The hardest part of creating great content is figuring out where all the pieces go.
The job of a great storyteller is creating a compelling narrative from beginning to end. No fluff to lose your audience’s attention. No ambiguity so they miss the point. A great storyteller uses every tool at their disposal to tell tales that stay with people long after they hear them.
And it’s rare—with blogging, most creators only think a post at a time. They pat themselves on the back for a job well done when they knock a story out of the park.
But there’s a much bigger story at hand—that massive overarching story that started when you shared your very first piece of content with the world and that you’re still developing even as you hustle today.
Maybe it was when you first became a parent and started jotting all your thoughts as your whole world changed around you. For others, it’s that proud moment they finally start a business and begin changing their destinies.
But for me, it goes back earlier still—to my first days as a writer in the ’90s when I wrote short stories and novels as a teenager. I didn’t know then what I know now—that it was the start of a story more than twenty years in the making. One that’d show me where I need to go next.
— Jay-Z, “Can’t Knock the Hustle”, Reasonable Doubt (1996)
It’s a whole new ballgame the second time around. Some things are familiar and actually improved with baby two—you play better, console better, and generally do everything for your second that you just fumbled around with for your first—but there’s plenty that wasn’t part of the picture: a toddler craving attention, whether through refusing to sleep at night or testing his boundaries and limits to see what reaction he’ll get; the daycare drop-off and pickups mixed in with a schedule growing ever more complicated; and a little more age that’s seeped into your bones, making things a little harder to do than they were the first time.
But you don’t just quit because something’s hard—though I’m weeks deep in unfinished stories and lapsed deadlines, I do what I can each day to keep moving forward, trying to connect the dots in what feels like a complex puzzle of my life I’ve only but begun to solve. But I have to keep realistic about my pace—we only recently got Little Man sleeping through the night again after weeks of sleep regression; I’ve teetered on the edge of burnout with a fierce creative block forcing me to dig truly deep for content; and after a year of planning, training and configuration, the system I’ve shepherded at work is finally live to 350+ users, and as the first point of contact, let’s just say that my work life is busy.
Many would see all this and say I’ve got more than enough to manage already. Many would tell you that I’m just too hard on myself—I’m already “living the dream” with my wife, two kids, and stable employment to pay for the clothes on our backs and the food in our bellies—society would call me successful; what more could I want?
But that dream isn’t enough to sustain me—that dream does not a legacy make. If we live striving for the bare minimum, I wouldn’t call that “living”—I’d say we’re simply participating in the lives we’re given, never really figuring out what we’re capable of because it’s too hard. Or we’re scared. Or any of a million reasons that I’ve simply no time for—life is for living, and I’ll keep testing my limits until I’ve made the most of mine.
So all this to say… what? Sorry I haven’t been posting like I used to? Sorry that my ideas aren’t as timely as I’d like them to be, the unexpected twists and turns of parenting young children whittling away at the time and energy I once had for the craft? Or sorry that this journey will take a bit longer than expected, with life trying to show me what I can handle at this point in my life, not where I think I should be when I keep comparing myself to a bevy of peers?
Or maybe it’s just learning not to say “sorry” at all, realizing that there aren’t many bloggers writing with two kids under 3 to look after, and that the trips away, tasty dinner events, and most of what previously kept me busy in my #BloggerLife have to go on hold ’til we’re slightly more stable. Or remembering that this blog isn’t my full-time job like many of those who’ve made a success of themselves, and that I’d benefit more from expectations that let me maximize what time I can offer the craft each day, not ones that keep me pushing myself too far, winning some short-term battles, but winding up too exhausted to be in the war.
It’s accepting that my reality isn’t one that many share, and accepting that is something long overdue in my life.
The State of the #BloggerLife, March 2016: Still Getting that Blog On Between Diaper Changes and Piggyback Rides
So that’s what’s up—who I am and the world I live in today. The grind to create work that challenges blogging as a medium, not simply follows the beat of the bloggers who came before. I bare my soul, revise without end, and fight with every fibre of my being to reach my potential. This is but another paragraph in the story I’m still crafting, but with every sentence, the path’s a bit clearer.
That said, it’s time to get back to the grind—these incomplete blog posts won’t write themselves, and I have a number of commitments I intend to keep. Some may doubt me, and some may think my time has passed, my various obligations keeping me far too busy to post as frequently as some of my contemporaries… but I see the vision in my head and remind myself there’s much yet I have to share with the world—and I look forward to every last word!
Until the next,
Tell your wife, tell your kids, tell your husbands: