May 21, 2015

Muse: Falling In & Out & Back In Love With Blogging

The blogger's daily lament...
When this new year began I put some loose goals in mind. Now with some months into 2015, I can happily say that some of those goals are being met or are in the process of being met. Yay! Go me! Still I also set some private goals, and a lot of those goals dealt with my writing career, and how to stop frolicking around trying to 'find myself' and actually put the little coupon degree I got in journalism to some feasible use. After getting through the battlefield of rejection slips and e-mails for five years, I took took a brave? idiotic? leap to pursue freelancing full-time. I didn't want to give up. At eight, I wanted to be a writer, and at 28, I'm still going to be one, gawddammit, so I bucked up and decided to make plans.

Part of my plans included refreshing my blogs. I outright pressed the reset button on my baby, Audio Diva, and decided that this space, Jen On The Rocks, was going to be my 'fun space' where I also would expand upon several ideas I've been playing around with. All of this had me excited, as I scribbled down ideas, my draft numbers swelling, yet I wasn't this way for most of 2014, back when I had climbed too much into my head and felt myself falling out of love with one of the stable constants in my life.

I wasn't really burned out of blogging.  I wasn't blogging that much in the last months of 2014 to be that way nor did I ever stop loving writing as a whole (if that ever happens I'm...a corpse). Maybe I was a little bored? Maybe I was all-the way depressed and playing in a ball pit of procrastination? Maybe I was a little stressed trying to figure out the right way to write something out, but mostly I became full-blown disenchanted over how I fit into the growing jungle of blogging.

You see blogging has gotten...complex. Blogs have become more than just a space to bullshit and blow off steam. It has become identity for the person (or persons) creating it. An alter-ego. An extension of who you are and what you represent. A living and breathing organism that at times can have a mind of its own and take over. Sounds like we're traveling into the Twilight Zone, right? Well, excuse me for taking a drag on my cigarette and morphing into Rod Serling as I observe my surrounding with a pithy, almost "this world has gone to hell" air.

I have blogged for close to a decade now on two separate blogs. I wouldn't call myself a 'professional blogger' or 'writer' by any means as I do not get paid for what I do and I have yet to secure any lucrative 'deals' that warrant the title. I do it for enjoyment, expression, for writing practice, and --- let's be bluntly honest --- to build up a readership and one day get paid for what I like doing. I truly began blogging on the strength of improving my writing skills and to get over my shyness with sharing my opinions, and in that time, I began to see shifts in how blogging was first an obscure young whippersnapper and computer geeking hobby that morphed into being a full-fledged business venture.

I felt a little overwhelmed by that, especially when I saw how blogs were getting turned into books, cooking shows, and fashion campaigns, and the bloggers that ran them were aligning in the echelons of the famous glitteratti. I admit I felt a little jealous, a little inadequate and dull, because I was never on, not forceful and fully aware or connected enough like a lot of writing and blogging personalities I came across. Truth is, I felt mostly lost, unsure of how I was going to get my voice out there, how I was going to take my writing, my blogging to then next phase and make it unique enough to stand out. Networking, engaging with other like-minded individuals, and patience are the essential foundations for building a success story. I noted this, and I'm working on those things, but I noticed that this isn't always enough. There had to be another type of push, and several shoves I wasn't favorable towards.

There are Instagram and Twitter users out there buying followers to make it seem as if they have a huge following. There are food bloggers that "borrow" recipes and photos from AllRecipesAmerica's Test Kitchen, and other bloggers, tweaking the measurements just to try to pass them off as original. There are people out there who are stealing blog posts from others, going by fake personalities and ideals just to troll a particular niche, licking and kissing ass, jumping jack flashing through loopholes in order to be the best and/or giving the impression that they are the best, and though journalism and blogging is big business that is survival of the fittest, at the end of the day, the honesty of self is always lost. I have to be honest with myself and to the people who just so happen to read something I write. I sleep better knowing that. So no, those type of short-cuts, those pushes and shoves, weren't going to work for me.

Click-baiting has also become an issue. I joked once to a friend that one day I'm going to type up a post about Corgi's and how cute their little stumpy legs and tails are and why I love them so, but write the headline as: "I Hate Black Men, They Are Lazy Shiftless Shitheads. I Love Me Some Asian Men, They Are Better Because They Know Math!" Some real stereotypical racist bullshit, and just see who I attract, see if it'd go viral, and see if anyone actually reads the article and see what symphony gets played out in the comments. We've become a culture of shit-pot stirring click-bait, a culture of rabid "stanning", a culture of political correctness, a culture that can't tell the difference from satire and hate speech. We've just become so knee-jerky, so precious and flippant with how we say and do things, that it has killed some of the excitement, the urgency for good information, love of writing in general, because it has become a mean girl exercise of "who can I write about today in order to offend people and gain clicks to pay for ads?"

But that's the weird, obtuse world blogging/online writing has become, and me trying to figure it out is tying me into knots, forcing me to do the thing I (unfavorably) do too well --- over-think.

With these thoughts, the fun just got sucked out, and I got blindsided. Slapped in the face with ice cold reality that I wasn't blogging for me anymore, I was blogging because I had listened to too many people, read too many advice posts on how to blog the "proper" way, and had decided to write for an audience...not for myself. I felt like...a fraud. But it happens, you get a few readers and suddenly you don't want to let them down. But what about yourself, Jen? I wasn't giving myself any credit.

Of all the advice that I read about that is supposed to make me a "great entertaining blogger" or a "fantastic bestselling writer", never did I hear that you were supposed to celebrate your relationship with the written word, celebrate in organizing information, celebrate in being a curator of your generation, celebrate your growth. That you were supposed to have fucking F-U-N. That you were supposed to fall in love with it all. Yeah. The best advice is sometimes the one you're not telling yourself and waiting stupidly for others to tell you.

I know I was emotionally better as a blogger when I began on the wide frontier that was Xanga and Live Journal. I wasn't censoring myself, second-guessing, over-editing to where a personal post read like a parched academic assessment. There was a little girl who wanted to write, stories, poems, songs, and whatever came into her little growing brain. She grabbed paper, folded it hamburger style, and filled the pages up with words and drawings. I want to be that little girl again, filling up the empty blankness with the things that mattered to me.

Actually that little girl is still there.

A year ago today, I whipped out a glass and poured out Jen On The Rocks, and true to the first post I wrote for this blog, I was ready to get over my fears about writing and being more open and honest with myself and the things I wanted to share and riff off the cuff about. A year later, I didn't think I accomplished that, until two months ago I did a "spring clean" of this blog. I had gotten a new layout and was re-organizing and deleting some posts that I just didn't jibe with anymore. I was all prepared to hate every single thing I had written, but nope, that didn't happen at all. I was actually quite happy with a lot of what I posted, impressed with some of the turns of phrase I used, and some of the topics I chose to cover. I even spent an entire afternoon re-reading some of the posts, actually smiling about them.

Like I said --- I needed to give myself more credit.

Falling back in love with blogging led me to realize that I am one person. I can't write on every single topic, all day every day. That I shouldn't restrict this space to insane and unattainable expectations of how a blog should be, how it should look and feel, how many readers its eyes are getting, rather, make it fit to ME, my aesthetic. I needed to reassess my measure of success and prioritize but prioritize to MY level of ability. I needed to be the little girl again in the act of being comfortable at what small space I do have and to fill up it up with the content that I think is important to me. Whatever comes along in the aftermath --- the money, the so-called "fame", the free stuff --- that is just flourish, distraction. [Okay, I'm crazy, money is not a flourish, or a distraction, its a necessity, but dammit, I want to earn it by what I put down and sweat and bleed over, ya feel me?]

At the moment, I still don't know what direction this blog is going in. All I know is that it's a file cabinet of my mind, and the mind is never streamlined no matter how much we try to organize it. But looking through the archives of this blog that one day made me fall back in love with it. It helped me re-start Audio Diva, my first blog baby, with a little more gusto (more on that transformation later), and not feel bad about what I was doing wrong in terms of blogging, but feel good about what I was doing right. There is always room for improvement, and a year later, that's where I am right now. Improving with each post and each word I put down, pushing the ignore button on the blogging sheep herd, simply growing and striving to sustain the love.

Post a Comment