Hello, dear reader. I hope 2009 has been good to you.
It has been good to me. Maybe the best year so far. A year ago Raptitude did not exist in any form. It hadn’t even occurred to me to start a blog. That happened in January. And now I’ve got this promising little baby, though I’m not always the best parent.
As a reader, normally you see only the finished product, but today I’ll give you an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how these things are made.
Most Raptitude posts are 1500-2000 words, and take about five or six hours start to finish. That includes outlining, writing, editing, proofreading, finding images and publishing. So two articles a week takes about twelve hours on top of my regular day-to-day obligations.
I’ve never been much ahead of the game; I don’t keep articles in reserve, and I often finish them within half an hour of my self-imposed deadlines of midnight Sunday and midnight Wednesday. In other words I’ve never left myself much of a cushion for unforeseen crises or delays, yet I’ve pulled it off for the most part.
Until I left on my trip, I was extremely lucky, and was almost always able to slip articles in there before the deadline. Sometimes I’d have to stay up late, sometimes I’d toss an article at the last minute and start again, sometimes I’d publish something that I have misgivings about. Such is the downside of the Just-in-Time philosophy of blogging.
I haven’t been able to make the Just-in-Case system work. I just don’t know how to let an article just sit in the barn like that. Once they have legs they insist on being freed.
Sometimes, by the time my deadline comes around, I haven’t left myself enough time to finish anything I’d want to put my name on, so I throw together what I call a “Non-Post.” A Non-Post is typically a short explanation of why there is no real post today. If you’re a regular, you’ve seen them before. You are reading a Non-Post right now. Sometimes I try to weave in life lesson of some kind, and quietly hope that some of you will find some meaning in it and perhaps mistake it for a Real Post.
Because I quit my job to travel, I imagined I would have loads of spare writing time, and there would never again be a need for Non-Posts, and certainly I’d never outright miss a regular posting day.
Well, it hasn’t worked out like that. I have had much more difficulty getting my writing done in a timely manner that I did at home. It doesn’t seem to make sense. I have few responsibilities except to plan my upcoming destinations and keep in touch with people back home (which I’ve also done rather poorly.) I have more time and freedom than I’ve ever had, yet I find it so difficult. Why?
There are a few reasons:
I didn’t know how much I depended on reliable, 24-7 internet access back home. My lifestyle at home was supremely conducive to blogging. Whether I was at home, work, or at a friend’s I always had access to my Google Docs, so when inspiration hit (and it does today as often as ever) I could always rush to the keyboard and get the bulk of a post down to pick up and polish later. I was very well wired into the web, and I didn’t realize how much my lifestyle enabled spur-of-the-moment writing. I can’t write with a pen or pencil to save my life; the words come out of my mind far too quickly for that, and my thoughts are never linear. I am dependent on a computer for writing.
Online time is expensive here. Stupidly expensive. I pay between 4 to 6 dollars per hour here, and that’s given me a very good idea of how much I’ve actually become accustomed to using. Back home, the internet was at my fingertips virtually all day, and now, I’ve got to compress everything (email, Facebook, research, travel arrangements, publishing posts, blog maintenance) into a few hours every few days and that just isn’t enough time to do all of it satisfactorily.
I have two blogs now. One was enough. Really. Almost too much. I have committed to keeping a record of my trip on David Goes Kiwi, but I am behind there too. I almost wish I’d not even begun this second project, because timeliness is a big part of it, and I’m perpetually lagging. My last post was on the Tongariro Crossing, which was over two weeks ago. I wanted to have a go-to place for friends and readers to keep tabs on my trip, but keeping it current is a real pain. I will put a higher priority on it, that’s all I can do.
I am conflicted about sitting in front of a computer when it’s beautiful outside and I’m lucky enough to be here in New Zealand. This may be the biggest hindrance. Often I think “Well I’ll just set aside two days and catch up with everything” but it never happens. I feel an even greater duty to take advantage of every single day I have here than I do to get my writing done. These exotic, memorable days so precious, I can’t bear to sit in a library and Get Things Done when the trip of a lifetime is happening, live. Before I know it, it will be over, and I doubt I’ll wish I spent more of it staring into my laptop.
I need private time to write, and a lot of it. This was easy to achieve at home, living in my own apartment. On the road, however, I sometimes can’t find anything more private than the noisy common room of a hostel. Setting aside a spacious three- or four-hour period to get the bulk of an article done is much harder to do when I’m living in someone else’s house, or in a dorm with five strangers.
Things are far less predictable on the road. Often I believe I’ll have more than enough time, as well as the proper facilities to get my blogging done, and it turns out I have neither. I never know if my CouchSurfing host will want to show me around as soon as I arrive, or if I’ll be able to find an internet cafe open in a new town after 6pm. A 9-to-5 working routine, for all its drawbacks, is predictable.
In case my spotty December has given you reason to worry: I am not getting bored with blogging. Not at all. In fact, I’ve got more to write about than ever, I just need to get better at carving out the time and space to do it. I’m getting better at this, I think. Raptitude isn’t going anywhere, it’s just a little malnourished at the moment.
As of right now, I’ll be staying put in Nelson for a few weeks, and it may (here I go making predictions again) lend me just enough stability to get my online life up-to-date.
So I hope you enjoyed today’s Non-Post. The next post will be a Real Post.
Photo by sheriffmitchell