So this blog’s traffic stats for December have been, quite understandably, pretty grim.
After churning out far more than 100,000 words over the past 12 months, I seem to have hit a little bit of a wall. I’ve posted at a steady clip in the year since I kicked off Crawfin’ USA, but it’s down to a trickle lately.
That sits in the back of my mind far more than I care to admit, and while I don’t actually think there are people clamoring for my latest bullshit, I do have goals to meet.
But sometimes, man, priorities change.
Speaking of the ol’ writer’s block, I’ve absolutely and totally whiffed on my two self-imposed deadlines for the book. I had intended to have all of my planned interviews done by early November so I could dedicate a month to proofing and editing the rough manuscript, having someone else edit it and self-publishing around the time of my one-year anniversary at the KJ.
That ship has sailed: my first day at the newspaper was one year ago yesterday. The book remains unfinished, due to a distinct lack of interviews, so needless to say it’s not going to be in your Christmas stocking. SHIT. However will I keep the lights on this winter?
I know that at some point I’ll have to knuckle down and seriously spend a day updating the draft, and I’ve got to get my thumb out of my ass and start actually speaking to the people whose stories I want to interlace with my own. My problem has always been that the first step is the hardest.
I’ve caught myself wondering, though, whether there were underlying intentions for the book project to begin with. Back when I first started thinking about it, my idea was that it would be a time capsule of my year in Maine.
I say “year in Maine” singularly because, for a great deal of 2014, my strategy had always been to complete my promised year at the KJ and then explore the job market to see where I could take the next steps of my career. A 12-month period of exploring a state I hadn’t otherwise spent any time in would be a neat little timeframe to tell the story of.
But then a funny thing started happening. I started feeling closer to the people I’ve been spending my spare time with. I began learning the art (and Goddamn, is it an art) of bartending, and I’ve been helping said bar with its social media presence, since that’s what I’m almost kinda good at. I even finally did something with my life and reached the 250-beer mark to enter the Liberal Cup’s mug club.
What it comes down to is, I feel less like a transplant who’s just here for a job and at arm’s reach enough to be able to document everything from the perspective of an outsider, and more like a local in some ways. I’ll never be a true Mainer, of course, even if I live here for 50 years, but it feels a lot more like home.
For what feels like the first time in my adult life, I’m putting my personal life ahead of career advancement for a bit. I’ve made some great friends here, and many casual acquaintances who I’ll say hi to and shoot the breeze with on a regular basis. After just finding that niche, that comfort zone, after 12 months, I really don’t want to start that process all over again somewhere else.
This excerpt from this Sunday’s column pretty much sums up what I mean.
Back in February, a guy I got talking to on a day trip to Bangor explained it perfectly to me. He was part of the group of Mainers who’d moved away, met someone and got married, but eventually found himself drawn back to the Pine Tree State, where he intends to remain.
Forgive me for paraphrasing, because my notes from 10 months ago don’t capture the exact conversation, but the reason he gave me for why people find themselves not wanting to leave Maine is about “other people.”
This state, he explained to me, isn’t always the easiest place to live. We’re way up in the northeast, and the large centers of population are spread out so isolation can be a factor. The winters are often long and brutal, the cost of living can be high compared to your income and the demographic is the oldest in the country.
But through all the hurdles, there’s a common thread: People helping other people through those difficult times. Folks come to Maine, my new acquaintance told me, and end up becoming intertwined in communities and tight-knit groups of friends who’d do anything for them, and vice versa.
So I’m pretty content to hang out here for now and see how things pan out. I’m surrounded by good people, I’ve got a couple of fun side gigs, and I’m still pretty fascinated by snow to the point where I’ll survive another winter without too much hassle. I even kinda missed it.
But I promise the book will still come to fruition. Probably.