Feb 22 2014

EZ.-DUZ-IT

Melissa Crytzer Fry

The phrase easy does it took on multiple meanings during a recent desert road trip in my four-wheel-drive sidekick, Betty.

At first, bumping along cow path-width trails, hubby at the wheel and acacia bushes brushing past the doors, the trip was leisurely. Easy. In fact, we truly came across this, an emerald beacon in the brown desert, a gem at the end of all those unmarked dirt trails:

But later, when hubby wheeled us toward a steep peak – end goal: portable ham radio action – easy does it took on a different feel entirely.

“Easy does it, Betty. Easy does it,” I whispered as rocks gave way beneath our tires, crunching and sliding, as dust whorled, as we crested the steep apex. I clamped my eyes shut, but opened them too soon … I looked up and saw only sky (hubby denies this, but I swear we were at a 90-degree angle that pointed us toward the heavens.)

Betty was victorious, even if the ham radio signal was weak (yes, with the 40-foot telescoping pole in Betty’s hitch):

To calm myself (I mean, going down was going to be more terrifying than going up, I was sure), I pulled out the camera. The views were magnificent (Don’t forget to click to enlarge the photos. It’s worth it!):

And though I had worked myself into a near panic about going back down, it turned out just fine at the hands of my skilled-driver husband (and the fearless Betty White). Can you tell from these photos, how steep the mountain really was? (If you can believe it, we had onlookers in another Jeep stop way below on that ribbon of road to watch us ascend).

The final meaning of EZ.-DUZ-IT? Of course it pertains to writing, and in this case, specifically: blogging. My blogging.

EZ.-DUZ-IT. It’s my new mantra (as you may already have noticed). I’ve decided to blog when inspired – and only then. No more rigid posting schedule, no more worrying about what “they” might think, whether it will hurt me as an aspiring author. Why? Because I know I need to dig deep and focus on the real goal: fiction. Writing the book(s), chasing the dream of publication, getting better at craft. And there’s only one way for me (personally) to do it … and that is to eliminate constant distraction. And to focus in the same way my husband did at the top of that hill. Full-on, intense, adrenaline-inducing focus.

For writers, readers: Do you think blogging-by-authors/writers has taken a backseat over the past few years? (To me, it seems awfully quiet out there compared to when I started in 2010).  Do you find it hard to be “heard” amongst other writers in the blogosphere? Will you continue the blogging path, or blaze a new trail up a mountain, veering off in new directions, scanning the horizon for your one true goal? Maybe you’ll do both?


34 Responses to “EZ.-DUZ-IT”

  • avatar Jolina Petersheim Says:

    What a view, Melissa! Wow! I would’ve been pretty nervous, too. I love your new mantra. I agree that blogging seems to have quieted down somewhat over the past little while; I think the writer/reader connection is now more focused on the use of social media rather than blogging. However, I’ve heard that an author’s website is like a virtual business card. Sigh, we’ll figure it out one day! 🙂

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    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    Oh no… does that mean I may have to finally bite the bullet and join Facebook, and Pinterest, and… and… and.. Ha ha.

    As someone who’s run a freelance business for 13 years, I couldn’t agree more about websites being virtual business cards (and portfolios to showcase our work). But where does the ‘blog’ part of the website fit in? Hmm. Rhetorical question. But maybe not so important any more, I think. But you’re right: maybe someday we’ll have the magical answer! Someday…

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  • avatar Christine Grote Says:

    Awesome photos. I would have waited at the bottom with the other spectators. You live in a beautiful place.

    As to your questions:
    I do notice more quiet and less activity. And I am one of those showing up less frequently. I really don’t think blogging obsessively and incessantly provides any noticeable forward progress towards any goals that I have. I still like it as a platform and social outlet. I really need to do something about my very sad website, however. . . Building a following of any significance through a blog is possible, but not very likely, and in my opinion clearly not worth the effort. It’s funny, the bulk of my hits these days come from individuals who are having bilateral knee replacements. That turned out to be a popular little series, but not at all helpful in building a fan club as a writer.

    Keep working on your fiction so I can have something great to read someday.

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    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    Thanks, Christine. I do love the desert and feel so blessed to call it home.

    You are not the only one showing up less frequently; I obviously am in the same boat (and long gone are my blog days of upwards of 60 comments per post). Like you, I do like blogs as a social, friendly outlet. I really appreciate your honesty about whether blogging is worth the time effort for you personally. I think a lot of people share the same view. For a long while, we were told by ‘everyone’ in the industry that we needed a blog for platform building. I’m not so sure that’s the mantra any longer.

    Funny – the most hits I get on my site are for “stairway to heaven” – which, incidentally, had nothing to do with me or my writing. I hosted a photography contest back in 2010, and the winning photo was named “stairway to heaven.”

    Hope your knee is back to normal. And thanks for the sweet sentiments about having something great to read someday. That’s the goal!

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  • avatar Kathy Says:

    Hey there good buddy. I read your blog religiously even though I don’t leave a comment very often. I am not a writer but I love to read your words. You bring me back home to the rugged wilderness. Sure will miss reading about your adventures if you do quit but as life changes so do our expectations. I do hope the adventures continue for you and that the words continue to flow.

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    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    Oh Kathy, how I miss our hikes! So glad to know you’re still reading (when I DO post). Your compliments make me smile, and don’t worry: I don’t know that I will completely shut ‘er down, but you may only see photos here and there, and the occasional post inspired by some beautiful image or event.

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  • avatar Cynthia Robertson Says:

    Beautiful photos, as always Melissa. What kind of butterfly is that? I woulda missed how pretty it is if I hadn’t enlarged the photo. Glad I did.
    I agree that blogging needs to take a backseat. Mine certainly has. Good for you for pursuing your writing full on, and not letting anything distract. I more and more believe it takes that kind of dedication. Thanks for this reminder of what is important!

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    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    I’m not sure, but I THINK it’s a Colorado Hairstreak (yes, it blends right in with the leaves!)

    Yes, I see the same trend among other writer/author friends — that blogging has taken a backseat. And while others can juggle both the writing and social media/blogging with quite a bit of success, I do seem to be the kind who does best with single focus.

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  • avatar Jackie Cangro Says:

    I was getting nervous for you as I read about your steep ascent, but what a view! Glad that Betty is as reliable as ever.

    I post to my blog about once a week. It gives me an opportunity to exercise my nonfiction muscles and I enjoy keeping up with what my blogger friends are doing. But I think about stepping back because it takes time away from my other writing projects and my novel which are my priorities.

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    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    I think we are all facing the same tug and pull when it comes to blogging…

    And, yes, that Betty is a tough old girl!

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  • avatar Julia Munroe Martin Says:

    As you know, I love blogging, but it is definitely less important than when I started blogging three years ago with DAILY blogs. Yikes. Of course that’s when I was using it to kick my fiction writing into gear (which it did). Now I’m focusing on that but I do miss the blogging — for the reasons Jackie mentions with nonfiction — and will likely continue it. But definitely not daily, haha.

    As for the grade of the road. Gorgeous view, but WOW. I’d have been terrified and gripping every arm in site 😉

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    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    To this day, I still cannot fathom daily blogging. Too much pressure! 😉 But I was always very, very impressed that you were able to do it.

    Yeah, Betty did get a few good tugs on the “oh-shit-grip” (as my husband calls it) that hangs from the roll bar. Woo wee.

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  • avatar Laurie Buchanan Says:

    “Don’t forget to click to enlarge the photos. It’s worth it!”

    Melissa, that is a ginormous UNDERstatement! Your photographs are absolutely fantastic!

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    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    You do my ego kind, Laurie.

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  • avatar Diann Says:

    “There’s only one way for me (personally) to do it … and that is to eliminate constant distraction. And to focus in the same way my husband did at the top of that hill. Full-on, intense, adrenaline-inducing focus.”

    Melissa, I’m totally of the same mindset as you on this. I think focus–in any endeavor at which one wants to succeed–is a huge determinant of excellence. And that takes time, both in terms of hours put into it and in terms of getting into the groove. I think that goes for pretty much everything, and if you have a day job, then *there are so many hours* left over for everything else and we have to choose between quantity and quality in each category.

    Also, I honestly don’t know whether social media per se helps in terms of selling books, and may very well take away from it, depending. I’ve long noticed that many if not most really big authors have no real social media presence other than to say, I’m doing a reading here or my book is out soon (so definitely a nice website is important). Gillian Flynn’s agent has some interesting advice on all this in a HuffPo piece (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/fauzia-burke/book-sales-social-media_b_2616439.html), but ultimately I think her point sounds right to me: “I think [novelists] absolutely need to focus on writing the best book first. Without that, what is there to talk about?”

    Honestly, I wonder if in most cases the average reader is likely to pick up someone’s book because an author has a blog? That said, I do think all this–social media, blogs, etc.–is so great for feeling more connected in that human way, which makes me wish there were more hours in the day to fit it *all* in!

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    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    Thanks for the interesting article, Diann. So informative. I know I’m a broken record with all of this – saying I’ll stop blogging, but popping up here and there with a blog saying – again – that I’m stopping or cutting back (so, yes, the tug and pull is evident since I “want to do the right thing.”) And I guess that the message I’m learning is that “the right thing” may just be different for everyone. And that if I want to focus in the ways you’ve mentioned (and the ways I know I NEED to), I really need to COMMIT myself. Thanks for being such an encouraging supporter.

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  • avatar Nina Says:

    Beautiful shots as always.

    And such a good observation that the blogging has quieted down. I’ve noticed that too, but I wonder if it’s because we started at around the same time and have felt a similar burnout at the same time. For me the excitement of it all ebbs and flows. And my days of many comments are also long gone, because I am posting less and . . . this is the truth of how it works. . . am commenting less. I just can’t keep up and I know you have to feel the same way. I’m starting to feel a pull towards writing short stories again. So, I’m keeping my Brain, Child position because it pays and I love that it forces me to write two solid essays a month, but other than that, I’m only posting to my blog when I have enough to say. A few times a month I do a “friday finds.” Those plus the bi-monthly brain child essays bring me to about one post a week. And that’s that!

    I love your new plan and think it makes sense. The real work has to come first. I has to.

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    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    I think you may be right, Nina. We did all start at the same time and I am definitely suffering some burnout. And I have to agree that the quantity of blog responses are most definitely tied to commenting on others’ blogs. I just can’t keep up, either.

    “Posting when you have enough to say.” Yep. I like that!

    So excited that you’re re-energized about short stories!

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  • avatar Shary Says:

    You’re so brave for making that ascent! My most frequent recurring dream is of driving up a steep incline and then falling off the face of the hill. My heart is racing just thinking about it!

    About blogging… I’ve stopped completely. Life eats away at my writing time and I had to choose one thing to focus on. Fiction was the winner. I still follow a few favorite blogs, though, and I’ll look forward to seeing your photos and reading your posts whenever they appear.

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    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    I’m pretty sure it wasn’t bravery — we were just too far up the hill for me to jump out. Ha ha (I did contemplate crab crawling back down on my rump).

    I love that fiction was the winner with your limited time. Some day I hope to be brave enough to take that stance as well, but it’s hard for me not to feel guilty when we, for so long, were told that this was ‘the’ way to do things. I’m getting closer, though.

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  • avatar Erika Marks Says:

    My dear, the first thing that popped into my head (after thinking how beautiful your photos are, as always) was my ride of panic last summer when my brother drove us to the continental divide and I was basically on the floor of the backseat I was so traumatized by the height and the winding roads. Even now, writing about it, I’m breaking out into a sweat! Betty and you all back on ground, safe and sound, yes!

    I think of how much we all blogged when we started and how the winds have shifted and I have come to terms with that for myself too. I still feel we all remain connected even if we don’t keep to the same schedule. Life is like that, isn’t it? We have to be able to go with the flow and figure out where our energies are most needed. I think what brought so many of us to blogging was the need to connect and we can still do that, so maybe that helps me with that change:)

    Hugs!

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    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    Yep. You would NOT have enjoyed this, Erika. Not one bit! Sorry to make you sweat all over again.

    I agree that the companionship/connection we established FOUR years ago (how is that possible?) is still there, even if we blog less frequently. “Go with the flow.” Yes — I need to get better at that :-).

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  • avatar Julie Geistfeld Says:

    I hear you! I backed off of a lot of social networking and blogging for a while and now that I have decided on a new approach it does seem quieter out there. I think that for a while it was pushed, like if you are going to author you must have a presence. I don’t know that it was proven true though. I think a presence can help, but more writers read author blogs than readers do from what I see. So my new approach is giving back. I want to blog about things that others may find handy, or of interest, not just to ‘be out there’. I think your blog has always done that though. Love your posts and photos. But applaud doing this at the speed that works. I usually have to ‘catch up’ on reading blogs anyway, so I read several at a time from each different site. Wishing you all the best and a good balance as well!

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    Melissa Reply:

    I would agree that writers do tend to read blogs more than readers. Though I guess, in all fairness, those writers are readers, too. I do agree, though, that it hasn’t been quantitatively proven that blogging affects the bottom sales line in all cases (maybe in some? See Diann’s article link above. It’s good!)

    Thank you for the compliment about my blog. Yours has always been good, but I’m off to see your new format. I’ve been so remiss in making the blog rounds — another time consuming activity – and the reason for my new change in focus. Here’s to balance for us both!

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  • avatar Hallie Sawyer (@Hallie_Sawyer) Says:

    I’m so with you on the blogging thing, Melissa! I started to get overwhelmed last fall when I had too many irons in the fire and my blog got shoved to the side. I realized that I didn’t HAVE to blog when I didn’t feel like it and my posts were better when I felt inspired to write about something.

    I love the pictures and the view is absolutely gorgeous. I may have gotten out and walked with that steep incline/decline! YIKES! Way to go hubby (and Betty)!

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    Melissa Reply:

    I think that’s so telling (and the same goes here): that the posts are better when they’re inspired and not forced!

    Ha – I seriously had considered rolling down the hill on my arse, rather than riding in Betty. Phew.

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  • avatar Lori P Says:

    Facing the sky?!! I have nightmares about such steep roads. But those photos took my breath away. Gorgeousness!!

    As for blogging, I thought I would miss it so much, but I don’t. As many have already stated, too many irons in the fire = shabby work all around. I kept the site alive another year and have toyed with restarting it, but it’s not a must. I completely agree with your focus!

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    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    Thank you, my friend and accountability partner. You may not see too much of me the rest of the year. Because you and me, sister: we’ve got things to DO!

    I’m glad to hear you don’t miss it, either (though I have to confess – I do miss your posts. Guess you’ll have to send me some of your musings via email)! Oh wait – that still defeats the purpose of focusing!!!

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  • avatar Lisa Ahn Says:

    I love this post. First, because I share your fear of that 90 degree angle! And second because my blog has taken a back seat both to pressing family matters and bigger writing projects. Glad to know we’re on a similar journey.

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    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    I was so sorry to hear you wouldn’t be blogging (or at least not as much), but I “got” it as I was nearing that decision myself. There IS some comfort knowing that our journeys are coinciding, Lisa. I hope your bigger writing projects involve fiction (she says, selfishly).

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  • avatar Milli Thornton Says:

    What a wild ride. I laughed when I saw you mentioning the “oh-shit-grip” in one of your comment replies. Amazing how guys can detach themselves and come up with a pithy term for something very scary and emotional!

    Absolutely loved your photos and, you were right, it was well worth clicking to see the larger views. I’m tickled you found a street sign with EZ.-DUZ-IT Lane stuck seemingly out in the middle of nowhere. (My word nerd brain is still marveling at the stylish hyphens and the minute detail of the period after EZ. – who knew the road dept. would be into precise punctuation?)

    I’m madly in love with the photo of the horse roaming the hillsides. Beautiful in itself but also a great symbol for the rest of the conversation, about limiting blogging time in favor of writing. Although focus is certainly a huge factor, I also believe that having enough time to really sink ourselves into our story provides a creative freedom that can lead to all kinds of good stuff (including more enjoyment for the writer).

    Loved your pics of the dirt roads meandering. The shot through the trees of the S-bend was sheer artistry, in my humble opinion (as someone who is only mediocre with a camera). The scene of the road winding back toward a distant range feeds the soul with its shapes and textures and colors.

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  • avatar Jessica Vealitzek Says:

    I’d missed this post, but happy break, friend! I figured you were holing up due to writing. Once this launch is over (and I swear I’m thankful and I don’t want to rush it but…) I’m going to take a break myself. There is just so much distraction.

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    Melissa Crytzer Fry Reply:

    I understand, COMPLETELY. So excited for your launch. Hope you can savor every moment.

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