Tag: Blogging

18Apr

Welcome to the Future of 2009!

I have a confession to make that will no doubt secure my spot in history as the coolest and most technologically savvy blogger of all time: I’m scared of site makeovers. Other people’s, that is. I first discovered this attractive characteristic in 2002 when a member of my small blogging community (hi, Eliot!) updated to a minimalist theme. His site suddenly looked so polished, almost corporate to my eyes. He even had his own domain, which was a great mystery of the universe to me at the time. (My tech-savvy status is increasing by leaps and bounds right now, I know.) I was mega-impressed but just as intimidated too. Why couldn’t we all just post away cheerfully on our colorful Blogspot and Xanga journals for the rest of eternity?

For the record, I’m glad that progress didn’t stop to consult me on its way out the door. I even joined the ranks of domain-owners in 2009, learning enough PHP to build my very own minimalist website. (Okay, the minimalist part is a lie, but I did have a white background.) Still though, trends continued to shift, and I felt lost every time another blogger friend modernized their online presence. Actually, online presence is what it all boiled down to for me. Writers who had formerly struck me as down-to-earth now seemed inaccessible, their beautiful new sites every bit as formidable to me as power suits and Botox. Why couldn’t we all just keep our quippy titles and cluttered sidebars and webcam profile pictures for the rest of eternity?

Once again, I am glad that the forward trajectory of the world does not depend on me. You may have noticed that I’m posting this from a shiny new website of my own, and that is because the online presence reflected in my dear old hand-coded site no longer resembles me. I see the world differently than I did five years ago. I blog differently and interact with readers differently and think about the future of my writing differently, and it’s [past] time that I welcome you into an online home that has room for it all.

On the slight chance that one of you experiences the same site-makeover anxiety that I do when a friend upgrades his or her space, let me assure you that you’ll find no power suits or Botox here. I’m writing this in my around-the-house jeans, which are ripped beyond even Abercrombie’s sense of propriety, and yesterday’s crumbling mascara. I’m still me. And now my website is too.

So, welcome! Take a look around, and if you haven’t yet, would you mind heading over to “like” my Facebook page? I’ve been letting it languish for a while, unsure whether it was worth putting energy into or not. This seems like the perfect opportunity to resurrect it though, and I’d love to have you along while I figure out how Facebook works in 2014. (Why couldn’t we all just keep writing “is” statuses and super-poking each other for the rest of eternity?)

Love,
The coolest and most technologically savvy blogger of all time

17Feb

The Things I Forget to Instagram

On Monday mornings, I wake up slowly. I’ve always done a clumsy job shifting between weekday and weekend mindsets, and no matter how straight I aim my Sunday night intentions, I tend to wake up in a dead stall—engine cold, momentum at zero, the week’s potential out of view beyond a right turn. I’m working on showing myself grace this year, so I accept that morning pages will not get written first thing on Mondays. Neither will inspirational reading be absorbed. I will not be jumping up to hit the track, nor will I be performing sun salutations on the yoga mat I keep forgetting to acquire. The only thing I am capable of doing when I wake up on a Monday is settling back into my pillows with a cappuccino and scrolling through Instagram while I wait for the caffeine to loosen my mental gears.

Now, I love Instagram. It feels like the least needy of the social media conduits, rarely snagging at the threads of my attention with links, surveys, or political commentaries. The comment sections can get a little dicey, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone post a Willow-filtered snapshot to illustrate their outrage over the latest hot topic. By and large, Instagram inspires users to curate the beauty in their daily lives. People appreciate and preserve little moments through the act of sharing them, and others appreciate and share in return, and say what you will about our narcissistic culture or the ascent of selfies, but I love the whole construct. I do.

That said, I myself post photos sparingly. Part of the reason is that I want to avoid the habit of detaching from beautiful moments in order to crop and filter and caption them, but the other part is that I simply forget. It doesn’t occur to me to document the majority of my daily circumstances, even as I extract pearls of gratitude from them, even as I notice their unique and lovely hues. My “hey, I could Instagram this!” gene must be recessive.

I spend a kid-free Sunday afternoon wandering medieval streets, fingers woven through my husband’s in the most blissfully unFebruary sunlight, and forget to document a second of it.

I give the girls as a Valentine’s gift a packet of coiled paper streamers that they blow into a giant pile of pink insta-wig, but I forget to capture the hilarity.

I peek in on them as they sleep, my heart catching tight in my throat as it always does to see them so relaxed, so safe in their vulnerability, small elbows cradling beloved stuffed animals.

I look up from my own dregs of sleep to catch Dan bringing in a deluxe Saturday breakfast for me. Still, after eleven years, this.

I hang wet sheets on the balcony and breathe it all in—the Mediterranean sunlight, the quiet symphony of our neighborhood, the cypresses whisking pollen into the air and teaching the world to sneeze, our Italian way of life.

I make us this day our daily pasta. I lift weights (got to burn off all that pasta somehow!). I coach the girls with their piano practice. I dial up my sister’s sweet face on Skype. I discover that if you run out of polenta and try to substitute fine-ground cornmeal, you will end up with a pot of yellow Elmer’s glue. I switch between flip-flops and winter slippers like the uprooted Texan I am. I read Romans and Gabriel García Márquez. I cheer and groan and formulate Thoughts on the Olympics. I kiss friends on both cheeks in greeting. I use the last of the midnight blue nail polish. I kick my feet up next to Dan’s while we discuss whether we’re more in the mood for Firefly or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I water my “poor kid.” I burn the pizza.

Life pulls me straight into its kaleidoscope heart, and I ride the color from second to second, pattern to pattern, and each one is worth memorializing in some way. I forget to Instagram most of it though, and this finds me on Monday morning scrolling through proof of my friends’ beautiful weekends and wondering where mine got off to. It’s not that I think an instant of life has to be posted online to mean something—goodness no—but I still miss undocumented moments as if they were old friends moving out of state. How long until we lose contact? Until they stop coming to mind? Until I forget that they were ever in my life?

I’ve been afraid of forgetting ever since I was a 10-year-old journaling what I’d eaten for dinner and what I’d studied in school that day. Anne Frank’s diary made me wild to record every second of myself for posterity. Years later, I’d write at red lights or in empty parking lots because I couldn’t wait until I got home; I might forget too much.

And I do. I forget too much. Dan will try to reminisce with me about our early years together, and I’ll ask, “That happened?” I can watch the same movie twelve times and be surprised twelve times by the ending. The fingers of my mind hold memory loosely, as casually as if it were a handful of gravel, and pebble-sized bits of my life slip through before I remember that I could be documenting them.

An ongoing lesson in my life, however, is how to let go. I’ve written about it here before, how I struggle with letting good things come to an end even if they no longer have a place in my world, but I’m getting better at it. I’m learning to sink back against my trust that if a tree falls in an empty forest, it still makes a sound, and if a swath of delight cuts through my day undocumented, it still serves its purpose. Sometimes living in the moment means grasping it with both hands, a smartphone, and an armada of hashtags… and sometimes it means quietly enjoying it and then releasing it into the care of the universe. Both ways are valid. Both celebrate the beauty. (Repeat to self daily, twice on Mondays.) And it’s possible that forgetting to Instagram might just be the most Zen choice I [n]ever make.

4Feb

When a Head Cold Leads to Paralysis

The cold virus I’ve been dodging for weeks closes with a snap around my brain one evening, and I know I’m in it for the long haul. It drags me to bed like a wolf with fresh prey, preferring to gnaw at me under the protective dark of blankets. Noise hurts. Light hurts. My head feels like it’s being digested. I force myself up far too soon (the children need me! and if not them, the laundry certainly does!) and regret it almost immediately. Gravity pulls the cold from my sinuses down to my lungs, and I’m down for the count.

This is why I haven’t been writing lately—because sickness has a way of wrapping itself like fog around the landscape of my mind until it’s all I can see, and because no one wants to read about somebody else’s head cold. That’s a fact.

With so little of color or substance penetrating this head-fog, I’ve stayed quiet, and in some ways, it’s been nice. I don’t tend to give myself slack unless I’m forced to by extenuating circumstances, so sickness can be its own form of grace. I’ve been devouring books in long, thirsty gulps, sleeping without an alarm, and letting Dan bring me hot drinks without repurposing his kindness as guilt. Rest is such a gift.

To be honest though, I’ve let the gift turn into an excuse. Quiet is a little too easy a condition for me to accept, and it doesn’t take anything more significant than a head cold to validate the lie woven into the threads of my life that says I have nothing of value to say. See? my mind asserts, No one wants to read about what’s going on in your head. This is faulty logic, of course—swollen sinuses and theological reconstruction are hardly the same kind of head issues—but it’s pretty damn hard to refute all the same.

It’s staring me in the face each time I open Facebook. Link upon link upon link to other people’s words… some beautifully penned, some slapped into a template for maximum page counts, all competing for the attention of a public simultaneously addicted to and numbed by viral posts. The Internet has gotten so loud. How could my voice possibly matter in this sea of words, in this roar of marketing machines and big opinions? Why work to put my heart into sentences when someone out there has surely already said the same thing, only better or with more impressive graphics?

Please don’t take this as a hankering to be louder or to build a competitive platform. Fame isn’t why I’m here, and God knows the world doesn’t need any more noise-for-noise’s-sake. I do want to matter though. All my life, I’ve hungered for significance, rooting through theologies and grasping at circumstances for extra legs on which to stabilize my position in this world. I’m not saying this is a healthy habit, but it’s the truth. In fact, I’ve poured far too much time, energy, and money over the years into activities that no longer worked for me simply because I couldn’t acknowledge that their significance was over. (See: classical ballet, psychology courses, and every craft in which I’ve ever dabbled. Disgruntled cross stitch samplers, anyone?)

I know that I tend to pour more of myself into time-wasters in a [misguided and ultimately doomed] attempt to make them matter, but I also know that I tend to give up on good things prematurely for fear of starting this time-wasting cycle… and it all becomes a jumble, my perspective darting around wide-eyed and disoriented in the muddy in-between. How do I prioritize without clearly glimpsing the thumbprint of significance? How do I distinguish my creative calling from the cacophony of my expectations, much less from the noise of the world around me?

In times like this, Dan often reminds me that I think too much, which, YES, CLEARLY. I’m a lifelong pro at thinking a good idea to death, at second-guessing my second guesses until the whole thing goes belly-up. I’m a serial doubter, which is different from a cynic in that cynic has pre-packaged negativity ready to slap on an issue whereas I can’t decide on which brand of negativity to use. This isn’t likely to change. (Sorry, dear.)

All this leaves me in a rather paralyzed place regarding the new year, especially in regards to writing and blogging and social media and the ever-changing face of the creative community. WHY is a pretty big question to be bringing to the table, and I’m having a hard time proceeding without knowing the answer.

However, inviting you into the discussion in my mind is why this blog exists, so here we are—on the downswing of an epic but still categorically boring head cold, searching for personal meaning on a global scale, and actively refuting the lie that there is nothing of value left in this world to say.

Join the discussion, would you? I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on navigating the noise and content overload we encounter online. What motivates you to keep showing up? What helps you keep standing on your own two feet in the fire-hose stream of input? 

13Nov

Where My House Elves At

(Prints available on Etsy*)

Dear Internet,
You’ve got some ‘splainin to do.

I know that sounds sitcom-silly at best and beat-cop-antagonistic at worst, but I mean it sincerely. We’ve been together a long time, you and I, from that first GeoCities homepage in ’99 (those synthesized MIDI versions of Third Eye Blind songs I had running in the background really classed up the joint!) to this morning’s reflexive Facebook scroll-through. I understand that change is inevitable over the years; neither of us is as earnest or as driven to gimmicks as we were in the early days of online socialization, and you never promised to conform to my expectations of you. Still, there is a certain version of reality that you’ve been projecting as something obvious and ordinary which continues to baffle me. And no, I’m not referring to the whole leggings-as-pants thing (though you’re welcome to explain that one too while you’re at it).

What I need you to help me understand is how the average Internet citizen of today seems to be able to juggle three or four full-time jobs at once. Let’s create a composite character for the sake of example: Harlingen Housewife is a totally average mother of four with her own Etsy shop and personal website. She gets up at 5 every morning so she’ll have adequate time to write a viral blog entry and run a few miles before making her family organic omelets for breakfast. While the kids are at school, she works on her third memoir, clears out her email inbox, and dusts the attic, keeping up a steady stream of Twitter banter all the while. After lunch, she focuses on her children, chauffeuring the older ones to extracurricular activities and facilitating art projects with the younger ones using a homemade watercolor recipe that she created on commission for Pinterest. Supper is quinoa-based. After reading the kids to sleep and treating her husband to a few rounds of lovemaking, she gets to work knitting custom convertible car tops for her Etsy shop. Only one or two tonight. After all, she needs plenty of sleep before her keynote speech at the next day’s Billionaire Bloggers Conference.

This is just a flat stereotype, of course. There are women who also manage to homeschool or run farms or travel the world or conduct publicity tours while doing all of the above. Some even hold down glamorous day jobs without missing a beat in their online success parade. Or at least that’s the picture you’re painting, dear Internet.

Here’s where my confusion comes in. I opened Twitter the other morning and immediately closed it again because—let’s be honest—99.7% of all Tweets nowadays are links to other pages, and I didn’t have time to read and compose retweetable comments on the thirty showing up on my screen, much less the thirty thousand queued up from the previous day. I didn’t have time because I was hoping to fit in a run before lunch, and adding two new pages to a writing project had already taken the lion’s share of the morning. The girls had an event scheduled for the afternoon, which meant that I would only have two hours after lunch in which to fit (or rather, fail to fit) errands, housecleaning, bookkeeping, emails, homework help, ironing, and a short lapse in judgment involving cookies… and there was the day, stretched out before me like a threadbare map, every inch of it already accounted for and found lacking.

You see, Internet, the contrast is just too great between what I’m able to do with my day (maintain a happy and occasionally hygienic home + write a little) and what you imply other moms are accomplishing with theirs (All The Things). Either I’m spectacularly incapable, or you’re skewing the truth. Or perhaps I’m just latching onto a skewed perspective of the truth that you never intended me to have. It’s hard to figure out sometimes what is real out here in the no-holds-barred glitter of your ether.

I realize that just because I can’t juggle multiple full-time gigs at once (and we DO agree that stay-at-home parenting is a legitimate occupation, right? good.) doesn’t mean that other people can’t. I also realize that the enviable personas attracting your spotlight are most likely supported by teams of babysitters and house elves and graphic designers and pizza delivery guys backstage. That’s just a hopeful guess though. For all I know, you could be the ultimate landing place for multitasking superheroes.

So please, dear Internet, in light of all the years we’ve spent together and my enduring love for the avenues of self-expression you’ve opened to the world, do me the courtesy of explaining:

  1. Whether or not task forces of mythical creatures are running the lives of successful bloggers for them
  2. What the primary difference is between my workday and theirs (if you say it’s a 5 a.m. wakeup time, I reserve the right to punch you in the throat even though I’ll know you’re right)
  3. What others are sacrificing for the appearance of having it all
  4. If those sacrifices have been worth the resulting success
    —and lastly—
  5. How anyone can keep up with Twitter and do anything else ever

Sincerely,
Puzzled in Perugia

 

~~~
*No

25Mar

Pippi and Yoda

Spring Break starts here today, but a less springish day I could not imagine. The sky is like waterlogged quilt batting, pressing a clammy malaise down into our pores, and if the weather weren’t sufficient to leech all energy from me, the allergens tightly packed into my respiratory system would do the job. (March: In like a lion, out like full-scale biological warfare.)

However, I’m aglow with gratefulness today for your comments and emails following my last two posts. Writing those posts entailed marching very deliberately into territory full of hidden sinkholes and memories that go bump in the night, but each of your thoughtful responses was a beam of friendly light, and I’m so glad to be here with you, to be wrestling the heavy issues together. I will get around to responding to your individual messages soon, I promise.

In the meantime, I thought we could all use a dose of levity today, so I’d like to share the cover page of a fan fiction masterpiece Natalie has been working on:

Pippi and Yoda.png

 

Yoda’s expression alone is responsible for plunging me into a poorly disguised fit of giggles at church yesterday:

 

Wary Yoda

Over the next several pages, Pippi Longstocking one-ups Luke Skywalker to an embarrassing degree during Jedi Camp, eventually prompting an exhausted Master Yoda to demand an end to the story… and prompting me to sleep a little easier at night because clearly we’re doing something right here.

 

19Mar

Calling It Art

A blogger’s job description, as I see it, is to curate life. We each set up a space reflecting our own personality and artistic or professional interests, and then we cull from our lives what we consider worthy of display. We frame moments and arrange lines of thinking just so, highlighting unique shades of relevance in the world around us and hoping to strike particular chords—humor, empathy, outrage, optimism. We notice and present and then stand in the wings surreptitiously analyzing visitors’ facial expressions (or traffic stats) for clues as to how our art is being interpreted.

I imagine that the vast majority of us blog for the same reason that every artist creates art: we are fundamentally drawn to it. Curating our own little life exhibit relaxes us or engages us or keeps us intentional or gives us community, and we glow a bit brighter as we put up each new post. Or perhaps it’s all in my imagining, this great pure-hearted blogosphere conjured from the same daydreamscape as true love in seventh grade. It wouldn’t be the first time.

I tend to romanticize things I know little about, and I prefer it that way. I don’t want to know that Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe got divorced or that The White Stripes disbanded or that Van Gogh shot himself in a haze of despair less than a year after completing The Starry Night. I want to believe in the longevity of beauty, no matter what common sense says to the contrary, and the same goes for blogging. I don’t want to notice the joy and originality slipping out of career bloggers’ writing or to read the disclaimers at the bottom of sponsored posts. I don’t want to think that the glow I feel in showing up here could be doused at any time in the soapy residue of burst illusions.

I suppose I’m most afraid of what happens when art turns into obligation. I’m feeling hints of it here today, at my kitchen table, worlds away from any true constraint to the craft. We’ve had an intense year so far with few exhibit-worthy moments, but I’m driven to write anyway, to create something relevant and aesthetic and new, so I turn up the pressure on myself to notice beauty! notice a positive insight! notice something, dammit!

I sit at my kitchen table sweeping my eyes over the calcium stains on our sink, the uneven row of spices on our mantle, and the alphabet magnets wedged like unfortunate mechanics under the fridge, trying to prod my surroundings into resonating with me even as I know that this is how it happens, how a curator turns into a busker. There is only the thinnest of lines between taking inspiration from everyday life and trying to force meaning where there is none, and I am most likely to trip over that line when writing turns into a burden.

Keeping art art—that’s the challenge, isn’t it? When all our Western Civilization instincts are demanding that we justify output with results? When our work ethic isn’t accustomed to waiting around for a flighty muse? Every day that I sit down to write, I find myself face to face with a web of conflicting motivations interspersed with the usual doubts. Should I write even if I have nothing pressing to say? On the other hand, should I let a lack of immediate inspiration keep me from writing? Should my guide be a schedule or my own fickle mind? Does everything I publish have to be profound? What would make this time and effort worth it (whatever it is)?

It’s no wonder the original joy of creating tends to slink out the door while I’m busy untangling. This isn’t the first time I write about my internal struggles with writing, and I’m positive it won’t be the last. I am well endowed in doubts and guilts and worries (and lions and tigers and bears! oh my!), and working through them again and again is a crucial part of the process for me. It allows me to create the glowing displays, the beauty. However, sometimes an honest exhibit of my life also entails showing you behind the scenes, framing the unpolished shadow side of what ends up on your screen. Sometimes curating life means opening the doors to an unfinished mess and calling it art.

~~~

What helps you to keep art art in your life? 

30Jan

Why I Swore Off Social Networking… and Came Right Back Again

Last week, the words wouldn’t come. I tried, planting myself in my computer chair and waging blinking contests with the cursor while time ticked away. I tucked a notepad and pen into my gym bag. I took inspiring books along on errands, just in case the orbits of opportunity and creativity finally decided to align while I was out.

They didn’t.

It wasn’t that daily life wasn’t providing enough material. On the contrary, my brain was wound so tightly with big decisions, big goals, big feelings, and the big events in loved ones’ lives that I felt like the first scattered trembles of a supernova. Writing is usually how I ward off eminent explosion, but the words wouldn’t come… and to be honest, my break from blogging felt a lot less like spelunking my way to clear-mindedness and a lot more like somersaulting through space.

~~~

One of the Big Thoughts I’ve been working through this month has to do with online community. I’ve always hated reading Facebook statuses like “I’m sick of Facebook” or tweets proclaiming “So long, Twitterverse.” Besides the obvious irony of swearing off social media ON SOCIAL MEDIA, those kinds of statuses make me feel personally rebuffed, as if those friends had grown disgusted with the idea of staying in touch.

You can understand then why I cringed so violently a couple of weeks ago when I caught myself telling Dan, “I’m thinking of quitting social networks.” I could not have felt more hypocritical in that moment, but I had just spent twenty minutes reading up on the newest controversy everyone was talking about, and the end result was the same gritty black aura of criticism and outrage that so often descends on me when I click the Facebook logo. Wait, he said WHAT? How can she possibly think that? Oh no you didn’t just go there. Why would they think anyone wants to know THAT? What the hell…? I can’t believe…! Don’t get me started… etc. etc. forever and ever amen.

The truth was, I no longer liked myself on Facebook. I hated my immediate impulse to form judgments about my friends based on a parade of links, likes, and one-sentence status updates, and it stung to realize how much time I could lose in a day chasing down controversy. Beyond that, I realized how much of my self-worth I was hanging on that same haphazard system—tallying up likes, strategizing the best times of day to post links, and even brainstorming blog topics based on how much buzz they might be able to generate. I was basing my online interactions around seeking and withholding approval, and it was poisoning my creativity at its relational heart.

So I told Dan I was considering giving it all up—deleting my accounts, turning off blog comments, disabling social media plug-ins, and just creating in happy isolation. No more crowding my mind with others’ opinions. No more reliance on instant validation. If I were no longer networking, I would be free to publish my writing and then just walk away; the idea sounded glorious and not at all like previous friends’ decisions to swear off social media. After all, I wasn’t going to post about it.

~~~

Last week, I quietly stayed offline, alone with my Big Thoughts and the space to write about them without agenda… but the words wouldn’t come. What I’d thought would feel like freedom ended up feeling more like alienation, and it wasn’t validation I was missing; it was interconnectedness. It was Hey, I saw you’re having a hard week; can we bring over dinner? and Don’t worry; my babies went through that stage too, and I promise you’ll survive, and Wow, I never would have thought of things like that. I didn’t miss the controversy, but I keenly felt the lack of others’ worlds, your worlds, broadening and inspiring my own. Say what they will about how friendships conducted online are pale shadows of those lived face-to-face, social media protestors can’t explain away the very real and lasting value it has brought to my life.

In my disillusionment over the negative aspects of social networking, I had lost sight of the positive, and my week of distance sent me sailing straight into this: Encouragement matters, whether it is offered across a coffee table or across a series of IP addresses. If “encouragement” is too churchy a word (is it?), swap it out with “positive connectedness” or “affirming relationships” or simply “friendship.” The point is that what we have here counts, and while stats and retweets need to take on a much less important role in my life, that doesn’t mean the people behind them need to as well.

Author Emily Wieranga’s blogging resolutions ring especially relevant on this side of the to-leave-or-not-to-leave debate, where I know so clearly what I don’t want but so little of what I do:

“never write just for the sake of writing…
never not write out of fear of not having anything to say…
never comment on another person’s blog simply in the hopes of having them read mine…
continue to keep the comments section open, as a way to spark conversation”
(You can read the rest over on her blog.)

I suspect I’m signing myself up for a year-long, if not life-long struggle to find the balance between caring about the people in my community and not letting their opinions—even the validating ones—define me. I want to find that slim ribbon of perspective that lets me value your thoughts and learn from them and even catch ablaze on them without being consumed in the process. On the other end of it, I need to root my purpose for writing in something far deeper and more fundamental to my identity than what kind of reaction it will generate while still being sensitive to all of you who read it. Basically, my mindset needs to work on its fine motor skills.

~~~

Back in the early days of blogging (I started eleven years ago, which now seems positively prehistoric), I don’t remember any debate over authenticity vs. boundaries, apart from Dooce losing her job and advising the rest of us to “BE YE NOT SO STUPID.” In fact, I don’t remember any drama at all over post content; my blogging friends and I wrote 1) to flex our creative muscles, and 2) to be a community. We would get together at coffee shops and read our favorite entries out loud, then go back to our dorm rooms and blog about it. Some of us sported Blogger t-shirts. It was pretty awesome.

Today, blogging has the potential to be so much more—income, book-fodder, recognition—and it’s easy to absorb the idea that those outcomes are the reason we’re here. The pressure is on to come up with exceptionally written, SEO-friendly posts in our signature styles for our chosen niches with enough punch to go viral and enough relatability to attract loyal followers (ideally those in the publishing industry). Blog traffic isn’t just a perk, it’s the point, and though all our efforts are focused on readership, we miss out on community.

That’s both why I decided to quit social networking and why I came right back again. Here, as in my face-to-face world, relationships mean nothing without authenticity, and authenticity has no strength apart from relationships. Blogging simply doesn’t work for me without both factors. As appealing and praiseworthy as the life of a technological hermit may seem at times, it isn’t the route I’m meant to go, and now that I’m acknowledging that, now, finally, the words are coming back.

~~~

How do you feel about social networking? Do you think it’s necessary for a successful creative life? 

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