I’m starting Eleventyone for a lot of reasons and new ones are evolving all the time. But for now, here are eleven reasons why I’ve started this site.
1. I’ve got Eleventy resolutions and a blog is one. There are a lot of things I want to change this year. I’m a good guy with a great life, but I want more from myself. For starters: I want to cook more and live healthier. I want to spend less money and save for my future. I want to make more time for the people I care about and carve out more time for myself from my busy schedule. But most of all I want to devout myself to work I’m passionate about instead of a meaningless job and limitless distractions. What that means for me, in this moment, is writing.
2. I want to be a writer. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a child. Once I realized that all of the books I read and movies I watched were created by people, I wanted to be one of those people. There were long stretches of time when I believed the people creating these stories had something special that I did not possess. It seemed obvious that these writers couldn’t be simple, ordinary people. They must be communing with the gods, or making deals with the devil, or perhaps initiated into some mysterious order with ancient knowledge. But I eventually learned that these weren’t mythical beings spinning the tales I loved, they were just mortal men and women. Maybe some of them were a little strange, but they were just people like me. It might not be easy, but I can be a writer too.
3. I am a writer. This stuff runs deep, it’s in my DNA. If you cut me I bleed ink. I can’t get away from it. I may be lazy and riddled with doubts, but writing won’t let me go. I have boxes and binders and notebooks filled with words, words, words. Journal entries, poems, essays, stories, even the first draft of a novel are tucked away in computer files and hard copies all over my apartment. When I don’t write for a while a fog descends around me, the color goes out of the world and I have the pervasive soggy feeling that I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing.
4. This site is a way to tell the world I am a writer. Does the world really care? Probably not. But I do. I need to affirm for myself that this is what I do. It’s my thing. I’m going to burn through the fog, turn off the distractions and do it. This is my barbaric yawp, my song of myself. Why tell the world when I can simply write it down and file it in a box somewhere? Because telling the world is a much more powerful way to drive the message home for myself. And maybe, just maybe, it will free you up a little bit to do your thing too.
5. Telling the world you’re doing something is a great motivator. Announcing your intentions to friends, family and the internet at large is a great way to make sure you follow through on something. If you tell everyone you’re going to quit smoking, people are going to hassle you the next time you light one up. Peer pressure and the desire to conform to social expectations might lead to some pretty dumb decisions, but the fear of being ostracized is hardwired in our brains. We can harness this force to motivate ourselves to do what we have to do. Now, I don’t believe I’ll have a huge audience ravenous for my next post anytime soon, but the idea that you, dear reader, might be out there waiting to read my stuff is powerful motivation indeed.
6. A blog allows for feedback. If you read these words and they make you think or feel something you’d like to share, you can make a comment at the bottom of the page. It’s really easy to take that for granted, but when you stop to think about it, that’s incredible. It’s like scribbling a note in the margin of a novel and knowing that the author is going to see it and maybe even respond in kind. Plus, other readers will see it too. This is the new normal for us and it’s almost boring, but not that long ago this was the stuff of science fiction or fantasy. I can’t make you respond to my writing but I hereby promise you that I’ll read every comment made on this site.
7. Having a blog will keep me writing consistently. At least in theory, having deadlines will help me turn off the tv, get over myself and do what I’ve got to do. When I look back at the impossible amount of papers I churned out while I was in college, despite working full time, keeping up with a mountain of readings, and playing way too much World of Warcraft, I see how powerful a little structure can be. I thought once I graduated and had all this free time to write about whatever I wanted a new golden age of productivity would dawn. But with the exception of National Novel Writing Month 2010, so far the golden age has been a gilded brick. But what did NaNoWriMo have that got me to produce 50,000 words in thirty days? Structure, goals and deadlines.
8. Writing is a practice. Sure, there is talent and the mercurial nature of muses to consider, but writing is ultimately a skill that can be improved over time. The more I do it, the better I get, and the easier it comes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not thinking of Eleventyone as “just practice,” this is the big show. I’m working hard to produce good writing and doing my best to stay ahead of schedule so I have the time to edit and improve these pieces before releasing them into the intertubes. But I’m hoping that showing up and shedding ink day after day will help me get harder, better, faster, stronger.
9. Writing is an act of faith. Facing a blank page and attempting to fill it with words that someone else might find interesting requires faith and courage. I know that there are dark days ahead. Days when I will barely be able to bring myself to write a single word and I’ll be convinced the post I’m working on is stupid, the whole site is stupid and I’m stupid for trying this. But there will be good days as well. Days when I write something I’m proud of, that I’ll be eager to publish. Though I have my spiritual side, I am not a religious person. But we all need something. What is faith’s function but to help us to get through the tough days and make the most of the good ones?
10. There’s a chance I can make a positive impact. Maybe it’s a slim chance, but my essays trying to psych myself up and lists of reasons to do what I gotta do might actually inspire you. Or at least entertain you, which is almost as good. I don’t pretend to have all the answers or imagine every detail of my life must be fascinating to total strangers, but I’ve read enough good writing to know the effect it can have. It might not all be Pulitzer material, but I’m going to strive to create pieces on this site with you in mind, not just self-absorbed navel gazing.
11. It’s time I try a non-viscous cycle. Motivating myself to write motivational writings quickly becomes this recursive feedback loop. I started this project thinking that if I kept accelerating this cycle I’d reach escape velocity (88 mph) and fly off in some other direction with a ton of momentum. And this has already proven to be true in some respects, as ideas for new and different projects have come out of Eleventyone before it’s even started. Maybe some of these ideas will find their way onto this site one day. But I’m beginning to think of this cycle less as an escape orbit and more like a propeller, where reaching the proper speed creates enough lift to allow flight. I’m going to do my best to keep this thing spinning, and let’s see if we can’t get it off the ground. There’s also a chance this is just a dizzy bat race, but those are fun too, right?