I settled into a comfortable morning slicing routine around year three of the challenge.
Coffee. Computer. Cats. Comments.
I check mine and feel grateful for the readers who took the time to leave a comment. If slicing were just about the writing, I probably wouldn’t do it. I know it’s good for me and I ought to find value and purpose even without feedback. But the community is what keeps me coming back year after year.
I try to do my part. First, I catch up with the night slicers. My unscientific study of commenting habits reveals that morning slicers get a lot more feedback. I feel for the late night folks. By morning, it seems like everyone is moving on. So first I open the links from yesterday’s slicing and comment on eight or ten before checking in with my fellow morning slicers and leaving five or six comments for them. I’ll circle back to today’s slicers later, adding a few more comments here and there throughout the day when I have a moment.
I know the participation guidelines suggest three comments each day. But I don’t know many long-time slicers who routinely leave only three comments. This whole commenting algorithm isn’t too complex: leave a bunch of comments, and eventually you’re going to start getting a bunch of comments.
I know many slicers like to slice first, then comment. But I have an ulterior purpose in commenting first: I’m usually searching for my own slice.
My first couple of years of slicing, I was an anxious slicer. So worried about getting that finished piece every day that I worked on several at once just to be sure something would be close to publication on any given day. So worried about finding something to write about that I kept a file open on my computer at all times to jot down even the barest whiff of an idea. I thought about very little else all day long except slicing and regularly felt panicked over my ability to have an idea about something and write something and finish something every single day for 31 days. I wouldn’t fall asleep until I had a clear plan for what to write about the next day.
But then I completed the challenge once successfully. Then twice. For my third year slicing, I figured I could settle down and perhaps trust a bit more that the universe would provide.
And it did. In the form of other people’s slices.
Now I wake up with absolutely no clue what I’m going to be writing, even though I know I will start my piece in the next 30 or 45 minutes. I make my coffee. My three most reliable morning lap cats join me and curl up in their spots: Smudge across my ankles, Toast on my knees, and Chipotle claiming top spot, the actual lap. I open my computer to read and comment and find my slice.
It usually works. Occasionally, I find my piece in the first slice I read. Usually, it takes a little more browsing. But by the fifth or sixth or tenth slice, I have an idea and I’m ready to write.
It usually works. But not always. This was one of the mornings when it didn’t. I read one wonderful slice after another. So many powerful, provocative, funny, heartfelt, moving slices. I read and commented, read and commented. And suddenly realized my morning time was slipping by and I didn’t have an idea for my own slice. I opened my ideas file, which I still keep though it’s not open on my computer all the time. Nothing struck me. I thought about picking up one of my many books on writing to search for inspiration, but they are all clear across the room on a shelf and my living blanket of cat doesn’t like to be disturbed.
Ok, time’s up, I told myself. You’ve got to find a slice now. What’s right in front of you?
Coffee. Computer. Cats. Comments.