Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Nightly Note

I'm getting pretty excited. The greatest undertaking of my young writing career has been to write Prospect Profiles on the Top-10 players from each AL Central team. Fifty profiles in total. Some of you who read this blog know precisely how difficult that can be. It's an incredibly heavy burden. If you assume that each is at least 500 words you're talking about 25,000 words in total. That's not an impossible amount, but it's a lot.

Beyond the simple bulk of writing to be done, there are hours of research. My best guess would be that for every profile I write, I spend one hour writing the piece and another two hours doing research and compiling data. At three hours per profile that means 150 hours of work, or 6.25 days of my existence on this planet. Considering that I started 40 days ago, that would mean that 15.6% of my life has been devoted to these profiles.

The math gets more stark when you measure it by waking hours. I sleep about 6 hours a night: down at 2am, up at 8am. So suddenly we're talking about 150 hours of 720 waking hours spent on the profiles. 20.8% of my life. Now add in the fact that I took four days off for a vacation in the middle - now you're up to 23.1%. Damned near a quarter of my life over the past 40 days has been devoted to these profiles.

So naturally as I draw to a close (three to go!), I'm in a celebratory mood. It's going to be a great feeling of accomplishment after all.

That said, there are a lot more costs and benefits to completing the project than just time and a feeling of fulfillment. In January my little site drew more readers than in all of 2010 combined. Incredible. Then in February, we had three and a half times as many readers as in January. So far in the first five days of March, we're already halfway to our February total.

In short, readership is exploding.

A big part of the reason for that is the increase in search engine traffic that comes from having a post devoted to prospects that get so much attention. A lot of it of course, is because of the links from the many friends of Central in Focus and because of our small following of loyal readers who check back day after day. Sometimes more than once a day.

For all of that, I am thankful. There is something deeply gratifying about knowing that you've created something that others find useful and informative.

Of course, success doesn't come free, you have to pay for it. You pay for it with your effort, yes. But you also pay for it by making the choice to expend that effort on your objective instead of spending it  elsewhere. Economists have a tidy way of explaining this: the opportunity cost. In short, what performing one action costs you in terms of what you cannot do instead.

When you have to make a choice between to important needs, you have to prioritize - which need is MORE important. We make these decisions on a small scale literally dozens of times every day without consciously realizing it, with each small decision cascading into dozens of others. 

Lately, my priorities have been to taking care of my writing. Pumping out what has been described by more than one fellow writer as a "stunning" amount of content. I try my best to balance the needs of my writing with spending ample time with my family and having a life away from my keyboard. Unfortunately, I pretty generally fail to find that balance and it takes a toll on my fantastic and incredibly supportive fiance.

I'm also sure it takes a toll on my beloved little girl. I still spend a lot of time playing with her, teaching her, loving and nurturing her, but I think like any parent I always feel like I could be doing more. And lets be honest, when you're devoting a quarter of your life to work - you could be doing more.

Over the past week I think I've expounded on some meaningful subjects, and this is another one; one that I'm not certain were usually very acutely aware of. It's easy for us to tell when we're feeling guilt or sorrow or sadness. Easy for us to identify the feelings of victory and fulfillment. But it's not always so easy to tell when we're slipping away from our families. When our work lives slowly begin to erode our personal lives. It really is very much like the work of the tides against the beach, slowly and almost imperceptibly taking away from that foundation one grain of sand at a time.

We never seem to realize it until it effects something big, and once it does we're panicked to learn that nothing can be done to easily mend the damage that's been done.

Thankfully to say, I don't think any irreparable damage has been done to any of my personal relationships as a result of my work. Which isn't the same thing as saying no damage has been done. I know my fiance misses me. When she isn't getting enough attention she has a tendency to get whiny and needy. I'm not certain she knows she's doing it. I rather doubt it she does actually. But I see it and understand that it's not the mundane task she wants me to help her with or do for her so much as it is her expressing a need to be relevant to me again.

What becomes important at this point, once a problem has been consciously realized and properly understood, is to deal with it. On a positive note, I'm a few short profiles away from once again being able to devote that time to them, and I look forward to it greatly. I miss them, and I know they miss me.

If you're reading this baby, know that I love you. I'll be back soon, promise.

Corey Ettinger is a Senior Writer for Baseball Digest as well as a proud contributor to both,, and He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Coreyettinger for the latest updates, random thoughts and general tomfoolery. 

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