I don't know what's more twisted, that I paid that much for 4 quarts of oil or that I can turn the situation into a blog post.
I'm sure you can't wait to hear this tale.
First of all, I hate cars with a passion. I've never met a car that I didn't abuse. For that matter I've never driven a car that missed an opportunity to drain my bank account dry. My trusty, commuter-friendly, Ford Focus is no exception.
The old girl didn't seem to mind even though I trashed the interior with spilled coffee, gummy bears, and Chicken McNugget Hot Mustard sauce.
But driving for 20,000 miles without a drop of oil - well that pushing things too far. Today, on the way home, I saw the oil light blink intermittently. No problem, I thought, I'll throw a quart in when I got a minute.
Ten minutes later, a heard a rattle. "Curious" I thought.
Two minutes later, I heard "Ka chunk!"
"Hmm that sounds weird", I mused.
Even then I was determined to whip that car all the way into my drive way. But my Focus (who I secretly call the F-Bomb) wasn't playing around. The engine shuddered and screamed - "I've had enough!" I pulled over and called the person who could fix just about anything.
Who promptly called my brother-in-law, who came and got my sorry butt and helped me figure out the situation.
Well, you know the morale of this "city boy" tale. My car engine threw a rod. For those who don't know, the rod, links to the thing-a-majig, that pumps... the pumper, which turns the cranker - that makes the car go. No oil means that rod starts punching holes in the engine. I've learned that isn't too good.
At the end of the day, it's going to cost me $1,200 to make my problem go away and get me a whole new engine to abuse.
Thankfully, no one told me that several quarts of oil would have saved me from this horror.
Here's the kicker. I had 4 quarts of unopened oil in my trunk.
You can laugh now.
What Does This Sad Story Have to Do with Your Blog?
Ahh...plenty my friend.
I've looked at a lot of blogs that are working hard but are handicapped by their owners. Sure the owner starts out with the best intentions (editorial calendar), gets a car wash (new theme), and generally tries to keep things in good running order (weekly posts). But this just overlooks the fact that the blog is heading for a "Ka-chunk!" crash unless you avoid one engine killing flaw -
I call it "Blogging without Oil"
Oil lubricates and keeps things running. In your blog's case, your oil is your obsession. Your obsession is your blog's topic.
Notice, I didn't say "passion". Passion is too fickle for heavy-duty blogging. No you need borderline dangerous obsession. You see, obsession drives the writer to type for days barely taking the time to eat or sleep. Obsession compels the artist to trash canvas after canvas until they get the right effect. Obsession spurs the entrepreneur to keep working, driving, believing until they grab success by the throat.
Obsession keeps your blog going.
Now you can write all the posts you want. You can hang out at Tweetchats even do a podcast or two but it all will fall flat without obsession.
Obsession is your blog's oil.
Is your Oil light blinking?
Finding your obsession can be a little tricky. First let's talk about where not to look...
Your obsession isn't likely to be your day-job - unless you founded the business. Sadly, I rarely meet someone who loves climbing out of bed in the morning, fighting traffic, punching a clock and sitting in conference rooms for a $300 holiday bonus. (Hurts doesn't it?)
On the other hand, your day job is good for something... It is probably funding your real obsession.
Here's another obsession red herring -
Your College Major.
Your major might give you a hint but it's likely not what your obsessed with. I should mention that College Professors are an exception.
Here's where you should look...
Your obsession is connected with one of the 5 universal traits we all use to express ourselves. In Mark Schaefer and my new book, Born to Blog, we say that these 5 traits are Dreaming, Storytelling, Teaching, Persuading, and Curating. Find your trait, and your obsession is not far away.
As you know by now, I love fishing. I can spend the entire day walking for miles around a single lake chasing that magical tug on the line. I forget about everything - even my momma's scrambled eggs and cheese - when I'm fishing. It's my obsession. What about you?
There's something that you won't think twice about spending obscene amounts of money on. That "thing" is likely your obsession. You might think the object of your cash's affection is trivial, but you'll be shocked by how many people share your obsession. Trust me on this.
What catches and holds your attention? For me anything with a transistor or gills. For you, it might be Chevy's, model rockets, Christmas tree skirts, demoralized athletes, or wedding cakes.
I've discovered that most people learn to bury their obsessions. Sometimes, their parents convinced them that their obsession wasn't practical. Other times, life shows up with a husband, three kids, and bills to pay. But, at the end of the day, your obsession is still there...ready to propel you on your next adventure...
And be the life blood of your blog.
Tell me - what's your obsession?
P.S. Did I tell you that I locked my keys in the car too? Yep, I'm a genius.