This is my entry for the February Blog Chain. Our theme is BALANCE, and each blogger in the chain will incorporate into his or entry an element from the previous blog post in the chain. I’m first this time.
I’ve been practicing law for almost 13 years now, and by last year, I had allowed all of my other interests to fall by the wayside. We dropped our theater subscription when Junior (our second child) was born, and around the same time I dropped off the board of the small theater company I had been involved with. I haven’t taken a French class since 1997. By the fall of 2006, I had even stopped watching television. When Mrs. Unfocused had trouble sleeping, I would tell her about my day. I had conversations at parties and bored myself.
Great — now I sound like Rodney Dangerfield.
The point is, I had gotten into a mental rut. During the week, I went to work, came home, had dinner with the family if I got home early enough, helped put the kids to bed, then worked for another three hours. I might go for a run or go to the gym, but that was about it. Finally, I got to the end of the year and found that I had the luxury of taking some time at home; I would still have to work a few hours each day, but I could manage it so that I wouldn’t have to come in at all.
I took the opportunity, and in that time I started this blog. It was partly the result of a November visit from an old college friend, who suggested that the Mrs. and I start a blog together (we’re still talking about a joint blog, but she has had other projects on her mind), partly the Mrs. telling me to just go ahead and do it, and partly my own attempt to start writing again for pleasure. I needed to engage the creative part of my brain again, if only to convince myself that I was not as dull as I was beginning to think I was.
Creating the blog was relatively easy, and I found that I was perfectly happy to blather on ad nauseum. Lucky you, reader. More importantly, I felt the beginning of that balance I had been looking for, between solving other people’s problems at work and thinking through situations on my own, for no better reason than that I found them interesting.
Then on January 2, after my first day back at work since before Christmas, over a glass of wine with Mrs. Unfocused after the kids had gone to bed, I rattled off a complete synopsis of Meet the Larssons. I started knocking out some notes on the computer, and ending up spending the next several hours writing down the idea, ending up with four or five pages of typed notes and a hand-drawn organizational chart for the structure of the business discussed in the novel.
Since then, I have let the novel and the blog take over whatever free mental space I had. For a while, it was the novel. For the last week or two, the honeymoon has been over for the novel (I’m not done yet? What the hell!), and I’m more obsessed with the blog: how many hits today? any new comments? why is my Technorati authority stuck at 4? I’m sleeping less than I was when all I did was work, because when it was just work, I wanted to put it down and go to sleep. Now, it takes a real effort of will to close the laptop.
As I write this, I can see why it is so easy to get sucked in by the blog, and comparatively hard to work on the novel. It isn’t that the novel is harder to write; on the contrary, the novel is much easier to write than these blog posts. I know where the novel is going and largely how to get there; on the blog, it’s a different topic every day, and most of the time I have no idea what I’m going to write about until I sit down and start typing. No, the reason why the blog is so hard to resist and the novel is so easy to put down is that there is no feedback on the novel. I keep checking my word count (I hit 30K on Friday, on the train home from work) and updating it on the little graphic on the sidebar, because that’s the only way I have to keep score, and frankly, it’s pretty damn unsatisfying. With the blog, I have page views. Comments. Mrs. Unfocused even reads it, and I can ask her to give me comments on posts before I publish them, which is handy. But I would be uncomfortable showing anyone the incomplete pile of mush that Meet the Larssons is now. So there’s no feedback, no reward. My little lizard brain likes rewards, and it doesn’t think very far ahead. Maybe I need to promise myself a new toy when I hit 50K words, just to give myself something to work towards.
Don’t get me wrong: between the blogging and the novel, as well as the time I’ve taken just to spend with the Mrs. and the Unfocused offspring, the last seven weeks have been terrific. I’m going to spend a little less time on the blog this week in order to spend more time on the novel, but I doubt I’ll get any more sleep. And I’ll still keep checking those page views and comments, just to keep score.
Up next in the chain is Auria Cortes; remember to check out her blog over the next few days to see what she makes of this topic.