NaBloPoMo – Day One of an entire month of Why Bother

So I’ve decided to throw in my hat to write a blog post a month. Some days I’ll have something to share, be it music (still have to finish my Top 40 list) and some days I’ll be sharing the next chapters of People of the Manatii, but most days I’ll be using this as an opportunity to vent my negativity. See, I struggle with the fine line between what I WANT to do and what is healthy for me.

I WANT to write. I write something that I think is really cool, and I post it, in the hope that others will read it and enjoy it. I wrote it for me, but I also wrote it for you. I liken it to a singer that keeps showing up at the same club to sing, but the audience never shows.

I’m going to confess to some mental and emotional illness/instability — but I actually get irrationally upset and frustrated and take things WAY too personally. I get angry. I get bitter and spiteful and hateful and jealous and ugly. I resent people’s successes rather than celebrate them.

This is not a healthy headspace. So, I’m writing this month to try to purge that. Maybe I’ll find the humour in it. Maybe I’ll find it therapeutic. Maybe I’ll find a voice that people like, maybe I’ll say things people want to hear. I’m going to be real and honest and ugly — it’s not going to be pretty, because I don’t feel pretty. Maybe I’ll succeed in finally alienating everyone so that I can feel justified in my self-loathing. (See, this just proves it…. it’s YOU… you’re a complete asshole.)

Writing — something I LOVE to do, something that excites me, something that I think I’m good at — makes me miserable. Not the doing, but the afterward — the disinterest, the inability to draw an audience. I’m not unique in this feeling, so maybe part of what I should be doing is asking those of you who feel this way how you deal with it, why (if you do) do you keep writing.

NOTE: I realize that it doesn’t help that I have a mental illness. I know it’s not entirely rational to feel the kind of existential hopelessness and despair that I feel when I don’t get the kind of appreciation I feel I deserve (and there’s the rub, right — I’m a narcissistic asshole, and that’s another whole shame spiral) — but I feel it nonetheless. A great deal of my sense of identity is tied up in my writing. I’m proud of it, and seek the affirmation of strangers that I am allowed to be proud of it. And it is despair I feel — when your identity and happiness get tied to the affirmation of strangers, not getting it can lead to thoughts of quitting, and not just writing, but life altogether.

Why am I writing this so publicly? Well, first off, it’s cheaper than therapy. Secondly (and here’s the craziest fucking thing of all) it turns out that I get the biggest blog response when I lose my shit. Apparently my theory likening confessional writing to car crashes is spot on. I’ll get ten times the number of LIKES and comments on this post than I do, say, a short story, and at some point, someone will mention this as proof that a) people care and b) people read.

Except that’s misleading — the anomalous entry that throws the statistics askew. So maybe this month of why bother will grow my statistics! HA!

And now, a joke.

Me. I’m a joke. I’m a bad punchline. At best, people roll their eyes at me and laugh at me behind my back. At worst, nothing at all.

I know this is pathetic. I know it is — but it doesn’t make the way I feel any less real.

This is what mental illness looks like.

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16 responses to “NaBloPoMo – Day One of an entire month of Why Bother

  1. You know I love your writing. That said, different strokes for different folks. Your writing won’t float everyone’s boat. I love it, though, as do many other people I know.

    Secondly, I think part of the issue may be your audience. It may be that most of your followers are more interested in you than the stories you write, and that may be why posts like this receive more attention than the stories.

    I think if people were exposed to your writing you’d find all the validity you need that you’re a talented writer. Getting your writing at there is the challenge, though. Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean everyone sees it. Perhaps you might reach out to other independent authors to ask them how they built their audiences.

    • What’s funny is that I don’t WANT people to be interested in me – in the darkest ugliest parts of me – I want them to see the good parts – but it feels like it’s only ever the bad that catches people’s attention. And I feel like I’m whining.

      • I think, though, a lot of people have this disturbing curiosity for ugliness and drama. That’s why shows such as Cheaters, Maury, and Springer can thrive. People find entertainment in the darker side of humanity, which is why I’ve become such a misanthrope.

      • This is what I’ve been saying. Hell, Abuse Confessional Writing (and don’t get me wrong, it totally has merit and I understand the place of it) has almost become a genre in the blog world. And an incredibly popular one at that.

      • I find those types of pieces difficult to read, knowing that someone has suffered a trauma that has broken them. But, I also know the therapeutic value writing those pieces can have, as I have written some myself. I read them as a show of support to its author, not out of some macabre fascination with them.

        That being said, I hope no one actually finds entertainment value in recounts of abuse or the like, but somehow I feel like my hope is in vein.

  2. This is how I deal: I just don’t check statistics – in anything. I also don’t blog too much anymore (and I had to forgive myself for that lack of inclination), but it was the stats and ranking and metrics that could show me if I was a “failure” that totally make me bats – on WordPress, Amazon, everywhere. Maybe after the next 2 books in Changelings and some others are done I’ll shift gears, and focus on selling them and myself, but maybe not.

    I love your fiction,*and* your stories about you. I am the definition of a fan – but there are lots of different types of fans, and for other readers it may be that it’s easier to skim a personal account than read fiction – or vice-versa. It boils down to preference and frame of reference.

      • I understand – I really do. And I get not understanding why. Sometimes there is no why. You’re allowed to be cranky, you’re allowed to express your frustrations – I’ll be here to read, because you’re a damn fine writer – and so will many, many others.

  3. I’m dealing with it by no longer looking for an audience. I’ve concluded that WordPress and other social media are not appropriate places to build an audience of readers, that is, the faceless strangers who read books and magazines. Those people read books and magazines, not blogs for their reading pleasure. And that includes me. Maybe it’s my variable eyesight (really, 3 prescription adjustments for my glasses in 1 year???), but I can’t tolerate reading online very much at all anymore. And, yes, people in social media seem far more interested in the writer’s personal issues than in the writer herself. I saw that with one blogger that I’ve since stopped following once it became obvious that she was actually faking drama for the sake of building a following (this was a long time ago). It appeals to people’s prurient interests, the kind of readers who take more glee in your descent into madness than in your joy of writing stories.
    I don’t know what you should do. If you love writing and feel your blog is the best venue, then go ahead and write and damn the stats. But aside from those who write and publish poetry on their blogs, I don’t see many writers getting much of audience publishing their stories on their blogs. Sorry to be so cynical, but then after a few weeks of standing on the sidelines of the blogging world, I’ve found that I don’t miss “it” as much I thought I would.

  4. Stats are for suckers. You want to write then fuckin’ write. Do it for yourself. If there is some other reason then I can see the mental issues that would rise. Whatever you do I will still read it and maybe like it or not. Screw me anyway.

  5. I love your stories and your style of writing (not so fond of the Jessica stories, because I’m not that much into horror). I’m so sorry that there is so much self-loathing in there, though. That must be exhausting and painful.
    Probably the last thing you want is for someone to tell you what to do, right? Still, would you allow me?
    Do you take walks? Do, if you don’t already do so.
    Do you sing? Do, if you don’t already sing.
    Do you have a pet? Get one, if you haven’t got one already.
    Listen to Japanese shaku-hachi music. It’s lovely. Listen to Sundanese music. It’ll take you out of yourself.
    Find out if you can help in the neo-natal ward and hold a baby.
    Find out if an old person in a nursing home has need of your wit and stories.
    You have so much to offer!
    Find beauty in yourself. There’s so much in you. Self-loathing (which I’ve felt from time to time, but decided is not something I want to encourage in myself) can be conquered.
    And your writing will always glow, because you cannot write badly. You simply cannot.

  6. This was really interesting, especially considering I just a very similar post. I don’t really get that “write for yourself stuff”. Of course I write what I want to, but surely the point of doing it in a public forum is that people will read it. Otherwise I may as well just put it on a scrap of paper and then burn it. Your singer analogy is perfect. If a west end performer turned up each week and sang to an empty theatre, how is that different from just singing in the shower. Why bother making the effort if there’s no one there to appreciate it?
    Having said all that, I do find sometimes putting things on paper and not in my head does help me to feel more in control. And although I can’t offer an answers to how to change your feelings I can tell you you’re not alone.

    I also find that my open, rant posts are always the most successful, so I might skip editing and fretting and just have a total breakdown each week!

    Hope you’re feeling better about it soon!

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