Published: Friday January 23, 2015.

January 23rd, 2015

I wrote a 6,000 word piece on some technical tomfoolery involving computers. It started out as a concise primer on a Friday, snowballed over a weekend and spilled out into a Monday. When it came to publishing it, I debated where the best destination for it would be. I still haven’t decided.

The writing itself wasn’t that big a deal. The time involved was something I hadn’t planned on, and the length of it was rather more than I was expecting, but what rankled me most was opening the can of worms of a half-built site that I invested days of time in about a year ago. Even after a year, it’s not finished. It was largely abandoned when I started work on another project for a client at short notice. It doesn’t earn money, and doesn’t get much in the way of traffic. And yet, I renew the domain and maintain the hosting of it. It’s this stubborn optimism that causes me grief, I’m sure of it.

It’d be nice to jettison the handful of website domains that I have plans for and just forget about them. It’d be great to outsource the development of them and watch them materialise in a much shorter gestation period. It’d be fantastic to see my ideas come to life in a world without distraction and noise. Alas, none of these things are going to happen. Rent needs paying, and the reactive nature of what I do means days are not easily predictable.

I looked at the half-finished site and nearly broke down. There was so much work put into it, and for so little end result. I look at all the smart things I put into place to handle all kinds of eventualities, all these blocks of code that I’d written from scratch that were effectively sat idle waiting to do their clever things, starved of content and the subsquent visitors. I hadn’t properly figured out all of the page styling, so there were ugly parts of the code to bodge around someone else’s hard work. Looking at it was embarrassing, and at the snagging end of a 6,000 word article it was heartbreaking. I made the decision that, in its current format, I would not be publishing the article there, after all. Too much baggage to deal with.

I remember the client call that ended the build. An emergency, as these things invariably are, with a computer somewhere. You must understand that fixing computers and making them do stuff is what I do. Largely speaking, it’s what I’ve done for the majority of my career (and even some years before that). It is, as the saying goes, my bread and butter. It doesn’t mean that I find it rewarding on a mental level, however.

I often think about taking a year off from client work and reinventing myself as something new. Not practical at all, of course, but it doesn’t stop me thinking about it. A few weeks away on a retreat sounds like a solid idea, but I’m convinced (rightly or otherwise) that I can’t afford the time. I’m still young, very capable and want to be better. I don’t buy this notion of accepting your lot in life. That’s not for me.

I’m three weeks into writing every day, and the habit is still forming. I’m waking earlier in the morning, and while I haven’t yet worked out where I’m headed on my path, I know I’m going to burn the half-finished website to the ground and do the damned job properly – plan, build, complete, sign it off and maintain it like I care. Because I do.

My tutorial was the wake up call to slash and burn, and build a solid foundation. There’s no point in maintaining an enticing list of possibilities if progress isn’t actually happening. Time for these things doesn’t get found, it gets made; if time isn’t found, then it’s not meant to be. That’s the truth, whether I like or not. And I don’t.

To be continued.