It's been a long time since I've dug my heels into blogging. Okay, that's a wee bit of a lie. I blogged last year into a bit of this year about my fitness journey, but it was short-lived and focused entirely on that journey. The blogging I'm talking about returning to is one that I'm familiar with, one that feels like that old forgotten toy sitting in the closet gathering cobwebs. You know, in the back of your mind, that it's there, but you have a million excuses why you can't play with it. There's not enough time. You've got much more important work to be doing. Everyone needs you. The house needs you. Blah, blah, blahity, blah.
I was an early adopter and advocate of blogging back in the day. While nothing I wrote was read by millions, and I certainly wasn't the type of blogger to monetize my blog -- I enjoyed the escape I got from writing my thoughts down in a more public way than my journal. I had a small community of followers and friends that I'd met over the interwebs and it was the exact kind of nourishment I needed for my soul and my writing. And then of course, as many things do, when life became too busy and my focus changed, so did the blogging.
But it wasn't just the blogging that stopped in the last year -- it was other things I loved, too. My own writing. I wanted to share something I wrote to my private FB group about how I was feeling over the last year:
Something really strange happens when you figure out you're better at helping do the thing you want to do than actually DOING that thing. At first, you feel great about this - you're helping so many people! And when you get more successful, you feel even better. But then... there's this shift that happens. You watch the people you're helping become successful with their books. You watch them publish book after book. You actively HELP them achieve their dreams while a little bit of yours dies. You start thinking things like, "maybe I was just playing a fraud. Maybe that wasn't what I was meant to do after all. Maybe I'm not good enough to do it myself, so that's why I have to help others." It really affects your confidence, motivation and desire. You feel like you're losing readers (and to be honest - you are losing them in this fast-paced industry. I sent out a newsletter and had 40 people unsubscribe which tells me they lost interest in me and what I had to say. That's okay. If they don't want to be there, I don't want to force them to listen to me!).
But it's heartbreaking. That sadness and frustration and guilt bubbles up inside of you until you're ready to burst. And when you don't do the thing that you've loved to do for so long in months (7 to be exact) - you want to throw your hands up in the air and say, "Okay, universe. I get it. I'm done. I had my fun."
Here's the thing though: I'm lucky. I get to wake up every day and work with authors and writers who are living their dream and help them. I'm not discounting the amazing-ness of that. I just miss writing. I miss connecting with readers.
So what am I going to do? Well - I've been making an attempt to give up control. To let others help me run my business and still maintain quality for my clients. I've made some silent promises to myself to start putting MY dreams a little more on top of the priority list. I've started with small steps and completed a short story (yay! You'll hear more about it soon!)
I enrolled in a short self-editing workshop to help me better my story before it goes off to editors and betas. (And ironically - it keeps you grounded in your story... so if you're not actually writing... you're still WORKING on writing and that little mind trick means the world to a writer).
So this is me saying that I'm not surrendering to the feelings I've grown accustomed to. This is me saying "it may not be possible to HAVE IT ALL, but it's possible to have a little bit of everything."
This is me saying - I'm a work-in-progress and I have a lot of learning and growing yet.
And this is also me saying THANK YOU for those of you who have stuck around. Who have encouraged me. Who continue to spread the word about my books even if I haven't released one in ages.
You guys make it all worth it.
Reading it over again makes me feel both sad/hopeful for the me that wrote that. It was coming from a place of such honesty and desperation. I just wanted to be heard. I wanted to feel like my old "writing" self. I wanted to get back to the things I loved to do. And even though it didn't happen right away... even though I'm still learning how to navigate the choppy waters of my life lately, there was hope. There is hope. So that leads me to...
Why am I back? A lot of reasons.
1. The state of social media right now scares and upsets me. I can't open my Facebook or Twitter without being bombarded immediately with terrible news stories (this is also why I am judicious in my news watching). And if it's not horrific news stories, then it's thousands of ways to get sucked into the cesspool of baby animal videos and random viral posts. I am as guilty as the next person of falling down those rabbit holes - and honestly - it isn't even all of those reasons that made me want to focus back on blogging. It was the realization that if Facebook went under tomorrow (God help us) there would only be a select few ways to reach my readers. And the fact that half of what I put on Facebook doesn't even reach my readers. That's not to say that website hosting and newsletter providers don't pose the same risk - but let's face it - they pose much less of the same risk. If I had to hedge my bets on what I use to reach my readers -- I'm gonna go with my website/newsletter.
2. One of my favorite things to do is to talk to other writers/readers about writing. I know it seems crazy because my whole life revolves around writing and the publishing industry, but very rarely do I get a chance to sit down and talk about tropes or genre expectations or what a Bildungsroman is and how a writer can make use of alliteration. I suppose I could meander over to the campus in town and ask the MFA students if I can hang out... or I could just make use of my own space. I think that sounds like a much better idea.
3. I know a lot of fiction writers who fall into the trap of thinking that any form of writing outside of fiction writing isn't "practice," but I think they're mistaken. I truly believe that all writing is practice and helps you strengthen and develop your writing muscles. Blogging, in particular, helps you strengthen your voice and your ability to be concise. Writing succinctly is actually more difficult than writers care to admit. So yes, I am hoping to use my blog as a breeding ground for practice.
4. Have you ever purchased or fallen in cyber-love with someone before you actually read their books? I have. Chuck Wendig stole my heart a thousand times before I picked up his books. But I was a loyal, rabid consumer of his works because of how much I adored and respected him. How'd he do it? His blog is very much is voice and he stays authentic and true and you can tell that just by reading what he writes. So, in a way, I hope that if someone wanders over to my little corner of the blogosphere, reads one of my blog posts -- they love what I have to say. And if they don't love it, that's okay, too. Maybe they still like that I spoke up. Or maybe they liked that I used a funny gif. I want readers and my peers to be able to get a slice of authentic me through my blog.
5. It's always been my policy to keep quiet on scandalous or hot-button topics. I don't plan to change that policy, but I do find myself wishing I had a space to talk about some larger issues or the publishing/writing industry at large. Again, Facebook and Twitter seem to have a shelf life and I can't quite seem to get in what I want to say in time. I figure my blog is as good as a place as any to do it.
So there you have it. I set no expectations for this blog and that's the beauty of it. It's my own little space to talk to you (whoever you are, reading this). So welcome, pull up a chair and get cozy. We have some talkin' to do ;)