Today is the last day of the challenge I started off with on July first. The original challenge was posted by a friend of mine from graduate school, Noelle De Jesus, and consisted of 750 words of fiction per day for the entire month of July. I haven’t been writing fiction or poetry for some time, but have been blogging since November of last year on a fairly regular basis employing the five paragraph essay form or a modification thereof that I’ve been teaching all of these years, so I accepted the challenge shooting for 750 to 1,000 words per day. Honestly, it has been quite a while since I have attempted a challenge such as this and I started out with some trepidation, after all it was to be a total of 31 essays in 31 days with no days off regardless of what was going on.
I tried to keep my focus tied to my musical interests, because I figured that by the end of 31 days between my earlier blog posts and the July blog posts I would have sufficient essay material to combine into a short book of essays about music, being a performing musician, and giving advice based upon my experiences over the past 20 to 30 years of my 44 years as a musician. For the most part I stuck to the topic, straying for perhaps three essays, including this one. This actually made it more difficult, because I had to remain conscious of what I had written about previously in my earlier blog posts as well as during the earlier part of the month of July. I made a very concerted effort to not repeat myself, nor repeating topics, unless it was a strong variation on a subject that I hadn’t fully explored in an earlier essay.
In some ways I’ve felt like this was an act of desperation, and somehow a life line that had been extended to me by a friend who lives thousands of miles from me. It was a chance to prove to myself that I can complete a month long project that required active participation every day, no matter how I felt, or how worried I was about what my doctor was going to say next about stress tests, or my extra heart beats, or how long it was taking to get simple answers to why my test results weren’t being forwarded to my physician, or when my next job was going to start, or how much longer my current run with a band was going to last. It required that I focused, for at least an hour to two hours a day on something else, clearing my head from all of the immediate mental and emotional distractions my ADD brain latches onto and producing concrete results for 31 days straight.
I really wasn’t certain that I would succeed but one of the things that helped was that I let my friends know that I was attempting this and each day posted my results on Facebook in order to have public accountability. Also, after I managed seven straight days with seven essays to show for it, one per day, I simply focused on the next week’s block, and then the next. Before I started I did know I was highly capable of producing essays on a somewhat regular basis, but I’d never even thought of one per day. I had found that between my ADD and the recurring bouts of Depression, it doesn’t take much to pull me off track and I sincerely believed that I was heading into another hefty bout with the latter. But somehow, after two weeks I became quite determined that I was going to succeed this time and no matter what I was going to work in those essays every day, regardless of the circumstances or environment that I found myself in. And so I did.
The first three weeks were pretty straightforward because I could establish and maintain a routine of hitting it in the morning, either writing at the dining room table or while in my chair of doom in the living room. I call it that because in the past when I sat in it, I tend to become inert. Now I know that it can be a place where I can actually get work done. This last week has been more of a challenge because we’ve been vacationing close to 1,000 miles from home in the Black Hills of South Dakota, which we drove over two days split into an 8 hour and just short of 10 hour driving periods. I wrote in the car on my computer while we were flying along I-90 and since then on hotel beds propped up with pillows and my lap as a desktop. So here I am on the last day of the challenge and closing my last essay of the month on the 31st of July at 9:30am Mountain Time, with the knowledge that I can complete a month long project, and that I do have the discipline to do so. Thank you, Noelle, for being the catalyst and thank you to the rest of my friends on social media for putting up with my postings on my journey.