There's this strange thing that is happening to me. I don't want to talk online anymore. I don't want to tweet, I don't want to blog, I just... I don't know. I have to force myself most of the time to speak up and say something.
I've been trying to figure out why and maybe it's because I'm having a bit of a difficult time in my career right now and when things aren't going well, it can feel a little bit like - what's the point? Except I think it's even more than that. I'm having to work hard to protect what little confidence I have left as a writer and so even just sitting down to write stories at the moment is tough. It's like I have to save all of my bravery for that and then there isn't any left for the other types of writing.
But here's why I'm blogging today. It is easy to disappear. Like, really really easy. To tell myself I don't matter, that no one would care if I just stopped showing up on the web one day and then, suddenly, I do it. I stop. And before I know it, I've quit writing all together and out of desperation I put in an application to work at Taco Bell. Which, if you work at Taco Bell, thank you for feeding burritos to the world and please don't take that as meaning that I think there's anything wrong with working at Taco Bell. I am just not sure that is what I want for me, personally, at this stage in my life, you know?
I think it's easy to "be social" when your career is going well. When your book hits the NY Times or you win a big award, and everyone wants to congratulate you, there is nothing easier than being on-line and taking that all in. And please know, that is not meant to be a criticism at all. If you hit the NY times, YAY FOR YOU, I'M TOTALLY SERIOUS, because that is some super exciting stuff that may never come around again.
But when everything is a struggle? When all you want to do is sit on the couch and watch Netflix and eat ice cream but you make yourself go to the computer because that is what a writer does for crying out loud? It's difficult to find anything left after that to put out into the world. Especially when you're feeling vulnerable and no replies to whatever you put out there can feel like another kind of rejection.
I also think there has been a shift in social media over the years. Now, more than ever, it seems like people admire the loud, the bold, the indignant, the outrageous, the hilarious. And when you are generally not any of those things, it's hard to feel like your voice has any value. It's like a mouse trying to get noticed in a pit of roaring lions. It's easiest to just hide in a hole and watch the roaring from a distance. That's kind of what I've been doing lately.
There is no lesson learned at the end of this blog post. No revelation that has come to me as a result of writing this. All I know is I felt like perhaps I should explain why posts have become less frequent. If you are feeling like a mouse in a pit of lions lately, please know - I see you. I hear you. You are not alone. We must remember there is a place for us in this world too, even if it doesn't always feel that way. And now I'm signing off to open the manuscript. To do the work I feel called to do, even if it feels much, much harder today than it did ten years ago. What? You thought it got easier? Ha. Nope. Not even close.
Oh Lisa, I totally get this. Thank you for posting. I go through drought writing spells and questioning everything, Love the last two words.ReplyDelete
Hi Jone! Thanks for your kind words. I suppose there are seasons to writing just like anything else. :) Hope you are having a great summer!Delete
Lisa!!! I am so glad you shared all this! I am feeling very mouse-like as well, and wondering if I have anything left to say to the world. I have to believe we do, even if burrowing sounds the most enticing of all!ReplyDelete
Thanks for making me feel much less Aline today. Xo
Hi Mary. It's tough, isn't it, being a mouse in this great, big world of ours. I know there are more of us than we realize. Hang in there.Delete
Thanks for writing this post, Lisa. So much of it resonated with me, and I've been feeling the same way! It's hard being a quiet writer/person in this loud world of ours :)ReplyDelete
Hi Michele - it really is difficult. Happy writing!Delete
Thank you for writing that, Lisa. I will continue to buy your books whether or not you are on social media, because you write books my students really want to read.ReplyDelete
I find it a little exhausting as someone on the opposite side; a school librarian who tries her best to stay on top of what authors and illustrators are working on. It was much easier and much less time consuming before writers took to every social media platform out there. I follow authors and illustrators on Facebook, but then, Wait! Did they post something different on Twitter? On Instagram? I know publishers expect a writer to have an online presence, but honestly I'd rather read about how the author just stubbed her toe in the parking lot of Piggly Wiggly than a plug for her book. That way, the author become real to me and I'm sure it does influence if I want to buy their book or not. I believe most librarians and book sellers already read all the professional journals/magazines, so we are up on all the reviews. What the reviews lack are the human side of these authors. I wish there was less promotion and more being real, just like your post.
Hi Sally, thanks so much for your thoughtful response. I'm so glad your students enjoy my books - thank you for the support, it means the world to me!Delete
So sorry you are feeling this way, Lisa. I have several of your books on my Summer Library Program prize cart this summer. Just a few days ago, a patron agonized over whether to choose "Frosting and Friendship" or "Sprinkles and Secrets." She looked so relieved when I reminded her she could check out the library copy of whichever one she didn't pick! Your books have an impact even if you are not a roaring lion :)ReplyDelete
Hi Amanda, I love that story. I can see myself doing the exact same thing and then remembering the library is the answer to most of my book dilemmas. :) Thanks for your kind words.Delete
I get this too. You're such a talented writer, so I'm sorry you're going through this period. Don't disappear! The world needs you and your books.ReplyDelete
I tend to keep my presence on social media, but it's often not reflecting my real struggles with self doubt.
Hi Theresa, I do know that it's impossible to have things go well all the time. But it's hard not to let it get me down now and then. I'm sorry you're experiencing self doubt. For me, it always comes back to writing stories that make me happy and trying to forget about all the rest of it. Though shutting off the big noisy world is not easy. Good luck!!Delete
I think one of the reasons we feel so insecure sometimes is that we work in a vacuum. People think writing is glamorous, but in fact it's a person sitting in a room with his/her own thoughts, trying to form something coherent and hoping it'll strike a chord with an audience as well. It's easy to say "Just write for yourself and others will follow," but it doesn't always work out that way. Writing breeds anxiety by its very nature, and when you read interviews with writers, no matter how accomplished, it turns out we're all that way. Maybe that's what keeps us from becoming complacent. In any event, if you're a writer, you write. It's not like we have a choice.ReplyDelete
If you're a writer, you write. Yep. Exactly. :)Delete
I'm a longtime reader of your blog (I miss following everyone on livejournal) books and twitter posts and always enjoy your comments on writing, your dog, life. I get that social media must be draining, it adds such a weird dimension to our lives- sometimes in a wonderful I-learn-so-much way, and other times I feel I waste so much time. I guess I just wanted to say I appreciate your social media presence because of your honesty and fun spirit. I also love your writing and wish you all the best!ReplyDelete
Yeah, I miss the LJ days too. Hope you're well, and thanks for the kind words!Delete
I understand this so, so much!ReplyDelete
I'm on twitter and fb, have a blog, but didn't use them much when I was in the querying/writing process to talk about writing. Now that I'm about to have a real book out in the world, I feel a weird obligation to keep up with all of it, but at the same time, it's usually just a total drag. Another thing I think I'm failing at, or falling behind on, when I have writing and day job things to worry about, along with a family to raise, and life to live.
I guess only do it when it's fun, or useful to you in some way, or when you actually have news :)
That's a good strategy. It used to be more fun for me. Maybe burnout is part of it? I don't know, I suppose these things ebb and flow like everything.Delete
Wow, thank you, THANK YOU for your honesty and vulnerability in writing this. I can relate so much, and I bet many others can as well.ReplyDelete
Thanks Cathy, it is nice to know I'm not the only one.Delete
Every word of this - thank you for being brave to put this out there!ReplyDelete
Thanks for reading and commenting, IsabelleDelete