Which Way Forward, Part I: The Gathering Storm

I’m reading what is far and away my favorite book, Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. A while back I decided to read it when I was ready to start writing again, and I’m about at that point.

I had started a novel back in November 2005 (for National Novel Writing Month). It’s a fantasy book, all animals, with the main characters loosely based off of pets I’ve had in my life, plus one animal to represent myself. Really all of the characters reflect who I think I am, wish I was, or am afraid I could be.

I shelved it for a while while I worked out some major plot points and decided what would happen after this part of their story (so I won’t have one of those “Oh wait, Vader should be his father” moments when writing the story that follows).

The characters have been daily companions of mine for the past couple of years, bouncing around in my head, and it’s time to put their story into words. The problem is, I love coming up with the story, but am not so fond of the writing itself. And I like editing even less. But this is something I want to try, as I don’t know how good (or bad) I will be, and there’s only one way to find out.

The biggest obstacle is time. What do I give up to find the time and energy to write? I had considered cutting back on wildlife watching and hiking, but I think that’s the wrong direction to go.

I may have stumbled across the right idea, which is to shut down my web site and use the time I spend writing it for real writing. I could move this blog to a hosted site, and a subset of my pictures to some place like Flickr. The money it takes to run the site could be funneled into photography gear or travel.

I’m a bit hesitant however as I’ve had the site in one form or another going all the way back to my grad school days. Ironically, it was a lot more fun in the early days, even though my photography was terrible and my scans of my negatives even worse. Yet the web was a smaller and friendlier place back then and I got a variety of nice emails from people in all walks of life.

A retired park ranger who was overjoyed to stumble across pictures of a park he used to manage. Couples from around the world who were reminded of places they had honeymooned years ago. Mothers and grandmothers who enjoyed the wildlife that they wouldn’t otherwise get to see. A police officer who liked to look at the images when she needed to relax from the stress of her job.

I rarely get email these days, and personal email even less. A quick search on Google and Yahoo revealed that there are some educational sites linking into mine, but I suspect that the number of visits is pretty small.

I haven’t tracked my site’s statistics in about 10 years, as I write the site for myself — it’s improved my photography by forcing me to organize and critique my pictures. And while that’s still true, some of the photography tools that have emerged the past few years can help with that with less effort.

I’m going to run Google’s analysis tools this month to see how the site is actually being utilized, and then I’ll make a decision on the best way forward. In the meantime, I’ll probably drop the “What’s New” page, to see how much that simplifies things.

Today’s title is a nod to one of my favorite Monty Python episodes, the Golden Age of Ballooning.

2 thoughts on “Which Way Forward, Part I: The Gathering Storm

  1. I’m thinking about trying a writing challenge I read on an acquaintance’s blog: commit to writing at least 100 words of new fiction (that is not revision or blogging or email) every day for 100 days. If you miss a day, you’re supposed to start the count over again. Writing more than 100 words is OK, but the daily goal is only 100.

    I hope you can find a way to keep the site up without it taking up more time or money than you want to give it.

  2. Sounds like a good idea, although I might have to set weekly goals instead for those days when I’m too tired to hold a laptop on the train 🙂

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