Breaking the Hiatus

Sunset at Holly Beach in Cameron Parish, Louisiana.

This blog has gone through several phases:

  1. I learned how to buy hosting, install a theme, hook up a domain to website, and build something in WordPress. That was around March 2020.
  2. Shortly after Phase 1, I built out some case studies without knowing how to make page templates. I just made pages and dropped in elements manually. No custom fields. No dynamic data. I had no idea how to make building custom content easy for myself. It’s past time that I rectify that area of the site.1In my opinion, the feature of WordPress that really cooks is the ability to display data dynamically. This is the power of a Content Management System. You can create custom post types and data fields that enable you to populate custom layouts with exactly the content that you need. I built my case studies the hard way—manually building each page from scratch instead of defining a custom post type and custom fields to make the publishing process simple.
  3. The site floated in cyberspace for about three years, during which I didn’t really publish anything or make any major updates.
  4. In April 2023, I began writing and publishing regularly with a target of one post per week. The actual cadence ended up being about one post every two weeks. During that time, I started working on the curriculum on freeCodeCamp, which gave me the ability to write some custom CSS to improve the layout of my site and make the reading expereince more pleasant.
  5. I took an intentional, but much longer than expected, break from publishing from March until now.

I continued writing during this last phase, albeit at a slower cadence. I never really stop thinking about ideas and plugging them into Obsidian as they come to mind.2My current habit is to use voice dictation to draft posts in Obsidian. I can spew out about 500 words in an 8–10 minute drive, which is about how long it takes to get from place to place in the geographical oddity where I live. I kept reading, mostly longform articles with a healthy dose of technical documentation thrown in there (it all counts as reading). I listened to podcasts, mostly development and WordPress related stuff, but almost of all of it had a top notch narrative or story arc (e.g., Compiler from Red Hat). I kept the practice of adding daily notes almost daily.3Almost daily means that I have notes some days, and some days I don’t. There are gaps in my daily notes spanning several days and in some case weeks, but I keep working at it. Part of establishing a practice is, well, practice.

So why the hiatus?

Probably the most significant reason is that the church I work at did a church-wide fast for 14 days leading up to Easter Sunday. As part of that, I cut off all intake to social media, and I took a some time off from publishing as well. Fasting is a way to be re-oriented to God and to seek His purposes and plan. Writing and publishing a blog post takes a lot of mental and emotional energy, and the point of fasting is to refocus that on God. Writing is a form of speech, and hearing God requires stillness and silence.

The second reason is that this has been a particularly busy season. The month leading up to Easter was perhaps one of the busiest months I’ve experienced while working at a church.

At the beginning of March, I went to Exponential 2024 (a church planting and growth conference) with a large portion of the Grace Church staff. It was a three-day conference with 10 main speakers and multiple breakout sessions. It was an amazing time, exhausting in the very best way.

When I came back from Orlando, there was lots to be done leading up to Easter, which makes sense because Easter is typically one of the biggest services of the year. Plus there were multiple events leading up to Easter that required design and communication. Being the Communications Director means that most events come across my desk at some point because everything needs to be communicated in some fashion.

And then there was Easter itself, which involved multiple services at multiple locations. I shot photos for five services.

Immediately after Easter, my wife and I flew to different states to see our respective sides of the family for a week. When we came back, we both felt like we needed to end our current lease, which triggered a very rapid and unexpected process to move in just six weeks.

At a certain point, something will end up on the backburner, and that thing was publishing.

On the positive side, the break has enabled me to give my mind a rest, which has helped me reorient my focus and identify new opportunities for things I want to write about. It’s been good to pour more of myself into the people and work in front of me.

On the other side, there’s a limit to the efficacy of a break. Jonathan Rabb, one of my writing professors said “Writing is a muscle. If you don’t use it, it will atrophy.” If I go for more than two weeks without writing something in this space, I can feel the muscle atrophy. Sure, I write a lot of emails, some of which are flash fiction length, so it’s not like the muscle is totally unused. But there’s a qualitative difference in writing an email to convey information and writing more substantive.

I mentioned earlier that it’s been a busy season, which is true. There’s always more than enough to do when you have a spouse and three kids—even if you’re not taking multiple out of town trips and packing for a move.

One of the things I learned from my late mother is that there is no opportune time to do the things you love. She often talked about how she want to “get back into painting” or “get back into photography.” But she never did. There were some health issues involved, along with caring for her family. But what I observed was that she never really made time for those things. Other tasks took precedence, and so the things she loved got put on the backburner, always with good intentions to “get back to them.” But they ultimately got buried and forgotten in the hustle and bustle of life. All that’s left is some unfinished paintings and some great studio portraits from about 25 years ago.4When I was in Louisiana most recently, I reorganized a massive collection of loose photos that had not made into photo albums. I came across a bunch of senior photos my mom took in the 90s. Now that I’ve shot more photos professionally, I was able to detect the ones where she was trying to work out lighting placement and when she was trying to capture the right expression on a subject. She shot a Maymiya 645 Super, which was a high-end medium format camera for the time. The colors of film can’t be beat, but it was clear which images were polished and which ones were more “sketchbook quality.” It’s clear that just a little but more time behind the camera would have totally leveled up her photographic practice.

So with that said, it’s time to break the hiatus. There will always be some other task or project that seems more important. Time always reveals the truth.

  • 1
    In my opinion, the feature of WordPress that really cooks is the ability to display data dynamically. This is the power of a Content Management System. You can create custom post types and data fields that enable you to populate custom layouts with exactly the content that you need. I built my case studies the hard way—manually building each page from scratch instead of defining a custom post type and custom fields to make the publishing process simple.
  • 2
    My current habit is to use voice dictation to draft posts in Obsidian. I can spew out about 500 words in an 8–10 minute drive, which is about how long it takes to get from place to place in the geographical oddity where I live.
  • 3
    Almost daily means that I have notes some days, and some days I don’t. There are gaps in my daily notes spanning several days and in some case weeks, but I keep working at it. Part of establishing a practice is, well, practice.
  • 4
    When I was in Louisiana most recently, I reorganized a massive collection of loose photos that had not made into photo albums. I came across a bunch of senior photos my mom took in the 90s. Now that I’ve shot more photos professionally, I was able to detect the ones where she was trying to work out lighting placement and when she was trying to capture the right expression on a subject. She shot a Maymiya 645 Super, which was a high-end medium format camera for the time. The colors of film can’t be beat, but it was clear which images were polished and which ones were more “sketchbook quality.” It’s clear that just a little but more time behind the camera would have totally leveled up her photographic practice.
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