I told y’all I was going to get bad about doing this, didn’t I?
When I started this website “project” (What would you even call this?) at the beginning of this year, I had a pretty strong inkling that, at a certain point, I wasn’t going to keep up with it. I knew the problems from the get-go; they’re always the same: I get enthusiastic, take on too many things. I focus my energies entirely in one direction, and not always the correct or most necessary one. I overburden myself so that when even one thing gets done I feel as if I’ve conquered the impossible.
I had a post scheduled for almost every day, whether it was a run log, a weekly recap, a writing prompt, etc. These posts weren’t anything inventive in and of themselves; they were mostly a means of accountability for reporting on the real work I was doing off-screen: running, writing, reading. I intended to use the posts as a way to visually move toward my goals in a public way so that I would have someone other than myself to answer to if/when things didn’t go as planned. Each post was taking me, on average, at least thirty minutes, if not an hour; I was spending more time writing about writing than I was actually writing, more time writing about the miles I would run and the books I would read than I was actually running and reading–and I knew I would do this.
It’s what I’ve always done. Last time I didn’t know what I was doing (or, more accurately, why I wasn’t doing anything) I ran a marathon. I couldn’t get myself to do even the most basic thing (apologies to my poor boyfriend who’s lived with me and my piles of laundry for years now), much less write a single poem, so I figured if I could just do one really, really hard thing I’d be able to do, well, anything else.
This wasn’t and isn’t entirely untrue. Training for and running the marathon did teach me a lot about myself; I became someone a-year-ago me wouldn’t have recognized. I’m a happier and healthier and stronger person, mentally and physically, absolutely. But running the marathon–and then starting this website–didn’t get me any closer to actually doing the work I wanted to do with my writing.
For the past month give or take, I’ve mostly been doing nothing. And I mostly didn’t mind. It’s much easier to do nothing than it is to write a creative piece. It’s easier to tell a stranger on the internet that you’re failing at creating than it is to actually create. It’s easier to not go on long runs when you can just draft up a post saying, Well, another week went by and I didn’t get any closer to where I said I would be. May was perhaps the most stressful month of work I’ve had yet, and it’s a month that starts with a hard anniversary for me. So it was easy to say, I deserve to do nothing when I got off work, even when I knew that going for a run or reading for an hour would make me feel better.
Before May, I’d been making incremental progress toward my various goals, but began to notice that more and more of my posts were just reporting that I’d done nothing; but, because I’d reported on having done nothing, it felt like I’d still accomplished something just by talking vaguely about my goals the masses. I didn’t mind reporting week after week (which gradually became every other week, then once a month, then not at all) that I wasn’t working, because I was still doing the work of reporting on it, taking the time to do something that felt even tangentially related to my goals.
You’d think that admitting failure is the hard part, and it’s not that it isn’t–it took me a really long time to get comfortable with the idea of failure, and of admitting fault (which isn’t altogether the same thing as failure). Really, I think it’s a bit of a lie for me to say that I feel “comfortable” with them now. But I have learned to be unashamed of my failures; everyone must fail in order to grow and to learn. It’s unavoidable. In my acceptance of my failures, though, I denied myself accountability–true accountability, not just posting into the void about what I have and haven’t done in any given week. When I allowed myself to fail, I began to default into failing. It was easier than the work.
Things petered off. I’ve been running, but not nearly the fifteen miles a week that I planned–usually only half of that, if I even manage to run more than my weekly 5k with my Run Club. I haven’t been writing at all. Not even a little. I have, at least, been reading a lot: I finished Jericho Brown’s The Tradition weeks ago; am over half-way done with H is for Hawk; have been listening to Lab Girl on Audible, which I’m also over over half-way through; and have been reading Emotional Intelligence for my workplace book club.
And sometime during all of that, almost without noticing, I began to stop posting here entirely. Two, three weeks went by before a friend asked why I wasn’t posting anymore. My mom later wondered the same. Why? I didn’t have an answer. Work, mental health, I don’t know. I literally forgot about this space–something I used as a crutch for months, multiple days a week, every week–even existed. When my friend asked about it, I actually said, Oh yeah. That thing.
So here we are, back to the Thing. This Thing, and what purpose it serves. What do you even call this?
I used to think I had to put my time where my money was, and that was how you motivated and justified yourself. It worked with the marathon. I bought fancy shoes and nice running gear and organic everything and I ran a marathon. But it doesn’t really work with writing. I paid for a domain name, bought some books, and … still didn’t write anything. I wrote these posts, sure, but I wasn’t writing. Even when I stopped posting here I didn’t start using that time to write. And I knew that this would happen. And I was fine with it. Because, I told myself, failure is part of the growth process. And it is–that part isn’t a lie. The lie I told myself was that failing because you don’t do the work is the same as failing when you do. That’s not how it works. The truth, like most truths, was a cliché: you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.
All of this is to say, you can expect more of the radio silence. I’m taking my time away from my money and putting it in my mouth instead (Yes, I know that’s not the phrase, but I already used one very blatant cliché). I’m not sure how this site will evolve; I do want to keep posting. It is a valuable tool I think when used appropriately. I’m working on figuring out what that looks like. But I know it doesn’t look like what I originally built it out to be, this crutch. It has to be both more and less than that. I’ll figure it out. But in the meantime, I’ll be writing more, running a whole lot, and reading as much as ever.
I’ll keep ya posted.