|Photo by Jason Howie|
These last few months, I have learned more than I ever wanted to about the blogosphere and how it works and how writers and can market themselves effectively. I have gotten tied up at times in trying to make some inroads in a blogger community, trying harder than I should to publicize my posts all over different blogs and linkups and social media, itching to get noticed on Twitter, where I am notoriously incompetent. I never seem to be able to tweet something clever enough. I can’t respond quickly enough to engage others' twitter conversations. I feel helpless as I write more and more and watch the page views plummet lower. Maybe I peaked in my first month blogging.
There is a kind of freedom when I realize it: you don't fit in, you have never fit in.
Somewhere along the way I forgot the fact that part of my identity has always been in landing among the outsiders, the never-quite-home, the misfits. It has been a lonely strand of my whole life. It has also given me empathy and understanding—it has also enabled me to reflect on my identity and my place and to find my people and love them dearly.
I’m not sure why I expected to fit in among all these hip, talented, quick-quipping writers on the internet. I was never good at the captivating of crowds or the quick responses to conversation in the high school morning locker routine. As a counselor at Christian summer camp—and these were, I thought, my people—I couldn't keep up with the dining hall banter and the enthusiasm.
But it was okay, I was there for my kids, the ten kids in my cabin that week, and I loved them dearly, just as I have always loved all the other wonderful souls who stuck around long enough to give me a chance. I have always been lucky enough to find and connect with my people, and I am writing now much more for myself and my people than for the chance of making it as a writer.
I am sure the other people on the internet are lovely people. I am sure many of the people who appear to me to be getting lots of publicity and popularity, to be great at marketing themselves and networking on social media—I am sure many of them feel the same way I do. And I do value the few connections I’ve made here and there that have turned into real conversation, and mutual admiration.
Freedom comes in accepting that I’m not here for recognition. I’m not here to get a lot of re-tweets from other writers who want to be re-tweeted, too. I don’t want to write for them, I want to keep writing for me, writing for you, who click on my entries every now and again and maybe even on occasion see something you can relate to.
Here we are, you and me, and I hope we are both learning to love the place where we are right now, not the place it seems like we should be. I hope we are both learning that we can be ourselves. We don’t have to market ourselves to be loved.