A rambling rant and some progress...
Sometimes I really wonder what I want out of being a freelancer. I know I want to write. I know I want to write about everything and anything. I know that writing makes me feel happy and that it makes me dig both inside and outside of myself to create something that makes my skin tingle. I also know how despairing it can be when you suffer from low self esteem and a constant lack of self worth. There is always an underlying question running through my brain, telling me that nothing that I write will ever be good enough anyway, so why do I continue to bother? And at the same time I sit there astounded by the absolute crap that some publications promote! I know that there is somewhat of a consensus that everything needs to be dumbed down nowadays, but is that because the people browsing content online require it? Or on the contrary because newspapers and blogs and other writing outlets are more intent in getting content out there as fast as possible instead of actually trying to produce informative and interesting articles? And when did the job title editor become “person who constantly misses typos on even the most prestigious news sites”? I remember a time when the BBC actually provided excellent news articles, well written and well researched. Nowadays they seem to mainly be written by toddlers with toddler attention spans.
So much is based on website clicks and traffic and “likes” and “shares” nowadays too. And this isn’t limited to writing but to all types are artistic and non-artistic endeavours. If you can’t generate a good, steady stream of traffic then people don’t even bother to even read or listen to or look at what you do, because it is deemed of no importance. Yes, before the internet you would have to really go that extra mile to get published, have your demo listened to or get your artwork exhibited, but at least everyone was on the same level to begin with. Hard work didn’t include getting people to click through to your website and leave again and hoping that what they saw sparked some kind of interest. And while you still need to pitch and pitch and pitch today, some people just don’t care how great your work may be, they are just interested in how many people “like” you page and how many “shares” your content could generate. The amount of writing job proposals I receive that are more about creating clickbait content or writing fluff to boost SEO keywords is pretty insane. Or even better, getting paid to write content for your own website that actually contains an underlying advertisement to a company. These jobs can pay pretty well and are easy to do, but they kind of make me feel sick to the stomach (and yes, I have done a few). And then, if your website doesn’t generate at least 500 views a day you aren’t deemed good enough to hire.
Don’t even get me started on all of those practically false clickbait article headlines! All they do is generate comments from people who haven’t even bothered to actually READ the article (The Independent I’m looking at you here, amongst others). I do understand that everyone is trying to generate clicks and views mainly so that viewers scroll past advertisements that pay for the bulk of the publications’ website and staff but I would honestly rather pay a small online subscription fee for say the New York Times and actually read some decent journalism and writing. Is it that hard nowadays to actually read through more than 500 words before getting bored and scrolling on? Is that all people want to do, be constantly assaulted by fake headlines and shock tactic images? Instead of researching a subject or a current event do we just want to blindly follow some website’s information and assume that it’s true, and maybe add our own misinformed comments to the stream of individuals who have very strong ideas about something they know little about? Maybe this is why I still have a hard time with Twitter. While I love the concept of having all of this information at my fingertips I find it difficult to navigate through the constant updates of snippets of information and dialogue. And I’m not one to post random thoughts on the internet all of the time, so after a few retweets and a few clicks I feel overwhelmed.
I know full well that a lot of my frustration in finding work and making headway in my writing career lies in my own inability to focus on one thing at a time and actually continue to push myself. I refuse to find a “niche” for my blog so it remains to be a bit of everything. I have been told countless times to find a “niche” and promote that, but I don’t want to. I started blogging in 2003, on LiveJournal, but have been journaling since the age of 9. My blog was always an area where I could write about whatever I wanted to write, and it gives me the courage to put parts of myself out there. Every year I push myself to be a bit more open with my writing, to share things that I wouldn’t have felt comfortable sharing with the world and I want to continue to push myself. I know there are many things I could be doing better social media wise. I know that I should be collecting articles and pitching to all kinds of publications. I know that what I really need is to set myself a proper schedule and stick to it – I’ve always thrived on a strange mélange of impulsions and routine, and I’m not where I should be right now. I feel like I am spreading myself so thin that I am not doing anything properly anymore. I try to write and breastfeed and play and entertain and eat and cook and write and tidy and do laundry and groceries and read and watch movies altogether and when you do too many things at once, nothing is done properly. I will have a hundred ideas all at once and can’t actually sit down to really develop any correctly. I get frustrated with myself and with the world and then the moments of self-doubt creep up on me… What if I actually really am not that good? What if I actually fail at what is the only thing that I have really wanted to do in life? I can only blame so much on the internet and the quality of writing that people are looking for nowadays.
The thing is, I KNOW I can write. I just need to stop procrastinating and find a way to make things work again. One of my main stumbling blocks in life is that I always find it easier to concentrate my efforts on what is going on around me rather what I need to do for myself. And having two little children provides a great excuse for not getting anything done. So I just need to work out a new routine and make it work again, writing as much as possible, pitching as much as possible and working on my essays and short stories again. I have a huge pile of work that needs to be edited or rewritten and a lot of things that need to be written. I’m currently working on my travel memoirs series, I have a collection of essays around Orchard St and I plan to start one on Ludlow St. I want to finish off the collection of childhood stories and wrap a bow around it. Maybe actually start looking for an agent. I don’t know. I just know that I don’t want to continue to fight clients on pricing structures because they can “get cheaper elsewhere” and I know that I want to see my name right by anything that I produce. Not because I want to be “famous” or “recognized”, just because it would be quite thrilling to see my name accompany my writing. I never wanted to be a ghost writer and even though I don’t mind doing paid ghostwriting work, I would like there to be a balance.
So that’s that. A rambling rant and some real progress. This is why I love to write – the written word helps me to sort through all of the thoughts that crash against each other in my mind, thunderstorms with pockets of sunshine, and determine next steps.
I’m still annoyed about how Facebook practically forces you to pay for ads to “boost” your content if you want people to see it though. And I have no idea how to incorporate keywords into my content to force it to appear in a web search. Isn’t that what tags are for?! I suppose that’s why people hire social media specialists…