end of this year, and that’s still my goal, so it’s time to get cracking on that.  Should I be worried that my track record with goals is no better than my track record with New Year’s resolutions?

The blog remains the overwhelming focus of my writing output.  This is as it should be, because remember, the purpose of the blog is to force me to get used to the feeling of writing publicly, and to create some accountability in the sense of continuing to produce new writing, and writing to somewhat of a schedule (even if it is completely of my own making).  Plus, I am starting to see patterns in what I choose to write about that have me thinking that eventually some of the posts could be combined into a themed collection of essays.  In short, the blog is an absolute key to my development as a writer, and I love doing it.

Statistically, as of August 28th, 2012, thunderstrokes has seen 13,283 pageviews since it began in July of 2011.   Thanks to everyone, my great friend Rick and my sister Kari especially, but including any and all lurkers, who have taken time to read my writing.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: as someone who has been plagued by self-doubt about his abilities for most of his life, I can’t tell you how important, and how gratifying it is, to know that you’re out there, and that roughly 1,000 times a month, somebody is clicking on a page of thunderstrokes (and hopefully reading a little of it). 

The blog hasn’t generated much extra attention over the last eight months.  I confess, I’ve been so consumed with just writing and producing new content (it feels so good to say that) that I haven’t been very active in seeking out opportunities for publishing my work in other places.  There’s been nothing published in the Arizona Republic, for instance, since my last update.  I did, however, get the privilege of seeing myself quoted in that newspaper a few months ago by the wonderful, steadfast columnist Laurie Roberts, who pulled a line from my Operation Dekookification post and ran it as part of her column on the same topic (Dekookification – or getting rid of the crackpot contingent in the Arizona legislature – was her idea, and it was her call to action that inspired me to write a response). 

Another highlight was the interview I did with DorinaGroves, a woman who gave up just about everything that wouldn’t fit in an old camper, sold her coffee shop across from the Deer Valley airport, and took off across the country to spread the message:  “If you have a pulse, you have a purpose.”  She’s an amazing woman, and I am still receiving updates from time to time.   You can follow her continuing journey on Facebook.

I also had my first guest post during this time.  Kent Yoder is a friend who has prostate cancer, and he has taken to writing about his life during this unimaginable trial of body, mind, and spirit.  His gift is to make the unimaginable imaginable, and I was so humbled and inspired by his words that I asked if I could repost some of them.  You can follow his continuing adventure here. 

I had something interesting happen to one of my posts.  I wrote a flight-of-fancy dialogue after seeing the blockbuster movie of the summer, The Avengers.  Now, I don’t know if was the quality of the writing or just the fact that the title had the words The Avengers in it, but that post took off like nothing I’ve done before or since. As of this writing, it has garnered some 1,200 pageviews, which is about three times more than any other post I’ve written.  For some reason, people in India really seem to like it, as they alone are responsible for about a third of that total.  Just shows you never know what’s going to click with whom. 

Because of the blog, I ended up going to Phoenix ComicCon this year for the first time, ostensibly to meet Jeremy Bulloch, the man who played Boba Fett in the Star Wars films, and hand out copies of my poem, The Ballad of Boba Fett, to anyone dressed in Mandalorian armor.  He posed for pictures with me and my daughter Jessica, and signed a copy of the poem, which I then managed to lose before we even made it back to the car.

With regard to the blog, I am contemplating a change of focus.  I think I have proven adept at writing a certain kind of post, one that deals interestingly and even humorously at times with a topic, and tends to run anywhere from four to eight pages in length.  My ‘manic missives,’ as I have taken to calling them, have become so representative of my writing style that I am considered renaming the blog “The Missive Silo.”  Post-cold-war readers might not get that one.

At any rate, I’m toying with the idea of switching focus and forcing myself to write shorter, more streamlined posts, perhaps even imposing a time limit to make sure I don’t get carried away.  In theory, I would give myself, say, three hours to write a post.  That’s three hours to figure out what I want to say about a topic, and then write it.  Wherever I am after three hours is what would go on the blog, pretty much as is.  It would undoubtedly impact the polished nature of my writing (seeing that I currently devote, on average, 8-10 hours per post), but it might teach me some valuable tools for writing under a time constraint, in addition to forcing me to focus more narrowly on one idea, instead of pursuing every butterfly I see floating in my mind.  Or to use another internal metaphor, it might serve as the necessary Immodium to my writing runs.  I haven’t quite decided to do this yet, but I think it probably will be worth a try, so tbf’s might notice a change in the coming months.  Theoretically, it should allow me to post more often, and also allow me more time to move forward with other writing projects.   Whether I am capable of focusing so narrowly, and the impact on the quality of what I’m writing are what concern me most about the idea.

All these thoughts about reorganizing the blog have been instigated by the fact that for the first time since I started writing last summer, I will now have time every day of the week to write.  Tbf’s know that writing time has been a severe constraint on my productivity since the beginning, even though I’m not employed.  But last week, Maria started preschool, 9-12 three days a week, and seems to enjoy it; and my mom, God bless her, has offered to once again watch Maria most Thursdays.  This, when added to the existing four-to-six/seven a.m. shift I have been following since last June, should give me about five to six hours a day for writing.  I’m very excited about this opportunity, although it means restructuring a host of mundane tasks, such as cleaning and laundry and exercise.  I don’t know how it’s all going to work, but then I don’t need to know how, do I?

And that brings me to a point I meant to mention earlier.  In looking back over my writing for the last seven months, I can see now that there is much in what I have written which is really a part of The Forward Path; they just haven’t been labeled as such.  Posts such as Aiming with Accuracy, Floating Lessons, Jump, and Mystic Monologue really are as much about where I am on my journey, both as a writer and a person, than their respective topics.  I’m just finding ways of incorporating my experience into what I write, I think, instead of writing about it separately.  Not that I’m trying to cop-out for blatantly breaking my New Year’s resolution or anything…

Also, in reviewing my earlier posts to The Forward Path, I realized that I had been placing a lot of emphasis on numbers, things like how many people are coming to the blog, how many pageviews, how many members do I have, etc.  My attitude in this regard has shifted somewhat.  I’m far less concerned now about how many people are reading because 1)  I love what the blog is, and what I’m doing with it, 2) I honestly feel it is filling its purpose better than anything else I could be doing at the moment, and 3)  I feel like perhaps it’s meant to be part of a larger set of possibilities, and that having a smaller audience now might turn out to be a bigger blessing later. 

Sometimes, I think I could just be content writing the blog.  I love being able to pick up on whatever’s happening in the moment and just run with it (hold the Immodium).  Sometimes I feel like it might be enough if I could just find a way to continue doing that forever.  But, something inside keeps telling me this is just the beginning, and that the joy I experience in writing the blog is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are possibilities within possibilities calling me on, and even though I can’t see or know them all now, they seem to be whispering reassurances that I’m still on the path, and still moving forward…

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