Do you ever want to rip things down and start again?
That’s kind of how I felt about this blog some months ago.
By way of background, the site here was originally a coaching blog, developed around 2011. At that point, I was coaching for most of my professional time and that made a lot of sense. In 2015, when I first came out as a wannabe writer, I revamped the site so that it featured articles I composed and published straight from the hip. I was trying to make it okay for myself to put stuff out there that was on all sorts of themes and of all sorts of quality. And that worked for a while.
But then that got to feeling too vulnerable. You know that thing about dance like nobody’s watching? Yeah, I wrote like that for a while.
But then people I knew started to find me. And I guess I developed a kind of stage fright.
The Macarena and the Executive Board
As an aside, I had a very funny thing happen when I was an employed consultant working as part of a big team on the South African Highveld. It was the late 1990s, but the Macarena had just made it there. One Thursday evening after a drunken dinner me and a few of the men decided to show off our Macarena dancing skills. We were probably shit-faced on yet more Cabernet Sauvignon from the Cape. Anyway, we’d done three rounds each time facing a different corner of the room. As we jumped around for a fourth round, all, I like to think, looking like we were beautifully choreographed, we saw to our horror that our client company’s directors were watching us through the glass window of a private room off to the side.
That was mortifying.
Even more mortifying were the jokes that subsequently came our way about our dancing skills versus our consulting skills.
After that night, we all made sure there were no clients around if we were going to dance like mad people.
We didn’t stop. We just learned to be more conscious that letting go of our inhibition had its consequences.
Self-consciousness kills good writing
And I didn’t intend to stop writing here either. I just did.
I’d sit down to spend half hour max on a post like I’d been doing, and in my head, I’d hear silence and self-criticism.
Self-criticism that would go along the lines of:
What the hell can I write about today?
Does what I’m writing about and how I’m writing about it look stupid?
Who the hell gives a shit anyway?
I lost the point that what I was writing about was perhaps less important than that I was writing at all. Because, as Melissa, my mentor keeps telling me, content is one thing, but in the end, it’s style that engages people. And, if you write engagingly about whatever, people will still read it.
Oh, the other thing was that I was also beginning to pitch articles for paid publication. And I was aware that editors may very well want to read what I was writing here. And I convinced myself they’d be appalled by my breezy, top-of-the-head posts, rambling all over the page like this one is already starting to do.
So, for a while, I reigned in my let’s-go-anywhere style and started to write some more coach-y stuff again, even though coaching is now about fifty percent of how I spend my time. But I didn’t enjoy that writing much.
And I ended up not doing anything here altogether.
Went back to the drawing board about what I wanted this site to be about.
Was it a coaching site?
Or, was I going give the baby artist in me some space to play, as I’d intended in the beginning.
Giving the baby artist license to play
I’ve finally decided on the latter.
After all, although I wasn’t writing here, I was writing. The publications. The book, the first rough draft of which is now almost finished.
Part of my challenge of getting back in the saddle here, however, was the site design and the loading speed. The first had become clunky, and the second, painfully slow. Slow enough when I was browsing the site as a reader. Intolerable when I was working behind the scenes. Meaning that, if I had a moment of inspiration to write a little something, by the time I signed in, updated my software and plugins, the moment was gone.
In June, I decided to find a new web designer and get my style and technical problems sorted. I think he’s done a super job. Don’t you?
I’d intended to carry forward all the posts from my last iteration of the site. However, the designer advised me to do a completely fresh install of WordPress to help with the site speed. Great, except that it was no longer automatic that my old posts would be part of the new theme. For now, I’ve copied them all across as drafts. And now I’m wondering whether to publish them again. If so, which ones? And when?
Meantime, I’m enjoying the experience of a new beginning. A fresh start.
I’ve cleared out all the old categories and tags.
I’m starting over. Possibly letting go of old posts in which, over time, I’d invested lots of energy and emotion.
Part of that feels scary. But, to riff off William Faulkner, sometimes we all have to kill our darlings.
On the other hand, it feels liberating not to have to drag all my old stuff with me. To be able to decide what I’ll bring, and what I’ll leave behind.
A new writing era lies ahead.
Are you brave enough to share it with me?