I sailed into rough waters. Blew a gasket. Bit off more than I could chew. Any of those metaphors would work to describe my experience after three months of constant writing and twice-weekly publishing on WordPress. By my last post in March, I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and disgusted.
It was my own doing. Stormy emotional and mental turmoil brewed from insecurities, fear, and mania. I wrote about this back in February when I initially discovered it. I didn’t see it coming. I felt small, and I felt I had cannibalized my own creativity in a mad rush for the internet’s immediate feedback of visitors, views, and likes. Within that February piece, I vowed to quit if my frantic state continued.
Continue it did. Now, it wasn’t all bad. My girlfriend and I began to explore New Orleans more as a means of relaxing; it really is a wonderful city to untangle yourself. The low site-traffic that drove me crazy did push me to work harder. The schedule of two 500- to 750-word pieces a week did teach me a lot about my writing. Indeed, my stories came to life in a way they never had before. Some stories I felt were telling themselves to me.
But, the clambering that I did over each post, the rollercoaster of ups and downs on each new view, each like, judging myself harshly, rocketing between indifference and neediness. All of it crashed and surged over me every week. At March’s end even New Orleans, with all its beauty, magic, and depth couldn’t save me from myself. Sure, suffering and art go hand in hand, but wringing clammy hands anxiously over social media likes is not the hill to die on.
So I quit.
For two weeks, I only journaled small thoughts. I threw myself instead into my other escapes. I played Total War: Warhammer and beat it (for the tenth time). I watched One-Punch Man, a hilarious anime about a super hero bored with his immense power. I went camping good friends in Bogue Chitto State Park where, at night, a luminous moon cast long, clear shadows. I spent Easter weekend with my family by a pool, playing bocce ball and drinking Texas beer. I bought a record player, starting my collection with a vinyl of a 1970s New Orleans punk band, The Normals.
During all this time, I thought about my harried, frantic reaction to my blog posts meant. Prior to posting, I could calm myself and reason through everything. I could state unequivocally: I’m doing this to improve my craft. But, once the work was published, that logic and rationale disintegrated. What was left was emotional bewilderment.
Writing is very emotional, especially when publishing one’s work for others. For all the bluster and style writers have, we put ourselves into our work in a way that makes us intensely vulnerable. Call me unready or immature or thin-skinned (they all probably apply), when my work wasn’t sung by the masses from mountaintops, it felt like humiliating, ice-cold rejection. And, if there’s one thing in my life that I have sought to avoid at all costs, it is that.
Now, I’m back to writing and publishing on WordPress. I’m trying a different tack, though. One that’s more suitable to my own well-being. I’ll be posting mostly about writing while working more intensely on submitting pieces to literary magazines and journals, places where I’m more open to rejection.
This voyage has taught me a lot so far, especially about finding how I write best. In that vein, I’ll try out this new course and see what happens. On to the next chapter, then.