Discontent, Resistance, and Reinventing

Many years ago, American author John Steinbeck wrote a novel with the title The Winter of Our Discontent. Now, in mid-October, we have just ended what was certainly “the summer of my discontent”. I will spare you the personal details and simply say that this was a very long, difficult, and stressful summer for me. Through it all, I managed – with only a couple of exceptions – to publish a new blog article each week. But, increasingly, it wasn’t easy and, also increasingly, it wasn’t fun. I felt that I wasn’t giving my articles enough time for thoughtful writing, then careful revisions and editing before publishing them on the blog site each Tuesday. I want each one to be the best and most articulate writing of which I am capable. (See? I still remember the old admonition from my English teachers: Don’t end a sentence with a proposition. Otherwise, I might have written that last sentence as… “I want each one to be the best and most articulate writing I am capable of.”)

In our modern, digital world, we are continually offered new opportunities, new tools, and new directions.  We are incessantly tempted by the “latest and greatest”. There is even a new internetspeak term for these distractions, “Shiny Object Syndrome”. This onslaught of newness requires almost daily decisions about what we use and how we spend our time. Indeed, there is a great danger that we will waste too much of our precious time in implementing something for only a minute improvement in our ROI (return-on-investment).

We should also consider the opposite side of the coin: Our days are already full. To take up something new, we must be prepared to give up something old. When we do find and select something new, it may be necessary to give up something old. But, perhaps that “something old” is a cherished ritual or a source of pleasure. Maybe it is a commitment made and kept over a long period of time, and we take pride in keeping our promises. Or perhaps the reason for resisting change has to do with ego; we don’t want to admit we are changing our mind. Especially as we get a little older, we often resist change on the general principle of “I know what I have been doing and it has been working okay; it is too much trouble to think about changing it now.”

Thus it was with my blog. Recently, I was amazed to discover that I had published 68 individual blog articles. It seems like only a few weeks ago that I began publishing those blog posts each Tuesday. I am the first to admit that 68 weekly posts is not record-setting… although it is far above the average lifespan of blogs. Joanna Penn, an icon in the self-publishing community, has been blogging and podcasting for over ten years, and David Lebovitz recently announced that he had been blogging about cooking and living in Paris for twenty years. Those two digital giants are admirable examples of endurance and persistence. But, for me, I think it is time to make a change at this time.

My reason for changing is that writing a new (interesting and relevant, I hope) article each week has become more onerous. This introspection lead, finally, to the early-early-morning questions of: Why am I doing this? Why do I feel I must write a new blog article each and every week? Is the compulsion to meet a self-imposed schedule so important that I should take what was once a creative pleasure and make it into dreaded work? Being the person I am – devilishly handsome, dazzlingly urbane, strikingly intelligent, yet inexplicably modest despite my occasional overuse of adverbs and alliteration – I concluded that I would rather write concise, coherent, and interesting articles less frequently rather than merely churn out a few hundred new words each Tuesday. So, beginning next week, I will be mixing new articles with some old blog posts from those 68 articles in the archives. For you newer readers, these will be original reading anyway.

Until it gets to be fun again, I will not torment myself with forced writing just to keep a rigid schedule that no one but me ever thought was so important, anyway. And, in exchange for giving up the new blog posts each week for a looser publishing schedule, I will have more time for working on my next book.

As always, dear readers, comments about the archived article or about my thoughts on changing are invited.

3 thoughts on “Discontent, Resistance, and Reinventing”

  1. Paul Liang says:

    From my viewpoint, I think there is no need for you (my friend) to keep the pace of sharing one article each week. Whenever you make it, post it if you like. The only or first important thing is that it is thoughtful or valuable.
    *************************************
    (From Randy)
    Thanks, Paul, for your support. I agree. I also decided that thoughtful and valuable is more important than following an arbitrary schedule.

  2. Fu says:

    HI, Randy, your blog just reminds me of a Chinese short story entitled “Strings of Life”. The storyline is deceptively simple: once upon a time there were two blind men. One was old, the other was his young prentice. They carried a three-stringed banjo, earning their livelihood by telling hero legends for anyone who was willing to pay for the entertainment. In his dying breath, the old man’s master had told him a secret: he had left a medical prescription into the belly of the banjo. It would not work unless anyone could play through a thousand strings by himself. With one thousand broken strings and the prescription, any blind man could see again. The prospect of seeing the light of the day filled the old blind man with an unflagging urge. He played his banjo, all day and all night. Finally he made it! He went to the apothecary’s shop in wild joy. However, the shop assistant told him the prescription he had safeguarded for fifty years was a blank slip of paper. Shell-shocked, he just sat on the steps of the shop several days and nights with a weeping heart. He simply had no interests in playing the banjo again: the object which had breathed in him the will to live, to walk, and to sing, had suddenly vanished. Suddenly he remembered his apprentice, whom he knew was awaiting his return. Plucking up his courage, he stumbled back home. During the journey, he thought of his own master’s final days.(His master said, “Remember, a person’s life is just like these strings: when pulled taut, they can be played; if they can be played, that’s enough.” ) The old man found the lad and told him he had a poor memory, and the prescribed number of the broken strings should be one thousand and two hundred.……
    What is the meaning of writing?
    The process of writing gives meaning to writing.
    What is the meaning of life?
    The process of pursuing happiness gives meaning to our life.
    *****************************************
    (From Randy)
    Thanks for the long and articulate comment. A story is often the best way to communicate a point. This type of exchange and contribution was one of my hopes when I began this blog.

  3. Grace says:

    I’m more interested in ur discontend summer, wondering how u cope with it and get out of it
    **********************************
    (From Randy)
    Thanks, Grace. The summer was a long and difficult one for me. The hardest part was accepting what I could not control. But, as usual, our great ideas and resolutions are easily confused by a flood of little things. These times are how we can judge our self-control; easy times are not a challenge. And, sometimes the only way to get out of it is just to survive – mark off the days of the calendar one by one until the hard times are behind us.

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