It’s been a while, dear internet, and I’ve learnt some lessons. Mostly about me, but also about you.
As I sat at the computer over the weekend, fixing broken links (as you do), I skimmed a lot of my old posts and realised just how little I used to care about what you think. I wrote about anything and everything and yet you came and read and commented. I was amazed at how prolific a blogger I used to be and how good my writing was.
Then I became self-conscious. I became too worried about the numbers, about the comments, about what you would think, what you would find interesting.
And then I lost myself. Somewhere, in the last few months I lost my bloggy self. I didn’t forget how to write, oh, no. Give me a topic for a sponsored post or an article on another website and I would be off like a gun. I just forgot how to write for myself. I even stopped journaling My various diaries have lain unopened for months, as my brain just refused to consider myself and my inner life.
I suspect that reality hit. The reality that I could no longer sit back and wait for things to happen. The reality of a dwindling bank account and no prospects of topping it up, without a serious go at the world of small business. The reality of studying and immersing myself in a world of numbers, markets, customers and plans.
That reality not only took the wind out of my sails, but it took the magic out. The magic that happens when you let go and allow for things you need to enter your life. I have began focusing on what I must do to make a buck, instead of what I wanted to do.
I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. I gained great clarity in my deliberations about the kind of work I truly wanted to do. You guessed it – I want to write! I have a gift. I can write about just about anything when I am sufficiently motivated and I do it really well. It comes easily and I can “put on” whatever voice, or tone, that is required, just as easily.
I used consider my writing ability a curse, when writing and rewriting endless briefings, reports and correspondence in my public service employment. I didn’t see how good I was at it, despite being told by others repeatedly. Looking back, I can see it. I can the determination I started each writing job with. Starting with a blank page and writing that first sentence, that first heading, or even the name and date, just to get started.
Somehow the words flowed, sometimes easily, sometimes with great effort, but they flowed and then made sense and they were good.
The soul-destroying part of my job was knowing that no matter how good my piece of writing was, it would be edited and rewritten countless times before being allowed to see the light of day. Sometimes the final product was nothing like what I wrote, sometimes it was exactly what I wrote, despite many rewrites. But the process killed me. I got sloppy, knowing that what I wrote hardly mattered any more and just churned out written work for the bureaucratic approval line.
I still remember the shock of submitting a draft briefing to a new manager and having it signed the first time without any edits. I began taking greater care then, again.
So, as I sat here fixing my broken links, (I wish I could do that to my life), reading old posts, I saw what had happened. I stopped sharing myself here. I became afraid of what you would think of me. I became over-conscious of every word I wrote.
I also became overly conscious of the need to make money. Of the need for all my actions to be focused on making money. I began constantly thinking and worrying about what I needed to do in my other businesses to make money. But the more I thought and worried, the less I actually did, or even knew what to do. The worrying killed my flow, my creativity. Writing here, on my personal blog, started to feel trivial and pointless. Not surprisingly, my mental health has suffered also. After all, this blog is supposed to keep me sane.
Something else happened. As I withdrew from my myself, from my blog, I became obsessed with others’ lives – with all the things they were doing, all the blogging and business opportunities they were getting, functions they were attending, fun they were having, friendships they were making… Well, none of that was, or is, very helpful. I need to pull back from that. I need to look inside again and let it show, let it flow out. Let myself be me.
So having fixed most of my broken links, having revisited all those old posts, I realised that it didn’t matter what I wrote, as long as I wrote. This is my mind, on the internet.