Just Self Expression?

I write because I think I have some talent for it. Yes, it stems from a deep and abiding love for words and language. And, I have spent my whole life enjoying both by reading the words of others. But, my desire to pen word to paper comes from the belief that I have some skill for it. Except for playing golf, if I am not at least relatively good at something, I just don’t do it. I could easily be labelled ‘competitive’. And, I think I would avoid authoring anything, if I thought I wrote poorly. Yes, I continued to write privately during my hiatus from this blog, but even then, it was in the hopes that if someone ever did read it, it would be considered palatable for consumption.

Prior to a recent event, if asked, I would have said that I write solely as a form of expression. That my words flow out seeking nothing more than release. That I was not interested in who, or how many, would ever read the words. Putting permanence to my words and thoughts was just a part of who I was, as natural as breathing. I can’t paint, draw, sculpt, compose music, or dance. Or, at least, I am not good at any of them. If I were, maybe my expression would find release in other ways. And, if I did any of those or wrote, but did not share them with others, maybe it really would just be about self-expression. It was like that during the years away from my blog. I wrote, nobody read, and I seemed satisfied with the tiny drip of material that leaked from my pen, when not constantly pushing content to my blog. I put all my skill into these works, but I thought they may never be read till well after I was gone. A point and time when I would no longer be concerned about their merit.

But I returned to my blog and gleefully started posting again. I have shared what I wrote in my absence and been writing and posting like crazy, ever since. I am happier, as I feel re-energized and renewed by being again connected to the blogging community. Reading others has rekindled my desire to write and share of myself. The need to provide content, on a more frequent basis, gave untold opportunities for self-expression. And, I said, that is what it is all about, right?

I thought it was too. Then, I found myself attending to the administrative tasks of any blog. Checking and responding to comments. Engaging with readers. Checking the metrics of both site and page. In the fervency that was my return, I was tickled to see my readership and number of followers trend up. I had material in the wings and was posting almost daily. My numbers are paltry as compared to the success of others, but they were not to me. I started to feel that warm hug of recognition and appreciation, not only for my words, but for my craft. The bulk of people showing their support of my efforts were fellow bloggers or writers for other publications. The acknowledgement of peers reaffirmed my hopes that there is an art to my prose. I fed off it and wrote almost consumptively.

Then I posted an article and anticipated the drug of ‘likes’ and comments to give me the heady glow that each ‘self-expression’ had begun to bring. I go about my day, consistently returning, as I am oft at the computer writing anyway, and watch the numbers for my post go nowhere. I kept coming back and they stayed flat. Nothing even close to what my daily numbers are on days I don’t post. It stung. Maybe it shouldn’t have. Maybe not everything we write is a homerun. But damn, it still stung.

I will not name the villainous article, as the embarrassment already lingers like bad aftershave. And maybe, it was not a referendum on my skills, as much as an interest in the topic. But, if I picked such an unengaged topic, then I see that as some reflection of my skills too.

It did make me stop and recognize, that sharing my work could no longer be simply a labor of love. Writing would always be my self-expression, shared or not. But the words are always written for someone else to read, whether I am still around or not. If my reading them alone were enough, I would never have to save a file or journal. Once read, they would not need to exist. But I share them or leave them to be knowingly read by others. And, as my words are the same as used by anyone else, espousing no greater wisdom or wealth than the thoughts of other distinguished writers, it is my skill with them that longs for recognition.

I will continue undaunted, in the hopes that this is a quandary faced by many writers. I will try to find refuge solely in the expression that is self. I will strive to find my own appreciation and recognition. I will rebuke metrics as a measure of my worth. I will share, and do so freely, without fear of judgement, for that is the true power of self-love.

Come on now! You must admit that has some flourish of wordsmanship to it. There is at least some raw skill there. I mean, I fully intend to be back to watching the traffic page, while lapping up every ‘like’, comment, or reblog like Pavlov’s dogs. But I had you sold for a second, didn’t I?

One Response to “Just Self Expression?”
  1. There is great truth here, though I know most of us don’t want to appear to be seeking approval from others. But when you open yourself up to sharing, you don’t get to choose how others will perceive what you’ve shared. I hope, at best, that I spark an idea, a thought, a different way to look at something with my blogs. But I do still write it with me in mind first. After so many years of needing to wear a professional and gracious mask no matter what, the thoughts and ideas – the real voice – finds its way into my blogs. Don’t EVER regret a blog post, even if it doesn’t win accolades from the people who read it. Don’t let others’ views silence your voice!

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