State of the Blog 2013

This post will have not much to do with puzzles, mysteries, or games, and probably too much to do with me personally!  But it will give you an idea of what to expect from Clavis Cryptica moving forward, so perhaps worth reading.

It’s been a while!  Almost a month since my last post.  The following Monday after that post, we moved into our new apartment here in Bellevue and I’ve pretty much been wrapped up in the move-in process since then.

Throughout that process, I’ve had some time to think about this blog and what my perspective on it will be going forward.  I don’t really feel like I can, or want to, continue to sustain the 3x/week posting schedule that I’ve maintained over the past year.  I think there are a lot of factors contributing to that feeling, which might include:

  • I haven’t really been doing a lot of puzzley things lately, so I don’t have as much to write about.  (And for some of the puzzle things I am doing, I can’t really write about them.  Top secret!)
  • The pool of new puzzle/mystery/game things for me to discover and write about has become a lot smaller now that I’ve been involved in the community for about a year.
  • I’m realizing that three posts a week is a little ambitious for one person’s hobby.  I have a lot of other hobbies competing for that time.

Or maybe I’ve just fallen off the wagon and it only feels less attainable than it used to be.  There were definitely some months last year when I felt like I was struggling to find blog topics every week, but I stuck it out and always managed to come up with something.  And some of those posts ended up being my most commented-upon.

So if I think I’m probably still capable of maintaining the blog the same way I have been, I have to ask myself whether I want to.  It kind of feels like I don’t want to, so I’d like to explore why.  One reason is that maintaining the blog has become a little bit more difficult than before, for the reasons listed above.  I think another is that I probably have different goals than I did a year ago, and I’ve learned a few things about what I do and don’t like when it comes to blogging.

Originally, I think I wanted Clavis Cryptica to fill what I felt was a gap in online coverage and discussion of these things I’m interested in.  I imagined it as a resource and maybe even a community for people of similar interests.  And although I still think it would be nice for it to be that, I don’t really enjoy feeling responsible for posting about every single bit of news or new event in the community, or keeping up with the perceived expectations of my audience.  And although this is a puzzle blog, I don’t particularly enjoy writing puzzles for it.

I’ve also learned the things I do really enjoy writing about:  re-caps of events I’ve attended, brainstorming ideas for new experiences, breaking down the things I enjoy and analyzing the things that make them great and the ways they could be better, and generally just getting the thoughts and opinions that have been brewing in my head out into written form.  I also know that these types of posts don’t always easily conform to a 3x/week posting schedule.

The nice thing about having this blog and it being just a hobby is that I am always free to adjust it to suit my interests and my needs.  If it feels like it’s no longer serving me, it’s time to change things up!

I’ve been re-reading my favorite life design book, The Renaissance Soul by Margaret Lobenstine.  The book uses the term “Renaissance Soul” to describe people like me who seem to have a million-and-one interests and can never settle on one thing for long.  People who are a “jack of all trades, master of none”, who suffer from decision paralysis at the thought of choosing any one career or interest (this Sylvia Plath quote always comes to mind), and who lose interest in something once they’ve surpassed the initial challenge (perhaps another reason I’ve lost interest in keeping a 3x/week posting schedule after doing it for an entire year — I proved to myself that I could, and now it’s boring).

Sometime last year, I think I decided that I had somehow grown out of my Renaissance Soul nature.  The world of puzzles and mysteries was really holding my interest, and for the first time in my life I felt like I had some sense of direction, a path I was moving along.  And I am still very interested.  But a big life change (in this case, moving 2,855 miles away to a place I’d never been before) is always a time for rebirth and rediscovery.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen my to-do and want-to-do and to-learn and would-love-to-try-someday lists grow and grow to a point of complete overwhelm.  I ended up with a Google doc filled with things I want to do, with no direction on when to get started and how to make time for them.

So it was time to re-read The Renaissance Soul and realize that no, I hadn’t suddenly transformed from a Ben Franklin into a Mozart (an analogy used frequently in the book), and that denying my nature would just cause me to sit and simmer in that paralysis indefinitely, when I could be flourishing and enjoying at least some of all those things I’m interested in.  So I did all the exercises and came up with a few Focal Points, as the book calls them, to pursue for now until it’s time to move on.  Puzzles are there in the form of The Famine Game, but that’s not particularly blogable.  And I have a “Fun and relaxation” point (I’ve realized have trouble having fun without trying to be productive at the same time), so some puzzles might pop up there, but not consistently.

I do have the events I’m planning to attend this year (DASH 5, Shinteki Decathlon, and the rest to be decided), and the Focal Point I’m most excited about — video game design.  I’m currently working my way through the JavaScript track on Codeacademy, and my goal is to complete a tiny game by May 1st.  I’ve already introduced some game design topics here on the blog, so I think blogging about my personal learning experience with programming and design shouldn’t be too jarring of a transition.  And it’s my blog, darnit, I can do as I please.  (That’s my mantra for this new year of blogging!)

With all of those combined, I think I’ll have enough to post at least once a week, probably more if I make some changes in my own perspective.  I think having too strict of expectations has kept me from blogging this past month when I could have.  If I’m not thinking “Oh, I should blog three times a week or not at all,” or “A post that isn’t long and analytical isn’t worth posting,” then I think I we’ll all have a much better time.  And I want to stop forcing myself to post something just to keep up with a posting schedule.  Occasionally it stretches my mind and results in a pretty good thought experiment, but most of the time it just means a half-assed puzzle, a short story I don’t intend to finish, or a post that just isn’t worth reading.  Lame for everyone!

So the TLDR is that you should expect Clavis Cryptica to change in the following ways:

  • At least one post a week, but not on any type of schedule
  • Probably no more puzzles unless I get super inspired
  • More blogging about game design, focusing on my personal experiences learning programming and making a small game
  • Less news, though I’ll probably still try to gather events/exciting things together for round-up posts
  • More lengthy, analytical posts when the thoughts are there (and when I say more, I mean relatively)
  • Maybe more short “Hey, I saw this and thought it was cool” posts?  Who knows!

Hopefully that still sounds interesting to some of you.  Even though I originally hoped this blog would provide a service to puzzle and mystery lovers, I wasn’t ever really anticipating to gain readers or commenters any time soon, so you are all still sort of an anomaly to me!

So that’s what Clavis Cryptica will be from now until the next big life change I guess!  Better than no posts for a month =)  Thanks for reading!

One comment on State of the Blog 2013

  • Chris M. Dickson

    *salutes*

    I look forward to reading whatever you want to write, even if you start off intending to write about a puzzle to do with flower arrangements and end up writing a 26-part series on flower arrangement where the puzzle content has fallen by the wayside. 🙂

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