Autism, blogging, family, Mental Health

The Brutal Truth

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So, here’s a slightly heavy topic for a weekend. But it’s necessary. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time.

When I first started The Invisible Moth, it was my goal to post about all sorts of topics that interest me — my kids, the arts, cats, theology, history, travel, even which cookies are best paired with which type of tea. After my first several months in the blogisphere, though, I realized this was probably not possible. Or rather, not possible to maintain a solid subscriber base that way.

And, indeed, this was part of my plan — since I’ve always intended to become a published author (and once self-publishing became a real deal to the average person), I found that a lot of indie authors are using blogging and social media to build a reader base. I’d never tried blogging before 2015, and didn’t really know just how far and wide the reach of this platform could be. Since I tend to stay close to home, don’t like to physically be around lots of people, and don’t have the financial resources to travel the globe promoting my future books, this sounded ideal.

But as I tried to build my community (which meant blog-hopping, commenting, sharing others’ posts, developing contacts and familiarity with other bloggers), I learned something else — that blogs “need” to have a category. You “can’t” write about the book you’re working on and what your toddler destroyed this week; you “can’t” have a blog that covers new YA releases and the styles of dance you’ve studied.

This has been the story of my life; I tend to have somewhat diverse interests, and a lot of people don’t like that. They like to have things they can easily categorize and “pigeon-hole.” They get a little nervous around “divergence.” (Yes, I mean the new-dystopian trilogy in this reference.)

But for me, for The Invisible Moth, this simply doesn’t jive. I need to be able to discuss any and all things that I want to. This is my space, after all. My own little corner of the platform, and I should be allowed to talk about my current WIP, whether wombats would be good soccer players, or if I think my 14-year-old should start his own programming company, on a weekly whim.

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Haven’t we been having this conversation across the span of our society for the last few years? We need to “diversify” our stock portfolios, our educational prospects, our career choices, our plans for buying a house or car, our modes of transportation, our places to stay when we travel. “The world is changing,” we hear all the time. We need to become “more flexible, more open.” We need to determine that there can be many methods to achieve the same result.

Then why is so much of our society resisting this? Why do so many people still want to carry on in the way “things have always been”? Including the tendency to categorize every single blazing thing on the face of the earth?

Aren’t I supposed to be the more “rigid thinking individual”? Then how come the concept of “thinking outside the box” comes so easily to me?

All of the other blogs I follow do have specified themes. Now, most of the bloggers I read are indie authors or book-bloggers, and these are simply the things they choose to post about. I don’t hold that against them for an instant. It’s their online space, it’s their decision. But I really want to be respected by others for making my own decision — even if it doesn’t “fit” with the rest of the puzzle. (In a square world, I am an octagon.)

I do think this is a bit of a problem among the blogging folks. The desire to conform, to reach certain stats milestones, to be seen as a success by one’s peers, seems to have transferred from high school to the blogisphere and social media.

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For me, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword as well. I want to sell my books, ergo it would be very helpful to have several hundred people ready to do so at the drop of a hat. But will I consider myself a failure as an author if I only sell, say, 50 books in the first 6 months after publication? From a totally objective point of view, I would say no — because if I’ve sold any copies of the novel I poured my (literal) blood, sweat and tears into, then it’s a success. However, would it be nice to hit quadruple-digit sales? Oh, my, yes.

So this is where we come to the more dicey issue: Is it worth “playing the game” of conforming in order to, for example, sell a lot of books?

Is it worth it emotionally, spiritually, mentally? Is it worth it in terms of what it may demand of your personal time, energy, limits? Where do you draw the line?

Lately I’ve seen several different posts describing the pressure bloggers are under — to reach 10,000 subscribers, to constantly post fresh, witty, fun content, to read and review ARCs in the time it takes most of us to mop the kitchen floor. To be more, better, even epic. And most of these posts have said the same thing: It is not worth it.

Whether it’s because I’m on the spectrum, or whether it’s a preference developed over my adulthood, I will continue to vote for finding ways to reduce my stress, to obtain happiness without risking my sanity, and to not have regrets like, “I wasn’t paying attention to my kid’s concert because I had to tweak that gif and get it just right.”

And that means my blog will continue to be a place where I will discuss whatever I want to, whenever I want to.

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23 thoughts on “The Brutal Truth”

  1. I, too, have self-published and, just as you have stated, it is necessary to try and build a reader base to promote my books. It is hard. The topics have to interesting, well-written, and abundant. The only one of those I can I have any definite say in is “well-written.” The other two are fleeting things. Interesting and abundant are at odds with each other. In trying to keep my name out there, I have resorted to publishing poetry online, even though I am not that good at it. I have also broken the taboo rule of publishing my fiction for all to see, even though that is frowned upon by all that claim to know all there is to know about self-publishing and blogging (I, like you, tend to think outside the box and break a rule or two along the way). What all of this means is that I blog until I am completely burned out and then disappear for awhile. Is it worth it? I don’t know. I have sold copies which it what I intended to do. I also haven’t and won’t be quitting my day job anytime soon.

    Great post, by the way.
    Tim

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Thanks for joining in the discussion! I’m hearing a lot of differing opinions from indie/self-published authors on how this whole gig “should” go, and I agree, it’s what works best for you. After all, it’s our time/energy/money devoted to it, so our happiness with the project really should be among our top priorities.

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  2. i love this and agree with everything you’ve shared….falling for the formulaic is a trap….and, it’s important that we appreciate what others offer, without making demands….you eclectic posts are just my thing….spontaneity is tied to authenticity—keepin’ it real and sharing from your heart and soul….thanks for that…and, if it makes you happy, keep it up 🙂

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  3. Every word you say is true. I think we can get so caught up in the “race” that we forgot why the hell we even started. I realized some time ago that people were “liking” my blog for no other reason than they wanted me to “like” their blog in response. Of course I never hear from those folk ever again. So much B.S. out there. I post pretty much when I want to…no schedule and that’s that. I agree with you. When the blog becomes a chore, it’s time to quit.

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    1. Yeah, there were a lot of people that followed me early on as long as I subscribed to their site as well. Once I figured out that game, I dropped it. I only spend my precious time reading posts/bloggers that I want to, that I know I’ll get something out of. Also I stopped visiting blogs where the person never responded when I left comments. You’re right, this is supposed to be fun, something we want to do.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think that was a great post. It’s true that there is so much pressure from being a blogger, pressure you don’t ever imagine you’d have for a hobby like that. Blogging should stay fun, and shouldn’t be something you do to “be like anyone else” and “post what everyone else is posting”. It should stay fun and you should do and write about what you want and love before anything else.

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  5. Good for you, posting about this problem and deciding to do your blog your way!!! I’ve definitely felt under the same pressure myself several times. At first I wanted my blog to cover not just writing and books, but on music, film scores, movies, faith, controversial topics, history, Lyme disease, geek news, etc. etc. But I realized as time went on narrowing my categories down helped me get the rusults I was looking for. Now, I’ve found a way to cover all the things I love posting about to fit under one spectrum: stories. It covers all my passions into the same spectrum, and it’s been really helpful for me.

    I can see what your problem is with your case; writing and dancing are very different things, but they are both two types of art; dancing can tell stories just like writing can. On the other side of the specturm, being an autistic homeschooling mom has to be a great opportunity for testimonial posts; I could see a lot of potential in that. Trying to put all these different things under the same category can be tricky, and though that’s what I’d recommend, sometimes passions and topics are so diverse that it’s nearly impossible. But that’s a GOOD sign; it’s communicating that you are a very diverse human being with so many interests and life experiences, and whether or not you find a way to make it all fit, keep posting what YOU want. Best of all, it makes your blog just as unique as you are. It can target so many different audiences: writers, dancers, autistic people, homeschooling moms, etc. etc. Keep doing what you’re doing and best of luck to you in the blogosphere! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, for me, there was no easy way to condense everything I want to post on into one or two categories. And I think it’s much more important for us to explore possibilities than to insist on sticking to “how things have always been” if it doesn’t seem to be working anymore.

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    2. Actually, we’re not homeschooling (at the moment White Fang is in public school, and overall he’s done pretty well). But as an autistic adult, with a child on the spectrum, I’ve looked into what a realistic homeschooling curriculum would look like for us. (I don’t think homeschooling is something that families should automatically plan to do, since it’s very time consuming and draining for many parents, and some kids honestly don’t like it.) But for some, it becomes the best option, and I’ve checked into all the options for my kids; also I have a degree in Early Childhood, so I’ve explored many different types of education from a professional view (something else I’d like to post more about someday).

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      1. I agree, homeschooling is often not the best option for many families, for many reasons (i.e. if both parents work, the option is clear). But I think it’s best to encourage homeschooling for obvious reasons. I definitely think it’d be best for autisitc children to be homeschooled, not just because of the pressuring environment of school, classmates, and whatnot, but also for the sake of the child’s relationship with the parents who are homeschooling them. I think it’s a wise choice.
        I had no idea Early Childhood was an actual degree; never heard of it till now. It sounds like something that strongly involves autism, but I’m just guessing. I’ll have to look it up.

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      2. I don’t think encouraging homeschooling is necessarily helpful, either – even when you’re talking ASD kids. Especially because there are a LOT of ASD parents who simply don’t have the personal tools/resources/skills to homeschool a special ed child. And that situation means their relationship crumbles, rather than being built. I think we (American and European societies in particular) to develop a culture/educational system where private schools can better thrive. When it comes to ASD kids, many of them do well in a Montessori/Waldorf-type environment, where they not only get to learn at their own pace, but they gain the necessary social skills for surviving everyday interactions.

        I wasn’t aware until about 10 years ago that an Education major could specialize in Early Childhood. It isn’t limited to special ed at all. It covers the whole range of educational systems/options, development, child psychology, and family issues (cultural/societal) through the primary grade levels. It makes sense that teachers of ages 4-8 would need to better understand the particular dynamics of that age range, as it is a time when a lot of development happens quickly, and how children think/act/learn is quite specific then.

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  6. Amazing post!! I think it’s so important that you do what you want with your own blog and don’t kowtow to pressure to “pigeon-hole” yourself! The most important part about blogging is that it’s fun- so having to restrict yourself to a certain theme would really detract from that if you want to talk about more diverse topics. I know a lot of bloggers put out things of how people “should” blog- but really at the end of the day, everyone should just do it for themselves! Personally, just cos my blog is dedicated to one thing, does not mean I’m only looking for one type of content- or that I mind/dislike blogs with lots of different content- in fact, I follow blogs on a variety of subjects and find it refreshing when they’re not all the same! Anyhoo- sorry for rambling! (as usual)

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  7. Good for you!! I agree there’s tons of pressure to have consistent blogs and like…if that works for you then GOOD but if it doesn’t??? Why would we force ourselves to blog in a way we don’t like!?? I actually really love how your blog has so many different types of posts. For me, it makes it exciting and interesting. 🎉 I’m a very niche blogger with all my books haha, (although I talk about writing sometimes too!) but I have a very one-track mind so that’s actually my entire interest right there.😂 But it breaks my heart when bloggers feel they HAVE to blog in a certain way. Who invented these “rules”??? They need a talking to.😂

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  8. And…. will you feel yourself as a failure based on the number of books you sell?? That is your choice. You are an empowered woman.

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  9. This is so true! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I see so many authors who try to start up blogs on topics they don’t particularly enjoy because they’ve been told it’s what they need to do. And, while I love my blog and the topics I’ve chosen, I do sometimes find myself getting too stressed about not meeting the “right” pageview numbers in a month. It’s hard to break out of what the world is telling us to do: “Write this. Get this number of views. This many subscribers.” So I love that you’re working hard to just blog about what you enjoy! You’re right: It is your space and this is what you enjoy and you like where it’s taking you, so little else matters. *high five* Thank you for the thought-provoking post! I needed this reminder.

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