50 Things to Do Before 50

image.woman with papers

So I wrote this list of 50 Things to Do Before 50, and many of these tasks involve finishing (and beginning) specific writing projects. I am not sharing this list with anyone because I do not want to hear anyone’s crap about how I didn’t “finish that list.” It’s a list, not a contract. I don’t want to be held accountable. Besides, my list is pretty incredible—at least a mid-range “A,” I would say—and I don’t want anyone cheating off my paper.

However, I will confess that one of the items on my list has something to do with keeping up with my students. And no, not by wearing leggings and a t-shirt in public. I am talking about writing. My goal is to write at least as many pages as I require students to write each week. The operative word here is “goal” because those people have to write a lot. And I tire easily.

So this is why I have made an appearance today. We can all agree that this burping, farting, gasping blog has seen livelier days. I have never been one for comments, I don’t check stats or traffic, I don’t even have any social media platform to help publicize it. It’s like a mixed-breed dog chained to a tree in the backyard—sad and lonely and given just enough attention not to be dead.

But at least it’s a start to getting back on track. I have stacks of drafts for posts that have yet to be published. Some are so old and forgotten that they seem strangely unfamiliar, as if someone else wrote them and put them in the queue. (Thanks, strange writing contributor, whoever you are!)

Another of my strategies in restarting what I have long neglected is to join an established writers guild filled with folks who seem eager and moderately trained to do what I need them to do—hold my feet to the fire and demand to know why I wrote only 125 words last week. Or why I don’t return emails. Or why I tend to overuse fragments.

I recently spent more than a few hours one night researching guilds and groups, looking for the right fit. I read mission statements, scanned each guild’s “history,” reviewed application requirements, and compared annual dues. I examined members’ pictures, read bios, and made notes. I listed writers’ names, and beside those names, I drew stars, Xs, question marks, exclamation points. I made note of their books and publications, if/where they teach, their specialties, and, beside way too many names, their fascination with their pets and their volunteer work. It felt like sorority rush, without the candles and crying. It was exhausting.

Recognizing that I, like everyone else, can take myself a little too seriously and construct rigid boundaries in many areas of my life, I had to remind myself that I am not looking to move across the country; I am looking for a virtual network of like-minded adults who can help a girl out. The next morning, I re-examined the possibilities and revisited my narrowed list of guilds, hell bent on making a commitment that very day.

But as with most things, in the light of day, the excitement was gone. That annoying little troll that crawls into my ear at night and supplies my brain with naysayer thoughts and “what were you thinking anyway?” negativity had totally screwed up my morning. And apparently he drooled on my pillow. What had seemed like a perfectly logical next step had been reduced to “meh.” I found myself nodding off as I revisited many of the websites and blogs of these guild members. I purposely found the weakest links and comforted myself with affirmations that I am sort of past an interest in potty training toddlers, what to cook for dinner, and Our Most Recent Field Trip. With age comes wisdom, and because I am a little old(er), I already know stuff. And then I realized what a snob I was being. I kicked that annoying little troll to the curb, locked the door, and aimed in a slightly different direction to find a better fit—and a better attitude. I just needed to look in the right places. Along the way, I found inspiration and motivation to resuscitate this nearly lifeless site.

There. One item crossed off my list, present and accounted for. Forty-nine to go. Mercy.