Believing in the worth of your craft is a war that sees many battles, and this blog is a field dotted with white flags. There was a time I posted here regularly. From 2008 to the end of 2011, I visited this space and typed words and hit publish. It was a habit. But in the last few years I’ve come here less and less. Instead of a post a week, it became one every few weeks, then every couple of months and by now I have all but puttered out completely.
Words are important to me and I don’t recall a time in my life that they weren’t. I remember riding in the car with my mom when I was very young, around the age when you first learn to read in school. She drove us down a familiar freeway and I sat and looked out the window and read each billboard and sign we passed aloud. HOME DEPOT. TACO CABANA. MATTRESS SALE HAPPENING NOW. I did this for a while until suddenly I became self-aware and turned to my mom and asked her why I wanted to read everything I saw out loud. She said it was because I was so excited I knew how to read.
Now, 20 some odd years later, I am still so excited I know how. Words thrill me. When they are arranged in a certain way that makes me pause, makes me sad, makes me underline, I read them aloud and feel I have just been let in on a secret of some kind. Like I’ve just learned to read.
And so I began English Lessons in 2008 with an excitement. I had just moved to England for graduate school and I wrote about my new country and what I was experiencing, my travels, my embarrassing American moments. I hardly knew how to check on the metrics, how many readers and subscribers I had, likes and all that. I was fairly ignorant and excited to be writing things my friends and my mom and dad could read whenever they wanted.
After a year abroad, I returned to America full of English Lessons to tell others about. I wrote a series called English Lessons after several months of writing nothing at all. It felt good to be back and writing. I was working at a publishing house and working with people who were much better writers than I. A challenge, but a good one.
In my new job, I began to learn about Twitter from the marketing team I worked with closely, though I was on the editorial side of things then. Everyone seemed to be on this Twitter and gaining followers. I wanted to catch up, so I joined. I quickly realized Twitter would be a good place to broadcast my blog. Up until then, I hadn’t broadcasted it anywhere. People found it if they knew me and I told them about it, or if they knew my mom and she told them about it. This Twitter thing meant I could get more people to visit English Lessons and if I got more people to visit, I needed them to keep visiting. I think that’s when it came back—the self-awareness.
I began to wonder what type of content I should create in order to make people come back. I thought another series would be good and writing on the same day each week would be good too because I had heard via a marketing person that you should do this. So I began my series of difficult questions in January of 2011 and vowed to keep it up all year. And I did, each Monday I asked a hard question and wrestled with it for 500-700 words. Fifty-two times I did this.
People started following and commenting. It didn’t get huge and no post came anywhere near going viral, but I was being consistent and I was providing somewhat predictable writing for those who were reading each week.
About the time I started the Asking the Hard Questions series I began a job in public relations at my company. I like PR. It’s a fascinating industry and it is all about being heard. But through doing research in my new role I realized something: Everybody blogs. Seriously, everybody. And this knowledge created nothing but insecurity in me. Because not only does everybody blog, but most people blog much better than I do. They blog more often and concisely and they stay on one topic and cultivate a large following—all things I was never really sure how to do. And though I continued writing religiously each Monday for English Lessons, I grew more and more aware that maybe all I was doing was reading aloud, and maybe it was only my mom who heard me.
I was relieved at the end of 2011 when I could stop writing each week on a different question. It had been a good experience, but I had been working in PR for almost a year by then and I knew how very small my voice actually was and how little I really knew about blogging the right way and cultivating that followership and making enough noise that people will hear. My writing was sounding monotonous by then, too. Ask a question, fumble through some possible answers, end with “I don’t really know.”
Since then, I think I’ve managed to squeeze out a post every couple of months or so, only when something is really burning in me and itching to get out. And only when I think enough other people will want to read it or need to read it. Sometimes I come here and look at the page, the same design it’s always been. I don’t even own the URL and I’ve never changed the picture at the top from a visit to Cinque Terra, Italy, way back in 2008. My blog has become a friend I used to know but never call or text and we’ve lost touch to the point where it doesn’t really matter if we ever see each other again. In fact, it would be awkward if we did.
I have felt stuck, not in writing necessarily. I still write. I can’t not write. I don’t know how to do that. But I am slugging through this confusion in how to use a blog in a way that is meaningful to others. I’ve felt my writing of late, the type I’m doing now, is not worthy to be here and to be read by strangers or friends because it is not on hot topics and it is not on things people regularly search in Google. It is not 500-700 words long, sometimes it’s longer, sometimes shorter. The subject matter varies. Nothing about me or my writing these days is cohesive and I’m still asking the same questions I was in 2011, so nothing is resolved either.
But deep down I know my silence on andrealucado.wordpress.com represents too loudly my insecurity in the words I put down in secret because I believe others don’t need them. The silence on my blog, overall, says I think I am not a very good blogger. Which is assuming two things: 1. That I know what a good blog is, that there is some sort of science to it and 2. That it matters if I’m good at it. Both of these things I would like to stop believing. But how do I stop believing “truths” I’ve let settle into me? One way is to simply blog what I blog, write what I write.
I think we should all do this in whatever way it is that we artistically express ourselves. Carve out times in our week to simply make the art we are making and share it boldly with others. Blog what we blog. Write what we write. In doing so we are saying this, “What I craft is worth it. What I love is worth doing.” This is a hard thing to agree with within our own selves—that our art has meaning and worth outside of our personal journals. It really can pull at you like a war, but maybe writing here again on a regular basis will be a way for me to win one of the battles.
It will be on Monday mornings again and maybe some other days in the week. Not because Monday is a popular time for blog traffic, it’s not, but because Sundays are typically good writing days for me and I worry that if I let a post sit for too long, I will come up with excuses to not publish it.
It will be long or short and about what it is about and that’s as much as I can say about it. I will blog what I blog; I will write what I write.