Of Elephants and Gut Checks.

I’ve been thinking alot about blogging.

The concept itself is fascinating to me.  I see it as both a source of delight and of vexation.  A sweet blessing and an insidious evil.  A medium through which we can show the best of ourselves or the worst of ourselves…and parts of ourselves that we didn’t know were there.

Since I was a child, I’ve been told that I could write.  So much, in fact, that once I made the leap from the hallowed halls of higher learning to the real world, I made a conscious choice not to write anything more than was absolutely necessary.  It’s not that I didn’t enjoy writing…on the contrary, I loved it.  It was cathartic; it was as natural to me as drawing breath or putting one foot before the other in stride.  And I think that scared me.

It scared me when I realized that others labored over term papers, and not everyone could “see” paragraphs coming together in their head before putting them on paper.  It scared me when I discovered that not everyone had a photographic memory, and could retrieve vocabulary words and their meanings by recalling a thesaurus page. It scared me when I realized that not everyone approached every problem in life by first making a mental outline.  (Yes, with phantom Roman Numerals.) It scared me when invariably anything I wrote was met with little to no criticism and what I perceived to be excessive accolades.  I mean, for Pete’s sake – I wasn’t THAT good.

THAT’s what terrified me.  What if I wasn’t that good at this thing that seemed to be emerging as my ONLY remarkable talent?

So.  Fast-forward oh…twenty years or so past my college days.  (gulp.)  It’s last year.  I’m finally married to the right guy, finally have a beautiful child, and no longer in the workplace.  My brain is getting “itchy” to do something other than schedule playdates and plan over-elaborate craft projects.  I discovered blogging, and was floored at the thought of writing – just writing whatever I wanted  – and publishing it immediately for God and everyone to see.  Thoughts began to swirl through my  brain unbidden.  Why was I mentally seeing situations as post topics?  Why was I creating stories around chance interactions?  I didn’t WANT to write, dammit.

I start a blog, but do it anonymously.  Surely THIS would be my way to finally know whether my writing is actually any good, right?

Wrong.  My own controlling and obsessive-compulsive personality got in the way, and I had to “tweak” that blog.  Then I had to stop writing to learn everything there was to know about coding and designing a blog.  Then I started a blog to share photos of my son with far away family.  Then I started this blog.  And it’s gone on from there…more blogs, more all night sessions of code decipher-age, new design programs to learn…and more ways to avoid actual writing.

Oh, sure…I WRITE.  I’ve written page after page of content.  Most of it is ostensibly palatable, as I seem to have developed a motley crew of followers. 😉  But there are only a handful of posts of which I am truly proud, and that pride extends only insofar as the consideration of the topic and the platform.  I mean – what I’ve written is nothing that’s going to stop traffic.  (Or should I say, DRAW traffic?)

Ah, there it is!  With mention of the word, “traffic”, we brush against the elephant in the room.  The evil about which I spoke earlier.  The elephant was invisible to me initially.  I imagine it’s invisible to most of us – we bright eyed hopefuls, poised excitedly over keyboards and dreaming of the places the words we type may go.  But the elephant is most definitely there, and cannot be moved.  It goes by many names.  Traffic. SEO. Influence.  Reach.  Social Networking.  Relationship Building. PR Interaction. Rewards.  Business.  PROFIT.

Now, please don’t misunderstand.  When I call these things “evil”, do not imagine that I don’t WANT them, or that I don’t work to gain them.  I do.  They are not bad in and of themselves – they are necessary to success in any of a number of its permutations.  They are what makes the interweb the juggernaut that it has become.

(What – you thought ol’ Al Gore invented it to be altruistic?  pfffft.)

Nope, I have absolutely no “holier than thou” delusions that I am or in any way should be above those who make a business of blogging.  Hell, I am one of them, and shall continue to be!  I’m thrilled for the opportunity to be able to combine what has always been considered my greatest talent with staying home with my son, and still help provide for my family.  I’m ABSOLUTELY not condemning it!

I’m afraid of it.

I’m afraid of becoming jaded, like some (though not all) of the “Big Bloggers” I’ve seen and met.  (Yes, this is the part that’s liable to get me shunned.  I’m aware of this.) I’m afraid that nature has designed me to be a person who’s not good at “building relationships”, though I think I’m great at nurturing ones that spring up organically.  I’m afraid that I’ll become less genuine if I start to think about  who I’m befriending and what they’re saying behind my back. I’m afraid that the time I spend on the blogs will continue to be usurped be thoughts of how to monetize my platform; how to scrape together the funds to attend events and conferences; how to “meet and leverage” the people whose influence could help increase my own.  I’m afraid that I’ll settle so much on the side of “business” that I forget to write.  I see real danger of this already, and I don’t want to sully this chance I’ve given myself to finally do what I think I may have been meant to do all along.

And I’m afraid of failing the wrong way.

Yes, there are many ways to fail.  If I fail in making the business of blogging work, and just pack it all in…then my confidence in my own ability to WRITE will forever be stained with that brush…even if I never really wrote to the capacity of which I’m able.  If I spill my guts and write all that is in my heart and my head – which I have NEVER let myself do – and you hate it?  Well, then that would just be total failure, wouldn’t it?

So, sure – I’ll still be putting post links up on Twitter and Facebook…but know that I feel a bit squeamish when I do, and that I’ll be hoping I don’t bother you.  I’ll still be accepting products for giveaways and touting the wonders of those that I love – that’s genuine, of course….but I’ll still be hoping I don’t bother you.  I’ll still be involved in Twitter Parties and Social Media promotion, and I’ll love the excitement and the fun…but I won’t hard sell you, because that would bother you.  And if I feel like I’ve begun to bother you, then I will have failed.

My solace in all this?  My conduit to a peaceful place where writing IS possible, and where I feel that I can write genuinely and honestly and creatively and be proud to push “publish”?  Music.  I’ve stopped all of the other machinations of the blogging business in the past week or so, and have immersed myself in disk after disk of music that’s been sent to me to review.  I’ve listened to some brilliant lyrics, been carried aloft on soothing, scintillating and serendipitous harmonies and charged through mental clouds to clarity on the backs of thunderous chords.

And now I think I GET it.  I’m one of these folks.

Sure, I have a brain for business.  I was in the corporate world for years, and I was good.  I get it – I just don’t like it.  And I don’t have to do it like that anymore.

Now, I’m in a place where I can let the words flow out.  Were I can plumb the depths of my soul, my experience and my heart and find ways to set them aloft.  And SHARE what I feel.  That’s what musicians and lyricists and artists do, right?  And if they’re good at it – they find success.

In my case, success will be had if I can write whatever I want, befriend whomever I will, be accepted for who I am and what I produce and be rewarded accordingly.  I can control the first two.  The last two will always be beyond my direct control, so I’m not going to worry about it anymore.  I’m just going to be.

And if I do that?  Well…then there is no “fail”.

😉

17 Responses to Of Elephants and Gut Checks.
  1. Holly B
    October 7, 2010 | 12:08 pm

    I have no delusions that I will ever be a big time blogger. I’m just having a hella ton of fun doing what I’m doing. Now if you’ll excuse me.. I have to go feed my elephant =]
    Holly B´s last blog post ..Do You Believe In Ghost

  2. Melisa
    October 7, 2010 | 4:54 pm

    I LOVE this post. One of your best ever.

    It’s hard to ignore the “successes” of the “big bloggers” and just go on, quietly carving out your own little community in your own little corner of the internet. I try really hard to not focus on my traffic or how many comments I get, but frankly, when you put yourself “out there”, sometimes you just want some validation.

    I say, keep on doing what you’re doing, girl! Stay Happy.
    Melisa´s last blog post ..Yep- That About Describes It!

    • Ri, the MSM
      October 8, 2010 | 9:34 am

      With your sparkly tiara-ed self around? How could I NOT? 😀
      (See? Reciprocal validation. We rock.)

  3. Mari
    October 7, 2010 | 5:26 pm

    And that? Is why I freakin’ love you, man. For REALS. :)
    Mari´s last blog post ..Chicks rock

  4. Toni
    October 7, 2010 | 5:58 pm

    Great post! I think you needed to get that off your chest :) As you purging belongings and blogs it is a relief…. hopefully :)

  5. Victoria
    October 7, 2010 | 6:48 pm

    I don’t know anything about blogging. I like you, so I like to read what you write. Do you follow @MichaelHyatt? He blogs about blogging and business and other stuff. He’s the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. Anyway he said the way to be “successful” on the internet is to be a “giver” and not a “taker”. When you are helping people in some way with what you are doing. Adding something of truth and beauty to their lives. I think you do that Ri. :)

  6. DiPaola MOmma
    October 7, 2010 | 8:11 pm

    I hear ya and FEEL ya. When I flip through the pages of my years of blogging, I can recall a time when it was a sweet release. Birthing a post was a beautiful thing. If someone commented it was nearly one of those tiny deaths, of which the French speak. Then came the “head cheerleaders” and “team captains” of my youth. Sure at first it was a thrill to be in the “in crowd”. As time passed though I too began to lose that bliss that writing once was. So I join you my VERY gifted friend in reclaiming my voice and blogging, once again, for ME! Now if someone wants to pay me for that… huzzah! If not.. who cares?!
    DiPaola MOmma´s last blog post ..“Life As We Know It” lots of eye candy and a few laughs too

  7. Jill
    October 7, 2010 | 8:16 pm

    Oh Ri. It’s true I have never checked my stats for fear it would interefere with what I wanted fom my blog. I can see how that would be easy. And it’s posts like these that reinforce that decision for me.

    Ri, you are great. Big blogger, medium or small fish in a huge pond of bloggers, I like you. Do what brings you happiness as that should be your first goal- regardless of what others want from you. At the end of the day the rest doesn’t really matter.

    (thank goodness you weren’t disowning music! Whew! Sometime we should chat about the pros and cons of music review.)
    Jill´s last blog post ..Basket Case

  8. Melisa
    October 7, 2010 | 8:54 pm

    RT @MusicSavvyMom: So I spill my guts,tons of folks come to see, yet all but one have apparently been rendered mute.Damn, I'm good. #sarcasm http://ow.ly/2QgwX

  9. Jennifer
    October 7, 2010 | 10:22 pm

    I love reading your blogs, it reminds me of the commeraderie of the Movie’s Regs chat that I still miss dearly. I actually really like that you have branched out (the Snack blog is adorable and makes me envious) because while I enjoy reading about Music, I enjoy reading about your thoughts and opinions on well… pretty much everything even more!

    By the way— totally impressed with the new logo!

  10. Lisa
    October 7, 2010 | 11:21 pm

    Wow. I’ve read and re-read. As a writer I get it…almost to the point of wondering if at some point you gained access to some of my own (very hidden) thoughts. The push and pull of just writing and writing as business is a dynamic that probably won’t ever peacefully coexist. But I think you hit on the key–defining your own success. Do what blows your skirt up, wear purple before you’re old, you know, all those platitudes that basically say ‘let it all hang out and if someone doesn’t like it, well, there’s a word that begins with f for them’. I’m babbling but all I really wanted to say was WOO HOO Ri! You have cheerleaders even if you don’t realize it.

  11. oh_pook
    October 8, 2010 | 7:39 am

    post = made of win!

  12. oh_pook
    October 8, 2010 | 7:40 am

    …but you couldn’t throw together a playlist in with it?! pfftt… haha!!! ((((Ri))))

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