Writing Challenge, Day 8 – in which people start reading
The first week of my self-imposed writing challenge has come and gone and I’m happy to say that I’ve done what I said I was going to do.
I’ve written every day of 2015, thus far.
And, shock and awe, some of you are actually reading what I’m writing. Some of you…pause for laughs…are even expressing enjoyment.
Once again, I’m faced with a set of expectations about this process that I didn’t know I had. I think I thought that forming this positive habit would yield some words on a page, which it has, but it has also unearthed all sorts of hang-ups that I didn’t know I was hung up on.
It’s easy as a writer, sitting at your desk in sweatpants, to feel like you’re writing into a vacuum. At least it is for me. I interact with my family. Things happen around me. I stop occasionally to cook dinner or chauffeur people to the airport or swimming lessons or vaccinations (please don’t argue with me about vaccinations. I’m not interested).
My point is that I try (not always successfully) not to obsess over stats. When I first started blogging, I admit to refreshing every five minutes once a post was published to see how many people had viewed it. These days, I not only realize that it’s an unhealthy, co-dependent thing to be doing, I just plain don’t have the time. I try to spend a little bit of time on housekeeping and marketing each day, but otherwise my time is taken up by writing and publishing.
Okay, so that’s not entirely true.
I still feel a little rush whenever I see new users, new subscribers, new Facebook followers. Oftentimes (today, for example) that rush is immediately followed by a feeling of intense pressure. Not to suck.
If people are reading my work, I would prefer for it not to suck.
* What’s the point?
Of course, this isn’t the point of the exercise. The exercise is to write (and, it would seem, publish a column) every day for one year. It’s meant to be intrinsically motivating. Writing for writing’s sake. Admittedly though, the idea of an audience (outside of my immediately family – Hi Mom!) ups the stakes a bit.
Even just writing about the idea of someone I’ve never met on the other side of the country reading this post makes me want to fall down a Pinterest-shaped hole.
Yesterday, I wrote about not buying my own hype. Honestly, I’m not that cool so it’s not that difficult. It is a challenge for me, however, to continue feeling as though I’m writing into the abyss when I know that “you” are reading my words. There’s this freaky level of self-awareness that comes with sharing personal details of oneself with the Internet. This is the world we live in. Everyone has access to everything and we can fight it or roll with it. I find it very healing in some regards – if I spill all of my embarrassing secrets in this blog, no one can ever hold them against me. It makes it harder to hold them against myself.
There I go again, overestimating my own relevance.
Maybe I was interesting once, but these days my past is by far the most scandalous thing about me. The scandalous details are ones I’ve gone over and over again in a long-line of self-flagellating thoughts that parade by on nights when sleep escapes me.
The interesting thing about writing every day is that it has brought up long-forgotten, less scandalous details about this past, perhaps due to the fact that I’ve started allowing space for them.
My first date with my daughter’s father. A BC Lion’s game. A Mike’s Hard Lemonade with a straw. My favourite teacher in high school’s Bachelor of Science degree, hanging on the wall of his messy office. My foot falling asleep at the movie theatre where I stepped in spilled root beer.
I have long operated under the wrong-headed assumption that in order for my life to be worth writing about, I would have to have a Cheryl Strayed-style self-imposed/self-discovery journey. I have not designed my life in such a way that this kind of journey is plausible for me (at least not in the foreseeable future). So all you folks out there are stuck with the little frustrations and large disappointments of my normal life.
*My Big Lesson of the week:
Punking out on yourself by quitting is more painful than sucking it up and doing that which is outside your comfort zone.
After coupling with several people who regularly punked out on me, I made a promise not to punk out on myself anymore. Whether I have the type of life that I consider worth writing about or not, I want to write and so write I shall.
I’m a fraud. But I’m going to keep at it anyway. I suspect that my idea of what being writer is resembles when I was a child and thought that past some magical age (I believe at some point in my childhood I thought it would be 18 hahahahahahahahahahahahah) I would get the password to adulthood and get my shit together. I have always expected the magic clarity of knowing what “being a writer” means to come to me eventually through fully organic means.
Maybe what “being a writer” really means is that I’m going to publish this in spite of my misgivings and I’m going to sit down tomorrow to write, whether inspiration has struck or not. (Realizing, of course, that you will only be patient with my self-apologizing for so long before you lose interest).
In all seriousness, I’m hella grateful for everyone who’s joined me in this week’s adventure into my own fuck-upedness. I look forward to sharing with you over the next year. Please, please, please give me feedback via my social media or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell me how you’re overcoming your own hang-ups and getting baby steps closer to the life of your dreams.
Hugs and one last apology for the road,