I have been up for hours, and I am facing the biggest challenge in my writing life: a ridiculous amount of positive attention.
Two days ago, one of my blog posts was featured on Freshly Pressed. I have been squeeing with delight ever since, living in a cocoon of good feelings–high stats, a proud husband, email after email from tons of comments, and FOLLOWERS! I have followers now? I’ve always wanted those!
So, I got up when the kitchen clock radio turned on the NPR (it does that every morning at 8:00 a.m., but I especially like it on Saturdays, because it does it to Weekend Edition, which is like interviews with artists, with the occasional foreign policy discussion thrown in). I will do the dishes while the water for the french press boils. I will listen to Morning Edition, and then I will sit down with my coffee and my dog and we will write a blog post the three of us.
But, this is different now. My little experiment in the vacuum has gone terribly awry. I am no longer alone. My intention of writing a funny blog post and getting attention worked. Now there are people reading. What if I disappoint them?
Nevermind all that, I tell myself. Just sit. Just write.
So, I sit.
And then I call my sister.
And I sit.
And then I call my mother.
And I sit.
And I think maybe the modern sage Louis CK might have something to say on the topic of fear of success.
5 YouTube videos later, and I still got nothing.
I should probably check Facebook before I write.
And my WordPress Stats.
Finally, I get to writing. . .
. . . I start with an email to my grad school bestie:
“3000 people have looked at my blog. 273 people liked it. I have 100 followers. What do these strangers want from me??? How will I ever post again now that people are paying attention? Do I have to write about babies forever now? Halp! Grad school didn’t prepare me for this.”
Thankfully, gradschool bestie is online and she writes back right away:
“oh my god! yay! be you. you got this!”
I send her a link to something I heard on Morning Edition, tell her that I will be inspired by Pope Francis–who gives no hoots what anyone thinks of him and if I asked him, he would say “just do you, girl.”
In all seriousness, though, I am so grateful for all the positive attention you all have thrown my way. And though I may need a few days to catch my breath and read all the comments carefully, and respond and follow, and engage, I can’t tell you what a joy this response has been.
And it has made me realize a thing or two about myself as a writer. I love writing for its own sake. I’ve been doing it in a vacuum for over 20 years. Well, that’s not entirely true. My mom has read most of my stuff — from the haunted house story I wrote when I was twelve to this blog post.
But I told myself a couple of weeks ago, that I was ready for a change. That I didn’t want to write in a vacuum anymore.
When wishes come true, they bring challenges with them. But how will we grow without challenges?
The upshot is that I’m grateful to be here, in a community of writers who read each other, support each other, challenge each other, and–most importantly–write.
I hope you will forgive me my anxiety as I get back to the thing I came here to do–that is, write.
First, though, I think I need to take the dog out.