Writing for me has always been confessional. So, perhaps it’s only fitting that I confess: I don’t particularly like blogging. It has always struck me as being somewhat self-indulgent. (Let me share my musings … as if they are universal truths.) Plus, ‘blog’ sounds uncannily like the sound one makes when vomiting. And I can’t help but think that’s a metaphor of sorts.
Yet here I am. Blogging. Three or four blogs in a row, spaced out as if I put pen to paper (or finger to key) in the moment. That I took time from the relative insanity of my life to collect and share my thoughts in the hope that my words would resonate with even one person. This may strike you as odd – how can a writer not enjoy fashioning 300 words or so? (More like 500 in my case, as brevity is not my forte.) Surely, something interesting has happened that warrants a mention. When you write for a living – I use the term loosely as there’s hardly any money to be made for the majority of word sloggers – how hard can it be to share snippets from your world?
Well, it’s not very difficult at all. But it’s the expectation that troubles me. That writers – at least those who hope to be published – are not only expected to come up with a ‘publishable’ story (whatever that is) but to become heavily invested in selling themselves, especially in the tight children’s and YA market. Generating online content. Networking. Teaching. Presenting. Entertaining. Sharing. Volunteering.
The danger? If you glance at posts, they look close enough to the real deal that you’re sucked in; worse, you may even feel like you’ve somehow fallen short by comparison. We curate our lives online, presenting our best selves. The problem is when we start to believe that what we’re posting, and reading, is true.
This is arguably why I have only a few hundred friends/followers and probably always will. I’ve never been good at playing by the rules. When it comes to social media, I don’t post nearly often enough. And I don’t post at optimal times (according to analytics). In fact, I don’t pay much attention to analytics. I don’t engage nearly enough, preferring emojis to comments as the latter, at least judging by the drivel I read on any given day, borders on disingenuous. People who praise something or someone publicly but tear them done behind the scenes. People who lecture from a stance of superiority. People (from both ends of the spectrum) who feel compelled to share their rabid politics. People who believe their lives are so exciting that they must post incessantly.
How can a writer – how can anyone, really – expect to find success if they don’t play the (social media) game? I’m not sure. But I’m also not sure that I’m willing to judge my ‘success’ in typical measure. In writing circles, publication is the gold standard. The imprimatur that a person or committee deemed your work worthy of sharing with the masses. You’re smart enough to know the publishing decisions are based more on commercial considerations than literary value. But this doesn’t always take the sting out of rejections, even the nicest ones, full of praise for your work.
I don’t know what the answer is. But I think it involves agency and authenticity in equal measure. And carving a new path.
After all, rules are meant to be broken.