What Am I Doing Here?

I was recently saddened to read that one of my favourite lefty blogs, Turn Left, would no longer be regularly updating. And I was even more saddened when I read the reason why:

"There were times when I would spend 5 hours and write what I thought was the most brilliant couple of thousand words ever put in one place. Few people would visit. And no one clicked like. Next time.
Next time I would try harder, write better, polish more, research better, edit longer, do more rough draughts, less distractions, and I would write what I thought was my greatest piece ever. Few people would visit. And no one clicked like. Next time. I just have to try harder. Until I see how effortless it comes to everyone else, and I realise that no matter how much harder I try, my writing will never be well liked, my writing will never change anything."

My heart broke a little reading that, because I know the feeling exactly. I've been there. I've been blogging now for nearly ten years,  the first seven of which were at The Xander and Nico Pod. The first year or so of posts are a mental rubbish dump, a lot of brief nonsense best suited to a twitter which, at that time, did not exist. By sometime in 2005 though, I started to find my voice. I studied the events of the day, developed my own sardonic analysis of them, and thought some of my posts were pretty good. As I published, I would sometimes think "this will be the post...this is the one that will get people visiting, reading, talking. I'll finally develop a community of regular readers!"

They never came. Oh, occasionally I'd get a flurry of visitors for an individual post - I was thrilled, after years of hoping, to finally get a mention in Crikey's daily blog round up, and was linked to by the Wall Street Journal once - but they didn't comment, they didn't stay, they never came back. My dearest wish was for people to look around, think "this is good...she really can write" and pass on the link. It never happened. I wondered why. Was it the layout? The failure to stick to a consistent topic? Did I, even online, still reek of the stink of unpopularity that has followed me all my life?

I never knew. It made me sad, but I kept going and  going till I couldn't go anymore. I stopped writing the Pod and started doing other things, till eventually I missed blogging in and of itself and started this one here. And I'd still love a list of regular followers that runs into triple figures and lively debates in the comments, but I realise it's never going to happen. The knack of large-scale likeability I just don't have. But I keep blogging just for myself. If others drop by from time to time, well that's just a welcome bonus.

Comments

  1. I love reading your blog; even if I don't agree with everything your write (I do most of it!) you always make me think. Don't stop!

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  2. (I tried to comment earlier using my TurnLeft id, blogger told me "You do not own that identity", Im not sure it was a philosophical statement)

    I never knew. It wasnt until I deactivated the TL blog (my SIL has reactivated it) that people told me they read it. I never knew. It some times seem the people most motivated to comment are those who disagree or trolls.

    Anyway, my comments you quote sound a bit whiney, they werent meant to be, maybe it was frustration about not knowing how I can best contribute to the world, the political fight to stop Tea party conservative.

    Maybe my role is not a blog, maybe my role can be visitor, reader, commenter, sharer of other peoples words. Then it becomes "What next?" we raise awareness, and then what...?

    Anyway, thank you for saying this, all of it. I would like to share a quote (a bit long)


    Audre Lorde:
    “I was going to die, sooner or later, whether or not I had even spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silences will not protect you.... What are the words you do not yet have? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language."

    I began to ask each time: "What's the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?" Unlike women in other countries, our breaking silence is unlikely to have us jailed, "disappeared" or run off the road at night. Our speaking out will irritate some people, get us called bitchy or hypersensitive and disrupt some dinner parties. And then our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever.

    Next time, ask: What's the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare. Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it's personal. And the world won't end.

    And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don't miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution." And at last you'll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”

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