I put a lot of work into this blog and it’s connected projects. Maybe too much for the return.
And when I find myself feeling disgruntled, frustrated, or stressed out by it, I have to take a step back.
I don’t get paid for this. The sole purpose of this blog is to connect with others. And when that connection seems strained or lacking, it loses its luster, and I lose motivation to keep it.
Right now, a lot of people are not writing. This is, in normal times, a rough time for writers of all types. We’ve come down off of our New Year’s high, and those writing intentions have become heavy.
Plus, people, in what used to be a wide community, have split into factions and stopped engaging with openness. Or stopped engaging at all. And maybe with good reason.
I have tried a number of things to engage readers and writers. I’ve had a few different memes, the most successful of which has been The Erotic Journal Challenge. But even that, at its best has been less engaging than I had ever planned or hoped. I’ve considered, more than once, sacking the whole project. I’m at that place again.
I guess my frustration is childish in some ways, and certainly couched in jealousy. Other newer bloggers start memes and have dozens of link-ups in the first few months. I’ve been at it for years, and I’m now 5 days into a weekly meme and have NOT ONE link up. Other bloggers have thousands of followers, dozens of comments on each post. I have a couple of hundred followers and a scattered handful of comments. It’s hard not to take it personally.
And what happens when I piss and moan about this (on occasion) is that, invariably, a few of my readers will tell me I’m awesome and that my writing is appreciated, and that I should only do what makes me happy.
Gold star for me.
This time, honestly, I can say that my “why” is to connect. If it was just to write, I could do that without a blog. The conversational nature of a blog is what provides that added element of human interaction. I suppose I could get that some other way (and I do have other outlets for connection, just not as a writer, and not as much for the content that I write about). This is the place I get to share that little slice of myself that I can’t really share elsewhere, with others who have the need to share a similar slice of themselves.
Maybe it’s me: Old Insecurities
I’ll never be Starbucks. I don’t have the know how and I never seem to find just the right combination of familiar and unique to set me apart and make people clamor for more. Nope…I’m a that quirky coffee shop on the corner that is always on the brink of bankruptcy, looking to please just enough loyal customers to keep myself afloat and validate staying open.
I’ve never been popular. I’ve been awkward and nerdy and just this side of normal. I’ve been pretty enough, sexy enough. And I’ve been successful, because I’m smart and tenacious. But, I’ve always had to work hard to “fit in.” My social anxiety doesn’t help. Plus, I’m an introvert. (My husband says my spirit animal is the porcupine, and I wouldn’t disagree.)
So in some ways, my blog has just been an extension of my reality, no matter how hard I’ve tried to edit out my social shortcomings. Imposter syndrome is just always sitting over there in the corner ready to tell me “I told you so.” And when my ideas to reach out or organize some sort of connection fail…it’s exactly those words that I hear.
Connection: quality over quantity…and putting in the effort
There is an implicit obligation when writing for memes…sort of a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” agreement, which is why I don’t write for them as often as I used to. People who comment only because they feel obligated to, since we wrote for the same prompt, make the whole thing feel tedious. Likewise, commenting on the posts of others because I feel like I have to makes me feel like a shitty blog community member.
I have no problem calling myself out for not interacting as much as I need to in order to get that same kind of interaction back. I know I have to give to get. That is how relationships work. But I want my interactions…and my community…to be organic and authentic.
So let’s walk through this little exercise again…
Establish Your Why
Ask yourself: Why am I writing/blogging?
To connect. To interact. To establish a network of support for my/our content, stories, and lives.
As a creative outlet. As a challenge. To collect a timeline of events and garner thoughts and ideas from others in relation to my writing and the events of my life.
To keep myself honest, to push the envelope, and to develop the ability to be and remain vulnerable.
Determine your What
Ask yourself: What will I do to achieve my purpose/goal, and how will I go about it?
I will reach out and ask what my readers need, revising my meme and projects to better meet their interests. I will create top reading lists and blog rolls, revising my social media accounts to better focus and attend to the blogs and writers and readers I most want to support and those who best support me. I’ll do my part to fulfill for others the same needs I hope to have filled by them. This is how strong communities are built.
And so, I’m working on “fixing” my meme, rather than giving up, like the pouty little brat inside me sometimes wants to do. Because, I like interacting with people, and even though I’m doing it wrong, it doesn’t mean I can’t learn how to do it right.
Today, I’m hacking away at Twitter, making a supporters list, and reconsidering how to meme. Maybe the EJC will change. Maybe I’ll leave it behind and start something new. Maybe I’ll do both (fuck it…let’s get wild!); I haven’t decided yet, but today is all about my blog life (and laundry…and probably some sex…and a shower…maybe a nap, too).
I’ll figure this out. Just gimme a minute.