An Annual Becomes a Perennial

(Cross-posted: This post originally appeared on my previous blog, primarily a blog about business. It was meant to build a bridge to this blog).

Writers are perennials. Struggling to harness a beleaguered discipline, they spend a lifetime resuscitating the vernal season: a persistent, meticulous cultivation of crafting and creating with multiple lives and many deaths.

If writers are perennials, their conspicuous cousins, bloggers, are annuals. Writers persist for many growing seasons; annuals thrive within a single season. Constricted by their one-topic focus (food, healthy living, marketing, business, etc.) a blogger's lifespan often measures several years but their narrow theme necessitates a one dimensional view. This isn't a negative criticism, it is merely an observation. Many bloggers feel strangled by their exclusivity and long for the broader life of a perennial.

It is ironic then that Montaigne, the 16th century writer who popularized the format of the essay (which, translated in French means simply "to try")[1], is considered by many the godfather of modern blogging. He wrote on topics as broad as the sea and as ephemeral as its waves. Montaigne's Essays, are "a centuries-long conversation between Montaigne and all those who have got to know him"[1]. Montaigne was, without question, a perennial.

For me, one-dimensional writing induces dullness. It evokes a lassitude in the reader and a lethargy in the writer that eventually results in burnout for both. William Zinnser once advised, "Given a choice between two projects - one that you feel you ought to write and one that sounds like fun - go for the one you'll enjoy working on. It will show in your writing."

Glancing back at my most widely read posts, they've rarely been about topics related to branded matters. Posts like What Would You Tell a Twenty-Year Younger You, Life Herself Without Rabid Hype, and Get Real (An Unconventional Guide to Goal Setting), have garnered the most interest and elicited the most conversation. These posts have more to do with living well rather than branding well. They were also articles I relished writing ("In both writing and cooking, you're a dead duck if you don't love the process")[2].

I enjoy exploring topics related to business and marketing but I wish to enlarge my own life by "essaying" (if you will) any topic that suits my particular whim. This might be unsettling for those that wish to engage along the lines of "business only" so, if that is you, I encourage you to unsubscribe (and I completely understand). My next post might be a new dish I learned to cook or a time management tool I want to explore but at least you've been warned.

This little nook of mine on the web has always been an idea incubator, a repository for reflection, and a place to simply plow my hack-trade as hobbyist-writer. Many of you have tolerated my ramblings since 2005 and I'm indebted to you.

Our lives are much larger than the compartmentalization of individual facets of our experience. Were we to be honest, we all yearn to know and be known beyond our perceived selves. Many of us long to live the creative life of a perennial rather than the constricted life of an annual. In the end, we are all Montaigne's suffragettes.

"I had rather … nettle my reader, than tire him." - Montaigne

[1] How To Live: Or, A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Blakewell

[2] The Raw and the Cooked by Jim Harrison