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The Streak is Broken but the Promise Remains: A Site and Career Address


You may have noticed that I haven't posted anything on here since The Breakdown of Tootsie episode on Monday. For the two people who were still paying attention, this means that my streak of posting something every single day this year has been broken. I'll give you a few seconds to cry in your beers and then scream to the heavens over this heartbreaking event,

It is more shocking than when Brock Lesner ended The Undertaker's Wrestlemania winning streak. But like that, we'll all get over it.

Now, let me explain why it isn't a big deal.

The first reason is that my main motivation for the goal was to try to have something up of quality every single day and try to create the site as a regular destination for those that like to read about pop culture, and especially movies. And well, due to the constant distraction of my kids being home every single day and needing those free moments from them to be focused on either client work or getting more work, it has meant there has been a ridiculous number of posts that were either just reposts of things I wrote from years ago or pictures of my kids from years ago. 

I was being haunted with feelings of 'cheating' for awhile, and since I was overwhelmed with emotions this week while trying to manage kid and work that I'd just take a brief break from the site. There just did not seem to be much of point of another week of just reposting old things.

The second reason why this isn't a huge deal is that I currently have posted more article than there have been days in 2021, and so I had a little room to miss a few days, and still be able to at least reach the goal of having as many posts as there days in the year.  

I know this is all riveting stuff and everyone is munching on popcorn and enthralled to find out if I will really nail my goal of posting something every day. I imagine everyone is now high fiving each other with the knowledge that I am still on track with 365 posts this year.

These last few weeks have been rough as there has been some obstacles and challenges with my career and client work thanks to Covid continuing to be a thing, which means freelance budgets have taken hits. Covid is also a thing that has been smashing away on my mental health like a nail embedded bat. This means I've been drained on energy, but still needing the depleted storage to push me through to be there to help my kids stay focused on schooling (which they clearly are burnt out on online learning too) while completing the client work that I do have.

My burn out has several factors, but I did share some of it on the podcast this past Monday. It is this odd contradiction. After 18 months of mostly being stuck at home, I am really missing my friends and extended family. I miss social gatherings and parties. I miss just having a beer with a friend. I miss going to see a movie with someone or sharing a meal with somebody I care about. I just miss hanging out. But at the same time, being stuck at home for 18 months with my kids also means that I feel like I haven't had the 'alone time' that I'd have had in past years. I feel the kids are constantly right there in front of me. It has been eighteen months of not having significant time to recharge. I'm in this weird paradox abyss of being lonely but also hankering for some time to myself. I feel it has created an emotional burn out sucking out my creative energy and focus.

I am still creating. I am getting stuff done for clients and constantly throwing out pitches and proposals. While I think that a lot of my posts this year have been 'throwaway', there are things on this site that I've written this years that I'm proud about and feel showcases what I want from this site. I refuse to beat myself up about the state of the site, and there have been small victories worth celebrating.

I do want to thank all the readers who have stuck with me despite the site never quite being what I advertised. I am grateful for those who have continued to read all my stuff and sent kind comments letting me know about the pieces you've loved. There is something special about writing that personally connects with a reader and speaks to their heart and soul. I love hearing when that happens. Without those little comments then it is a one way form of communication. I like knowing I can share something special with a reader.

While I have not nailed my goals and visions for this site, I need to be happy with what I have achieved and continue to push myself for my writing and this site to be better in my march towards my dreams. I also have to stop beating myself up or allowing myself to get crushed by my own ambitions.

Ideas have always come easily to me. I often get 15 different article ideas a day. I have enough planned writing projects and goals to last about eight lifetimes. Writer's block or trying to find a dream has never been the obstacle. If anything, my challenge has been my already frayed emotions get further crushed by being too ambitious and wanting so much that I get overwhelmed and disoriented. 

I need to power through and actually write all the things swirling around in my mind. Take the chances and risk the rejections.

I recently spoke with a few other writers that at least helped me realize that the challenges of the last year have not been exclusive to just me. The flaming mountain of garbage that has been the last 18 months when it comes to not just Covid but politics and various bits of horrendous news has been an energy and creative suck for many writers and artist. Some days I have all the idea but just not the energy to make it come to life. I know there are many creatives who can relate, and together we can find ways to support each other and journey towards that light at the end of the tunnel.

One of the other big challenges for my writing is that I will suddenly hit that groove and words are magically shooting from my fingers, but then one of my kids will come singing for a cup of water or declare their scissors ran away with the glue, so I've been interrupted. After the catastrophe is solved, I found I have been knocked out of the writing zone and it takes anywhere between ten minutes to a half hour to get any of that momentum or focus back. 

It was something that I started actually getting depressed over and causes me to lose even more of that writing mojo. I questioned my ability as a writer. Then there was that moment of kinship when I discovered recently that this was not a Christopher Spicer problem but rather a beast that hounded many writers and creatives.

Now that I know, I have started adjusting the type of writing that I do at certain points in the day and so the more creative work that needs focus has shifted to times where I am less likely to be interrupted and stuff like editing or promotion have shifted to the online school war zone. This of course, has meant an added challenge of stuffing in that Beyond the Balcony writing time during those rare optimal moments.

Gosh! If my lack of any posts this week hasn't driven away a readership then my droning on about not writing something this week is a powerful silver bullet. I felt that I needed to at least address the lack of any writing on here this week, and then an explosion of words scattered all over the screen.

The big reason why I had the goal of writing every day was that it was one of the better ways to grow an audience, since if there was something of quality to read every day then it increased the chances for a consistent readership. I have been very open about the fact that I am aiming to monetize this site either through sponsorship or Patreon or Substacks or other methods that bring in an income. My big goal is that both this site and the podcast can become a rather significant part of my career. 

But I need to drastically grow my current readers, and the best way to do that is have articles that go viral or inspire readers to come back daily. The constant writing will also allow my creativity and prose to grow.  

Beyond the Balcony exists because of my readers. You inspire and encourage and motivate me. Going forward I want to reward your patience and support by creating some of the best work that I've written.

Now, I have mentioned my goals and ambition on here many times. It is now time to really start rocking that stuff out and make this site the place that I want and need it to be. For the sake of accountability, I will list some of the major stuff that will be coming out over the next several months. I'm doing this so that my great readers can challenge and question me if some of these things that you've been waiting to read don't show up.

Here are the various things you should expect on here throughout the rest of 2021.

MCU movie reviews series: I've been promising this for a few years now. It will start this month. The plan is to do them in theatrical release order starting with Iron Man. 

Disney animated theatrical releases: I haven't promoted this as long, but I still have been hyping my plan to review every Disney animated theatrical release, and as well, this is planned to be done in theatrical release order. The exceptions will be Luca and Raya the Last Dragon, which I hope to review before The Breakdown of the Best of 2021 So Far show.

Weekly serialized fiction: I have had the idea to do this years and years ago, but have always scared myself out of it. It is a challenge that I really need to take on and will allow for something interesting for those that are not as big into movie talk. I would like to get pretty deep into the direction of the story before I start, so this will probably start later in the summer.

Weekly reviews for new releases: This will be easier to pull off once theatres open up in Ontario again, but I do have access to some 2021 releases. The number of reviews I write will hinge on how successful I am at growing an audience and potentially being able to monetize the site. If I write a review that you really love, then please share it with others. The bigger the site then the easier it is justify tracking down more movies to review. If the site expands enough then there is also the chance in the coming years that I could even get fun things like press screeners. This leads to me to another thing.

Announce I've Joined the Online Critic Society: This will happen if I have written enough reviews and grown a large enough audience. I'll also need to summon the courage to fill out the application and leave my fate to those that decide who gets to join. This year I will be focusing on this being a thing that happens.

Reviews for lots of other things: I'll aim to review older movies including classics and not-so-classic. I'd like to review some older TV series. Other things I'd like to try reviewing include novels, video games, old-school wrestling and whatever else inspires thoughts and opinions.

Announce I have an upcoming novel: This is the year I will finish a manuscript and then squeeze out the courage to send out to agents. Now, the actual selling of my manuscript and then publishing one of my novels will likely take more than this year, but if you challenge me on this on December 31st, I should have a progress report.

Share my writing process and journey: I hope to do some small updates on my other writing projects and creative process about once a month, if there are interesting things that I think I can share and may be beneficial for other writers.

Announce I have an upcoming book on pop culture history: Same story as my novel aspirations but the difference is one tends to not need a completes manuscript to start selling the book but rather a sypnopsis and outline is required. I can start on this process much sooner.

Adventures in parenting stories: The main goal is for this to be a movie-focused site. I can always smash in some movie references in any piece, and the big selling point on this site is the personal touches. Plus, stories about my kids tend to be even more popular than most of my movie writing. Like the creative writing pieces, I hope I can bring real value to some parents in their own journey.

My personal experience with positive thinking: I don't really want to offer traditional advice on here but would rather share my own personal experience with strategies and hope that offers values to others.

My quirky and experimental writing: I want to challenge myself more on here.

Essentially, more writing. While the last few days have had nothing, the plan is for the next week to be jammed with writing goodness.

As I said before, thank you so much for reading and the years of support. 

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