Alice Cooper--"I'm Eighteen" (mp3)
We carry all kinds of numbers around in our heads--Social Security, passwords, birthdates, anniversaries, account numbers, numbers that have any kind of personal meaning. And thousands of other numbers.
I have an additional number: 18.
Each month, regardless of the number of days that it contains, I have a very particular goal: 18.
Eighteen, to me, is the minimum number of blogposts that Billy and I need to write each month in order to remain viable. I don't really know where the number came from, but if for some reason you are so inclined as to go back and check, you will discover that ever since a month maybe two or three years ago, we always have at least that many posts in every single month.
Eighteen blogposts a month means that, at a minimum, we will put up 216 different pieces of writing each year. For those of you following along on the math, that means that 59% of the days each year you can click on this blog and find something new that we have written. Again, I don't know why that is the benchmark. In other areas, grades, for example, 59% reprsents a pretty resounding failure. You ain't going to college on 59%.
Here's another way to look at it: 18 posts means that, in a typical month, Billy and I will both have written 2 posts each week and a little something extra, either a couple of pieces for the partial week of a 31 day month or the occasional extra inspiration that strikes us on a weekend or at some other random time. Two posts a week is the comfortable alliance that we have fallen into.
And, as you can probably tell, I'm struggling a bit right here to hit that ol' magic number for this month. And the days are running out. I'm sure there's probably little more boring than reading someone blogging about blogging and getting caught up in the trials of trying to keep something going that you check in on casually from time to time. Still, here we are together, right? Maybe? At least you like hearing the Alice Cooper song you haven't heard for a long time, right? Anyone? Bueller?
Want to know something even duller? One time, I counted the paragraphs in one of Billy's posts and I think he clocked in at 14 paragraphs. Now, he's a little bit more long-winded than I am (not a bad thing) so I concluded that I probably need to try to hit 12 paragraphs for the average length of my posts. So that's what that was based on and that's what I do. Sometimes I can get away with 10 if they're long, but I feel like I'm cheating a bit.
Yes, these are the kinds of mind games that you play when you are trying to keep something going, maybe especially in a month where days were lost to Spring Break, where days were lost to flu, where days were lost to anticipation of Spring Break and days were lost to the depressing realization that I had lost much of Spring Break to the flu. Such is life.
A writer of a daily column or a weekly column or even something as casual as this blog will tell you that the writing owns you, and not vice-versa. That's why I have that 18 in my head all the time. I've got a place that I have to get to, whether I feel any particular inspiration or not. Perhaps better put, I have at least 9 places I need to get to each month, and if sometimes those places are no more illuminating than this one, well, that's okay.
Perhaps even more, more boring to you, we are just about at a fuzzy milestone for this blog--1000 posts. I say fuzzy because right now we stand somewhere just short of that number or just beyond. The combination of posts that record companies have had us take down, that blogger.com has taken down unilaterally, that I have taken down myself due to various panics and second-thoughts and my one super-clever ironic post which was still drawing a racist comment or two several time as year and all the posts that are still available for your reading pleasure puts us over 1000 by one count and short of that number by another count. I thought it would feel like more of a milestone.
Now, keeping going feels like more of a milestone to shoot for. If you ever want to buy us a beer, though, to celebrate the benchmark, Billy and I are game. And that, my friends, is 12 paragraphs. Done and done.