Laughter and books make life a little easier

Looking forward and back

Back and forward
One of the lesser-known deities today of the Roman pantheon was Janus. He was the god of endings and beginnings, of transition and change, of doorways and arches. I suppose a simpler way to put this would be to say he was the god of duality. To this end, he is depicted as having two faces – one on either side of his head. He looks forward and back at the same time.
He is also generally agreed to be the deity that the month January is named for. January, as the first month of the Gregorian calendar, is both an ending and a beginning, it is the month of transition and change, and it looks both forward and back.

But really, our modern calendar is mostly arbitrary and there is no astronomical reason why we feel compelled to make changes to our lives on January the 1st. Yet, I still want to talk about that. I also wanted to prove that I didn’t take mythology and ancient history at university for nothing – that I can still make it relevant and interesting.
So I am here today to imitate Janus of old. I want to look back at 2015 and talk about my plans for the blog in 2016.
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At the end of 2014 I wrote about how I hadn’t had a great year. My personal life had been very unstable and I had fallen into a depressive mood for about six months. So at the end of 2014 I was only hoping for a better 2015. Well, I can say that 2015 has been better for me, personally. I’ve been stable and happyish, which is as much as I can ask for at this point. However, for my blog it really has not been a great year, readership-wise. WordPress sent me my stats for my two blogs at the end of 2015 and they were embarrassing. My origami tutorials blog did way, WAY better in stats than CC, and this happened while I ignored my origami blog the entire year because I didn’t have time to do anything else. So, while the origami blog has far fewer subscribers, it has a lot more views, due to posts being shared on social media. It was embarrassing that the blog that only updated once all year was read significantly more often than the regularly updated blog.
This led me to the realisation that something was wrong and the decision to make some changes around here.
At the end of last year I talked about feeling overwhelmed and putting too much pressure on myself to do the things I somehow thought I should be doing. I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot. I took all those long days in December when I was too apathetic to do anything productive and I thought about my blog, my daily routine and the things that stress me out. Mostly those first two lead into the third.
And I asked myself all the tough questions. I had to know which things I should cut from my life, because I’m getting rid of the needless guilt and stress. This has required some rewiring of thought patterns.
For example, I have an app on my phone that is supposed to help me sleep better. It should make me more mindful of my sleeping and so develop healthy habits. Did it make me more mindful? Yes, I am much more aware of my time spent sleeping. Did it help me develop healthy habits? No, but it did lead me into a guilt spiral. This app would highlight exactly how much sleep I missed during a certain time period and the numbers were mind-boggling. During November and NaNoWriMo I believe the missed-sleep-counter nearly hit an astounding 60 hours.
I fell into a guilt spiral and I wasn’t even trying to get decent sleep any more. What was the point? This was never going to work out, so why should I try? I was never going to reach these healthy sleep goals.
That was the point. It was never going to work out. So why should I allow something so stressful in my life when I had the power to remove it? There is no reason.
I had this epiphany early this year. But I haven’t deleted the app. I simply set my sleep goals lower by half an hour every day. No, it’s not quite as healthy, but it is much more attainable for me. Why I never thought of this earlier I have no idea. Things have been going better already. My goal might not be perfect any more, and I might still struggle a little to meet it, but at least it is something I can strive towards. My previous goal was simply completely out of my reach and therefore oppressing rather than enlightening.
As I said at the end of 2015, I cannot have ambitious plans and bad time management. Something has to give.
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What does this culling of stress from my life mean for the blog? It means I am done trying to meet some imaginary requirements. This is my blog, but I feel like the “me”-part has become lost. By trying to follow advice about what a blog should be, it became more like any other generic blog and so there was no reason for people to stick around reading.
In essence, I want to start writing the blog that only I can write.
One of the best pieces of writing advice I’ve ever heard was that you don’t ever have to feel inferior to the greats because, even though you could never write the classics they wrote, they could never write the story that you can write. Background plays such a big role and no other writer (or even person) has ever lived the same life that you have.
Standing at the beginning of this year I’m taking that advice to heart.
I couldn’t write a lifestyle blog or a fashion blog. But I can write about the things that I know. I can include literature, mythology, history, my cartoons, my book reviews… and merge it all into my story.
By forcing my updates into Wednesdays (because I’ve been advised that a regular post day is super important), it leads to filler posts. This is why I decided to take another week on this post to make sure that it is just right and includes everything that I meant to. Obviously that won’t happen every week. I still feel that regular posts are important, but if I need another day to make a post the way I want it, then I’m going to take that day.
On that note, the cartoons are staying. They are the lifeblood of this blog and I love doing them. However, I’m determined to balance out the title Cartoons and Creative Writing again. Originally I intended the two branches to be about 50/50 each, but with my conviction that absolutely no one cares about an experience I had, this dwindled to about a 90/10 split of cartoons vs. writing.
By creating the blog that would be unique to me, it would include my writing, my experiences. Yes, the fact that I got stuck in traffic this morning due to a dead traffic light is incredibly boring, but the day-to-day stuff is not what makes us people. It’s not unique to anybody and it doesn’t shape who we are. No, I believe it is the little things that make us people, the thoughts and ideas, the adventures and the mishaps.
To this effect I’m launching a new series this year to accommodate shorter form writing. In fact the first post will be going up next Wednesday for sure. The post is already fully written so all I still have to do is slap on the cover and put it in the queue. When it goes up I will explain more about my intent for the series.
So to recap the regular features:
  • book reviews, every first week of the month
  • cartoons
  • shorter form writing
  • literary adaptations, which I will continue at some point in the future
I would also like to bring back the image posts on Saturday. I had a different idea for that slot at the end of last year, but then decided that my plans were once again too ambitious for the amount of time I had left and that idea went onto the back-burner. I’ll give it some more realistic thought.
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“If stress were food, he’d succeeded in turning his life into porridge.”
The Truth, Terry Pratchett
Yep, that’s me. I don’t know why people see this as a bad thing. Stress is not a status symbol. Well, actually it is (just note all the people who boast about how busy they are), but it shouldn’t be. I still have enough stress left over after this culling, so I don’t see a reason why I should keep unnecessary stress around.
So that’s it from me this week. It was a very long post, but I hope it marks a new beginning and that things can only go up from here.
Till next week,
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