I would like to consider myself a shameless self-promoter. I’d be lying, but it’s a nice lie, right?
In reality, I pretend to pimp myself out, big myself up, and all that jive, but I don’t actually do any of it. I shyly ignore my own blog posts, rarely update my portfolio, and generally let things fester in an unpromoted oblivion.
Much like the fear of writing, I think this stems from a fear of failure. Yes, I’ve written, but if nobody actually reads it, it doesn’t matter that it was utter and total crap. A tree falling in the woods, only with writing and the internet.
I’d love to be a writing sensation, with legions of fans. However, I want it to happen spontaneously. I don’t want to actually ask for those fans.
Case in point, my Facebook fan page. I have one. It’s unpublished. I can’t bring myself to publish it and have it out there, where people can see — in a concrete number — how many people ‘like’ me as a writer. That utterly terrifies me. It’s a recipe for failure, as far as I’m concerned. So it sits unpublished, doing nothing for me, giving me no promotion whatsoever.
I don’t know how to get myself over this hump of promotion, or if I really want to get over it. Self-promotion is time consuming. Self-promotion takes effort. Self-promotion is icky. Why would I want to do it?
But I know that my current plan — writing, allowing the automated Twitter post, and little else — isn’t working. It’s time I get over my fear of promotion.
Then again, maybe I’ll wait until I’ve written something good…
One of my big struggles as a ‘blogger’ is deciding what the point of this blog is. At the moment, it’s split between diary entries, essays on a wide range of subjects, anecdotes, and recipes. It’s a bit of everything and a bit of nothing.
I think if I was just doing this to please myself, this could be fine. But, if I’m honest, I’m not. I want an audience. I want people to read all this crap. But the reality is that one post will appeal to one audience, while another will appeal to another, and other posts won’t appeal to anyone.
I have no niche for my blogging, and this is a big problem.
I don’t know what I want my niche to be, though. That’s also a big problem. I do like dithering on about random topics, but I know that’s not a long-term blogging solution. At least not in the way I want to write.
At the base of it all, I think I fear committing to one idea. I don’t want to limit myself to one subject. Whether this is fear that I’ll choose the wrong one — the one nobody cares to read — or that I’ll choose something I lose interest in after a few posts, is something I don’t know.
I’m not sure how to choose a focus. I don’t think I have enough readers to even get input from the audience. But I know I need to choose something if I’m going to ever do something besides type into the ether.
I don’t particularly want to write tonight. I didn’t write yesterday, and that makes it even more difficult to come up with something today. I seem to work with some writing inertia pushing me along. When I stop, I stop.
So today I’m trying to write and it’s a struggle. I don’t know what to write about, and I don’t know where to begin. Everything is a distraction and I allow myself to be distracted too easily.
This isn’t a new problem. This is my procrastination and writer’s block all coming together and I just seize up. This is not a good thing for somebody who purports to be a professional writer. It’s what has kept me back for many years; it keeps me from finishing things and it keeps me from starting things.
I read something recently about writer’s block being a fear of rejection (this is a very rough summary of a good article somewhere) and I think there’s a very valid idea there. If you don’t write, you don’t show that you aren’t very good. When the novel or blog post is unwritten, you are a genius. When it’s out there, it’s out there. It’s there to be judged and criticized. That’s when everyone knows you’re a fraud.
Of course, getting things written is also the only way to succeed. There’s no possible success in not writing. Just a massive amount of frustration. Hopefully tomorrow writing will come a bit easier.
I don’t think of myself as not having a well-rounded life. For the most part, I enjoy my days. I don’t go to bed each night feeling oppressed by some horrible situation I’ve landed myself in.
And then I have one of those questionnaires that asks what I do for fun. What are my hobbies? What do I do outside of work?
I know this is the question that I’m supposed to answer with things like jet skiing, gardening, rambling, and macrame. Things that make me sound interesting, or that make me sound cultured, or that make me sound like I do something.
My hobbies? Going for aimless drives. Watching TV of various quality. Collecting ugly cat figurines, Star Wars toys, typewriters, and books. Looking at things on the internet.
But how can you put that on some sort of health questionnaire where you’re trying to prove that you aren’t a shut in with severe depression, or on the verge of some sort of hoarding crisis? You can’t. So I leave it blank.
This has never not backfired for me. I then get asked in person what I do other than work. Then I have to do the hmming right then and there, trying to think of how I can phrase ‘driving, TV, collecting, and the internet’ in an awesome way.
Maybe I don’t need to make them sound awesome. Maybe this is me being some sort of geek chic. Maybe in 15 years, the hipster kids of Jack’s generation will all go for drives, collect ugly cats, toys, typewriters, and books, watch tv and look at things on the internet.
Probably not. It’ll probably still be a set of hobbies you don’t want to write on a form.
Today, Jack and I went to Tesco. This isn’t at all unusual. We went to one of the smaller branches, choosing the one that I figured we’d have the best luck getting one of the parent and child parking spaces. As I pulled into the car park, I could see all the spots were taken. As a couple finished packing their shopping into their car, I began to get angry. A righteous, maternal anger.
This couple, in their 60s, did not have a child with them. They simply wanted the better, bigger parking spot. As soon as I spotted this, I was glad I forced the guy to do a shuffling little run back to his car. I had won. Jack and I had won. But then, as we got out of the car, something rather horrible happened.
The woman in the car next to me was messing about with her kids. I was certain I got a look when I lifted Jack into the base of his pushchair. I’m also certain I didn’t. I assumed she was judging me because I know I was judging her. I judged her for her Baby Bjorn-bound child. I judged her for her Maxi-Cosi seat in the front of the car while her older daughter clambered around in the back seat. I felt superior, with Jack correctly in the back seat, a selection of wraps and slings ready for use in the foot well.
This isn’t the first time I’ve caught myself being a judgemental mommy. It’s something that I experienced before Jack was even born. It’s like at the instant of implantation, you also get this little twinge of judgement. You begin to see what every other parent is doing wrong, what you’d never do wrong. Because, of course, in every scenario you do know best.
There’s so much written about the bitter judgement mothers face. Whether it’s the never-ending breastfeeding battles, the carrier contention, the sleeping sparring, or appearance arguments, it’s always there. A friend commented recently that she was glad she didn’t have her kids in the era of Facebook, explaining that the constant arguments about how to be a good parent is a stress that no mother needs. It’s true. While the internet has given us the ability to quickly look up things like how to give a baby a shower, what this rash might be, and what the lyrics are to every nursery rhyme ever written, it also gives us the opportunity to cluck and click our tongues at others.
The flip side of this is knowing that you are also the subject of such judgement. And this can be crippling. There are parenting decisions that I’ve made that I keep quiet just because I know they will be judged.
So today, as I mentally criticised both the older couple who had abused the parking space (and the other two cars that were abusing the spaces when we came back to the car) and the mother of two who was doing things the way she thought best, I began to wonder when I became this judgemental mommy type. It’s been there for months, I know, but why did it get there and is there a way to switch it off?
Maybe this is one of the curses of parenthood. As much as I don’t want to be that type of mother, I’m always going to be observing how others are doing it. And I know I’m always going to see what they’re doing wrong. And, looking at me, so will they. The question is how do we control our judgements.
Writer’s block has hit me hard tonight. Well, it’s a combination of tiredness and writer’s block. I’m too tired to fight through the writer’s block. Any fighting I’ve tried has only left me even more blocked.
I have made several attempts at writing to a provided prompt for today. Five interesting things about myself. I can’t come up with much of anything. The first list I tried was just a biography, listing where I had lived. The second involved demonstrating my knowledge of the original Star Wars toys. Neither list made it to five items.
I know it’s not that there’s nothing interesting about me that I could share. I’ve done plenty of ‘X number of things about me’ lists that have been interesting. It’s just that tonight I have no enthusiasm for writing about myself.
Today I finished putting together my visa application and got it sent off. I also played with Jack, took photos of him, and managed to get him to go to sleep for a little while. I put in a load of laundry that I have yet to hang up to dry. I drove to Staples, only to find out how much they now charge for copies (10p a page!!) and come back home to scan over 100 pages. I lifted Jack over my head so many times my arms still hurt, but his giant smile as he hovered above me makes the pain worthwhile.
So as for five interesting things about myself… that will have to wait.
It started off well enough. Jack went to sleep relatively quickly, and wasn’t too restless through the evening. When I went to bed, he was still asleep.
I must have gotten an hour or maybe even two in before it all kicked off. Jack was hungry. Jack was uncomfortable. Jack was hungry again. Jack was uncomfortable again. Jack needed a change. Jack was uncomfortable again. Jack was hungry again. Jack was still hungry. Jack needed to poop. Jack was uncomfortable.
I stopped even looking at the clock. There was no gauging whether it was time for him to eat again, or how long it had been since anything. It was all just trying to get him to settle down, be quiet, relax, go to sleep.
Around 4 am, I know I took him into the other bedroom and sat on the sofa for a while. Around 5 am, I went back into the bedroom. Around 5:15 am, I gave up and came downstairs. Jack happily rolled around, yelled a bit to play with his newly discovered loud voice, and finally managed to poop. I had a coffee.
We both dozed off a bit, but faced the day with less than 4 hours total sleep. We did a family trip to the Haynes Motor Museum and we all managed to get through the day without screaming.
The problem, of course, is now. It’s almost 8 pm and I’m not so tired I can really go to bed, but I’m too tired to actually do anything. All I can do is stare blankly at the computer or television. I don’t even have the mental energy to think about what I would do if I did have the mental energy to do something. So I waste the night playing pointless games on Facebook until I can’t even bear to look at all the colorful little blobs.
Trying to reclaim my time — and my identity — is my struggle right now. I don’t yet know how to be a parent and be an actual person who does non-parent things. I suppose this will come with time. I hope it will, anyway.