That Horrible Moment: When You Apply Your Job to Your Personal Blog

So you know that thing where you decide to set up a blog so you can force yourself to do something for yourself outside your job, and then you realize that you’re applying the principles of your job to that personal blog? Yeah, that’s exactly what’s happening here.

I really suck
I really do.

I spent most of yesterday afternoon tinkering with some elements of this blog and my Google+ so I can apply Google Authorship to it. By the time evening rolled around, I was already angsting over the fact that I had no direction planned for this blog at all, which meant that I haven’t been doing any real keyword and content planning for it. I’m not kidding. I was practically BROODING over it, and it probably didn’t help that I did that during a dark and stormy night. It’s one of the most ridiculous cliches made even more ridiculous by the subject of my gloomy mood.

I have to admit that I’m still obsessing over that right now. I’m wondering if I should have a separate page for posts that talk about writing (“Write in Between”), posts that talk about reading (“Read in Between”), and posts that just talk about my work and other parts of my life (“Bookends”). I’m wondering if I could do that, and HOW I should go about doing that (HELP ME WORDPRESS SUPPORT GUYS, YOU’RE MY ONLY HOPE!). And it’s all horrible because, as I have said before, the entire point of this blog is for me to be able to do some freestyle writing.

I didn’t want to have to worry about whether or not I’m using the right keywords for this post (oh god what IS the main keyword of this post?), I didn’t want to think of this the way I think of my work. Again, I love my job. But that’s my job. This is supposed to be something completely different. This is where I allow my brain to go “ahurrhurrhurr” and “herpaderp”, not another venue for me to be dignified in. This is where I just let my brain ramble about whatever, not a place for me to go all neurotic about the meta elements this post will likely generate. I’m not even sure I have control over those, and that very realization is making me more anxious than I really should be. This, I think, is why it’s horrible when you start to (unconsciously) apply your job to your personal blog: you worry about phantoms that you were trying to avoid in the first place.

So why in the name of all that’s holy am I doing this? I really don’t know. The most rational explanation that I can think of is pride.

Somewhere in my evil, evil, lizard brain, I decided that not promoting my blog in any way, shape or form is STUPID when I consider what I actually do for a living (which involves writing a whole lot of SEO copy). How can I really say that I’m good at my job when I don’t do for myself what I do for clients on a regular basis?

Thus, my utterly pathetic freakout over the complete lack of effort I apply to this blog. I don’t know if I’m moving forward with this, or nipping it in the bud. I suppose I have excuses to procrastinate – my friend K sent me some AWESOME writing prompt links that I can use for the time being.

…I think I need a Rum Coke. Does anyone else need a Rum Coke?

Writing Challenge 44 – My Favorite Blogs

I’ve never really thought about what my favorite blogs are, considering the fact that I do a massive amount of reading for both my job and my leisure time. I mostly rely on Feedly or my social networks to provide me with articles that I might find interesting. Figuring out which sites could be considered my favorites (at least, at this moment) required me to be more conscious of the sites from which my favorite blog posts tend to come from. Based on that, I came up with a short list of the sites I blog sites I like most.

English: Blogs on JoopeA
Okay, not exactly MY blogs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Passive Voice

I admit that this is a bit of a cheat. The Passive Voice often shares articles from OTHER resources, most of which discuss the state of the publishing industry and potential ramifications for self-publishers. More often than not, I find myself clicking on the source material just so I can read the whole article there. Still, I rely on Passive Guy to give me a heads-up on those pieces. I insist on thinking of him as the best online curator of this type of information.

Bottled Worder

Sometimes, it can be really hard to pull myself away from the rush of everyday life. One of the few things that can pull me away from that is the prose of Bottledworder. I don’t know what it is about the writing, but something about the way thoughts are distilled in this site forces me to slow down ad just BREATHE. I find that reading the posts here allows me to take a few moments to really notice some things that I’ve been missing. I have this impression that the blogger’s a priestess of some kind.

The Terrible Minds Blog

Writer Chuck Wendig is a supreme pen monkey whose thoughts I truly respect – I may not agree with everything he says, but I respect his ability to argue with clarity and intelligence. It also helps that he’s funny as heck. The blog attached to his main site Terrible Minds is a great source of motivation for writing, if only because it shows you that you can make excuses to write instead of making excuses to not write.

On Writing – Adventuring in the Writing World

I came across Rebecca “RJ” Blain in Google Plus, while I was looking for people and communities who are very much into the art of serious writing. At first, I just followed her G+ posts, but I eventually found myself drawn to her blog – where she often talks about the writing and editing process, as well as the importance of making some real investments when it comes to writing the stories you want to write. Her practical approach to writing fantasy? INSPIRING.

Signals to Attend

Chicago teacher and artist David Marshall has extremely delicious thoughts that put me in some of the best contemplative moods in my life, which is why I’m always happy whenever he has a new post on his blog Signals to Attend. His posts on education, the value of humanities (particularly literature) in the world, and the power of story always makes me feel like I’m a part of something wonderful and meaningful.

Heroes and Heartbreakers

I’m not all about reading about serious writing or stuff that inspire introspection, you know – I happen to also like reading stuff that’s bloody freaking fun. That’s where Heroes and Heartbreakers comes in. As a big romance fan, I like seeing what other romance fans are excited about. I also like seeing them dissect what does and does not work for them in a romantic story. To me, this site is living, breathing proof that intelligence can be applied to love stories.

Well, that’s my list of favorite blogs. What blogs do YOU like reading? Do you have blogs you can recommend to me?

Yet Even More Excuses

Wow.  When was the last time I posted?  APRIL?  I last posted in APRIL?  That’s a really long time, isn’t it?  And man, does it suck.  Not because I have a horde of readers out there waiting for my next post with bated breath (I don’t), but because I basically broke a promise to myself, which is this:  I will blog, even if it hurts.  Sadly, I stopped blogging – it wasn’t even because it was particularly painful.  It was because I let work get the better of me AGAIN, and because I let my job be my only outlet for writing.  Again.  Except that’s not what it really is.

I’m human and (incidentally) inconveniently sickly – this constantly makes me think that I really, physically, cannot push myself to do any more work that I’m already doing.  The thing is, it’s only true to a certain extent.  You know the real reason why I haven’t been posting, and indeed, even writing stuff that I like?  It’s this:

The fear of not being good enough
It strikes you like a ninja in the kitchen. Unexpectedly, and with the bonus of ruining what would have been an awesome dinner.

I know.  Big whoop.  That doesn’t make me a special snowflake of the first water (I am aware that I’m mixing idioms here and I am sorry but that’s how I’m phrasing it in my head).  But at the same time, I still feel it.  Intellectually speaking, I know that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself and stop it with the REALLY BAD ANTI-WRITING EXCUSES.  At the same time, I also need to acknowledge that fear.  Otherwise, I’ll repress it and create terrible work instead (this has happened to me before).

Where I went wrong, I think, is the point where I let the fear take over and pretended that it wasn’t in charge.  I masked the fear with “Oh, I’m too busy” and “Damn, I have writer’s block” or “I’m too tired to think”.  The last one is often true, but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t other times during which I was perfectly capable of working on something I like.  But really, it was all fear;  fear that whatever I type will end up sucking, and that it will hurt so very much because this is something I’m doing for myself.

I know I’m a good writer, because I make a very good living out of it; it’s just that I trust myself more when I’m writing for others than when I’m writing for myself.  That’s an entire barrel of worms that I may want to explore someday (possibly in this blog), but at the moment all I can think of is how I failed to finish a poem for NaPoWriMo and missed that End of the World Deadline because I’m afraid that I’m not good enough.  Somehow, I’ve accepted the idea that my excellent work as a copywriter for the Internet means I’ll never be as good in other writing disciplines.  I have stopped believing in the idea that I am creative or talented enough to warrant attention from “official” voices in particular communities.  Somehow, that became more important to me than what made me pick up this blog in the first place – the fact that I love reading, and I love thinking about what I read, love showing off what I learned from reading (which is often “how to write/how to NOT write”).  I keep forgetting, even as I type this, that everything I type here is for me.

This is my breathing space, and I let people – who likely don’t read this blog anyway –  affect how I see it and myself.  I felt, and still feel, so broken and tired.  I almost deleted this blog, to be honest.  It was another sign of my failure to commit to myself.

Then, a few days ago, I met up with some friends.  And one of them brought up Akhilandeshvari, the Goddess of Never Not Broken.  It wasn’t meant to apply to me, of course – at the time, I honestly felt fine right where I was.  It wasn’t until the day after that I realized just how terrified I was of my own life.  The fact that I also started reading Tuesdays with Morrie – for the first time!  on a Tuesday! – probably contributed too.  Either way, the very idea of letting my fears get the better of me, and letting small tasks get in the way of what’s important, started to really bug  me.  It’s time for me to ride that croc (if you clicked that Never Not Broken link, you will understand, I promise) and try something new.  Not that this blog is something new – but my approach to this blog, from this point forth, WILL be new.  Rather than making a thing that I MUST do and treat it like a task, I will let it grow as I feel.  I will let myself feel the fear and then – and this is the important part – I will let myself know it, understand it, and either wield it or let it go.

I will let myself have a different story, as needed.  I will NOT make this a routine.  I will not hinge the fate of this blog on other plans.

I will not care if this is a success or a failure, as I have previously defined it (I admit it, part of me wanted this blog to be popular – and that’s wrong on so many levels).  I started applying the principles of my job to this blog, and that’s ultimately what sucked the fun out of it.

Sure, I’ll still do the odd challenge – I definitely need to finish the Mechanistic Moth Writing Challenge – but I will not be forcing myself to write on this blog for the sake of being a writer anymore.  Instead, I’ll be posting here because I need this space.  To think.  To breathe.  To be (or not to be, in that this is a respite from my social roles).

And, ironically, I have decided to do this by forcing myself to write here again by dropping $26 so I can remove “wordpress” from this blog’s URL.  Somehow, having paid for this blog is giving me a better perspective – I spent money on it, so I owe it to myself to enjoy it.  Most importantly, now it is truly mine.

So here I am again.  I hope I get it right this time. 🙂

That being said, what have YOU guys been up to?

Writing Challenge 4 – 3 Things I Love

I admit it.  I’ve been putting off THIS particular writing challenge (the last one involved my fears).  It’s not because I love nothing (because that’s kind of existence really, really sucks).  It’s because I love so many things that all deserve to be mentioned in this blog.  No, this doesn’t mean that I’m on drugs.  It just means that I’m blessed with a freakishly good life.

That being said, I had to figure out a way to narrow down my list to just three items.  It wasn’t easy.

A Fortune Teller Made of Folded Paper
I had to use this origami fortune teller to figure it out. Click this image to find out how to make one (if you don’t know how to).

I managed to do it, though.  So without further ado, I give you 3 things I love:

Family

Me and My Siblings
I apologize in advance to my brother and our sister for posting this old photo I nicked from Facebook. If it makes them feel better, I look washed out and horrible in this pic.

I love my family, and I’m not being facetious here.  I have straight-up I-will-try-to-kill-you-with-a-rusty-spork-if-you-hurt-my-family kind of love going on here.  I think it has something to do with the fact that we were all blessed with more than decent looks (at least, in our country), above-average brains (not necessarily reflected in my report card, though), and a weirdness quotient of about 160.  Each.  Including the parents.  Best of all, we’re blissfully loving and (mostly) supportive of each other’s little quirks without being saccharine – because give us the chance to snark and we will.

Books

Book Stack
I think our home is on the verge of looking like this. Image by ginnerobot, licensed under Creative Commons (click photo to see source).

Having grown up reading almost everything I can get my hands on, it really shouldn’t be surprising that this is one of the three things that I love.  To this day, I would find myself drawn into bookstores only to emerge hours later with at least one purchase.  In fact, I don’t think I even need a bookstore to go on that kind of trance – ever since I got my Kindle and subscribed to an ebook reading group, I’ve had access to thousands of virtual books that absorb me to the point of insomnia.  Books take me to places I’ve never been before, and I really believe it made me more empathetic than I would have been without them.  Books are AWESOME.

Cats

A Black Kitty Cat
Yes, you CAN has that cheezburger. Click the pic to see more awesome black cats.

Another staple of my life while growing up was CATS.  Lots of cats.  We had dogs too, but cats hold a special place in our hearts not only because our great Aunt Panching was a crazy old cat lady (at least, the neighborhood thought so), but also because they are incredibly easy to take care of once they deem you worthy of their notice.  Currently, we have about 19 cats and kittens spread over two households.  You can say we’re out of control.  You can say we can’t possibly feed all those felines.  But we’ll show you, oh yes.  WE’LL SHOW YOU ALL.

*cough*

I’d also like to mention that I love my significant other (who hasn’t run away screaming after three years of my insanity), my job (more on my job in this older post), and the combo of pretty stationery products and colorful pen sets.  They all give me such joy and contentment, even when I’m at my worst.

So what about you guys?  What do YOU love?