Focus Pinky, Focus

Another navel gazing post for those of you scoring at home.

You know one thing I have always seemed to lack? Focus. If I had to name two things that usually result in success, focus and hard work would be up at the top. It seems like in today’s world those who are able to focus and concentrate their efforts are the ones that get ahead.

Me, I just seem to stumble from one thing to the other never really making decisions with any kind of long term vision in mind. Taking blogging for example. Focus and diligence will get you far in the blog world. Natural talent or connections help a lot too, but focus is a big bonus. This, among many other things, has kept me from reaching the fame and fortune that other bloggers have achieved.

I can’t seem to handle the daily grind of writing about the topic du jure day-in-day-out. When the mood strikes I can write passionately about politics, culture, and foreign policy. But I can just as easily lose interest. These days with so many bloggers cranking out opinion on every subject under the sun, I just don’t feel like I have much to add. In the early days blogging felt like a conversation; now it feels like shouting into the wind.

I thought maybe books would provide that focus, and in many ways it has. I am more interested in reading books then I am in almost anything else these days. But within that subject I still lack focus. I am the quintessential jack-of-all-trades master of none.

Instead of focusing on a particular genre (or even fiction or non-fiction) I jump wildly from conservative politics to sports to literary fiction to fantasy to humor and everywhere in between. So what, you say. It is your blog, write what you want. Right? Well, yes and no. There is a sense in which you do this simply for your own enjoyment. But there is rarely a writer that doesn’t think about having an audience; of appealing to people and connecting with them. Quite often I feel like I am writing for Google; laying down keywords for future searches.

I guess I just feel a little lost these days – perhaps that is the cold medicine talking. I am not sure what I am trying to accomplish. I feel like I need to organize and focus my energies so I can get a more tangible sense of what this web page is about. Is this just a sort of amateur Publishers Weekly where I offer my assessments of whatever books happen to come my way? Is this just a handy way for me to track my reading and keep notes about the books I have read? Or is this just the necessary tool to get free books?

I think the best way to figure some of this out is to pull back and slow down. To often I feel like I have to post something everyday to keep readers coming back; I get to caught up in the stats. I also tend to rush through books because of the pressure of my TBR pile. I want to fight these tendencies and instead focus on quality instead of quantity. If I post thoughtful well written stuff, I think the rest will take care of itself. Or if it doesn’t I can live with it.

If you have thoughts about what you enjoy around here or why you visit, please let me know. Feedback is always appreciated.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).


  1. Sounds as if you blog because you enjoy it rather than to make money. Plenty of people blog for this reason– I do. Also the Grumpy Old Bookman has written entertaingly and sensibly (in my opinion!) on this topic.
    I think that if you write with enjoyment and passion about what you like, then people will like your blog, more of them will come and exchange comments, and things will develop.
    I agree that if you want to make money out of it you have got to be strategic and focused (or a celebrity to start with?).
    My own personal experience of 6 months of blogging is that I have a small readerhship, mostly of other bloggers. Part of the satisfaction is reading their comments or emails and responding to those, and doing the same on their blogs.
    This isn’t going to make us any money, but in my case it is an enriching experience that is worth a lot more to me — but I have a job and am not starving in a garrett, my point of view suits me but for sure it is not universally shared.

  2. I can see how the novelty would wear off. I’ve been doing this for about a week, so it’s still new. I have a lot of freedom on the job (I pretty much make my own schedule), so I have been posting pretty frequently…can easily see how the pace will slow over time though.

    I have to be honest, I like your site, but sometimes you’re way over my head dude!

  3. Kevin everyone has dry spells step back and rest a bit the old juices will come back! Your blog was one of the very first I started to read over a year ago and one of my first links. If anything we bloggers are guilty of stopping by reading and not leaving comments at least I do. Sorry. Keep on keeping on. Best Steve

  4. Kevin, yours is always a visit to anticipate. Your wide ranging topics are stimulating. It is good, however, when you write at length and develop your ideas. Those are the ones I prefer. You have some good points; I’m not sure we get to hear all of them.

    It’s not so much what the author has to say as what you have to say that matters. I hope you will discover a format that lets you continue to write on important topics, yet still enjoy the process.

  5. Kevin, I’m another regular visitor who never comments–terrible thing, I know, it’s just one of those character flaws.

    I can relate to your conundrum. I had my solo blog for nearly a year. It was a frustrating experience. I’d get on some subject that would keep me blogging for a few days, then get distracted by life/work/whatever and be absent a week, and even a whole month once. Result? The stats were terrible, and I kept asking myself why I was doing it.

    The original impulse had been self-promotion, but with no visitors that’s a joke. And I was feeling guilty when I’d take time off, as if I was letting my 5 readers down. So, I struggled for a while and realized it wouldn’t work as it was.

    Contemporary Nomad came directly from this frustration, my reasoning being that four part-time bloggers could make a full-time blog. It doesn’t work perfectly–we’re going through a major dry spell now. But the responsibility isn’t only mine, and thus I feel free to write when I want to write, and about whatever I want to write about. Add to that the three others who bring their own “market share” into the mix, and it’s not bad. I certainly never saw stats like this when I was on my own. We don’t get enough hits to make money at it, but I don’t think any of us have illusions about that. What we all want is a mix of creative outlet and additional exposure. It’s slow, but I think it’s working gradually.

    So maybe you want to think about grabbing some buddies and pulling together a group blog. I lucked out because none of the other guys knows/cares about web design and the look of the site, so I get to rule that entirely on my own, which I enjoy as much as the writing.

  6. Yeah.

    That’s why I read guys like you. The novelty wore off in about two days for me.

    I find I don’t write about the things I like, except to say I like them, which isn’t very interesting, and I only write ’bout the things that tick me off.

    I guess that’s the difference between someone who is truly a critical thinker/writer (you), and someone who is a critical drinker (me).

    Hope you find more energy and keep posting.

    I read your reviews and posts because you inform me, and your focus seems to be on the things I am interested in.

    You’re kinda like a food-tester. I let you test, so I don’t poison myself or waste my time.


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