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Looking back

Stopping for a moment to look back at what I have done so far doesn’t seem entirely inappropriate

In my first article of this year, I made a terribly daring promise to myself. I said I would post an article on my blog (this very website) every week for the whole of 2020. At the time I made that commitment, it was not in the least obvious to me that I would come even close to achieving it.

Perhaps in consequence, it did not occur to me to designate calendar checkpoints to mark my progress throughout the year. I just lit the fire under my bum by declaring that I would shuck a hundred shillings at the first person who commented on that post for every week in which I failed to honour my commitment.

By most of the counts that matter, this turned out to be a solid rule of engagement. Yes, I had just committed to write 52 articles (for my blog alone), but I did not need to think about the 51 remaining articles while writing that first one. I only had to think about the next one. And, after that one, the next one. I only had to worry about saving 100 shillings, not 5100.

I am writing this article around the end of July and the beginning of August, and I am very surprised that no money has left my Mpesa account on the basis of this commitment yet. But that isn’t what has really gotten me. No, I am more surprised that I haven’t stopped to look back and celebrate the fact that I have blogged consistently for over half a year.

It is surprising because, so far this year, I have put up over 60,000 words on my blog. That doesn’t shock you? Well, those are enough words to make a reasonably-sized novel. And, as if that wasn’t enough, consider the other fact that in the whole of 2017, my most productive year before 2020, I only managed 40,000 words.

In short, I have blogged more in the first half of this year than in any previous full year. What’s more, at this pace, I am on course to write more this year than all previous years combined. This ought to be a big deal. It’s the kind of deal that should make me drown myself in barrel of beer for a week.

Before I attempt that though, I must tell you something else. Traffic to this blog has also grown tremendously. More people have visited this patch of the internet so far this year than during any complete year since I started blogging. I’m hesitant to share the raw numbers here (as I have shared the number of words) for the simple reason that I don’t have control over it in the same way that I do over what I write.

Besides, in that first article, I also said that I wanted to write for myself this year. This was to be my reboot, and I wanted to explore this talent almost exclusively to my fancy. You will understand me, therefore, when I say that so I do not wish to gloat about how many hits my humble blog has gotten.

Nevertheless, to give credit where it is due (and this is the reason I brought this up at all), you, my dear reader, are one of thousands that have contributed in no small way to growing the notoriety of this blog during this otherwise benighted year. It would be dolt-headed of me not to pause and thank you for being here with me, regardless of the point at which you clambered aboard.

For someone who claims that writing is his dominant passion, I rarely celebrate my literary achievements. This is a defect that I have only become aware of recently, thanks in large part to feedback from my most avid readers. I do not roundly lament it though, for it has its virtues. For instance, it keeps me firmly planted on the ground, lest I get too proud.

But, with this piece, I wish to free myself a little of its shackles. I want to celebrate this major achievement. I want to relish the moment, just a bit. Because I know how much sweat has gone into getting me here, and stopping for a moment to look back at what I have done so far and catch my breath doesn’t seem entirely inappropriate.

Now, some might say, “But Mathew, are you not afraid that you will jinx it if you celebrate now?” To which I can only say, “I don’t think so.” Right now, I am not worried about jinxing anything. I am still only worried about the next article. And the next article is always jinxed anyway because I am not sure I will be able to write it, so there really is nothing new there.

What’s new is that, for perhaps the first time in my career, I’m willing to give myself a gentle tap on the back for the gains I have made as a result of the reckless promise I made on 3rd of January. Who knows if I’ll be able to do the same at the end of the year? I, for one, don’t. But if the rest of the year goes anything like what has already passed, I’ll be very happy to.

Feature image: Photo by Rene Vincit on Unsplash

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4 replies on “Looking back”

Congratulations 👏, man. I too made the same commitment but I must admit I have failed miserably. Although I always gathers myself up and write sth next time. It’s hard and it requires dedication. Keep up.

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