The Art Of The Follow

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I’d like to take a moment to recognize and thank the peeps who have followed me on this most recent journey. You know, the super-sonic road trip where I wrote a book and then tried through social media to get some people interested in my work by writing a bunch of blog posts that may or may not have been similar to the style of the alleged masterpiece I penned.

Since we’re talking, I’d also like to add that the real manuscript rocks around the freaking clock. It’s the best writing I’ve ever done, and is equal parts, inspirational, poignant, and is an ass kicking riot fest from start to finish. Sadly, you’ll probably never read it.

Here’s why: It’s apparently impossible to sell a book regardless of the quality of writing unless you happen to have the following of multitudes. I do not. Hell, I am lucky to get those closest to me to read anything I’ve written other than a personal check, or a hand written note on a birthday card—and my penmanship leaves plenty to be desired although I can pour on the sentiment like nobody’s biz.

I’m not a big fan of social media, I’m too old for it maybe, and it feels like a popularity contest I don’t quite have the chops for since my basic makeup relies on an, I don’t give a shit attitude. I’ve always kind of questioned authority that way. I’m a fighter, not a lover.

But I am also a writer. To my core I have been afflicted with this beautiful, unbearable need for expression—both a blessing and a burden—coupled with the fact that this gift most often resides only in my head or a hard drive somewhere. So this amazing and miserable calling, the thing I live to do, where there is no passage of time, no noise, nothing, but me and the words I hold sacred, is also a body bending cross to hoist each day.

And this I do for the few people who are completely unknown to me. Some contingent of folks who read my work and have not yet beat a hasty retreat. So for those of you hanging in there with me, I have only my thanks and gratitude to offer, though it’s clear I’ll find a sack full of sarcasm to tidy things up in the end and call it a sacred offering too.

Thank you for following. Get as close as you like. Nobody loves you like I do. Yes, you.

 

Am I Relevant?

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Here is my truth. Yesterday, I had a major crisis of confidence and a mini-meltdown. I held it quietly, invited no guests, and offered no refreshments. I thought about how I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to create the career of my dreams, and in all honesty, it may have been a waste of my time and efforts.

It’s a feeling that’s close to hitting bottom as they say, only without a barrel of alcohol and lots of drugs; the accompanying feelings are pretty brutal.

A writer spends the majority of her time alone in her own chaotic head. This is the deal you sign when you decide to forgo social relationships and office banter (and money) for sitting at home in your jammies with a laptop, gallons of coffee, and a loyal dog, if you’re lucky. Then as a writer, there’s an expectation that you develop social relationships with millions of people, most of whom you do not know, literally boatloads of people who will love and champion your work. It’s all about being relevant.

There are books to consult and consultants to read, all of whom can help an isolated writer develop and grow a “massive platform.” Right. Makes all the sense in the world.

The other day I spoke to a friend who is seeking a mid-life career change and has immersed herself in some kind of coding camp. When I asked how it was going she told me she was struggling, and that she had so much to “Catch up on to stay relevant in this market.” It reminded me how we all fight so hard to stay, or even find our way to being relevant in a society that is so faced paced, distracted, and fragmented.

Our friends at Merriam Webster define it thus:

1
a :  having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand

b :  affording evidence tending to prove or disprove the matter at issue or under discussion <relevant testimony>

c :  having social relevance

It must be the social relevance I’m missing. I know there are people out there who are really good at finding people who think they are the Golden Ticket. I know because I follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I read what they write and analyze it like it’s a treasure map that contains a piece I’m missing. Then it occurs to me, maybe it’s not me.

It’s not the work. I have enough confidence to know that the recent writing I’ve done is good, my best so far. I don’t have the answer for how to hook a million strangers into reading my stuff. I’m lucky to coerce the ones I do know into reading it. But this idea of relevancy is freaking me out, big time. Human beings should not have to prove that we are relevant. We are so because we breathe, and think, and do the best we can at whatever we do.

Even when we’re having a mini-meltdown in our jammies.