Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How Many Slight Detours Ahead?

Occasionally, I like to take stock in projects lasting more than five years and wonder if they should continue or if it's time to take a break and move on.  During my teaching career, the longest I stuck with any of the extracurriculars that go along with classroom teaching was 14 years. 

That was advising the Sandpoint High School Monticola from 1969-1983.  Next in line was the drill team.  Nine years from 1969-1978.  The coming of Annie, my second child, brought that to a close.  For a while, I advised both the drill team and the yearbook. A busy life, to say the least.

And, the Cedar Post newspaper---that lasted seven years from 1990-1997.  Those were seven years of hard work, long hours and low pay.  I opted for half-day teaching after trying to advise the paper while teaching a full load for two years.  It didn't work very well.

Within no time, half days turned in to my spending more time at school than most full-time teachers.  It takes me a while to take stock and say, "What's wrong with this picture?"  That half-time salary was hardly providing much reward for the output.  The kids were-----generally.

My freelance writing has lasted the longest of anything I've done professionally.  I think it began back about age 20---that's 43 years even before man stepped on the moon.  And, I figure this habit will go on until I lose the desire to tell a fun story.  The stories I've had the opportunity to write over all those years have enriched me many times over----and I'm not talking about money.

I've been assessing my blog project often over the past few months and have wondered if it isn't time to wrap it up.  Just when I get to thinking that tomorrow ought to be the final posting, my brain erupts with a series of  topics really  fun to write.  That's how it is with life happening around us, I guess.

Those interludes keep me moseying along on the slight detours in life which make me laugh, make me cry, push my buttons, cause my jaw to drop or often just plain inspire me to post something on this blog every single morning after I read the newspapers and before I start the meat of  my day. 

There are a lot of  latent topics lingering in my life that I'd like to cover, but not all of them are appropriate.  Some give me pause because if I do write about them with all honesty as I perceive it, someone's gonna get mad, write an anonymous nasty comment and ruin my day.

I'm a retiree and a thin-skinned wuss, and I don't want my day ruined.  So, those thoughts usually stay on the burner.

In other cases, there are topics "unpermissable---is that a word?" to discuss on one's blog, so I just think about them a lot and chuckle while envisioning what I'd like to say if only the permission gate were left open.

Years ago I used to hear about writers whose first principle of guidance was to "write every day."  I never saw myself as one of those.  I usually wrote when someone gave me an assignment, and when that happened, I put my "all" into the project.

To have a need to write every day was just not in the cards for this somewhat quirky soul.  I never did follow rules very well. 

Nowadays, though, I'm a convert. This change of attitude has evolved because of this blog which my brother and I started in late 2004.  At first, my need to post every day was to help keep the blog alive. 

Eventually, however, I realized that it provided me a wonderful tool of self expression----as if I ever needed such a thing!  My friends (if I have any) will tell you I've never been shy about expressing myself.

In this case, necessity turned into passion.  And, there truly is a passion burning within my brain and traveling to my fingers once I get started on my topic most days.  And, what I must remember to tell myself is that some days are diamonds and some are dust, especially for writers.

That said, I'll probably keep taking stock in how many more slight detours I want to take for an hour each morning here at the computer keyboard.  When the time is right, I guess I'll know it and will turn off the highway, bound for another project to arouse my creative passions.

So there, did we get anywhere on this slight detour this morning?  I don't know, but I do know that blogging---just a few years ago often mispronounced by those who didn't do it as "blobbing," has inspired many a writer and photographer to share their inner passions.

All that said, I have to tell you about a new blog (well it's been around for a while, but it's new to me) I discovered when I noticed a new follower taking the slight detours.  I'll be following this gentleman's blog---first catching up with him as he takes his bike to cool coffee shops, sentimental spots and through the scenic beauty around Salem, Ore.

He's got a Sandpoint connection, but I'll let potential followers figure that out.  For now, your assignment---should you choose to accept it----is to check in at  Tell Kelly I sent you.

In the meantime, I'm headed on my way to see where this day's slight detours take me.


Laura said...

How can you consider stopping? You've become a big part of some people's morning routine! (Note my panic when you were 15 minutes late this morning!)

Word Tosser said...

I know how you feel Marianne. First I kept going for my goal of 5 years... then I thought that is enough.. and I have thought of closing out twice since then, taken a week off... but as soon as I got it in my head to give it up, something funny would come up or something that pushed my buttons, and off I was again...
I always said I would continue as long as it was fun... and fun it is so far... so I keep coming back to the board to type my thoughts. And like Laura, you have certain amount of people who check in, no matter what the weather, be it political or nature...
So I guess the answer for both of us is... we keep going long as it is still fun... and it is..

Pamela Seekins Paulu said...

We economists refer to the phenomenon you describe as diminishing returns.

Too many artists postpone their curtain calls until long past peak performance. The same is probably true of specialty writers. Isn't it better to exit gracefully when one is at the top of one's game?

Your regular readers, among whom count me, would miss you, but you would suddenly find yourself FREE of what has clearly become a questionable use of precious time.

Knowing when to call it quits is an art in itself; only you can know how you feel. Put yourself first.

That's my 2¢-worth!

You shirt-tail relative Pam
Madison, Wisconsin

Anonymous said...

I know I would miss reading about your life every morning should you decide to give up the blog. I think I've been reading you for about 4 years now and I've enjoyed the connection it has given me to the old hometown. I've often wondered how you come up with stuff every day. Julie / Orlando

Anonymous said...

Hey Marianne ... aka Mrs. Love to me. Brian Long here ... I've never really figured out my connection with Google/ blogging etc. so I leave my comments anonymously this way but always tell you who I am when I post.

The bottom line is ... in my opinion ... you have to do what makes you happy. We all have only so much time here in this place and if you feel like you have a committment that is stressful or burdensome and you have the luxury of eliminating it ... then do it. There is no one I know of who would ever accuse you of being selfish ... so if you need to end Slight Detour and move on ... I don't want you to do it for my own selfish reasons ... but you have to do what is right for you.

Before you go though ... I would like to tell you that your blog is a meaningful part of many reader's lives .. so if you think for some reason that it's not "worth it" ... that might be true in terms of the time you spend, but not so much in terms of people appreciating it.

There are a couple things that I would like to share with you. I have to admit that I don't read Slight Detours EVERY DAY ... but I read it ALMOST everyday, and on the days that I don't have time to read ... I catch up on the weekends etc. I first read it when my sister in law Becky was hired as principle of SHS and someone sent me a link or something. Since that time I was honored to read your comments about my Uncle Glen Nordgaarden on your blog, happily recount my days at the Bonner County Fair with 4-H and SHS, and enjoy your photos and daily comments. I will also tell you that often when reading your Detour ... I have wondered if I might make a blog myself ... even though I still don't really know how blogs come to be. And I don't know that anyone would want to read my thoughts ... but you and Bob Hamilton certainly instilled a sense of pride of writing and sharing thoughts in me. And I hope that whatever you decide ... you know that I learned so much from you and respect you so much.

As an attorney ... I'm always looking for compromises or what I like to call "negotiated resolutions" ... obviously Mrs. Love and I are not negotiating ... but as a possibility ... maybe you cut Slight Detour down to once per week? That MIGHT be a good option because you could save up some ideas and not feel the pressure of having to be "on" every day. Just sayin'.

Whatever you decide to do ... I've just taken my crystal ball out and dusted it off and ... wait ... wait ... oh .. here is the prediction. It says that your reader's will always love and respect you and appreciate your contributions over the years and know that you enriched our lives with your Detours. And that's not a bad legacy to claim.