I have hit the proverbial wall. In fact, I am standing against the proverbial wall and banging my head against it, repeatedly. For about a month now, I have been trying to write my way through the wall, struggling not only with tone and wording, but also with the realization that no matter how much magic I work with adjectives and prepositional phrasing and metaphor, I am going to sound bitter. I am going to sound like a tool, a snob, an ingrate. I’ve been spooning away at the mortar between the bricks of my proverbial wall in an attempt to make myself sound better. But my little silver spoon is getting me nowhere. What I really need is a sledge-hammer, or a battering ram, to break on through to the other side. So I am finally taking the advice of a writing professor whose words have stuck with me for the last 15 years.
“If you are writing about shit,” she said, “then write it. There’s no point tip-toeing around with words like feces and poop and excrement. Sometimes you just need to write the word shit.” Paraphrased, but you get the idea.
Remember the rhymes you sang as a child, the elaborate sing-song methods for choosing who SHALL NOT BE IT?
My mother and your mother were hanging out the clothes.
My mother punched your mother right in the nose.
What color was the blood?
I am increasingly aware that I SHALL NOT BE IT. There. I said it.
I have reached a point where I have to decide if I should continue to take a she-sells-seashells-by-the-seashore approach with writing or if I need to switch gears and follow a more Donald Trump/Apprentice style avenue, aggressively seeking followers, and thus increasing my chances of being IT. I am not, by nature, a self promoter. That is not to say I am lacking in self-confidence, the two are different. What I lack is the ability to promote myself with any real zeal and without a healthy dose of self-deprecation. Now, self-deprecation is the cornerstone of a lot of my writing, yet at the same time, when you are taking the piss out of yourself (to use one of the less eloquent Anglo-isms that float around in our house), it is hard to take what one is saying seriously. So around and around you go. I started the blog and went public with it when I was ready to. Though no Jim Jones, I have steadily and slowly been gaining ‘followers’. The process seemed organic, fair. Selling seashells. But you eventually reach a point where the shell business starts to limp along a bit, perhaps folks have had enough of the beach, are heading for more varied climes. And so now at a blogging crossroad, I have to decide if it is enough to continue with a lemonade stand approach, a hand printed sign and a smile, or if I need to put on a metaphorical push-up bra and do some subtle whoring.
When I was in high school, we were advised to pad out our resumes for college application purposes. We were encouraged to join a bunch of clubs and associations and after school activities and sports to round ourselves out and make ourselves marketable college candidates. The more clubs you joined, the better your application looked. The more sports you play, the well-er rounded you appeared. And apparently the same applies to blogging. When you sign up for a blog with WordPress, the site encourages you, much like a high school guidance counselor, to go out and read other blogs. Sound advice. It outlines tips for increasing your blog traffic by commenting on other blogs. Sound advice. And it goes without saying that the more blogs you chose to follow, the more followers you are likely to get in return. So you have blogs out there that have a thousand followers, two thousand, three and more.
I’ve been fairly picky and choosy about which blogs I follow (though I read many more). Part of that is that you simply can’t read blog posts all day every day, but another part is that, well, what I choose to read and follow reflects upon me. And I didn’t want to go out there and click the ‘follow me’ button willy-nilly just so that other people would follow me back. But as I confessed to a fellow blogger, I am increasingly worried that I am, to put it bluntly, using up my best material for not a lot of return. And hence the proverbial wall makes its appearance.
And then there is the Freshly Pressed thing.
A lot of the blogs that I follow have been deservedly singled out. But there are a lot of other ones out there that I have run across which haven’t, and for no reason that I can fathom. Some I have visited have been chosen more than once. I am not taking away from the quality of those that have received accolades, but there is a random-ness to the choosing that reminds me of those old childhood rhymes. Like someone is sitting there singing Eeny Meeny Miney Moe while doling out sky blue badges. I am seriously starting to wonder if there is an ex-boyfriend sitting behind the big WordPress Freshly Pressed “You have been CHOSEN” panel. Some high school girl I made fun of without realizing it who is exacting her revenge.
And this is where the bitter tool bit comes into play. Because I think I’ve been writing quality content on a pretty frequent basis. I write on a number of topics, but not too wide. I write humor, I write tear-jerky, I write flowery prose. I include cultural references from today, yesterday and fret what the references of tomorrow will be. I draw on literature, music, mythology, psychology, and popular culture. I have catchy titles. I don’t think I can write any better than I do, in this format. So I guess if that’s not good enough, I don’t know what is.
So I Shall Not Be It. Which is fine. But obviously not fine.
When you create—a painting, a meal, a scarf, a piece of writing, it is the rare person who doesn’t trill to the sound of an occasional round of applause. Human beings, for the most part, seek recognition, crave approval. Bloggers are no different. I am no different.
Spoon and seashells and lemonade? Battering ram and push-up bra?
Eeny Meeny Miney Moe.