Fear and Passion

I have a tendency to write long, rambling, retrospective introductions filled with background information of dubious value that I, for some reason, nevertheless deign to include as a prelude to beginning my actual article. This time, however, I want to get straight to the point.

With the exception of a few tweets and two queued articles, I have remained virtually silent for nearly a week. In stark contrast to my usual habit of making at least one post per day, with some nonzero number of original articles every week, this is remarkably strange for me. But last week I had final exams, this week I started my full-time summer job once again, and — to put it quite simply — I no longer prioritize writing in my life. Gasp.

And here’s the kicker: it’s been nice.

Ever since I started this site close to two years ago, I have pushed and struggled and fought every single day so that I could, and would, write every single day. Sometimes, that end result took the form of a link post or two or five; alternatively, it may have come as a full-blown article. Regardless of its type or length though, with relatively few exceptions I have written and published something for the past 535 days.

For the first thirteen and a half months, I trudged through this daily slog almost purely out of passion: I wanted my little website to get big, and by God, if I had anything to say on the matter, it would accomplish both those goals and more. And then Jim Dalrymple (!) linked to one of my articles, and things got — to use a highly-scientific term — crazy: I suddenly had a readership; people started reading my site, others wrote about me and the things I said, and then even more people read about me.

Wow.

I took it all in stride, and then I kicked it into high gear.

I started a newsletter; I wrote more, read more, and posted more; I began interaction with others on Twitter in a meaningful way; I stopped writing my newsletter in an attempt at refocusing my efforts; I redesigned my site, and I redesigned it again. It was a whirlwind of a time, but I somehow made it through. And all the while, I kept writing. Only by now, passion no longer motivated me to sit down every day and write, but rather an intense and visceral fear of losing all I had built over the preceding weeks and months.

At first, I didn’t notice this shift: I was the frog, page views were the water I had been thrown in to, and popularity was the heat applied gradually so as to, without alarm, calmly boil me alive. But then last week, I awoke: with no choice but to shelve my beloved hobby as I prepared for and took the semester’s final exams, for the first time in longer than I could remember I had to prioritize something over my writing. I still managed to squeeze an article in there, but again, compared to my normal output, this hardly counted. Then finals ended, I suddenly had a great deal more free time in my life, and... I still chose not to write: I couldn’t force myself to go back to the drudgery of a life driven by fear.

I suppose you could call this article my valiant return to writing, then, for indeed I hope that is what I will look back on this as. But in reality, I never left writing: I took a few days off — a minor sabbatical, if you will — and spent some time giving long, hard consideration to the motivations behind my incessant pursuit of excellence within this craft. Now, at the other end of this dark and dreary tunnel, I have finally realized that it’s time I stopped letting fear push me to write. I used to write solely out of passion, and today, that is once again the case.