Archive | July, 2011

What to learn from what you don’t finish

14 Jul

I have a WordPress dashboard full of unfinished blog posts. I thought the reason I didn’t finish them is because I’m more in love with ideas than follow through. I felt like a blogger failure. But then I remembered I’m more than beginnings, and have a year of developed posts to prove it.

The reason I didn’t finish those posts is because I don’t want to write about those topics anymore. They were ideas I thought better of: I lost my inspiration to finish and since this blog is free, why should I? Here’s a look at how I can’t always finish what I start:

Failed Post #1: “Things on Facebook I find moderately irritating”

An excerpt:

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for lists. One of my favorites is a piece CNN did back in 2009 on the 12 most annoying types of Facebook personalities. I’ve tried very hard not to become one of them but in my early social networking days (you know, back in ’09), I might have come close to “the Obscurist,” that person who thinks everyone is watching the same show or reading the same article or who lives on the same brainwave as he or she does. One of the examples CNN gives is the actual status update from someone reading “small world.” I am 92% sure that was my status update.

Maybe you read this before IN EVERY ARTICLE ALREADY WRITTEN ABOUT FACEBOOK. And by excerpt, I meant that was all I wrote.  File under overdone.

Failed post #2: “‘Outside in’ doesn’t always mean ‘open book'”

Excerpt:

What matters more to you, how you look on the outside, or how feel on the inside? The better question is where do you start first: outside or in? If you want to feel good, do you clear off your desk and get organized? Do you create a beautiful garden or remodel your deck? If so, you’re outside-in. You need to get all the outside stuff in check to clear your head enough to deal with what’s inside your head.

It went on to describe how I’m inside-out. Turns out this post was over my own head. File under lame.

Failed post #3: “Your career is a rubber band ball.”

This one was promising, relevant even. I even researched the biggest rubber band ball to extend the metaphor (9,032 lbs). But it turns out I don’t want to write about careers anymore. Or rubber bands.

Excerpt:

One band by itself is useful for holding together a few things, but if you try to bind too many things with it, it breaks. A single band can also be used as a device of pain and annoyance. Or it’s just a colorful circle laying on your table or wrapped around a door knob. If you wrap enough of  those bands around each other, though, they form a ball of force that rolls. But when you’re faced with a bunch of pink, purple, and white bands by themselves, they make you want to cry. Or flick others with them to ease your pain.

I went on to explain how each band is one of your talents or skills and if you put them all together. . . zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Sorry, I fell asleep just recounting this. By the way, the rubber band guy (who is from Lauderhill, FL, just around the corner from me) made enough money from selling his ball to Ripley’s Believe it or Not that he can fund his next world record: longest time spent as a human fireball. Maybe he should write about careers. File my post under too much metaphor.

Failed post #4: “Love in the time of mangoes”

This one is just a title. That’s how unfinished. Jerry Seinfeld said he picked the title of Bee Movie long before he knew what it would be about. I knew more than that: I thought I wanted to write about what I learned from cooking a different mango recipe each night during the month of June. Then I went on vacation to Colorado and this is not a food blog. But I still cook every night now (even though “Mango Month” is over). I already have meals planned through the weekend (and groceries purchased). Even recycled recipes so I don’t waste food.  Okay, I promised this wasn’t going to turn into a food blog. Unless I start writing about how I’m cooking my way through sadness. But that’s too Like Water for Chocolate for this venue. But I did love that book. And the movie. *sigh* File under two Latin literary allusions don’t make a right.

Sometimes you fail because you were doing it wrong. And sometimes you fail because your idea just plain sucked. The latter is harder to admit to yourself because at the time you conceived that idea, it was genius. Then you start telling other people about it and you feel like you have to stick with it even though you know you’re better. And it’s not that my almost-posts were hideous; in fact, they were almost-good. They just weren’t good enough to keep me interested past the first two paragraphs. That’s where most of us dwell, in almost-good. This often feels like failure, which is why so many of us give up before we get to good (or excellent or inspirational).

I used to tell my students they had to write the bad stuff to get to the good stuff. Writing the perfect phrase never happens until you’ve written tons of mediocre ones before it. Creating the perfect publication or project never happens without a parade of almosts.

Maybe today I have to tell myself the same. Past every boring idea lurks a better one that will inspire me. Just keep putting pen to paper. This is where the rubber band ball meets the road.