Over a year ago, I decided I wasn't going to post to my blog anymore. I allowed some small voices become BIG voices. I had a hard time answering the question: "why do you blog?"
The answer feels so narcissistic, no? There is a world of people who will tell you it is. They will take what you find important and tell you it isn't. They post in anonymous forums and leave nameless comments. They'll beat you up for the audacity of telling them what you think.
The interesting part about these folks? "They" have never directed any negativity at me. At least, not that I know of. My writing is so insignificant and unknown, and yet, I allowed these snarling voices of people talking about big-time writers and celebrities to become the voice of my "audience" (whoever that is). The truth, however, is that no one really cares if I blog or not. I mean, maybe my mother does- she's chastised me more than once over the last year. But she didn't end our relationship. She didn't give me some high-stakes ultimatum "BLOG OR I WILL NEVER ANSWER WHEN YOU FACETIME ME!"
The calendar flips and writing here doesn't really impact the day to day life of anyone I know.
This isn't self-deprecating. It's actually really liberating. No one's life is going to be forever effected if my words don't show up in the form of a blog post. I don't think I ever actually thought they would be but I did feel this... pressure. I felt pressure to carefully construct what I posted so as to not sound TOO much like I was preaching or pretending to know about something I don't. I felt pressure to be an expert. I felt pressure to write as if I had studied writing. I felt pressure to make sure I never looked like I was stealing someone else's idea. I wanted to talk about my life, but I also had to make sure everyone knew I know where Iran is. The result was sometimes lopsided and clunky and, truly, not authentic at all.
No one was putting this pressure on me. I didn't have critics or a clan of followers or haters. Nope, my blogging anxiety was homegrown and locally sourced right in the center of my creativity. It makes my heart hurt to think about the way I talk to myself when I'm making something that other people will see. I create in my mind the snarkiest, most anonymous mean girl and I analyze whatever I did with her voice in my head. I'm doing it right now, as I type this sentence.
Just because I stopped blogging doesn't mean I stopped writing. I decided that I would write some short personal essays about my life and compile them for my kids. It was the start of a little personal history. It was fun and difficult at the same time and I enjoyed all of the retrospect. I ended up writing about 200 pages worth of stories. During a time that I felt like I could barely keep the light of my identity from going to black completely, writing about myself kept me grounded. I didn't back any of it up on an external hard drive, and I lost all of it when my hard drive crashed.
Losing my personal narratives made me spiral downward. I felt like I literally lost all of myself. I would say, out loud to anyone who would listen "nothing I do matters." There were other reasons I felt this way, but losing everything I had written felt like the universe's way of agreeing with me.
I never thought I'd ever be in a place where I struggled to live creatively. It has always kind of oozed out of me and I could never find enough sources to hold it all. Those negative voices are powerful things. "Nothing you do matters. Unless it pays bills, what you create is a waste of time, and a joke."
I sold my tote bag business because I needed to focus more on my new business endeavor which, honestly, CAN be a creative outlet but I hardly ever allow it to be. Why do I do that?
A friend recommended the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. She didn't recommend it to me, personally. She just put it on a list of her favorite books from 2016. I remembered watching a TED talk about creativity by Elizabeth Gilbert and I remembered that I liked it. Back then, I liked that talk because she just said a bunch of stuff I already knew how to do. When I saw she had a book on the topic, it stood out because I was pretty certain I had forgotten all of it.
Anyway, I picked up Big Magic from the library and downloaded the audio version. It's incredibly rare I take notes- like ACTUAL scribbling notes when I'm reading a book. She, through her own human experience, related many of the reasons we get in our own way.
One of my favorite parts? When she mentions how people might hate what you create and you can tell them to go make their own effing art. It's what I decided to tell the snarky bitch in my head when I resolved that I would start blogging again and she flipped her hair and raised an eyebrow.
Blogging kept me creative. I've never been in it to make money or gain a big following. But it forced me to bring my nice camera places. It made me capture more moments in my everyday life. I know that's just the definition of a journal but I really really really love to share what makes me happy and what makes me uncomfortable and what makes me angry. I used to read my diary to my friends because what's the point of writing how you feel if you can't talk about it with someone?!
So let's talk. You should go read Big Magic. And if you want, from time to time, you're welcome to come here and read some stuff too.