Wednesday, February 23, 2011


"I don't want to be one of those writers who puts out a book every 18 months . . . . I feel like a book should be a report on something actually new . . . . I think it's not good for American literature to put out books that are half-baked . . . I am annoyed on behalf of books that we're fighting for an audience . . . it really should be all hands on deck." -Jonathan Franzen

Just over a year ago I wrote the first of my now 35 blog entries, and I somehow managed to crank out 20 of those in the first two months, leaving the other 15 to be written across the subsequent ten. For some odd reason, I thought I was doing a good thing by producing blogs en masse. I truly believed I had found the writer in me I never knew existed - I was exiting the cocoon that captured my creativity and spreading my newfound writing wings.

A year later, after having recently reread most of my eccentric essays, I find my perception is quite different. Even if I was an ostrich, I don't think I could have buried my head in the sand deep enough after that experience. While I am surprisingly proud of many of those essays I eked out, I was incredibly embarrassed over a handful of others . . . . Hindsight, as they say, is indeed 20/20, and as I read I began to realize that a particular portion of that writing came out of self-imposed pressure to find an audience, and not from the uninhibited inspiration I would have preferred the source to be. In those moments of desperation, I just tap, tap, tapped away at any spec of an idea that came to my mind, whether it I felt inspired by it or not, in the hope that if I wrote them, people would read. Unfortunately, in those instances when I chose quantity over quality, I produced some very half-baked blabbering that I rather wish no one else's eyes ever examined.

The thing with me is, when I find something new, I tend to think I'm great at it, and I want others to think I'm great at it too. I get overly enthusiastic about it, and then light the candle at both ends until it burns out before it's time. The result is usually projects upon projects left unkempt or uncompleted. Whether it's dedicating myself to writing regular blog entries, making scrapbooks of my thousands of photos, clearing out the clutter from all my closets, or buying all those crochet books with the intention of making at least half of the published patterns in them, one thing I never seem to fail at is diving into a billowing pile of hay head first and never considering what it's going to take to dig myself out.

I spend a lot of my life thinking about the myriad of ways to dig myself out of my messes and ways to reach my goals . . . never spending enough time working on them. At the age of 33, as I strive for self-awareness, I've become uncomfortably aware that running the distance is not something I do often, that I begin each marathon with a sprint, exhaust myself, then make very little effort, if any, to ever finish the race.

Jonathan Franzen (popularly known as the author of The Corrections and Freedom) seems to be someone who knows how to pace himself and finish at least one race in his life. While I watched him speak to Oprah Winfrey in an interview, explaining to her why it took him 10 years to write his next long-awaited novel, I became instantly inspired, and I quickly typed the quote above, which I believed it to be perfect way to explain away my lack of blog production over the last several months. As I started to eke out this eye-opening essay, my intention remained as such as I watched the excuses flow onto the screen before me. However, the moment I began to justify my actions with my obstacles in life and proceeded to give my audience the "woe is me" fest of the century, I became acutely aware, as I glared at the lame lamentation before me, that I was only trying to convince myself that I have not put off or given up on yet one more thing in my life . . . and I quickly began to hit the backspace key repeatedly.

Lightening couldn't have struck me any harder than the stark realization that giving up and saying "maybe later" are two things I've mastered recently, and that the aforementioned quote could be applied to so much more than books. It's really difficult to look in the mirror and face the terrible truth that the effort I put into most things is half-assed – ultimately making most of what I produce in life half-baked. I may begin with all hands on deck, but that doesn't mean they are still pumping hard half-way through the race, let alone all the way till the end.

It seems I'm constantly slapping myself with a switch I picked from the tree in my own yard, making it next to impossible to keep my hands on deck for a hard-earned win, and I too, like Mr. Franzen, am annoyed. While he is annoyed on behalf of books, I'm annoyed on behalf of this barely visited blog page, and the piles of yarn and half-finished crocheted projects in my basement. I'm annoyed on behalf of the boxes and computer files of pictures that never were made into the scrapbooks for which I bought supplies, and I'm extremely annoyed on behalf of my closets which are long overdue for an extreme cleaning and de-cluttering. I could continue on this route, creating a list a mile long of the uncooked crap in my life, but by now I'm sure you get my drift . . . the ambition to begin something is not much of anything without action to finish it.

Action hasn't been a consistent part of my life in a long time, if ever. I continue to disregard that dreaming does not equal doing, and dreams will never become reality if I don't act upon them. The fact that I keep ignoring this makes me by definition crazy – I'm constantly doing the same type of thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. I continue to turn a blind eye the reality that true success comes not from hope alone, but hard work inspired by such hope.

I've reached a point where success, in every facet of my life, is something I deeply desire, yet I continue to tip-toe around the hurdles on my racetrack rather than face them head on and leap over them with full force. I am reminded often that there are plenty of people in this wretched world with a number of more obstacles, and more difficult ones at that, than I encounter daily, and yet many of these people are far more successful in their lives than I could ever imagine myself to be. I'm not sure what happened to the young girl who always imagined being the inspirational independent woman that I never manage to see when I look in the mirror. It seems as though she's made far too many excuses and allowed life to beat her down along the way.

Excuses, no matter how justifiable they may be, have been interfering with my success for far too long, but the time for excuses is coming to an end. Stick a fork in me, I'm done. The shit that is keeping me down can take a long walk off a short pier and just fade into the distance . . . forever. The time has arrived for me to keep all my hands on deck, no matter how hard they manage to get slapped. The last thing I want is to be someone who just tip-toed around and only did what I needed to get by, and I certainly don't want to be remembered that way . . . . I want to be remembered as someone who ran the distance and finished the races in my life, and did so crossing the finish line looking great and smelling fantastic, making sure that everything I cooked up along the way entered the oven fully prepared and exited it fully baked.

"Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them. But do not let them master you." -Hellen Keller