Dave showed me an Ira Glass interview on YouTube. We were getting kids into nighttime diapers and brushing teeth. The laundry pile fell on top of me. Elsa & Anna toothpaste met a pair of Lego Batman boxer briefs.
The interview was about how the only way to close the gap between what you actually create and what you desire to create, is by creating more and more. Volume. You get better at storytelling by practicing. And by holding yourself to deadlines with your art.
When I reread some of my posts from 3 years ago, I am amazed at how I’ve grown as a writer. Even though my readership hasn’t really grown that much, my skills have. And I’m more comfortable with my voice.
I still have such a gap between what I put down on paper and what I think in my head, feel in my soul. But the gap is narrowing. After three long, hard years.
Dave turned that interview on, because he knew that I needed the encouragement. I get bogged down with the silly blogging stats. The ones that say, “Um, no one read this. Did you miss the mark? This had 1% engagement. Maybe you should go eat some candy from the Poop Container.” Don’t ask me how my app notifications are so personalized. It confuses me, too…
Ira was right. My writing will only get better if I keep doing it. And that’s the same about my mothering. My teaching. My laundry. I am better at all these things as the years go on. With each time I remember to snuggle when I want to argue with a 4′ tall human battling big feelings he doesn’t quite understand. With each lesson plan scribbled on a post-it note. With each fold. Over and over again.
And with every single decision to write, even when I know something won’t get reads/shares/likes/comments. I write it because it burns in me. Or because I just want to get it out there to see how it feels. Or I just want to remember something later on. Or I just want to see if it’s what I really think, when I actually see it in front of me.
As I daydream about my writing, I think about Flannery O’Connor. She’s more than just a favorite author. She’s a goal. I don’t want to sound like her. I want to sound like me. But I want to read my words and feel the way I do when I read hers.
I could give up when only ten people read my heart on a screen. Or, I could keep writing more and more until my writing gets closer to reaching my hidden-deep-inside vision of my best writing.
It’s so meta to even write about writing. I feel like a Woody Allen script just saying this stuff. But I do believe it. I think if I’m ever going to do anything big with my writing, I need to be faithful in the small.
It’s an attitude change on my part. Realizing that even the tiny chunks of time I’m investing are starting to pay off. And maybe readership will follow. Maybe it won’t. But I feel good about this organic growth. The quality of my posts is going up. Along with my confidence that I do have something to share. That our story is worth reading. That everyone’s story is worthy.
With that being said, I’m not confident enough to handle these incessant updates from my stats app. I don’t need to know that people aren’t clicking. Or that they are clicking, but not sharing. Or that they’re sharing to disagree with me. I just need to publish it. Keep publishing, while that gap narrows.
PS: I’m mostly writing this for me. When I almost give up writing and decide to eat old Angry Birds cupcakes from the freezer, I’ll reread this and remember that I’m working toward a goal. And then maybe I’ll stick to one cupcake and break out the laptop.
PPS: If you stop by for coffee, I’ll share a freezer cupcake.
Freezer cupcake > Freezer chocolate