So, to say the blogging world is a new landscape in 2014 would be a vast understatement. It’s different than even four years ago when I contemplated starting a personal one about the joys and crap storms of new motherhood. Just having graduated from a writing program and trying my hand at freelance, I held back on the urge to join blogspot. In fact, I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t feel like my journey was all that interesting or more important than anyone else. I couldn’t imagine talking about myself THAT much. And who would really connect with it anyway?
Fast forward to today when I attended a conference for style and lifestyle bloggers, I’m astounded at the pace at which blogs have exploded into these massively well-oiled machines fuelled by a steady flow of self-promotion, affiliate links, SEO expertise, networking, paid content and traffic. I know this already, of course, as I run my own site and I understand what drives traffic, attracts advertisers and I get the importance of consistent social plugging. But man oh man. Being in that beautiful, huge room, watching people click away and tagging. Heads down. Phones pointed. Even myself. I hashtagged the shit out of a few situations.
I just thought, Enough Already.
I do appreciate what the internet age has done for artists. It has given us an audience. It has provided us with instant publication and a connection to the people who are kind enough to give their time and energy to our work. There is just a piece missing sometimes when you have to think about the marketing and business of it all. It takes the artist out of the chair for a moment.
I long for those hours when I’d sit around dingy tables in dimly lit rooms discussing Virginia Woolfe with people who had written entire thesises on Woolfe. I didn’t really understand why they thought she was so clever, but their passion for her prose intrigued me. I listened to them because they were passionate and engaged with their obsessions.
During workshops, my grades were given based on the amount of thought and effort I’d put into my writing; not that it was ‘liked’ by random people or shared with other networks. It didn’t matter if it was ever published. It just did not matter.
Yes, they wanted us all to be published. At some point. Some day. But in those rooms, we studied the art of being present with our theme, our point and getting to the very bottom of what we wanted to express. There was no Twitter. No Instagram. Nobody was clicking away at the front cover of The Sun Also Rises and pinning it to their ‘genius board’. And thank all the good in this world, the room was void of Facebook sharing frenzies about the achievement of completing each chapter.
Now, you’re thinking that maybe I graduated in 1982? Nope. It was 2010. I was a mature student. And yes, social media was up and running. But the thing was, I went to a liberal arts school in Manhattan where people took writing very seriously. They took reading very seriously. If you were on your phone during class, you were a douche.
I just want some of that authenticity back. I crave to have the urgency to create without the thought of where it will go. I want to write without promotion. I’d love to share without the fear that what I’m saying is no more unique or compelling than the 352 other bloggers talking about their feelings.
I sound harsh. I know I do.
So I also have to illustrate the absolute brilliance of being in a room with 300 designers, writers, entrepreneurs to fully encapsulate the inspiration that I’m left with at the end of this day. The woman who created the event is a do-er. I love women who go out and do, and she is clearly one of those people. She really is my hero and a total rockstar from where I’m sitting.
There were so many people just ‘out there in the world’ today. They didn’t sit at home and wonder about that conference that they should have gone to. They went. They want to make their brand better. They want to write better. They want to vlog better. They inspire me. I feel a wealth of new ideas and viewpoints from just chatting with some of them.
At the end of the day, I just wish we could all pull it back a little. Go back to wherever it was that we started. Go back to the coffee shops we used to sit in writing for hours without noticing the sun had gone down. Go back to creating beautiful things because whether three people see it or 10,000 see it, we would still do it the same way.
I say we #fuckit and put our phones down and write/create, audience or not, and go back to the headspace that inspired us in the first place.