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.
22 Comments Add yours
I love your writing, and I think you’re absolutely right in your assessment: its quality writing, and I’m always pleased to get another post in my inbox. I don’t know about this Freshly Pressed thing – it does seem random to me. It may just be that certain kinds of blogs attract a lot of readers who are just more likely to press that button. Or it might just be an ex-boyfriend, as you say!
Whatever you do, please don’t give up. Whether you carry on as you are or go for the push-up bra, it’s still first-rate lemonade.
Thank you for that huge and wonderful compliment, truly. I will come back and read it again when I am feeling blue about not being ‘it’. 😉
I hit the wall two years ago. Stopped. Then restarted. I get the part about using your best material and getting little, if any, gain. Keep going though. I love reading your posts and they are actually what inspired me to have a go at it again.
Thank you, Di. I am honored (pun intended 😉 ) and flattered. I’ll keep chipping away, with my spoon, for a little while.
This is one of your best ever, absolutely brilliant – no subtle whoring for you, it seems, just push-up bra and back of the hand. A terribly hilarious post, which you again, haven’t noticed, which makes it even more delicious. Don’t waste precious energy on freshly pressed thoughts, even human waste is freshly pressed – is it not? And it’s being pressed a lot at HQ. Stick to your guns, your readers are happy, and even though we may fail to mention it, we so look forward to what you write, because you’re brilliant, top-notch. You leave me laughing and smiling and feeling good – like today. Smile@you from Berlin.
I am only human! I don’t know why I want the stupid badge so much. I’m sure it stems from some deep rooted psychological trauma I suffered that I’m not aware of. In any event, thank you, as always, for the compliments and kindness. I will keep spooning away, shilling shells though the shore is eroding by the minute. With thanks from sunny CPH.
Agree with lexborgia! I, as a digital neophyte, do not read blogs but I do read yours… Not that that matters to you, but what you write does matter to me! Please keep it up.
Of course it matters, Jeneva! That’s why I’m writing this, to slowly get everyone to agree with me 😉 and take over the world. One blog post at a time.. Thank you for the kindness!
Brilliant and honest, as always! Thank you for being vulnerable and speaking your truth. I agree with the others…Freshly Pressed doesn’t mean shit. Your readers devour your posts like a perfect wine or cheese (doodle) and we would sure miss you if you decided to change it up and start writing romance novels. Stay the course. Reflect on why it is you started this blog in the first place. Who does it serve? How does it make you feel?
I’ve been wrangling the same demons and what I know is this:
1. Live your truth and speak it
2. Follow the Four Agreements (Ruiz) and stop giving two shits about what anyone else thinks – you are Freshly Pressed to me and all your loyal followers.
3. If you want to be bigger, play bigger.
4. The only person standing in your way is you.
Whether I have two followers or 2 million (wouldn’t that be kinda cool) I write for me. It is my therapy (that, and wine) and I feel bold, rich and fearless using my voice. If I happen to make 1 person laugh along the way or have a wake up call then that’s just sprinkles on the cupcake.
With love and gratitude, your fan,
Allsion, thank you so, so much. Reading these lovely comments, I am no left with feeling ashamed that I was fishing for compliments–when really I was venting my frustrations, which I know you’ve had too. For some reason that post was preventing me from working on anything else–humor, tragedy, whatever and I literally had to write through it to get past it. I waffled about whether or not to publish it, but in the end, I though it was important to get it out there in the universe and let it fall where it may. I’ve been thoroughly touched by the responses here, and humbled. Thank you for all the kind words and for your advice. With gratitude, Dina
You are it! Just not yet! Don’t give up, we look forward to your every post knowing it’s going to be a good read, and sometimes a tear, but always food for thought! Don’t make us go hungry – we love your lemonade too.
Don’t know if this is comforting or not, but you’re not alone. I thought there might be something for blogging akin to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s 5 stages of grief, and sure enough here is a post on the “5 Stages of Blogging” :
So whether your stage 2 or 4, don’t give up! Try on that bra for a while and see where the first year ends up…and that’ll be the end of that metaphor.
Thanks, double style. I’m thinking definitely a 2. Yes, a 2. Thanks for that, it actually made me smile (amid making sense). And it helps to know that most(ly) everyone feels that way. I’m not going to stop writing, I just need to figure out the direction!
Write on! And Allison is right, it has has to be your voice. It’s just the “game” of blogging, like you so brilliantly point out, is a mystifying one where popularity or recognition only sometimes correlate with talent and quality. I guess that’s a good key to sanity while blogging, don’t confuse the game/strategy with talent/quality. Don’t we all want to be recognized for being who we are, not for game-playing?
Yes, damn you, you are right. We should want to be recognized for who we are and not game-playing (one of my most protected relationship dogmas), which is why I get so uptight sometimes. I know the cheap, hooker shoes don’t last past a night out on the stones, but damn if sometimes the sparkle don’t make you buy them. (I figured the bra metaphor was played out. Switched to shoes. )
I’ve not met you, but started getting forwards from my daughter and then joined your blog myself. Please, please, please continue writing….I look forward to living vicariously through you, love especially the LEGO blogs, as I have a grandson, THAT COULD BE YOUR THIRD CHILD……along with my morning cuppa, I search my email to see if you have blogged….you see, at my age life is dull sometimes and I NEED TO read your humorous, tear jerky, just what I need to hear writings. Love E’s mom
Aw, Lin, will you be my 2nd mom?? Now I know where Elizabeth gets her happy, positive self from! Thank you so much for the kind words. Don’t worry, I will not stop writing, it brings me too much joy. I just need to find the balance–somehow! I am so happy that you enjoy reading it, that really makes my day!
U betcha……please take care of my “girlies” when they return soon. Loved today’s blog also….
Thanks, Lin. Will do!
I’d miss your voice but you must choose what’s right for you.
Thanks. I was just feeling a little sorry for myself the other day, I think. The reverse of Spring fever, maybe. Once I find the right direction, all will be whole.
What is the “need” for your blog? Is it to provide some light hearted entertainment for friends, great and small. Or, practice your writing and try out your material (for a book, journalistic career…). Or, to become known as a great blogger. Is there a financial motivation to it? Ignoring the financial motivation, the first and second categories are well ticked by you. I can’t really comment in the third, but did anyone ever really “make it” by being known as a great blogger. Anyway, what do I know. Keep up the great writing!
Amazing what a week away will do for one’s perspective. Not a week away from the everyday grind, but from hitting the publish button. I needed to get that piece out there (though I struggled with whether or not to go public with it) in order to free up myself for other stuff. It was weighing on me, I finally got ‘through’ it, and there you go. Really no more than a toddler tantrum, but in public. You are 100% right. The idea behind the blog was never to make money or to make it as a ‘blogger’. The idea was to get back into the habit of writing and to get some constructive criticism along the way. Ok, and sure, some praise. I don’t know why I’ve become obsessed by popularity contests or accolades, but I confess, that in more than a single moment of weakness, that it’s motivated me. Human? Who, me? As always, I am humbled by anyone who takes the time to read, let alone comment. Rest assured that the venting/ranting/toddler posts are behind me. (At least for a bit). D