Social Media Anxiety

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that I have been using it as a way to fight my anxiety.  You may also know that I have been working on expanding and promoting it.  This, my friend, is where the anxiety part really comes into play.

I have read a bunch of articles regarding promotion, monetization, and creating one’s “brand” and all I have to say is that I hate it.  It takes so much away from the writing, which is why I have this blog in the first place, and it puts a microscope on myself.  Example: there is not yet anywhere on my blog that features my full name.  This is for one reason and one reason only: I still need to work.  If a client puts my name in a search engine, I do not want them to judge my childcare abilities by my writings.  I might drop some f-bombs in my blog but I won’t be swearing around your kid, you know what I mean?  I might have a political or religious view that bears no weight on how well I change a diaper but may affect whether someone wants to hire me.  Now, I’ve got some poems that are coming out soon, or are out already (see Potatoes, up at the top,) so I know that my search engine results will soon change, and I will indeed be judged by my words.  One of these poems is about smoking pot.  I’m not exactly thrilled that a possible employer may stumble upon it and not hire me, but also, I’m not thrilled by the idea of censoring my true passion of writing for my day job, either.  I try to tell myself that this is just my anxiety, but I know it’s also a rational concern, so I find myself stuck between a rock and a hard place.

It is this microscope on the writer that causes anxiety for me.  I am not good at bragging about myself, for one.  I’m a fairly humble individual.  Back when filling out profiles on dating sites, I was always unsure how to describe myself.  I was never good at listing my qualities.  When asked in interviews what assets I can bring to a job, I freeze up.  I need someone to tell me I’m good at something to make it real, and even then, I don’t always believe them.  This is juxtaposed by a crazy high self-esteem wherein I believe I can do anything.  It’s a dilemma.

Let’s take Facebook and Twitter, for example.  On Twitter, I never shy from anything.  I always write exactly what I think.  On Facebook, however, I am more reserved.  Why?  Well, I have significantly less Twitter followers than Facebook friends, and I think that has something to do with it. Maybe it’s the fact my grandmother is on Facebook?  And my parents?  Maybe it’s because there’s strangers who follow me on Twitter, and I know all my FB friends?  I have more questions than answers, but I know I behave differently on different sites.  For instance, I always post my blog on Twitter, but rarely on FB.  For some reason (and yes, I am aware this is the crazy anxiety-ridden side of my brain) I think that people don’t care.  Mind you, these are people I know, personally, and who seem to enjoy me as an individual, enough so as to send me a friend request.  These people are the most likely to care, and I can’t convince myself of that.

That’s what it really comes down to.  I look at all the followers I have acquired on my blog in the past year.  Like 150 people, complete strangers to me, who decided to follow my blog because they saw something they liked.  Yet, I think that if I share my blog with friends and family, those people will not see anything they enjoy.  I know I’m wrong.  I know I have people who read it, who follow me on social media, who could easily unfollow my ass if I got too boring, but no one does.  Still, my anxious brain senses that I am simply wasting peoples time.  Rational brain knows that’s a lie, because I like your posts and pictures as much as you like mine.  Still, it holds me back from expressing myself, which is what I truly hate.

Right now, I am debating whether or not to share this post on Facebook.  I am thinking of what kind of tweet I can write about my it.  I am considering starting an Instagram challenge to promote my blog.  I am streamlining my accounts to fit my “brand,” a word I still can’t say without the implied quotation marks.  I am doubting all of it, and I wonder if I always will.  Still, I take those little times when someone did say “Hey, I liked that thing you wrote,” and I keep them very close to my heart.  I remember them in my darker moments.  These little instances are what keep me writing, and make me feel like I have something worthwhile to say.  Everything else is just roadblocks.

Short and Sweet

I’m not verbose.

It’s probably my one great tragedy, aside from having a flat singing voice.  I just cannot expound about something, no matter how hard I try.  Eventually it becomes dull and I get bored, as I often got bored as a child reading the classics.  I simply do not need a page and a half description for a ray of sunlight, no matter how beautiful it is.  Also, I simply cannot write a page and a half about a ray of sunlight.

As a person, I am almost never jealous, but two writers I know are really flaring this emotion in me at the moment.  One is doing a thirty-day writing challenge and nailing it.  Another drops 9,000 words a day into her memoir.  Both are, through no fault of their own, killing my soul.

I think this may be why I have always gravitated to poetry.  Most of my poems are less than 50 lines, and I do believe that’s enough space to describe that ray of sunlight perfectly.  Then I think about my past, writing plays.  I did maybe six or seven, and three got produced in some form.  These were decidedly longer pieces, ranging from a short children’s play to a three-act opus for my high school love.  I love writing plays, but I have been out of theater for a while and honestly haven’t had the inspiration to write one.  What I really want, the gold ring of writing, for me, is a novel.

I started four and finished none, because I am not verbose enough.  I get halfway through my tale and realize I don’t have nearly enough for half a book and way too much for half a short story.  My max output is 4000 words in a sitting.  My max sitting for my novel is twice a week.  It’s just not enough.  I need three or four days after just to gather enough details to sit down and pen what I’m trying to say again.  Sometimes I get frustrated because I can see it so clearly in my mind, but on the paper it sounds terrible.  Dialogue is tricky, because I am very good at that bit, but sometimes my writing relies on it too heavily and I have to go back and describe that ray of sunlight and then everything falls apart.

I wish I could sit at the keyboard and pound out pages and pages of words.  Good or bad, it doesn’t really matter because the editing process is a whole other thing.  My blog remains the one place where I do get wordy on occasion.  Here I am updating two days in a row.  Why?  Because I need to increase my output.  I need to keep myself writing even if I can’t sit down and work on my book at the moment.  I’ve got a novel that needs thousands more words, a poem that only needs maybe fifty, and a blog that has no expectations of me save a Monday deadline that I impose on myself.  I’m stuck elsewhere, so I come here.

I am not verbose.  I cannot pen pages about a ray of sunlight.  But I can drop a couple hundred in my blog and feel good about myself.  So here we are.

I’ve made a terrible mistake.

When I decided to get a “real” blog, meaning something that was not a LiveJournal, I did a little research and heard great things about WordPress.  So naturally, I went to wordpress.com and signed up.  This was my last blog, mind you.  Then when I went for a revamp I moved over here, still content in my ignorance.  Recently I decided enough is enough, I need to make some money here, so I looked into purchasing a plan to sell ad space and get a domain name and Google analytics and all that jazz.  It’s about 100 bucks a year to do.  Fairly reasonable, less than my gym membership.  Then I looked into things a little deeper and discovered that…

I’M ON THE WRONG WORDPRESS.

The WordPress everyone was telling me about?  WordPress.ORG.  They have domain hosting and plug-ins and everything I’m looking for and some reports say you can get a blog started for only 50 bucks a year and now I have to re-do my entire blog from scratch over there because I am NOT paying twice as much for half as much!

So, new blog to come in January.  I will be keeping up this sham of a site until then but will definitely be moving on to greener pastures at wordpress.org come winter.

Update, later that day:

No, I probably won’t, and here’s why.  I have no idea what open source database means.  I do not know what Apache is, or a text editor, or an FTP client.  I need to take a small course in web design first, or find someone who has some knowledge of these things to help me out.  Anyone out there understand any of these words?  I will pay you in poems and cookies.

Depression does not care about your plans.

I sat down to write a blog that had been ruminating in my mind for maybe a week now, and when I tried to get it into words, it fell apart.   Sometimes that happens.  Sometimes the words just aren’t there, or the thought isn’t cohesive enough, and I just can’t make it sound the way I want it to in my head.

I’ve had a few rough days.  On Friday, I went to a sunflower field.  It was lovely to stand surrounded by my favorite flower, looking at all the varieties and watching the bees hard at work, but my depression was creeping in and I could feel it.  By evening, when I found myself at the Irish Festival with my parents and husband, it was starting to manifest itself into a panic no Guinness could cure.   On Saturday, Mark suggested a long drive to take my mind off of things, and that worked for a bit but when I came home I sunk into my sofa, and had to drag myself to the kitchen to make dinner.  Sunday was no better.  Today I feel a little cheerier, but I certainly don’t have the energy and concentration to pen the long blog I had been planning on earlier in the week.

Somedays depression kicks my ass.  Somedays it doesn’t.  Just gotta keep pushing on.

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When all of your ideas are terrible…

…you start searching online for topics and suggestions for lifestyle blogs.  After a few sites I decided that was silly.  I’m not going to share my favorite recipes.  I’m not going to do a post about the brands I love the most.  I have had trouble finding a reason to blog lately, which led me on this quest to begin with, but these are not topics that interest me.  No, I do not have any travel tips for you (except maybe bring sunblock.)

I will not share with you my morning or evening routine.  Why would you care? I’m not going to do a listicle of my top ten favorite movies because again, why would you care?  I mean, I’m open to discussions but a whole blog about such things seems unnecessary.

One topic was “What inspires you?”  If I had any idea what inspired me we wouldn’t be sitting here right now, would we?  I would be off doing that and getting inspired and writing something worthwhile instead of using a search engine to find a topic.  I have no idea where my ideas come from, they just come.  And sometimes they run and hide, like today.

One suggestion was to write about a family gathering.  Yesterday was our family reunion, but I was honestly feeling out of sorts and don’t have much to say about it, other than the food was good and the kiddos had fun.  Another just said “blog about humanity.”  I’m sorry, but isn’t that kind of a broad subject?  One could argue we are always blogging about humanity.

In closing I have nothing new and original to say, except that my poem came out in the August issue of Ghost City Press Review, so you should pop over and check it out if you’re so inclined.  Other than that, I promise I will try harder next week.  Or I really will tell you the three secrets to glowing skin.  Who knows?

Deadlines

Today I struggle.  My goal, as previously stated, is to write at least one blog post a week, and today is the deadline.  I never worked well with deadlines.  I remember being in high school and frantically writing papers at the last minute in the computer room during lunch.  I remember checking books out from the library the night before the report was due.  Creative writing was always the easiest, because I could always just make something up on the spot.  I’m a fast learner, and I think that’s why I always waited until the last minute.  Also, I did not enjoy school.  I wanted to learn at a different pace than the one I was being taught.  Some topics I was already well versed in and felt bored with.  Others I struggled with and needed more time to work on.  The structure of my schooling did not really allow for this, as you were expected to learn at the same rate and in the same way as your peers.  Part of the reason I left college was because I had hoped it would be different somehow but found that it really wasn’t.  I’m just not a traditional learner, and once I figured that out, life became a lot easier.

So here I ramble, because I have given myself a deadline and I am desperate to keep it, if only for myself.   And of course, I find myself writing about writing, which is one of my three favorite topics along with religion and theater.   I asked my husband what I should blog about and he replied that I should write about not knowing what to write.  Oh, Mark, you sweet, innocent little peach.  I write about that on a daily basis.

And now, it is Saturday.  I started this post on Friday of course, trying to meet my deadline and ultimately failing.  I had little time yesterday as I had a test run for a job and went to my friend’s sex toy party, which would probably make a good blog entry, but frankly, I’m just not that kind of girl.  So last night at precisely 12:06am I looked at my clock and sighed.  The time had come and gone.  As expected, I missed my deadline.

However, I got the job.  So that was nice.

PS  If there are any members of the WordPress family reading this, do you ever get a bunch of spam followers?  Lately I’ve gotten several email followers that all have a string of letters at an outlook.com address.  Thoughts?

Evaporating Words

My blog is obviously the place for me to write about writing, and the inevitable stressors that come with that.  Currently I am working on a short story that is going quite well, except that I want to incorporate a real life event into it.  Thing is, my memory is kind of crappy now. There was a time when I remembered everything about my life with eerie clarity, but I learned that this was just a symptom of my obsessive-compulsive disorder, and my work on controlling this behavior has left some memories cloudy.   As far as therapy goes, this is a good thing, meaning that I have worked through difficult aspects of my life. Which is great for my psyche but not so much my writing. So, I remembered that yes, I have been blogging for 17 years. So I must have written what I’m looking for in one of my blogs.  

I roll over to Livejournal, where lies my longest experiment in writing, which I also tediously organized one evening many years ago, so that certain topics were easy to locate.  I found an entry with some information on what I was looking for, but I had the feeling I had written out this story before. I assumed it would be in the LJ; I was wrong. So I went to Blogger.  

Blogger was an experiment that forced me to write daily.  I updated it for 166 days before giving up. It’s terrible writing and was certainly not the best 166 days of my life, so perusing it was a little traumatic.  It also yielded no results, which was disappointing. So I went over to Blurty.

I had two intricately organized blogs on Blurty, as well as a poetry journal.  I knew going in that they were also not good periods of life, but I was prepared.  What I was not prepared for was to discover that Blurty shut down in 2017 and took all of my words with it.  What’s worse, is that I am positive the blog entry I was hunting for was hosted by Blurty.

This caused a panic.  I went over to Livejournal and after much searching found their archiving program.  Of course, it was last updated in like 2004, so it doesn’t work unless you have an advanced degree in computers.  So now, I am copying and pasting each individual entry into a word document, which will take me roughly a month given the fact I kept the blog for thirteen flippin’ years.  

So my disappointments are many.  One, I never found the entry I was looking for, and now have to work entirely from memory, which is probably an okay thing since my story is a work of fiction, but is depressing nonetheless.  Two, apparently when a blog hosting site shuts down they have no problem not notifying you about it and stealing away everything you’ve written (what are your future plans, WordPress?) Three, I’m all melancholy about the past now, and that is detrimental to my progress as a human being.  In summary, I am blogging about blogging because if I don’t write something every day I will disappoint myself, and I am stuck on my story.

You know what? If anyone is reading this and wants to help…did you ever lose a friend as a child?  What emotions did you feel? How did you process it? Thanks.

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If my first blog were a baby, it would be graduating high school this year.

The other day I ended up in my old Livejournal.  I was looking for the lyrics to a particular song, and ended up drowning in the past instead.  First of all, I have a steadfast belief that everything I write is garbage and no one wants to read it.  This may be the effects of a lifetime of Major Depressive Disorder, or it may be my own deep-seated fears about inclusion.  Either way, it’s all trash in my opinion., Even the things I’ve written that people have told me they loved. Sorry, I don’t.  I’m glad you do, but for some reason I am always striving for improvement. Nothing I write is ever finished. Which may be why blogging is so good for me.  It’s never really finished.

Take my Livejournal, started October 1st 2001, when I was such a fresh-faced 19-year-old young’un that I was concerned with the French quiz I had coming up that day, and whether or not Kevin (my brother from another mother) and I were going to a party that weekend.  How quaint this seems compared to life now, with its concerns like how the rent is going to be paid and what about the bills and oh God let the tires hold out on the car for the rest of winter…not to mention the existential crises such as am I doing what I want with my life and who am I as a person?  Oh, I would kill for a French quiz and a weekend party right now.

My writing then was not as good as it is now, despite the fact that I think everything I write is refuse.  It was interesting to see those improvements over the years. It should be noted the last post in my journal is from April of 2014.  This journal pretty much chronicles my 20s. There’s probably a hell of a book in there. But that would mean I would have to read all the absolute crap I have written over a 13 year time span.

When I started my blogging journey on WordPress, I decided to stray away from things like what I did on the weekend, song lyrics I enjoy, and personality quizzes.  My LJ is filled with them. I decided that the blog on WordPress would be the face I presented to the world, while my LJ would serve its purpose as a more personal account of my life.  Thing is, I really like when people read my stuff, even if I think it’s rubbish. I found that by posting on a variety of topics I was attaining readers, not just the handful of people that knew about my LJ.  That attracted me to WordPress, and is why I stuck with it when I wanted to revamp my blog earlier this year.

Thing is, it’s hard to come up with topics that aren’t personal, and it often seems trite to write about the minutiae of daily life.. Here’s an example.  In my old blog, I would have written about my weekend:

On Friday, the kids came over and I went grocery shopping and to the eye doctor.  On Saturday, the kids were here, and G came to play with them. On Sunday, the kids went home and Mark had a migraine.  

See?  Super entertaining.  I bet you are thrilled to know that information about my exciting life.  Now, I know that life is different now than it was at 20, of course (though I’m married to the guy I was dating at 20, so maybe not all that different,) but I just don’t have the fun nights and wild weekends to write about anymore.  I starve for topics. I mean, look! I’m literally blogging about blogging right now!

If I find anything re-postable during my walk down Livejournal lane, I hope to blog it here.  Though it’s more likely I’ll just have an emotional few hours laughing and crying at the same time.  Because that’s pretty much what your 20s are about.