Patrick Ward words, code, and music

Halfway to Infinity?

Today marks the beginning of the second half of my 30 posts in 30 days challenge. When I started this project, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through the first seven days, let alone sprint to the end of thirty. However, now that I have fifteen contiguous posts under my belt, it’s become quite clear to me that this project may be the beginning of something much more long-term.

It is still a challenge to sit here each night and stare at a blank screen until the muse shows up, but it’s a welcome challenge. And that’s the difference that I think both delights and concerns me.

It’s a sublime feeling to know that I have enough in me to come up with something a tad different each night. What’s more, these posts are usually streams of consciousness that come out at the time of writing. I haven’t been planning most of these. For those few that I have planned, the actual execution of the writing has produced something far different than I imagined. They’ve become a virtual playground of sorts.

Of course, I would like to spend more time on the posts, perhaps even work on the ideas a bit before I begin to write them down. I’m okay, though, with the pace of these first 30 days. There will be plenty of time, and plenty of ideas to explore in the future.

My goal in the beginning was to write an average of 300 words per post, publish them live nightly, and then set them free on an unsuspecting public. I originally planned to post them to Steve Pavlina’s forums every day, but I didn’t want to seem like I was spamming the forums. Instead, I’ve been posting the links on Facebook and Twitter so that those few friends I do have can pick and choose. To my great surprise, I’ve also picked up a few readers from outside my small circle as well.

At the halfway mark, I’ve been able to write an average of 899 words per post, kept to my nightly publishing deadlines, and received some much needed encouragement from friends and family through comments, Facebook, and email. It’s been a phenomenal success from my perspective. I’m not sure if the posts themselves have been all that interesting, but for the purposes of the project and my own personal concerns I couldn’t be happier.

At that’s where the anxiety comes in. You see, before I started this project all I had were daydreams and fuzzy visions. Now, those daydreams have become all too real and I’m starting to realize that there are consequences that come with those visions. I’m beginning to understand that I might just have a responsibility to myself to see this even further, to allow myself to be as creative as I can possibly be.

And that scares me, because it’s different; it’s a little uncomfortable; it’s an unfamiliar way of looking at the world.

I’ve already noticed that I observe the world around me more. I’ve begun to make mental notes of the way people behave, how the light hits a puddle in the middle of the road, or how graceful a heron looks as it glides inches above the lakefront.

I’ve begun to take a greater interest in words, grammar, and syntax than I would ever have considered two weeks ago. I bought two books on punctuation and grammar the other day and dusted off my copy of Strunk & White’s Elements of Style this morning.

Of course the concern is only temporary. It’s the same feeling I felt when I began to study programming languages. I would devour books on C, C++, Perl, or Java just so that I could know as much about the craft of software development as I could envision. It was a wonderful time.

In some ways, this new project feels more fulfilling than those early days as a developer. I can remember needing to feel as if I were proving myself back then, as if I had to somehow prove to the rest of the world that I was a worthy person; smart, organized, and technically proficient. I had a “conquer the world” kind of drive that would bulldoze anyone who got in my way. It didn’t make me a pleasant person.

This doesn’t feel like that. I’m not trying to prove anything. I’m just trying to understand myself, tell stories that have depth, and impart a small amount of whimsy, good cheer, and wonder upon the world. I’m not even sure if I have the chops to do such a thing. However, I do know that it would be a crime against my self if I did not at least try. Someone else told me it would be a crime against the world if I did not at least try. If you have a talent, however small, do you have a responsibility to society to nurture that talent to its fullest potential?

And, so, as I embark upon the second half of this plucky little blog challenge of mine, I’m going try a little harder to investigate the limits of what I can do with these words. I’m also going to try and find a greater purpose for these words. For, I’ve begun to realize that this cannot just be about me. The wonder has to extend to anyone who would stumble upon this site. There has to be value beyond my own amusement.

Before I leave, I must send out a very humble, and heartfelt, THANK YOU to all of you out there who have taken time to read these words and continue to encourage me in my pursuits. I am forever grateful.