I wish I knew. I wish there was someone to just tell me. There isn’t. I have to figure it out on my own. What the hell are my goals?

I write Little Bits of History and publish daily. I took a year off and missed it so I started again. It is a creative outlet and it is a learning experience – at least for me as I write them. I have always been a repository of Mom’s Fast FactsTM and amused or maybe annoyed my kids by spouting off esoteric crap at the slightest provocation. Writing these essays for close to a decade has increased my store of trivia no one will ever ask me about.

I still can’t remember where I put my coffee cup, but I can spout completely inconsequential factoids without warning.

I like writing. It gives me a chance to see what I’m thinking and what appears on the screen before me is often quite surprising. I had no idea I was thinking that stuff until it shows up right there in black and white.

But that is just a small corner of my life. I don’t write all day long. I have other things to do. Most of them equally inconsequential but I’m old and retired and not expected to be of any consequence anymore. I fulfill that ideal.

But then, four to five times a week I step into the expanse of The Box. I don’t know what I want out of that portion of my life. I’ve gained strength and stability. I’ve gained stamina, which is scary when one considers how little I have now and then realizes how much more there is now than when I began.

Each and every time I look at a WOD, I panic. It’s been nearly five years and every single one of them scares me. No one programs for a Little Old Lady and yet, that’s who shows up when I walk in the gym. The young people can do the things so much quicker than me, sitting there box breathing and trying to not have a heart attack and die. I’ve had to promise I won’t have a heart attack and die. So I’m responsible for keeping my heart rate in the “viable” zone.

And then I get cranky. I could have scaled the reps on Monday. I was given the option. I did scale the weight. I stopped working when I was too light headed to do another set up box jumps which aren’t jumped, but still, they make me dizzy especially when my heart rate is high. Rather than die, I quit. But then I was up half the night wishing I hadn’t. I could have sat still for longer and gotten my head straight and my heart rate down and then done the last round. I not only could have, I should have. And then I got all mad at myself for quitting. I was too worried about the time. I’m getting older by the second regardless of the time, so why do I keep selling myself short?

If my goals were clearer, would I stop stopping myself? I don’t honestly know. I do know that I can do many things and I would like to do more and my progress is slower than a herd of turtles moving through peanut butter. But I still progress.

I’m tempted to not listen to the cardiologist and just go for it and see what happens but I’m afraid that could include one of those pesky heart attacks and die things, so I don’t.

I’m so amazed at the people who come to the gym with the goal of getting better and then work on getting better. I’m so waylaid by that damn white board. I need to let the board go.

Maybe my goal should be to improve incrementally. Or maybe just improve mentally.

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I finally have my line included in the CrossFit Open database and it finally has two numbers included. I feel like a winner already.

I’ve been consumed by this problem. I’ve been so focused on it, I forgot I have another “real” blog where I post historical on-this-day essays for each and every day of the year. Yesterday, it dawned on me that I hadn’t seen a post there. After a whole week of March, there were no March posts.

I’m currently working on the June histories. April is ready, May is done but not edited, and I’m in the middle of writing June. There was no particular reason, other than obsession with a different problem, that I couldn’t have gotten March up there.

So, I have now gotten caught up and all of March’s essays are ready to appear on a daily basis at a scheduled time.

I don’t think I’ve ever pulled this stunt before. Writing for me is easy. Well, I guess it is. Other writers mention how difficult it is to put words to paper (something none of us do anymore but the image remains). I’ve kissed the Blarney Stone. Walked up the 100 steps, hung backwards over the parapet, and gotten my “gift of gab”. I’m pretty sure I’ve always had it, but now it is official.

The tedium of maintaining a website is often overlooked in the wonder of content. But it is a process. I know this. I know how much it takes to get my content up there day after day for years on end. I know I need to make it possible for readers to find something in particular. Enjoying a single essay is wonderful and I hope I can teach in the process. But finding something else is another matter completely.

I still have to update the February topic page. It is tedious bit of work and seems to be unimportant, although I really know it isn’t. It is something I used myself year after year. I learned this when I wrote about the same thing for a second time. Whoops. Well, it is free. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want it to be worthwhile. We each only have so much time in the day and it is my job, as content provider or writer or author or whatever, to provide value for the minutes spent.

And this brings me back to CrossFit Open’s issues with the website. I realize the cost of putting on an event is much more than many people may imagine. I’ve been there for Conviction Training Facility’s events and know the time and money put into getting ready. While CrossFit doesn’t have much skin in the game at this point, they are going to be renting space for the Regionals and then the Games themselves. This costs money.

I’m more than willing to add my portion of the fee to that pot so the Games may go on. I understand there can be problems with websites. I have a second little degree in computer networking and have actually managed websites and not just blogging sites. I’m willing to tolerate some of the problems arising out of an ephemeral world we have created together.

I’m happy this was finally resolved – both CrossFit Open and my own Little Bits of History site. I’m hoping the internet will behave for the next while until I can recover from Greg’s and my own mistakes.

LBoH

I want to be successful.

That’s pretty much the whole ball of wax. And now I want to look up what in the hell that stupid little phrase means and why the wax is in a ball and why losing a ball of wax is important in any way, shape, or form. Now I want to know where that phrase is from.

And that is my life in a paragraph. Curiosity is important until it is just a means to avoiding what is really important. There are a million, bazillion questions and only some of them are important. Learning which paths to follow and which to ignore is how you become successful.

That’s not the only thing one must do in order to succeed. You have fail your way to success.

No one, absolutely no one, is an overnight success. Success doesn’t come overnight. There is no UPS or FedEx delivery system to bring it to you. You have to go out and earn success one misstep after another. And then, bam, there you are, almost competent at what you do twenty years later.

I want to be a writer. I would really like to be a remunerated writer, but that means too much work. And too little expertise. And scary, frightening things. It means learning how to market myself and brand my writing and on and on and on and what I really want to do is put words on a page and have others read them and like them. Learning something would be a bonus.

I would also like to never, ever, ever have a typo. This isn’t so much about success but about perfectionism. But I would like it. And I can’t sell writing that isn’t perfect (I tell myself) even though I have paid for writing that isn’t perfect and am fine with it.

I want to be an athlete. Not the “everyone who moves” kind of athlete, but a real athlete. I want to be strong and capable and be able to do athletic things. Really, want I want to do is get through a WOD without sitting around and box breathing half the time.

Bragging note: I managed an entire WOD, for the very first time ever, without having to sit down. I did this by walking the runs but I did it. And I walk pretty fast, so I could manage to flip tires and do a rope climb sub without actually having to sit down.

I’ve been a CrossFitter for over four years and this finally happened. This is the type of athlete I want to be. Just step back, breathe for ten seconds, and then get back to work.

But, because of my heart rate, I can’t. It’s not that I don’t want to, it is that I literally can’t physically do it most of the time.

So can I ever be successful? What if I reframed my definition of success? Is that cheating? Is it just a way for everyone to get a trophy? Do I need a trophy? How do I know when I’ve been successful?

I’ve been writing for years, giving most of it away for free. I’ve made a little money at it but decided that was worse than giving it away. I made the choice to not make money. So if I want readers, and I have them, am I successful?

I show up at the box and do the WOD, scaled for a Little Old Lady, and do things most people don’t. And I do things many more people my age don’t do. So am I successful? I didn’t give up any of the many, many times I have thought about giving up. I show up, scared, and then do something.

I want to be successful. Maybe I am. How would I ever know?

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I truly love the sound of my own voice or the look of my own writing. I’ve kissed the Blarney Stone and hove no problem talking and talking. I’ve loved the written word for over half a century and writing is pretty easy.

But … it isn’t all that simple. If it was, everyone would do it. Oh, wait. Here is a paragraph from Wikipedia on the topic of “Blog”:

On 16 February 2011, there were over 156 million public blogs in existence. On 20 February 2014, there were around 172 million Tumblr and 75.8 million WordPress blogs in existence worldwide. According to critics and other bloggers, Blogger is the most popular blogging service used today, however Blogger does not offer public statistics.  Technorati has 1.3 million blogs as of February 22, 2014.

And that’s the problem. I’ve been writing Little Bits of History for many years now. I began posting a daily blog in 2010. I’m still posting a daily blog there. At one time, I had a huge number of hits per day. I guess, when compared to this blog, I still do. But even there, numbers are dropping.

I’ve had a Blogger blog, and I guess I’ve never actually killed it and so it is out there and taking up some of the numbers. I have four separate blogs on WordPress and I really only use two. So all those blogs aren’t necessarily active.

I don’t write about hot topics. I’m not a Mommy blogger. While I do write about CrossFit and it is a potential hot topic, I’m not that kind of CrossFitter. I’m an old lady with a heart rate problem. Even I’m tired of hearing how, after three years, I am still an old lady with a heart rate problem.

Every once in a while I look back to see what I’ve done with a WOD we have already done before. But honestly, it isn’t really worth the effort I put into this.

There have been some new folks starting at the box. They are already doing better, moving more weight, getting faster times, and have better things to write on the white board. They are young enough to be my children. But that doesn’t go up on the board.

The only time I consider quitting CrossFit altogether is when I compare my score to the rest of the scores on the board. Mine is always the worst. I have the lowest weight, I have the longest time, I have the fewest reps. Sometimes I have all three for one WOD. And it is demoralizing. I’m working to capacity. I’m giving it all I’ve got. I just don’t have that much.

My heart rate is always high. I always go to the limit and it doesn’t really take much to get me there. It is uninteresting and the few times I have looked back to see what I did, I notice that it is always and forever my limiting factor. Therefore, there is no real reason to keep writing about it. All I need is a notebook with the WOD, my weights, my scaling options, and my score. I can write that down in less than a minute.

Even my histories are probably going to go away after the end of the year. It’s not that there isn’t more history and it certainly isn’t that I don’t have enough time. It is that I’ve been giving this away for six years and it’s more work that it’s worth that way. And I can’t stand the ads in order to monetize the damn thing and even if I did, there aren’t enough hits to make it worth my while.

If I thought about it and was paid less than a dollar to write, it would be more insulting than if I gave it away for free. My problem is what to do with my time and energy. If I won the lottery, I would travel more. But I don’t even buy tickets so that isn’t looking so promising.

I have 31 more history essays to write and then I will have a bunch of time with nothing pressing. If I find I can like it, I will just let that fall by the wayside as well. It has been interesting to do and I’ve learned an amazing amount of trivia. But it is always looming and the payoff is less and less.

With everyone out there blogging and blabbing, there really isn’t much of an audience for any particular blogger unless you have some niche. I don’t. And working that hard, even when it is easy, isn’t worth it.

Signature --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Signature — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Writing is pleasurable for me. I like seeing words appear out of nowhere. I have no trouble getting the next one to show up. They aren’t always the right words and many times I have to go back and get rid of them. I have typed up whole blog posts and deleted them because I’m not all that fond of conflict. I hold strong opinions but one of the advantages of old age is that I have learned I don’t always have to say what I think out loud.

A sad thing happened last weekend. Not that it was unforeseen and not that I hadn’t even asked the question myself. But a venue closed the door, locked up shop, quit. I’m not really sure when I started writing for RGQ but it was a long time ago. Before I was a writer, I was working behind the scenes. But I wrote my stuff and submitted my work and got it published and people read it and responded and how much fun is that? Nothing stays the same and things always change. Changes made it impossible to keep going and so last Friday was the last issue of RGQ. I will miss it, I will even miss the work of it, but it was time.

I also belong to a writing forum. I really like words. I really like writing. I would like to write better. Tim, from RGQ, introduced me to MWC, the writing forum. I’ve been there since October 2007 (they helpfully tell me this stuff). I took a hiatus from the site for several months at one point. Even so, there are only three people there who have posted more times than me. I also used to be a moderator there, but that is so wearing. So. Very. Wearing.

One member who shall remain nameless but is not Voldemort, is a bit of a pain in the rear. The person self identifies as male so I will use that pronoun. He never says exactly why he is an authority but hints that he is a superlative writer who knows stuff about the writing world. His credentials are stellar, he says. Unless he posted these while I was missing in action, they have never been listed for us, the hoi polloi.

What I know for certain is that he uses words like weapons and when he is challenged, he pulls out the big guns and pounds all opponents into submission. When they tell him he is an asshat, he proudly quotes them in his signature line. I’m unsure what he thinks this does, but to me, it shows that he is consistently mean, nasty, provocative, and generally one not to tangle with. Not because I think he is correct, but because I think he is shallow, callow, and mean. I no longer argue with him because it is like talking to a wall. He is ALWAYS right, according to him. (And we all know that *I* am always right.)

Once again, this past week, he got another thread locked because of his bullying and refusal to believe there is a snowball’s chance in hell that he might be wrong. He KNOWS and if you do not admit he is right, he … whines to the moderators that people are being mean. Well, at least he used to whine to me when I was a moderator, complaining about someone’s lack of subservience. I don’t know if he still does. Probably.

The issue in question was the word “suddenly” and according to this paragon of the publishing world, it is NOT TO BE USED under pain of death, obscurity, and never being published. Some person I have never heard of agrees with him. I don’t know if the unheard of person is who he is in real life or not, but I really don’t care.

According to this person, if the word “suddenly” is included in a brilliant book with an enticing storyline, it will automatically negate the purchase and publication of the book. There is never, ever, ever a reason to use the word and it is sloppy writing and if you have it in your manuscript, it will never sell. Only perfectly crafted writing will sell and there is never anything else that will do. Non-writers will often complain about the sentence structure of a book, the flow, or the use of certain words and they will, apparently, slam a book shut and never finish it if you put the word “suddenly” in there.

He has no explanation for the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. I’m told the four books were poorly written, terribly crafted, and still sold over 120 million copies worldwide. Or at least no reason was forthcoming. I doubt that anyone would really ask the guy. I refuse to participate in his argumentative crap.

Anton Chekhov said something about moonlight glinting off broken glass and we all have to show and not tell now because the master said it and we will make it so.

Here is a quote from Chekhov’s story, “The Bet”:

A lively discussion arose. The banker, who was younger and more nervous in those days, was suddenly carried away by excitement; he struck the table with his fist and shouted at the young man:

“It’s not true! I’ll bet you two million you wouldn’t stay in solitary confinement for five years.”

I wonder what the pompous, pretentious, holder of all the rules thinks about that.

writing

I have been writing Little Bits of History for years now. I was writing them first in a shortened form for Really Good Quotes (I still write there, but now just once a week as the lead). I expanded the essays and added extra quotes and posted them online. I spent a year putting them up on Examiner.com and they paid me. Eventually they paid me less and less and added more and more advertising and it was so obnoxious, even I wouldn’t look at them. I couldn’t really ask anyone else to look.

Last November and December I was simply sick of writing them. Then it dawned on me. I could snag the year I put up on Examiner and because of copyright stuff, before I put them on my own site, I had to modify them. So I did. I added one more paragraph and posted an entire extra year of Little Bits of History. Just like that … I solved my problem.

Except I didn’t. I still have the problem. I loved writing them and I loved having written them. I’m just not all that thrilled with writing them, present tense. In the intervening year, I have gather a lot more followers. I get between 300 and 500 hits per day over there and only a meager few over here. I assume that history is a lot more exciting than my rambling about CrossFit and my ineptitude.

But I’m coming up to the end of another year. And I have to decide to keep writing or not. I’ve had to force myself to write one additional paragraph per day for this year. Now I’m looking at researching to find something that happened and something interesting and something I haven’t already written about. And it has to be something about which I can find some quotes to go with it. Oftentimes, the quotes – the copy and paste part – is the hardest part of the whole exercise.

I’ve lost my motivation. I’ve been at this for around five years now and it is losing its luster. It is a nonremunerated job I have set for myself. I’ve learned an inordinate amount of junk over the years while doing this and should be a whiz at Trivial Pursuit or games of that ilk. But I’m torn again about whether or not to continue.

I know I could place ads on the page and make some money off my work, but the amount of money I would make would be so little that it doesn’t really make the effort worthwhile and I find it intrusive and obnoxious. The reason I write the stuff is because I want to, at least in theory. I’ve essentially had a year off and I’m no closer to a decision about this than I was a year ago.

Then I start thinking about what this says about the rest of my life. I began CrossFit a year ago. Right now, I’m growing quickly enough to see constant improvement. I can see what I did on a WOD last year and compare it to the same WOD this year and see I have come light years in that time. But the improvements will slow and then come to a snail’s pace. Right now, I’m getting PRs frequently because I was such a weenie when I started that anything is better. But that will stop and then what will keep me going?

What drives any of us to do anything? What made me start posting LBoH at all? What made me start doing CrossFit? How do I keep those things important over time? What makes me do anything? What makes anyone do anything? We are motivated, I assume, to get enough resources to have food, clothing, and shelter. But after that, after those basic needs are met, what makes any of keep on going like a bunch of Energizer Bunnies?

I go to work, still, even though Dick is retired. Why? I really don’t know. We would have our basic needs covered even if I didn’t work. But I know that when I was unemployed for a few years, I began to lose my mind and began writing … LBoH. Ah, perhaps the clue to writing is not working? Probably not. I am only working three days a week and on the four I’m off, I don’t see myself sitting here slamming out articles.

So, all in all, I don’t know what to do. If I quit, is it laziness? Is it just that times change? Will I miss it? Will I be relieved? Those last two haunt me because I cannot answer my own questions. I know I’m lazy and always have been. I will work really hard to make things easier.

You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. The Pink Paradise put up a parking lot …  some song that I remember being sung my Melanie.

So, after 800 words of public soul-searching, I still have no answers. Damn.

creative-writing

Writer’s block isn’t so much a problem of words as it is a problem of ideas. I have no trouble writing words. What I sometimes have difficulty with is getting an idea to write some words about. It is that problem – no ideas – that is the bane of all writers.

At a loss for words

I’ve been playing around on my writing forum again. MWC (My Writers Circle) is based out of England but has participants from around the world. I was once very prolific over there and then found I was wasting more time than I had to spare. I gave myself a time out and retreated from the site for a couple months.

I got finished with several projects I had set for myself at home and once again found myself with time to spare. But it was also once again November. November, for you non-writers, is NaNo month. National Novel Writing Month is supposed to spur writers into completing a novel within a month – hence the name.

Several of the MWC inhabitants take part in this endeavor. They will post word counts daily and are supposed to get 50,000 words written during the month of November. That is the goal. Just write. In December you can edit and spruce up the work. But first you must get a rough draft down on electrons and saved to wherever you save your work.

According to the website, more than 2.5 billion words have been written by participants in this year’s NaNo. The site does not tell me how many people writing furiously have been involved in this, just the number of words produced. I don’t know if they will eventually tell how many of those who wrote their 50,000 words in November got them published somewhere down the line. I have never participated in this so I don’t know enough about it.

But in the MWC Bar, a place where MWCers congregate and talk about any and every thing there is to talk about, someone said if a frequent poster had totaled up all his writing this month on MWC, he may have had enough words for a NaNo prize.

But you see, there is a difference here. Writing on a forum where some of the posts are as little as one word and some of the posts are entire short stories is far different than writing a book. I can write flash fiction and short, short stories with wild abandon. I can write vignettes with a vengeance. What I can’t do is plan and execute the plan to create a book. This is an entirely different type of writing.

When writing a flash fiction piece, everything is contained in a story of less than so many words. It can be as much as 1,000 words to as little as 100 words. Hemingway wrote an entire story in six words. I don’t know if I’m permitted to quote it or not. But he wrote, “Baby shoes for sale. Never used.” And that tells an entire story. Not a lot of plot or character development, but it is an entire story.

I’m good when I don’t have to do a lot of plot or character development. Where a scene is painted in large brush strokes without having to add lots of detail. I’m good with something short and sweet and then out the door.

But to write an entire book is a totally different thing. My possible books on my computer are not novels. So they aren’t in this same category. Little Bits of History is not a continuous story, but rather 366 short tales, based in reality, quotes extra. There is no need for me to make up anything. More often than not, my problem has been taking a large idea and distilling it down into only four paragraphs.

Most of my writing is this shorter variety. Even my novella is simply short stories threaded together. Maybe that is what a novel is, as well. Lots of scenes or short stories threaded together. But I didn’t start out to write a novel or even a novella, I was just playing around with ideas from The Station – a game over at MWC.

Writer’s block isn’t that we don’t know how to write. Writers do know how to write. There are all different levels and abilities among those who call themselves writers and some write far better than others. But still, when you decide to become a writer, it is because you love words and so have an arsenal of them at your disposal.

Writer’s block is that sickening feeling when you look at a blank page (or screen) and think to yourself, “I don’t have a clue as to what I should talk about here.” Writers don’t say to themselves, “I should get out a dictionary and learn some new words.” Words are not our problem. Topics are our problem.