Sometimes you need to clear everything out to find some breathing room.
Things are cluttered in the Life and Times of Casey Palmer right now, constantly busy without feeling like I’m getting anywhere at all.
Work’s frenetic, with a haphazard project that rarely affords me time to think, much less work on the deliverables I’m assigned; my grandpa lost his battle against cancer on November 22nd, succumbing to the illness after months spent withering away; and when I wasn’t dealing with these, I practiced my role as a family man, constantly doing whatever I could to make life perfect for my wife and kid.
But there’s always more to do, always somewhere to be. It’s like we say at my job — good work gets rewarded with more work. You’re constantly on the grind, eventually realizing this time you spend being all the right things for all the right people leaves little time, space or energy for you to just do you — for me that meant the #BloggerLife I’d built these past years and the hours of work I usually dedicate to it.
With everything going on, blogging just felt impossible.
It wasn’t for lack of trying — I’d be at my laptop nightly, banging my head against the proverbial wall, seeking the right words for all these stories trapped inside. I tried writing about feelings, swag, and the 25 Reasons Your Blog is BLAH!!!, but it was no use — nothing seemed to click.
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Ever curious what a $5000 bottle of Scotch whisky looks like? You're looking at one. The Macallan M is costly and hard to find — they only put 1750 of them out into the wild! And how does it TASTE? Good. SO GOOD. I don't even drink scotch and it didn't leave the burn I'm used to from most bottles. Now whose house can I mortgage to entertain some friends with this? #MacallanLounge
It wasn’t for lack of content — in the last few weeks, I’ve played MC at a battle of the bands; discovered the joy of black bean and egg empanadas as a new favourite breakfast food; learned that I never really needed to turn test drives down since I could just rent parking permits when I needed them; joined a TEDx committee; saw comedy over a lunch hour; coveted Mackage and Parajumpers jackets; drank scotch whisky worth several of my mortgage payments; and invested numerous hours in Clash of Clans, convinced that someday I’ll hit levels high enough to free myself from its seductive lure.
In lieu of blogging, I’ve been busy living life, and I think I kind of like it.
What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?
I needed a break, but I was too stubborn to admit it.
My blog lost its way this year — or rather, I guess I did. With the lure of pay cheques and sexier swag whispering in one ear and the advice of bloggers far more established than I in the other, I thought I was doing everything right. I humanized my sponsored content, putting real stories behind the experiences to let everyone know I was still here behind the screen. I teamed up with other bloggers to leverage power in numbers, sharing links to our well-crafted blog posts across various audiences to maximize exposure. 2014 felt like the blog was finally evolving into an institution — that nothing could do wrong, long as I was at the helm to steer it to greater heights.
But while swag is good and cash is better, it all means nothing if it robs you of your ability to write.
I felt my sponsored work was only as good as my last post, trying to outdo myself with better stories, flashier photos and bigger contests. In many ways, I felt like I lost control of my content, working by everyone’s rules but my own, losing faith in how good my work was. My creative side was gasping for air — I was trying so hard to make professional blogging work that I neglected the principles which make me who I am.
So after weeks trapped as a prisoner of my mind, frantically searching for the switch that’d get me back on track, I finally realized it was time to go back to basics and answer a single question that’d steer me true —
Why do I write?
In search of the greatest story ever told.
I’m searching for a story. That one defining story that when it’s finally written will be the one I knew I was meant to write all along.
Deep inside, I have a drive to create. When I’m up at night chasing ideas and inspiration, I’m feral, obsessed, compelled — I want to create content that’ll rock your soul.
My buddy Eric recently shared a video from Christine Estima, one of Toronto Twitter’s oldest sensations. Gut-wrenchingly honest, she shared her parting with the love of her life in a way that’ll haunt you long after watching it.
But that’s just it — it’s good. It’s amazing. It’s the level of impact all content should strive for, eliciting an emotional response that sets is apart from all the mediocre content we’ve come to expect in our lives.
Content like this is a reminder that bloggers can do better. That we don’t have to settle and play by the rules that we already know.
Content like this gives me something to believe in again.
Because Grandpa believed in me.
So it’s back to the grind. Back to scraping at ideas, looking for gold beneath their dusty surfaces, wanting something special to share with the world. Back to discovering what the #BloggerLife looks like with a family to support, creating from this new life at home and not the nightly exploits that once ruled my life.
Back to the basics that make me… me.
I’m burdened by the guilt of missing a last conversation with my grandpa, despite my grandma telling me there’s nothing to feel sorry for. I’m tired of trying to be something I’m not, trying to make a legitimate business of a blog using long-outdated rules rather than stick to my ideals and create something unforgettable.
I’ve spent enough time wallowing — it’s time to get back on my own two, creating content I’m proud of, work that’ll be remembered in this world.
My stories. My sweat. My standards.
It’s what my grandpa would’ve wanted.
Until the next,