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Ten Years After

Ten years ago today, almost exactly to the minute I’m writing this, I began a project I called A Year In Words, in which I challenged myself to write and post an essay every morning for 365 consecutive days.


I did it because after decades of writing for a living, and always for others (in my first job as a newspaper reporter, as later as a corporate P.R./marketing specialist, and a small ad agency before striking out on my own in 1995 to develop my own client list as a freelancer), I wanted to share my own stories.


So, at 5:00 a.m., July 8, 2014, I sat down with a cup of coffee in front of a blank computer screen and a headful of ideas. By 6:30 a.m., I had written and shared my first fully baked personal essay.


Only 364 to go.


I should mention that in the days before beginning this project I, with some help from Joanie, set a few ground rules for myself:

1. Every essay would be at least 365 words (most totaled between 1,000 and 2,000 words).

2. I’d write every piece “from scratch” on the morning it was to be posted. In other words, while I might have an idea of what I wanted to write in coming days or weeks, I wouldn’t do any of the work until I sat down to write that days’ essay.

3. I would post every essay by 7:00 a.m. each day on my website,

4. I would write the entire draft, edit it once (which if you’re a writer you know is not enough times to catch everything) and post it, “warts and all,” for the world (which at that time was about 25 people) to see.


These rules, along with notifying a select group of family and friends about the project, would keep me accountable and committed to pumping out a full year of daily stories.


During the year, I wrote about a lot of things: my childhood, everyday occurrences and experiences that most of us can relate to, my failed attempt at Cub Scouting, my family, multiple accidents and incidents that I find humorous, and other thoughts and memories that popped into my head and inspired me to document and share.


I wrote at my desk, on the road during business trips, and on vacations; anywhere I could be found during that year, I wrote because that was the challenge and the opportunity. It didn’t matter where I was or what I had going on, I had to write something every daily. Most days, I had finished and posted my essay before the sun came up, and every time, I felt a rush of accomplishment; not because I’d created a masterpiece (I hadn’t), but that I’d made something, something that others could experience and enjoy if they chose to.


It was fun, frustrating, nerve-wracking and gratifying, sometimes all at once. But at the end of it all, on July 7, 2015, when I shared Essay 365, Touching ‘Em All, I had completed my goal and amassed more than a half-million words, more typos than I’d like to admit, and lots of unique, relatable, mostly humorous stories that I’m proud to say are 100% mine.


That project, A Year In Words, led me to publish my first book of the same title (2019), which is a compilation of some of my favorites from that first year. Over the past nine years, I’ve pulled back, writing and posting weekly essays on Monday mornings), and that resulted in a second book, I Told You I Was Dehydrated (2021).


My third book of essays, Traffic Cones Are People Too, has been “this close” to being finished for much longer than I’d like to admit (FYI, I’m holding my thumb and index finger really close together right now), but I’m hoping to complete it soon. (Procrastinators love the word “soon.”)


Along the way, I’ve also co-written a book, Music Has Legs (with my longtime friend and writing partner, Marlene Byrne), I’ve edited several books, and Marlene and I are working on our next book as well. I’ve also discussed launching various creative projects with my best friend/cousin Mike, who’s a recurring character in my stories.


Suffice it to say, while you haven’t found me on the New York Times Best-Sellers List (yet) and my work can be found “in bookstores almost nowhere,” this past 10 years of writing and sharing my stories (and to a degree, helping others tell theirs), has been a gratifying experience; one I don’t plan to bring to an end anytime soon, regardless of whether it brings me fortune or fame or just makes me (and a few others) smile.


And that’s the big lesson I’ve learned after all these years. It’s the gratification and inspiration I get from the journey, the act and the effort, that’s important. And if it’s meant to be seen, enjoyed, purchased or shared by others, it will happen. And if not, so be it.


Thank you for reading this, and for reading my work. I hope it has given you a reason to smile, to think, and maybe to inspire you to launch a project of your own


Peace. And here’s to the next 10 years.


© 2024 David R. Haznaw

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