I’m participating in this online group/course/journey right now, called Story 101 with Story Sessions. The course lasts for eight weeks, if I remember correctly, so I’ll be blogging more than I have been as I work on responding to and engaging with the materials and other participants. The blogs I’ve posted already this week, A Reflection on Silence and Permission Granted, are in response to the course. So, there’s the context for the sudden uptick in blogging.
“What is ONE THING you’ve learned about yourself and your voice this past week? What inspires you and pushes you deeper to write?” Elora Nicole, author/founder of Story 101
I’ve learned that my voice is coming through authentically. You may read something as “tepid,” as one of my feedback partners shared, or as “holding back.” Those things are true. Here’s the thing that’s very much okay: they’re also authentically me. My voice is coming through. Sometimes, I’m tepid (lukewarm, noncommittal, unenthusiastic). Sometimes, I’m holding back. I’m a lot of things, just like you, whoever you are, reading this.
If you read advice on how to start a “successful” blog, it presumes from the get-go that success means building a readership and making money. The Wizard-of-Oz-like collective “they” will tell you that you need to focus on a niche, that you need to write specifically, that you need to market yourself. I’m not discounting that as truth, if your definition of blogging success is building a readership and making money. I’m also not judging you if that’s what your blog is geared toward! You do you.
What does success look like to me in relation to blogging? I’m not blogging to make money at this point. I have no advertisements, nothing to generate income. I’m blogging for the sake of self-expression, for sharing my journey, for dealing with issues, for encouraging myself and others, for reflecting on things that I might otherwise bottle up. I’m successful when I’m speaking my truth, when I’m learning new things, when I’m writing beauty and light, when I’m writing at all. My success isn’t based on likes or follows or comments. My success, my validation, is in the writing itself.
I’m not writing to be liked. I’m writing to write. I’m writing to be heard. I’m writing to get some of the inside stuff on the outside. I’m writing because I love words. I’m writing to confront and challenge myself.
What inspires me and pushes me deeper? Talking with my therapist pushes me to confront my feelings and my behaviors. Sometimes, inspiration comes from conversation with friends or a quote or a book or a movie or a program at work. This past year, I feel like I’ve been nurturing a desire for wellness and developing an understanding of what wellness looks like for me. Desiring wellness inspires me to face myself, to engage rather than to disengage, to acknowledge rather than avoid.
I’ve always wanted to go deeper into things, to understand, to know. I mean, everything except for my own feelings, which really hit home for me in that homework, that Reflection on Silence. As I wrote that, I was using 750words.com, at Elora’s suggestion. I don’t care about word count in my blog posts, frankly. I care about saying what comes up, what I feel like I need to say, to acknowledge, to set free, regardless of word count. But having this goal of 750 words for that post forced me to reflect and go deeper than I had in 250 or 500 words. It pushed me to that acknowledgment of how much I really, really don’t like having feelings and it became a jumping-off point for diving into the why and the symptoms/effects of the wanting-to-not-feel.
At some point in my formative years, I worked to be stoically calm, to not react to anything, to keep my emotions to myself. But time passed and I shifted to a false ideal of stoicism as an absence of emotion. I wanted not to have feelings at all, I wanted to be impervious to feeling, to be unaffected. It’s ironic, in the way that Alanis Morissette sings the word, not in the way that ironic is itself defined, that stoicism as a philosophy was about the reason behind emotions and about managing emotions, not about not feeling them at all.
I haven’t written fiction in years. I feel like there is fiction in me and I used to long to write it. But what I’m coming to grips with this week is this realization: I will not be able to write fiction until I connect to my feelings and stay connected. Because fiction requires passion, it requires birthing, it requires life. And feelings are part of life, whether or not I like having them.