October 10th 2015

I am still here

It’s been over two months since I logged into the back end of The FrancoGerman.
Bear with me for a minute and let me explain.

It’s been over two months since I logged into the back end of this blog. Not because I grew tired of it. Not at all. Quite the contrary actually, so bear with me for a minute and let me explain.

Putting this blog together took me weeks and weeks of effort. It literally ate away the spare time I had on evenings and week-ends for months. Getting into this was painful. I felt like a bloody rookie. But I didn’t care. I loved it. I started from zero, not knowing anything about hosting, themes, WordPress.com, WordPress.org, responsiveness, etc. and so I researched for hours, went through every article I could find on how to set up a personal website, how to customize it, how to keep it secure, how to make it multilingual, how to make it as easy as possible to post new content on it, how to make sure that new releases of WordPress would not introduce new bugs, how to back-up the created contents to prevent losing all the hard work in case something went awfully wrong.

Whenever I get into something new, I like to completely immerse myself into it and follow different sub-strands, to the point of almost losing myself in the topic before taking a step back and getting a more holistic view. And so it was with the immense playground that this whole blogging thing has become since it first appeared in the late 1990s.

I experimented with various templates, tweaked these for hours and hours and soon found myself coding bits and pieces here and there. I knew what I wanted this blog to be like. Very precisely. In order to keep track of all the ideas I had, I put together a project description document. Twenty-two pages of specifications on the overall structure of the blog, the different pages, the header section, the footer section, parallax, the fonts and various other aspects. Everything was in there. I defined a budget range for the project, along with a quality level and a timeline.

But although many themes were absolutely awesome and had many of the features I was looking for, I just wasn’t able to modify them so that they would fit my needs. And setting up the back end proved to be far more difficult than I thought. I didn’t have the necessary skills and therefore decided to look for someone who could help me out. The first person I got in touch with was a US East Coast-based website designer. After three weeks of back and forth, all I had was an unfinished header section and I decided to stop the whole thing with her and recruit someone else. A website-designer based in Islamabad/Pakistan was my next try. Nice guy, particularly good on all things related to design, but of not much help regarding the other aspects. What clearly annoyed me the most is that despite our very open conversations, his excellent English skills and the fact that he repeatedly assured me having carefully read the project description document, he didn’t seem to understand what I was asking for. Two weeks into development, I thanked him for his efforts, paid him for the time he had invested into this project and pulled the plug. For the second time.

I’ve been through quite a number of professional projects over the past few years and my main take-away from all these experiences is the following one: it all comes down to surrounding yourself with the right people.

The same applies for personal projects.

After some rather intensive searching around, somewhere during summer 2014, I finally got in touch with the right person. A developer based in Zurich who – back then – was spending most of his time in Copenhagen due to a mammoth project he was working on there. Putting together the blog with him was pure bliss. Since I was covered in work at the office during much of autumn and winter of 2014, therefore unable to invest as much time as I wanted into this project, things got delayed. It all eased up again around late January 2015 and I finally managed to clock in the necessary hours. The website was launched in the following month of February. That vision of a blog had finally become a reality. I now had a place where I could share thoughts and experiences.

It blew my mind.

But without any content, no matter how much time and efforts were invested into it, this website was nothing more than a canvas.

Over the past two months, as the workload ramped up again, my spare time dwindled. On top of that, talking myself into pursuing additional qualifications did little to no good to more recreational activities like this website. Days last 24 hours and there is only so much one can fit in that limited amount of time. It all comes down to prioritization.

Nobody’s life is ever all balanced. We consciously choose our priorities every day. And it is our priorities that define our actions.

I do want to see where my current set of priorities leads me and what kind of changes my actions can bring about.

I don’t know how I will be able to make all the pieces fit together. I have no idea. I only know that I move into the direction of my dominant thoughts. And I do want to pave the path I walk on with more words. The process of writing – although it feels like taking something from the very inside and throwing it out into the world – is both alleviating and enriching at the same time.

“Life is a great big canvas; throw all the paint you can at it.” – Danny Kaye

I am looking forward to throwing more paint at this one.

Thank you for reading me. Just stay put.

This post is also available in French and German.

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