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.
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.
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.