Sometimes passion is all you need to keep going

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There are some words in the English language whose true meaning has become diluted through over-use.

Anything that is different from the norm is termed ‘unique’. Anyone who has enjoyed 15 minutes of fame is labelled ‘iconic’. Any interest which raises a modicum of enthusiasm becomes a ‘passion’.

Like many bloggers, I’ve often said that I’m passionate about blogging. However, this week I’ve questioned whether blogging is something I’m genuinely passionate about. And is it time for me to stop?

Love what you do?

What is ‘passion’, as opposed to mere enthusiasm? Look it up in the dictionary and you will find it associated with words such as ‘intense’ or ‘barely controllable’.

Passion transcends enthusiasm or even love. Passion is Romeo and Juliet (as opposed to, say, Upsy Daisy and Igglepiggle). Passion is Vincent van Gogh dying penniless. Passion is continuing to do something because it feels right even when all logic dictates it’s time to give up.

Now before I go on, let me just be clear that I’m not knocking people who blog as a means of earning a living. (On the contrary, I applaud them.)

Neither am I saying that bloggers aren’t passionate about their craft. (It’s obvious that many are.)

What I am saying is that sometimes people say they are passionate when actually what they mean is that it’s just their latest passing fad or something from which they think they can earn a fast buck. Some bloggers launch themselves in a blaze of ‘passion’ and disappear just as quickly when they fail to become an overnight hit. And others stick with it even if their success is limited, simply because they love that feeling of hitting ‘publish’.

If you’re truly passionate about something, you don’t give up when you stumble. You’re willing to stay the course, no matter what.

Whether that’s a good thing or not is a different question.

Do what you love?

Just because you’re passionate about something, does that mean you should do it?

Sometimes the answer is yes. Often it’s no.

When I was a teenager, I wanted to be a TV script-writer. I studied the mechanics of writing 45-minute stories in discrete acts that could be punctuated by ad breaks. I learned about stage and camera directions, the principle of Chekhov’s gun, the importance of creating dramatic ‘beats’. I was passionate about it.

Did I pursue my passion? No. In the same way so few boys become racing drivers and so few girls become prima ballerinas, I followed a less passionate, more conventional path.

Was I right to do so? The romantic in me wonders ‘what if?’ but the realist knows I wasn’t good enough to be anything more than an enthusiastic amateur.

Instead I have an interesting, well-paid job that allows me to provide a comfortable lifestyle for my family. I’m happy with that. No regrets.

My passion has manifested itself in other ways. I still watch TV with an analytical eye, but now I review it instead. And instead of penning scripts, I write blog posts.

Which brings me back to this week’s dilemma. Is blogging something I’m truly passionate about? Or is it just something that I justify to myself as being a passion as opposed to simple self-indulgence?

In quantitative terms, I’m not a successful blogger. I have a small (but perfectly formed) readership. My stats have been flat for the past 18 months. Small audience, not growing. That, to me, underlines the fact that I’m not as good a writer as I’d like to think I am.

Does that matter?

On the one hand, no. I’ve always said I’m not worried about stats because monetising my blog has never been a priority. I write more for myself than anything else.

On the other hand, yes. If I’m being honest it matters very much because I’ve always wanted to feel that I’m improving as a writer and a steadily growing audience is a way of signifying that. But the numbers suggest that I’m neither improving nor likely to be anything more than a moderately competent writer with a niche readership. Dan Brown or J K Rowling I ain’t.

It shouldn’t matter to me. But it does. Human ego being what it is, my lack of growth – both technically and in terms of readership – is rather disheartening.

This week, for the first time in nine years since I put finger to keyboard and started my first blog, I have seriously considered giving up blogging altogether and focussing instead on other creative ventures such as the Meet the Parents podcast and The Book That Will Not Write Itself.

The rational part of me says that is exactly what I should do. Stop blogging. Free up time to focus on the book and podcast.

Then the irrational side of me, that pesky emotional part that is (sorry, Shakespeare) heir to the slings and arrows of outrageous passion, screams out at me that the numbers don’t matter one iota and all that does matter is that I still love to craft random ideas into 800 words of (occasionally) purple prose.

And that’s the moment when I realised that I really am passionate about blogging. I can think of a dozen sound reasons why I should walk away and never look back. These far outnumber the few good reasons why I should persevere.

But no one is keeping score. Writing my blog is, in some unconscious way, the adult manifestation of my teenage passion. And that’s all the reason I need to keep going, even if my readership dwindles to zero (which it may well do after this post).

Passion means desiring the adulation of an audience but still being willing to talk to an empty room.

In truth, I’m not entirely sure what the point of writing this post was. But it has felt good. And that’s enough.

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