Take Two

This isn’t defeat, the challenge is still rolling on!

But it was defeat and the challenge limped into an early grave, where it has now gathered a substantial coat of moss. There's really no another way to say it: my "100 words" challenge failed. The server issues escalated (then abated, then escalated, then went away, then came back seemingly indefinitely... frustrating does not begin to cut it) and ground away what was left of my resolve[1]. I still have absolutely no idea what caused the issues, nor indeed whether they're still a problem, but I felt it was about time I dusted off this blog and started using it again.

Does this mean 100 words are back? No. What I learnt from that 1.5 months was that a 100-word limit was more frustrating than it was liberating. Yes, it forced me to write succinctly and, yes, it allowed me to feel justified writing on a large variety of topics, but no, it was not "simple" or "easy". Previous writing challenges had failed because the text became too unwieldy, too cumbersome under my own self-imposed requirements and quality control. The 100-word limit was intended to force me to be short and snappy, rather than extrapolating and expanding on my posts, yet the end result was frustration. Posts were not quick to write, as I had predicted; ideas that could fill 100 words were plentiful but often needed more than 100 words to articulate. Where time was saved in overly verbose essays and fretting over formatting it was lost – by the bucket-load! – in micro-managing phraseology and re-editing perfectly usable paragraphs to scrape off a couple of words. Ideas had to be scrapped, dumbed down or cut off at the knees; they were rarely allowed to grow and take shape.

I think this can be seen most clearly in the fact that all my 100 words posts were exactly that: 100 words long. I had envisaged that most would come in around the 80-90 word mark, but in reality 100 words is simply too little. Right now, brushing over details and cutting out huge chunks of why the challenge grew stale, I'm at 350+ words (and growing). Trying to write this in 100 words would have been painful. In attempting to free myself I had only imposed tighter restraints.

That said, had it not been for the server issues, I would have continued drudging along and posting my 100 words – I may have even completed the challenge! But it would have marred an otherwise fantastic trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where 10 minutes of downtime was a luxury, let alone the hour or more an average 100 words had come to require. Ultimately, I would have become bitter about the process, and would likely have simply stopped posting as soon as it was done; a fact I feel is self-evident given the amount of time that has elapsed between that post and this one!

Still, for better or worse (that phrase again), here I am: posting once more. This time, I'm making no promises. I'm setting no limits. I want to see if the server is usable; if the desire to be here waxes or wanes. But, for now, I want to post again, just little thoughts, tips, ideas or tidbits. Nothing fancy, no goals. So welcome, I guess, to my digital notebook (take two).

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  • Murray Adcock.
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