So. Push myself to publish better content. As I was saying when we last left off, that was my main goal for 2012. The first thing I did? Took this excerpt from Dear Sugar #48 and burned it into my brain:
Yes, we can rattle off a list of women writers who’ve killed themselves and yes, we may conjecture that their status as women in the societies in which they lived contributed to the depressive and desperate state that caused them to do so. But it isn’t the unifying theme.
You know what is?
How many women wrote beautiful novels and stories and poems and essays and plays and scripts and songs in spite of all the crap they endured. How many of them didn’t collapse in a heap of “I could have been better than this” and instead went right ahead and became better than anyone would have predicted or allowed them to be. The unifying theme is resilience and faith. The unifying theme is being a warrior and a motherfucker. It is not fragility. It’s strength. It’s nerve. And “if your Nerve, deny you –,” as Emily Dickinson wrote, “go above your Nerve.” Writing is hard for every last one of us—straight white men included. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.
There were so many days when I got up and all I wanted to do was take to my computer to write about how stuck I was, how I didn’t know what to write about, or even how I was feeling motivated and good about writing once again, and every time, I thought of the coal miners in that quote and I wrote about something else instead. And if I couldn’t do that — on one of the many, many occasions when I had writer’s block that no amount of motivational quotes could fix — then I at least went and read something great. Not writing about writing was the key to my productivity this year.
But today’s the day to take a break from that rule! I’m curled up with a mug of hot chocolate and legit stretching my arms out over my head, hands-clasped and turned upside-down, as I get ready to write about my favorite thing in the world for pretty much the first time all year!
So, I wrote a lot this year. And I published a lot this year. I’m not sure if I wrote/published more this year than I have in past years, but adjusting for the fact that I work full-time, I’m guessing I did write and publish more. I also wrote and didn’t publish more than I ever have before. Some of it went unpublished because it was rejected by editors and some just didn’t get published until months after I had written it. But a lot of the time, I wasn’t able to hit publish because I was just stuck in my own head.
Because of my decision not to write about writing, I also avoided writing about other people’s writing. There is a serious lack of original content on the web; I’ve found that so much of it is just regurgitating or responding to other people’s original work. I even avoided writing about a topic if someone else had covered really well recently, because I found myself thinking I couldn’t do a better job, so why bother? Anyway, pushing myself to create original work was definitely harder. You know the stereotype of a stumped writer crumpling up pieces of paper and tossing them when something isn’t working? That was me this year more times than I can even recall; I have so many abandoned blog post drafts and Google docs of pieces that I just kept trying to make work. And I realize that that makes it sound like I think everything I did actually publish this year was OMG SO AWESOME, but that’s not exactly true either.
The fact that this year was more serious meant that my writing was more serious, and when I look back, I see that in the tone of all of the best pieces I wrote this year. Was my writing better? Well, I feel like I can’t answer that without giving a little shout out to the large number of people who were disappointed with what I was publishing (or not publishing) and who didn’t hold back when it came to telling me that. (Hey, girls, heyyy!) It would be disingenuous for me to say, “Hell yeah! My writing rocked this year!” when I have some strongly-worded emails that would beg to differ. So I guess I’ll just say that I think a lot of what I wrote was really good, that I think I did some of my best work this year, and that I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
I tried a lot of new things this year when it came to blogging in an effort to figure out what I wanted to blog about and what people wanted to read. While I was kind of all over the place when it came to blogging, I felt like I was all over the web when it came to writing, and that was a good thing! Writing for SHAPE.com, Birchbox, and A Practical Wedding, as well as the Offbeat Empire, were huge highlights this year, and were the direct result of my verb — a verb that made me get up early, ignore Eric and the dogs looking cozy and adorable on the couch in front of the TV, and/or re-write a piece until I thought I was going to lose my goddamn mind.
I had hoped that by December of this year, I would have all of the writing and blogging stuff figured out and everything would have just magically fallen into place and I guess to that I’d say, “…almost.” Leaving my old blog behind was the right move, and I feel like in the last three months or so, I’ve finally started to get a clearer picture of where this new blog is going.
First of all, now that my self-imposed rule against commenting on other writing and covering topics that are being widely discussed elsewhere on the web is coming to an end, those are both things I’ll be doing more of in the new year…to a degree. I still believe it can be a total crutch, and also, writing 1,200 words in response to every trolling, click-baity article that gets published on the web is just gross and that’s simply not the kind of blog I enjoy reading, so it’s not one I’m going to write. You don’t need to hear my thoughts on some anti-feminist bullshit article on Fox News. Trust me, you already know them. That said, I’ve found myself looking for a place for thoughtful discussion on current events or hot topics where the comments don’t make me want to gouge my eyes out, and, well, I think we can do that here.
Second, one of the realizations I’ve had this year is that while I love to write, editing and managing a group of writers (while also doing some writing) is really my jam. It’s how I got started on the web (I wrote the Spartanette while I was also the managing editor for SpartanEdge.com) and it’s what I did on Hollaback Health, a multi-author blog I loved running. I don’t particularly like being a one-woman show which is why I got so much out of writing for other people this year. I’ve also noticed that a lot of really good writers with a lot to say have either stopped blogging altogether or just never started, because they don’t want to deal with a lot of the bullshit that goes along with having a blog. And I can’t say I blame them! There’s so much more to it than just sitting down and writing; blogging takes time and effort and it’s tough to stick with it, especially if you feel like no one is reading, if you’re getting negative feedback, or if what you have to say doesn’t seem right for your particular niche (or any niche). And then there are things like, you know, having a full-time job or wanting to protect your own privacy or that of your loved ones that can really get in the way. So it’s no wonder that people are dropping like flies, but it’s also a bummer to lose good voices.
I’ve thought a lot about how to make working with multiple contributors my reality once again, and now that I’ve tried so many different things in regards to blogging — and I’ve gotten my name out of my URL — I’m just going to go ahead and do it. So! That means I’m looking for some writers!
If you’re interested in writing a post for The House Always Wins, just shoot me an email about it (rachel[at]rachelwilkerson[dot]com). This is a pretty low-commitment thing. (I’m not trying to usher in a big, dramatic change to this blog at all.) You can either let me know your idea if you’d like to get more direction before you sit down to write, or you can just send me the finished product if you’re pretty confident that it would be a good fit. At this time, I’m not anticipating a big dramatic change to this blog, but more of a slow, gentle, I-don’t-even-know-if-anyone-would-want-to-do-that-so-we’ll-see-where it goes kind of a thing, so you don’t have to commit to posting regularly or anything like that. You’ll get full credit for your writing (and link to your own blog, if you have one), but you can also write under a pseudonym if you need to.
- Relationships (romantic, friendship, family)
- Health (physical and mental) and fitness
- The Internet
- Gender roles
- Representation of men and women in the media
- Feminism (as it relates to any of these topics, or as it relates to other topics entirely)
- Race (either as it relates to any of these topics, or as it relates to other topics)
If something isn’t on that list, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good fit! I’m guessing if you read my blog regularly you have a good idea of the things I like to write and read about. I would also like to get a good mix of male and female writers from all different backgrounds, so if you know of anyone who doesn’t read this blog but has something awesome to say, please send him or her my way!
And if people aren’t interested, I’ll still be here doing my thing! But I hope that those of you who are looking to be heard outside of your blog or without a blog of your own will get in touch because judging from your comments, you have a lot of really great insight and experiences to share.
All right, I’ve now gotten 1,865 words about writing out of my system, and I’m ready to get back to just writing. So…more writing like a motherfucker in 2013! Let’s do this!