“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.”
Starting a project always seems like the easiest part, right? You’ve got an original story that’s never been told before, with a main plot figured out and a bevy of assorted characters ready to carry it. Perhaps you’ve become infatuated with starting your own business, accompanied by an unrivaled product or service that will either disrupt the industry or start an entirely new one; maybe it’s more modest in scope, like starting a local business that seeks to do good in the community and simultaneously make a small profit on the side. It could possibly be a research idea drawing on a substantial amount of literature but oriented in a new or previously unthought of direction. Lastly, it could be a blog with a multitude of dreamed up features and ideas backing it up, unheralded in its ambitions and aspirations.
The last one, if you couldn’t tell, most definitely pertains to me. I’ve had thoughts and ambitions about starting a blog for some time now, and was never quite sure how I wanted to carry it out. The content was there, but for some reason the simple action of sitting down at my computer and typing these ideas into being took a lot more time than I had anticipated. It wasn’t that the ideas weren’t already there or that the format for the blog hadn’t already been created; it seemed to be a reluctance to do work that required some level of critical thinking on the side. I justified it to myself by adding a weekly “favorite longform journalism” feature (which I have no plans of taking down any time soon) and throwing myself into the discovery of intriguing examples of journalism and storytelling in print and digital media – anything really to distract myself from creating any sort of original content. And yet the entire time the idiom “talk the talk and walk the walk” continued to reverberate in my head, especially in those late night moments, immediately vulnerable once the book was closed and the light was turned off. Even now, as I write this post, I continue to be distracted by items such as NYU’s list of top ten works of journalism for the last decade or email alerts from Flipboard notifying me of various themed content I may be interested in.
Although many people are familiar with images and stories of writer’s block, whether it’s Kevin Kline’s character in The Emperor’s Club struggling as a writer following a successful career as a teacher, Joseph Mitchell’s infamous thirty years of writer’s block when writing (or not) for the New Yorker, or well-known illustrations and images of writer’s block, does a similar condition exist that pertains to the too-reluctant-and-just-doesn’t-want-to-work-on-it-right-now subpopulation? Perhaps this affliction is shared by schoolchildren who need parent-based incentives in order to do their schoolwork in a timely fashion…I think it’s more a worry of putting myself out there, throwing my thoughts and ideas out for all to see in the vast wilderness we call the Internet, with its nefarious trolls and opinionated hecklers hiding in the background. You want people to read the blog, but you don’t want to offend; you want to stimulate discussion but not languish into name-calling and roundabout arguments; you want to show that you’re capable of something but afraid that it all might come tumbling around you.
And I know that this is just a blog in a some random, faraway corner of the web, and that maybe having such feelings for what is essentially a virtual journal is nonsensical and a touch too dramatic. But I’d like to think that anytime we risk opening up ourselves to others out there, especially when it comes to writing, we throw a bit of our heart onto it, inject a small bit of our hopes and dreams into it, knowing that this particular piece of Internet real estate is ours and hoping someday that it’ll be more than it is right now.
Be that as it may (always wanted to write that!), and especially after the well-intentioned, emotionally-driven piece above, I’d like to hold myself to adding more personal musings and even some thoughtful insights on current topics to the blog in a more timely fashion. I want this “real estate” to develop into a virtual coffee shop of sorts, where contributors can throw out ideas and discuss a wide range of topics (maybe even while sipping coffee at home, or is that too much to ask for right now?). And seeing as I started this piece with a quote, it’s only fitting that I end it on one too.
“We’re past the age of heroes and hero kings. … Most of our lives are basically mundane and dull, and it’s up to the writer to find ways to make them interesting.”