Writing, Failing

My husband feels I am too negative when I talk about my writing. The same familiar look comes across his face, a tight, disapproving look.

Maybe it's because the only time I talk in length about my writing is when I'm feeling despondent, and I do indeed say those words, I fail, or some variant such as:

I stink at...

I don't understand...

Pitiful...

Complete failure...

But as I point out to him, I am usually talking about how I market my own writing. I know I am a capable writer, and I used to naively think that if I wrote it, they would come...from somewhere. Maybe that makes me a lunatic, because the numbers aren't kind.

When I first started this blog, I had the Goggle follow button on my home page. It very slowly grew until I had 33 followers at which point it stuck and never moved again. It became a badge of dishonor. I had to remove it.

And right now I'm agonizing over deleting my Facebook page, because it, too, atrophied at 29 followers - 29 followers - and my past several posts, sharing only select pieces from here, have gotten zero likes. Even my own relatives have not thrown me a like bone now and then while busily liking others' pages. Nor should they if they do not like my stories.

I fail. I fail. Numbers don't lie.

I love to write. I believe I am a writer, and there again I must plead insanity in the face of miserable stats four years in the running.

So why do I fail? Oh, I wish I knew why I sink where others float and glide! I wish I knew. I, wanting to be a writer since elementary school, have done a miserable job despite my constancy. Others, who never desired it until adulthood as a hobby, have excelled.

Do people dislike my style? Is it because I have recently turned readers off with my Catholic perspective? Both unalterable, I'm afraid. Is it because I don't have that "clear brand" of which marketing folks speak? Is it because I neither love, have an affinity for, nor understand how to use social media? Heaven help me, I don't know what I'm doing wrong (except when I don't post). My growth has been completely organic, and organic is not always healthy. And there, too: is it because I refuse to invest monetarily in my dreams? Other writers have advised me to advertise on Facebook or pay for blog design, but I can't quite get over the hurdle of spending money on this blog that seems so unlikely to make returns on the investment, except perhaps for my silly ego and creative happiness.

Maybe I just don't have that community of fellow writers to uplift me. All the writers I admire, the few that I regularly read, already have their own groups, and I have this forlorn feeling that I am too late to win myself a position in their circle.

Drat, but if this depression wasn't coming, sitting by the way and sharpening its teeth. I was doing so well for some time. For weeks I only got on my blog to write or edit. I stayed off my personal email except 2-3 times per week. I would sometimes leave Facebook to its own devices for a good long time. And I was happier. I knew I wasn't writing for much, but I persevered. And I loved that I avoided the Internet on many days; I felt mentally more robust that way.

But it builds, you know, with the evidence. My blog was growing through last December, and then I took a kind of holiday in January, and it plummeted. Painfully, it has begun to rise again, but for four years of effort, I have truly embarrassing results. I would share them with no one, except my Dad.

As a miserable person might, I am asking you - if you have been one of my loyal readers - to tell me why you think I have failed here or on my blog's Facebook page. I am looking for brutal honesty. Don't fear that you'll make me cry. I have already cried bitterly - just today on the phone with my husband, I'm afraid - simply wondering what secret ingredient I lack so profoundly that many others have in abundance. I would rather know if my readers see something critical that I do not.

I don't intend to delete this blog. You may have thought that I was planning to put myself out of this cyclical misery in that way. No. Writing for a few is far better in my estimation than writing for nobody but oneself out of fear of rejection.

So I persevere. But I do ask you to kindly share your insights and your opinions on what it is that I need to do or change, what I seem incapable of discovering for myself. I'm a selfish girl for thrusting this on you, I guess, but I would really appreciate it.

Thanks,

Hillary



Comments

  1. I'm probably the wrong person to give an opinion. I don't write for readership, I would write even if no one read it.
    I can tell you what I DO like to read in a blog: I like to read about real people's real lives. I tend to gravitate towards positive, sincere blogs with a variety of humor and frankness. I suppose I read blogs for the the same qualities that would attract me to a person. Some people do nothing but complain, others show off, and some are too snarky. I don't read those blogs for the same reason I wouldn't be attracted to such a person. Our writing does reveal a lot about our who we are, don't you think?
    My favorite authors are pure in their vision, introspective, down-to-earth, imaginative, and humorous.
    I hope this helps. I enjoy reading here!

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    1. I think you are a good person to give an opinion. You comment here (and I so appreciate that), and you are very good at reflecting on the beautiful moments of gratitude in each day on your own blog.

      Our writing does indeed reveal who we are and how deeply we examine the world around us. I vacillate from very light pieces to quite serious. Maybe folks don't like what they see, but I've never felt we should try to guess what people want. We can only offer what we have.

      I'm glad you enjoy reading here. I was a big baby in revealing my feelings for selfish reasons. It helped to get it out, but I probably should not have shared this - especially on this day.

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  2. Ugh, this just erased a long comment I had. I'll try again. I was just saying that I'm really sorry that you are feeling down about your writing. You are NOT a bad writer. I don't always see when you add a new post to fb. The last one I saw was Hawaii. Also I was pointing out that I am a busy mom who generally only reads blogs for recipes or for specific advice on a specific subject (like beekeeping for example). I just don't have time to read blogs for pleasure, although I do enjoy your posts when I get the chance! So, many others can be in the same boat. Maybe offer a recipes column if you want to attract more followers? The other advice I had was to get out there and network with other writers in person. Take a class through MCC or through the city where you can share your work and get advice from other writers as well as see what they are writing about. I know Tempe even offered a class specifically about marketing writing. I think you would benefit from more feedback and that is why you are feeling down. Who better to get feedback from than other people who love to write too. I was so much more creative when I was in art school, I fed off everyone's energy and ideas. Don't despair! Just my 2 (or 5) cents ;-)

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    1. Holly, this is very wise. Thank you. I know you are right. I should get out there and network. I have not been good about community-building with my efforts thus far.

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  3. I was just snuggling Taz, our Yorkie, when I realized that I shared the most completely selfish post on this, 9-11, of all days.


    Now I regret it, but since others have left comments, I will not remove it out of respect for the time they took in doing so. Still, I am sorry I gave in to my serial discouragement and poured it out on you, my readers.


    I was a complete baby, I admit, but my feelings were sincere. It's just that I usually begin writing these self-bashing posts and then I wisely never publish them; it's enough to write the pity party out, examine my discouragement and then delete it and move on. This last time I unfortunately gave in after crying yet again to my poor husband over the phone.


    For me in my hopes as a writer, I think the only real option is to try and write regularly for some other established site, one which does not require my complete lack of ability in marketing, social media and design. Once my little Danny Sam is in school I hope to invest the time necessary in accomplishing that. At this juncture there is too much in my day to be spending vast quantities of time on a computer.

    Thank you to all of you who read my words, and please leave feedback on my more recent posts if there is some constructive criticism that you can offer me.

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  4. For me, the quality of your writing is the main reason I follow your blog. The actual subject matter comes a (close) second! I haven't commented before because I cordially dislike those comments that just say 'Ooh, wonderful', but I'm making an exception here.

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    1. Tim, thank you so much. I didn't know you followed my blog. I'm very grateful for your readership.

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  5. No, don't remove it - but write something clever and brilliant - as you usually do - quickly, so that this won't be your latest post. And buck the hell up. Dad

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    1. Oh, Papa - thank you!

      I know; this great guest post of yours is what I need to remember: http://nopensorpencils.blogspot.com/2013/04/buck-up-boy-it-isnt-normandy-guest-post.html

      Delete

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