self-starter, like charcoal?

I've decided that never again will I question my abilities on this front if I see this request on a job description. It always seems to show up on jobs like mine: "must be a motivated self-starter."

What this has actually meant is "must be able to work in isolation for at least eighteen months on a project that one's co-workers do not understand and cannot assist with, but know that they wanted to have access to at least nine months ago."

Obviously, there's no way I can release this post publicly. Too many eyes in too many places. (Thus it's restricted to users with pre-existing accounts on

Work on the external website continues at an uneven pace. Fast some days, when the answers are readily had or just require busywork. Slow most days, when there are problems to be solved, because the nature of problem-solving in a new system requires several more steps:

- identifying that a problem exists
- learning enough about the software and the code behind it to figure out where the problem might be coming from (it's not always obvious)
- researching enough to learn how to discuss the problem in terms generally accepted in the community

Only then am I likely to actually identify a potential solution. Only then might I be able to implement it, hope it works, gingerly backtrack if it doesn't ... and then move on to the next problem.

It isn't all bad. I make sardonic jokes at work about how the impossible just takes a few days longer than everything else on my to-do list, but I recognize (and the people in my department have acknowledged) that what I am attempting to do is a recipe for madness and dissolved stomach linings, but I'm doing it anyway. I recognize that what I've done so far is light-years beyond what they'd ever hoped they might get out of a webmaster, and the fact that I've made it this far is a testament to stubbornness, vicious prioritization, and near-ruthless single-mindedness.

As jobs go, this has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Webmasters aren't given carte blanche like this these days, but most of the time they don't need it. They've got a graphic design team somewhere that's giving direction on the frontend, and a set of programmers stitching together the heavy-duty code with the database backend. Instead of full-fledged creators, they're traffic cops, merging information, access features, and design into a whole that ... if everyone's lucky ... is greater than the sum of its Frankenstein parts.

Once-in-a-lifetime or not, though, I'm human. I want this to be over. I am vain enough to want people to see what I've been working on for the past year and a half. I want to finally have something concrete and finished to point to. I'm tired of making promises with caveats to my co-workers, of having to tell them unpretty truths, such as "The to-do list is gradually growing shorter, but some items on the list can take days or weeks each to resolve, and we can't go live until they're all resolved."

In the end, it boils down to this simple fact: there is no one else to go to for help or assistance. The responsibility is awe-inspiring at times, but more often than not lately it's just been mentally exhausting. I can lay groundwork, do things right, prepare prepare prepare, but no amount of preparedness can entirely alleviate the problem of being two people fewer than I need to be to get the job done.

It hasn't stopped me from trying, though, and I damn well may just pull it off, but the cost to me in stress and lack of personal life has been high.

So, how's YOUR life been lately?


Wow, I thought I had a tough time at work sometimes. If I had your job, I'd go absolutely mental O_O!

You know, it's times like these that I'm glad my projects like this come in six-week packages with explosive finales on a concert stage. *bows to your perseverance* I would have run screaming long ago.

New word as of this morning: launch will be delayed at least three more months.

Wow, 18 months is a huge amount of time to spend on a project. I know the feeling of looking at that to-do list near the end, though: there might be fewer things to do, but in the end you know the last 10% of stuff will take 50% of the time.

Good luck, and really, appreciate that you have the chance to do it right. Every project I've done for every employer has been pushed out the door early, and slightly unfinished, and thus went through a very distressing public beta phase, wherein we stayed late every day furiously fixing bugs that real users were complaining about. Hopefully you can avoid the worst of that, at least!

When I explained current batch of stress causing bullshit to my husband a couple weeks ago his reply was "That's why I'm glad I never went to college. I would have quit after a week and wasted all that money."