The inside of my brain is stuffed full of ideas. Thoughts, reactions, commentary, occasional witticisms. It’s piled high with boxes of topics I’d like to explore. Stacks of life I need to sort through. Hangups to shred. Anxiety to burn. … Continue reading
7 years ago this month (January 7, to be exact), I hit publish on my first post on this blog. Since then (and 2 MacBooks ago), I’ve published nearly 160 posts. The most popular is my post about Stephen King’s novel 11/22/63. It gets hits every single day (and last I checked, was ranking right below King’s site for the term “Jimla”). The second most popular and the one that’s received the highest response is my post about the ensuing identity crisis when my college completely rebranded itself away from all my fond memories.
Admittedly, in the early days and years, I published a lot more frequently than I do now. It used to be at least once a week. Now I only get to publish a handful of posts each year, but with good reason. Just as my blog has undergone numerous changes in the last 7 years (different themes, different focuses, different looks), so have I. While I don’t write a whole lot about the details of my personal life here, the big picture still tells my story.
Over the past week or so, I’ve grown a little bit bored with my usual podcast lineup. Maybe bored isn’t the right word. It just felt a little stale, and while I was still enjoying the shows I listen to every week, I wanted some new content too. While listening to an episode of Literary Disco, I heard one of the hosts, Rider Strong (yep, that Rider Strong), mention some work that he did with another podcast, Mortified. From his description, I could tell that it was very similar to another show I’ve recently started loving called Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids (pretty self-explanatory).
The premise for both of these shows is simple: at various clubs where the events are hosted, adults get up on stage and read things that they wrote when they were kids. It ranges from really bad poetry and weird stories to middle school diary entries, notes passed in high school to AOL conversations printed years ago, and everything in between. The results are typically really humorous (and often very poignant at times). Many of the participants are also roughly my age, so a lot of the references and particular habits resonate with me (printing “important” AOL conversations in the late 90s so that you could read them again later to make sense of them? Guilty. Also my mom just recently threw away boxes of notes that I had from junior high).
On September 3, 2013 (one year ago today), I couldn’t run a mile. I couldn’t even run 25 yards. I know this because I tried. It was my first day running.
What I remember about that day was that I struggled to run for a full minute as the group that I joined for new runners introduced very starter-level intervals. When it was over and I got back to my car, I texted a friend to say that I didn’t think I was going to make it. That day, I felt all but certain I was going to fail at running (yet again). I think I actually whimpered a little bit when I got back to my apartment and stood at the bottom of the long, steep staircase, looking up and wondering how I was going to drag myself up those when it hurt just to walk.
It was embarrassing because I knew that I hadn’t really done that much at all.
This morning, September 3, 2014, I went to the park where I spent all of last fall and all of this past spring working on becoming a runner. I walked a little bit to warm up, and then I ran two miles.
I don’t want to say how long it took me to run those two miles. But I ran them without stopping, and a year ago I couldn’t even hope to come close. That’s all that matters.
The older of my two dogs was very sick on Saturday. He spent the day lying on the concrete, whimpering, throwing up, and trying so hard to poop. We spent the day forcing fluids into him (via a red Solo cup, so at least he felt cool). And today he seemed to be back to normal again.
As part of my job, I do a lot of writing for other people. In fact, at the moment, I’m working with four or five clients. They depend on me to keep their content moving. Search engines like fresh content, and so frequently updated blogs/sites will tend to rank higher. I’m in no position to mess up anyone’s search engine optimization (and if I did, I’d be fired as a freelancer). So not doing my work and giving the excuse that I have writer’s block isn’t really acceptable.
Still, I sometimes sort of feel like it should be.
Well, holy crap. Welcome, All Ye Friends of Frank, to the 100th Post Extravaganza.
What will this extravaganza entail, you ask?
That’s an excellent question. And I’m going to be really honest with you, [insert your name here], I don’t really know. I’m going to make it up as I go.
The other day I happened to catch a tweet about getting ready for NaNoWriMo to begin on November 1. After asking myself where October (and September) went, I realized that it is, indeed, about that time.
In 2009, NaNoWriMo is what got me back into writing. I always think about things like, “If this had or hadn’t happened, then this or that outcome would have been different.” I do that with basically everything. My head is a weird place to be. However, I think it stands to reason that if I hadn’t been craving some kind of purpose at that point in 2009, you wouldn’t be reading this blog, for better or worse.
I’d looked forward to Camp NaNoWriMo. Since 2009, I have loved writing my way through November, learning about myself as a writer and creating this text that, for better or worse, comes from me and is born of my own imagination. When I heard they’d be holding summer sessions in July and August this year, I signed up for the August camp and got ready to write.
It’s worth noting that I’ve reached the 50,000 mark (the word count required to “win” NaNoWriMo) in November 2009 and November 2010. In both cases, my novel was far from finished, but I had a tremendous start. Really, you’d be hard-pressed to find a novel of substance that’s only 50,000 words. I finished the first draft of my 2009 work in June 2010, and I continue to work on my 2010 work-in-progress now. So August seemed like a great time to get back into it and cross the final finish line.
You know that feeling when it’s like a parasite gets in your head and you feel like you need to do everything humanly possible to keep yourself busy? If you stop for even the shortest time, that parasite starts nibbling away at your brain, causing everything to unravel. I’m convinced it attacks reason first.
I’ve been doing a lot to keep that parasite at bay, and it’s got a lot of reasons to keep creeping up on me. Sometimes I deal with multiple parasites. In an effort to keep myself busy lately, I’ve continued to read everything from blogs to books, thrown myself headlong into learning something about the business world, committed myself to networking for professional purposes (after, of course, figuring out what I want to be), and started really learning about social media.
I’ve also taken up knitting and maintaining a Facebook page for my dogs. When things get really bad, I’ll have conversations with my fish, Richard Marx. I zone out with Netflix. I’m way too into The Real Housewives of NJ.
And sometimes, even after all of that, the parasite just keeps on keepin’ on.
The parasite is, I think, the reason I’ve become so incredibly passionate about writing lately. It’s not that I didn’t love writing before. I always have, and that’s how I’ve identified. There’s just something very different about my relationship with writing right now. It’s more extensive, going beyond just the creative.
And everything beyond the creative has kept me away from the novel for a while. Six months, to be exact.
I’ve revisited my novel in the past week, and had every intention on writing something about that fun-filled experience (note the sarcasm: when you let those things sit for six months, it’s really, really difficult to go back). However, I got really busy writing various blog posts elsewhere on the Interwebs and ran short on time. My brain is telling me that one isn’t in me right now, but that I should write something anyway.
Really — I tried to read, but this voice in my head kept saying, “Keep writing. You aren’t quite done yet for the day.”
So I’ve got a new edition of Frank Recommends for you. This week we’re talking about blogs, specifically ones that I think are well written and that you should probably check out. Sharing is fun, right? These blogs are written by people that I’m lucky enough to know. They cover a variety of topics and are well worth your time.