CLAPS AND RECOGNITION
The irony does not go unnoticed that just yesterday I wrote about the life changing effects of Alanon in the course of my life and the release of so many things ego. Then fast forward to the morning routine of my full year habit of almost daily writing and the perpetual need to keep that swarmy ego in check as I am pulled on occasion to the number of claps and or comments I have received on the said writing. The double edged sword of putting my words to paper because the alternative would create madness in me if I didn’t have a place to release it all mixed with the flags and bells that all of this social media commands and distracts of me. This in itself is maddening. There is no question about it; it feels good to see that people are reading what I write. It is even more magical when something I write connects with someone and hits that chord that all writers I am guessing relish.
What I have kept in check since my first few writings though, is the cause and effect of the writing. I love to write. What I write is simply because I enjoy the creative expression. Writing is like art is to the painter. It has been a love of mine that makes my heart sing since I was in third grade after reading Harriet The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. Personal therapy to say the least and I can’t imagine my life without it. I become a better writer every time I write and the rhythm of the words and how they mix and match as I type them and reread them is so personally satisfying. The first time I actually put my writing “out there” in the abyss that we call the world of social media, I really didn’t know what the outcome would be and it was actually a relief to not be writing for any outcome. But then as the pull of social media’s false sense of popularity started to enter into the equation, I found myself having to keep myself in check.
I imagine that when a singer creates a song that has wild popularity, the pressure to come up with another and another must be overwhelming. I am not comparing myself to the top charts of a vocalist, but it amazed me how fast I had to remind myself who and why I was writing for. ME. The therapy and the discipline of almost daily writing is why, not for the accolades. So I had to immediately think of the responses as gravy not directive, (and by the way I am not talking about Taylor Swift level followers here, maybe five or ten claps and one or two comments every once in awhile- maybe fifty to one hundred “reads” as Medium reminds me when it tempts me with my weekly ‘stats’ and my stats compared to the previous week, month and year). It is maddening, but also magnetic as I willingly admit to checking and then find myself having to work on feeling one way or the other when I see the number. I am laughing aloud at the silliness of it all.
I am not trying to write a book as my hundred or so readers like to tell me, sorry folks I need way more readership than that. I don’t know about you, but the last time I was in a bookstore, I wondered who in our population was not writing a book these days. Sifting through the crap to get to the gem was a good reminder of the aisles of JOBLOT filled with books at $2.98 from aspiring authors who thought they had something unique to say when they sat down pen to paper. I am a happy daily writer and frankly if I can edit what I have written and categorize and three hole punch the collections into some binder, this is good enough for me.
Owning a business is hard work and people who don’t have one only see the glossy outsides; they don’t see the sleepless nights, the worry about meeting payroll and the exorbitant amount of expenses that running and making a profitable business takes. Writing a book is the same; it is not about writing it- that is almost secondary. I have friends who have written books and the self-marketing and background promoting is where the true work comes in. Like owning a business 80% of success is the planning and the details, the 20% is opening the doors. There is some justice though lately in hearing about all of the fake followers to up individuals’ popularity and I am happy that I have built whatever silly following I have one real person at a time. I think of my grandfather and my neighbor Dottie who still only use telephones that are attached to the walls referred to now as landlines. They used to just be called phones. My grandfather doesn’t care if he has followers or anything except for his family visiting for that matter. He wakes up everyday likely surprised that he wakes up every day after one hundred years and three months on this planet.
I watched one of the many frightening episodes of the series Black Mirror recently. It was about the population walking around with their levels of popularity emblazoned in their aura and their work in getting their levels higher for maximum social acceptance. This show makes reruns of The Twilight Zone look like Leave it to Beaver episodes and I seriously can’t watch it alone. In this world of cyber bullying and mass shootings, watching television almost seems like a healthy alternative compared to what our youth is seeing on the wild west of social media. I try to go on less, not more and even though I have regular posts because it is an easy way for me to communicate my writing, I try to temper the viewing time with actually reading books and other people’s writings. I am not sure what is to become of society as we fall deeper down the rabbit hole wasting more time on nonsense then trying to actually get to the juice of great book reading and cultural exposure by walking through actual real museums and attending live music venues. As I continue to write and have the exercise of it all reminding me to keep my ego at the door, I recall one of my favorite quotes that I learned from a mentor of mine, Susan Fox. I can’t remember who the author is of this, I think she attributed it to an ancient Indian proverb.
Speak your truth.
Don’t be attached to the outcome.”
That last one is the work for sure and it is a daily lesson for me in so much of my life. The first two are the easy parts, the third one is too, but that last line is the work so many of us struggle with. Good old ego release, but man oh man, when you realize how easy it is once you do it, it gets easier and easier.
To the light.