Last November, I made the decision to advertise this little blog a few places, hoping that I’d gain new readers and wider exposure. Six months was the internal deadline I set for myself when I started, knowing that at that point I’d reevaluate my financial situation, the blog’s statistical data and my ROI. Yeah, I can rock the financial lingo with the best of them.
Well, there I was at the six month mark last week. In the weeks leading up to it, I’d been thinking a lot about whether or not to pull the plug, and I went into a tailspin of self-doubt because that is part of my process. I’m trying to eliminate that step in my way of handling situations, but in the meantime it remains as absolutely necessary as fear and endless agonizing.
During this time, I made a list of reasons to continue advertising, and reasons to stop, because I like nothing more than to prolong the decision-making process.
The reasons to stop were numerous and weighty. First of all, it’s a butt-load of money that frankly I don’t have. I am nowhere near close to wealthy, more like clinging to the bottom rung of the dying middle class. Come on, I drive a thirteen-year-old Honda, and not out of principle; the money is obviously not a-flowing. This has been my Chanel purse for the decade – an unjustifiably expensive purchase not to be repeated. When I decided to do it in the first place, I tried to see it as a business expense, because I treat my writing as a career. Now though, it’s gotten to the point where I’ve reached my limit – the well’s gone dry, my luck at the table is cold, pick your metaphor, as long as it conveys the whole “financial hardship” aspect I’m trying to get across.
Secondly, my content has shifted since I started this blog. I started out advertising on well-known humor sites, most notably The Bloggess, and I attracted readers looking for more of the same. While I wrote solely silly, neurotic humor posts in the beginning, this is simply no longer the case.
Growing and changing is healthy and inevitable when you work hard at something. I did not burst onto the college scene immediately writing well-constructed essays full of genius ideas; it was painfully time-consuming and took a lot of practice to get to that level. The same is true for blogging, and the same has been true for my fictional side-projects – I’ve grown, my writing is changing.
For a while, I found myself putting on unnecessary pressure to be funny, even when it felt forced or was just the cynical mask I sometimes don to hide whatever it is I’m going through. I started to feel like a phony, trapped in a creative prison of my own making. I HAD TO BE FUNNY ALL THE TIME. It was exhausting. So I’d squeeze in a serious post now and then, with a promise to “bring the funny” the next day. How lame is that, making excuses for my work? I felt like a dancing bear.
There were more reasons to stop advertising, but those were the biggies. My list of the pros was much shorter, with only one item on it, and it actually became a con on closer inspection. A good reason to keep advertising is it does bring in new readers – a significant number of new readers.
HOWEVER. I had started letting these numbers control me in ways I did not like. As I began understanding the financial hardship the advertising put on my budget, I would check the numbers and panic. Who’s going to read my blog if I stop advertising? was a frightening plague of a question that kept me awake at nights, as I am prone to histrionics and unhealthy mental behavior. No one will read me and then I’ll be a loser and sink into internet blogging oblivion! Then everyone will hate me and my husband will leave because I’m such a failure! ad nauseam.
This fear became a much larger struggle than it deserved. You know how when you cling to something so tightly it slips away by virtue of the fact that you can’t let it go? You can’t cultivate anything worthwhile in an environment of desperation, and I was behaving like an addict again – I couldn’t let it go.
So I had to let it go.
I believe that art is a spiritual practice. By letting the fear control me, I shut out any opportunity for God’s blessing and inspiration, and it affected my work.
Yes, I believe in God, and yes, I believe in external creative impulse. Call it what you will, my fear shut off the faucet of good ideas and inspired work. So I’m taking a leap of faith, that by confronting my fear, I will make room for bigger and better things that I couldn’t create with my control-freak nature.
I know I made a big deal about this announcement on Friday when it may not be a big deal to anyone but myself, but nevertheless, there are changes afoot here and I’m still scared of the outcome. Thank you all for your support, and more importantly, for being part of this community.
Let’s see where this takes us, shall we?