Back in March, I stumbled across Effy Wild's blog challenge. The goal was to blog once a day in April. There is also a Facebook group where you can post links to your blog, as well as find and read other people's blogs. The rule was to post a comment on three blogs every time you added a link to your blog, but I confess: I often went to more than three!
I knew going into this challenge that I wouldn't blog every day. Sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes I don't have a clear emotional space, for many different reasons. Not that I require blissful silence and a happy heart to write, but some days things happen that put me in a state where writing is difficult. But since I knew that I wouldn't blog every day, I didn't get discouraged on days I missed. I just picked it up the next day (or the day after that).
My goal was to reestablish my habit of writing. I know that blogging is a thing that's far past its heyday, but I never totally stopped. Mostly, before this challenge, I've blogged only about books, with occasional political, religious, or social rants thrown in. I wanted to go deeper than that, to have the experience again of sitting down with the goal to write something, to shape it and edit it and give it some breathing space. To work with words on a regular basis.
I feel like I began to accomplish my goal (which is really about reconnecting to my writerly self, in an attempt to figure out who I want to be as I get closer to the empty-nest phase of life), and that I learned some things, so I thought I'd share them here, mostly so I can remember, but also so I can use what I learned to keep moving forward in my writing journey.
1. I like having an audience. I understand it was part of the challenge, but holy cow: getting comments consistently on my posts was awesome. It made the world feel smaller, in a friendly way. Being heard is pretty amazing.
How I can use that: I have been thinking for awhile now that I need to find a writing group. Honestly, I have no idea how to do that, and probably it will continue to be unlikely until COVID is more under control, but I am putting this out into the Universe: I want to find some like-minded people to share my writing with.
2. Blogging takes time. Many mornings I started the day with a warm cuppa and writing my blog post. I'd look up and the beverage was gone (or gone cold) and an hour had passed.
Often this would make me feel a bit anxious. One of my current struggles is feeling like I have worth and that I contribute. This comes from the huge imbalance between what I make working as a librarian and what my husband makes working in tech world. Let's face it: librarian is not a high-paying career. I can only work at my job because my husband's job supports us. Logically I know that I contribute, but emotionally? Emotionally, lately, I cannot feel that. Which is tied up in being at this place where I only have one teenager, and while of course I still take care of him, there is far less active mothering to be done. If I'm not contributing much to the family finances, and if I'm not, you know, housewifing or mothering, then...it feels like I'm adding nothing. So often, after writing and posting, I'd clean the bathrooms or do some laundry or start planning dinner, just so I could feel like I had done something measurable.
How I can use that: In reality, this is a new iteration of the same feeling. I've always understood that being financially successful as a writer is even more elusive than being critically successful. It doesn't help that I'm married to a person who sees money as a huge proof of a person's value. I have always wanted to be a writer but I haven't ever, really, had the confidence to pursue it with my whole heart. I mean, if I don't feel like I am a person of value within my family, how can I feel like my writing work would be embraced by anyone who isn't required, by marriage or genetics, to love it?
I just...I just want to find the mental courage to say "fuck it." (sorry for the language.) To not care about what other people think of me, and to pursue my dream without guilt.
Guilt is holding me back. Perhaps exploring that will help me to cast it off.
3. Blogging and writing are different. I mean, clearly: blogging is a form of writing. But it is easy satisfaction. You write your blog post, you polish it up a bit, you try to find a photo that works. You click "POST" and voila: your words are out into the world. No one but me determines what is "publishable."
This blog post is the 1682nd one I've written since fall of 2005. With varying degrees of success, I try to keep my blog posts around 1000-1200 words. If an average-length novel has 100,000 words, I've written roughly 15 novels. 1.5 million words.
But only on my blog.
Early on in my blogging journey, a commenter told me that a writing professor she was taking a class from told her that blogging can become an excuse for not actually writing. I thought blogging would be a stepping stone to other writing opportunities, and I know for some people it is. For me, it hasn't.
How I can use that: do the work. Do the work, which is hard. Face rejection. Find places to submit. Sit with the discomfort of whatever story I want to tell—the goddess locked in the mountain, the baby in the cave, the three-voice story about motherhood, the LDS vampire, the zombie story that is really about fire—rather than giving up and never finishing.
Do the work.
Does that mean I will stop blogging? I don't think so. However, I do think when I have an idea for something to write about, I need to pause and ask myself: what do I want to do with this idea? Do I want to share it right now in a social media setting? Or do I want to be more ambitious? I think there is room for both.