*ahem* Pardon my geek moment.
Many moons ago — before Facebook became open to the general public, when “twitterpated” was still a Bambi and not a social networking reference, and before YouTube made movie stars out of all of us — I started a blog.
I don’t remember why I did it. I don’t remember who told me I should do it. I know I had a reason, and I know at least one person encouraged me into it. It was just a lark, really, a hobby of sorts. It was a place to record my thoughts and get feedback. I plunged into writing my first post without giving it any real thought before I started. I hadn’t the foggiest idea what I was doing.
But that was okay. Because nobody else in my circle of blogging friends had a clue, either. All of us were new to the concept, new enough that I had to go around explaining why this was called a “blog,” not just “online log” or “journal.” Like I said, social networking was in its gestation stages and had yet to enter infancy. We hardly knew how to link to each others’ blogs, much less make a significant impression on the general Internet world.
My blog became a catch-all. It was my repository for random thoughts, rants, email forwards I actually found amusing, essays on my religious beliefs, book reviews, family news, work news, photos, ideas, questions, answers, challenges, and opinions. I rarely filtered my types of posts; whatever I felt like writing and sharing, it went into the blog. Concerning blogging, I adopted Robert A. Heinlein’s philosophy: “Specialization is for insects.”
Fast-forward to yesterday, January 11, 2011. As of 7:00 a.m. yesterday, I’ve officially launched a brand-spankin’ new blog. I’ve spent the past month in intense, deliberate preparation. Nowadays, I know so much more about blogging than I did the first time around! I have more than six years’ worth of experience, and I’ve been a guest columnist at Unstressed Syllables for a year. I have an idea of what reaches readers, and I’ve given up my Heinleinian ways (in regard to blogging, anyway). In a feat of bloggerly strength, I’ve brought my accumulated knowledge to bear on getting this new blog ready to go. Let the oohing and ahhing begin!
As my launch day approached, I was antsy with excitement. Monday night, I tweeted this:
I’m so excited to launch my new blog. I want tomorrow morning to be *now*! #blogging #networking #amwriting
I checked over a few details, then went to bed and did some relaxation exercises to make my mind calm down already.
So. Yesterday morning, the blog launched.
And I spent the rest of the day tweaking.
URLs needed fixing. URLs needed adding. I had comment moderation enabled and didn’t know it. My SexyBookmarks plugin malfunctioned. According to my html, I had all my p’s correctly bracketed, but the paragraph breaks still weren’t showing properly. On my “About” page, I’d written 2001 instead of 2011.
The blog still needs work — and yes, it’s the kind of work that probably ought to be finished before a blog goes live. But I’m impatient…and besides, this’ll be a good challenge for me to provide extra-sparkly content so my readers don’t let my blog-baby’s messiness deter them from visiting!
Now, at the end of my blog’s first day out, I’m reflecting and pondering and drawing parallels. Starting a new blog is suspiciously, hmmmm, like working on a novel. You get it to the point where you’re ready to share your book-baby with other people — and as soon as you hand over the copy, you start paging through your original and say, “D’oh! I needed to reword that sentence! Split that paragraph! Tighten up that dialogue!”
“Wait!” you want to cry to your beta reader. “Give it back! I wasn’t done yet!”
But that, my dear inklings, is the truth that’s so hard for so many of us to accept: We’re never done.
There’s always something to change. There’s always something to fix. As we practice our craft — and hopefully hone our skills — we become more aware of past mistakes. We look at things we wrote in the past and see everything we could now do better. We feel compelled to hang onto projects long past the time when we should have let them go.
If we keep tweaking and changing and fixing, we’ll never have a finished product to show anybody. At some point, we have to let the baby toddle out away from our support. At some point, we have to give the manuscript over to the beta reader, the editor, the publisher. We have to accept that we cannot make it perfect — and it’s time to let it be what it is.
My new blog is a work-in-progress, and it will continue to be for a long time. I’d love for it to be nice and shiny-perfect before I show it to anyone…but if I pick at it that long, I’ll never show it to anyone. If I don’t launch my blog until it’s up to all of my nit-picky standards, then my beloved new blog will never be anything more than a dashboard and a collection of test pages.
Work on your manuscript. Change it, fix it, tweak it — but for goodness’ sake, let it go. Let it walk, and let it live. That’s the only way you’ll ever make your story truly shine.
And that’s WILAWriTWe!
P.S. If you’d like to say hi to the new blog, you may find it here: Court Can Write. It’s about my writing life. 🙂