Saturday, February 14, 2015

When You No Longer Care Who's Watching--The Freedom to Say What You Want

For a while, I've been afraid of blogging. I'll come back to why in a moment, but first, a moment of self reflection.

Over this past week, I've noticed a subtle shift in my thoughts and emotions with regards to communicating in a public space. Suddenly there are ideas for blog posts, and topics for debate, and questions, so many questions circulating through my brain. Topics I would have shied away from in the past now have me thinking, "Yeah, I'd like to write about that."

Overall I'd say I'm feeling a wee bit bolder.


A couple of months ago, I deleted a particular blog post from my archive. It wasn't an earth quaking post created in hopes of shaking traditional publishing off its high horse and onto its delicate knees, it was a simple post, from two years ago, about my summer.

And it was a post that had a high rate of incoming traffic from New York.

This is the place where we pull back the curtain and take a peek at Becky's sometimes paranoid mind. 

This post was titled something like: Why you should be forcing yourself to write, and it detailed all the many ways I had been wasting precious time that summer not writing and being as productive as I possibly could. It was one of my more popular posts, probably because so many other writers could relate, and thus, it popped up pretty high on the results page if someone, say from New York, happened to Google: Rebecca Taylor Writer.

Here was my paranoia: What if all those New York hits were actually editors checking me out. AND, what if that blog post, that makes me sound like I lie around a pool all day watching Netflix and drinking wine, was my only shot at nailing that precious first impression and I was basically screwing myself by trying to be flip and funny while referencing some of my many, highly human flaws?

Basically my fear was this, what if editors were reading that post and then deciding, "Ugh, I'm not going to be able to count on her to produce on a deadline because, look, she says right here, on her own blog, she procrastinated. No thanks--Reject." **see below

Paranoid much Becky? Maybe.

Because here's the thing, editors and agents DO check you out online if they're interested in working with you. And if you have anything, ANYTHING, up that makes you seem like you might be even potentially flaky, chances are they're not going to want to take a chance on you. Especially if they were on the fence about your work to begin with!

So, being afraid I was making a hugely wrong impression by trying to be honest and funny and relatable--I took the post down. Because, at the time, I wanted to be a traditionally published author more than I wanted to be myself.

Yes--I know it's sad.  

The result of all that muddy, worried thinking was that I became hugely terrified of blogging about almost anything. What would THEY think should THEY come looking? What opinions about me would they form? How could I strike the perfect balance of professional, hard working, and reliable? Maybe I should post something positive about one of the big YA pros? What hasn't yet been said about John Green? Should I be deferential? More book reviews? Interviews with other authors? What would let an editor know without a doubt that I'm IN IT?

What about a picture of me in a gray Calvin Klein skirt suit sitting in a cubicle with my hands glued to a keyboard? 


I pressured myself so much I didn't end up blogging about anything, which I rationalized as being okay because everyone reads Tumblr now and I sort of hate Tumblr and thus I have already lost this social media race anyway and blah, blah, blah.

The truth is, I quite enjoy blogging--when I give myself permission to say whatever I feel like saying.

So the unexpected side effect of getting off the Yellow Bricked Road of Sadness, is that I feel bolder. Suddenly, I'm not at all worried about someone looking over my shoulder and making a snap judgement about who I am as a writer, a person, or a potential "stabled author" because of thoughts and opinions I decided to share. Because I'm no longer trying to get there, I don't care about how my opinions may or may not be impacting my admission into the Land of Publishing Oz.

It's like Dorthy has stepped off the path, yanked a monkey out of the air, and decided to ride the winged beast all the way back to Kansas on her own. After all, as all storytellers know, Dorthy never really needed to get to Oz in the first place, she already had everything she ever needed, right there at home.

**To be clear, I'm not implying the reason I was never able to publish with a traditional publisher had anything much to do with my blog--the reasons have much more to do with my work, timing, the market, and personal tastes than my social media presence. (or lack thereof)


  1. There is so much freedom in taking the reins into your own hands. I am glad you're realizing the release! I was in exactly the same place with my blogging and opining over the years. My reason for leaving that behind are different from yours, but the resulting freedom and mental openness and the desire to be who I am can't be denied.

    The idea that we need to censor ourselves, be deferential, or somehow constrain ourselves is very real. Whether or not it is based in actual reality, who can say. But I know that you and I are not the only ones who have felt this.

    Throughout my life I have always sought the entrepreneurial path. I've owned companies, been my own boss... but for for the longest time, that wasn't possible as a writer seeking publication. That is all changing. Has changed... continues to change. It wasn't until last year that I was able to apply that same thinking to my writing. I freed myself from the old expectations. Took control back. Claimed the boss chair. And I haven't looked back.

    So happy for you and this new chapter of your journey! xoxo

    1. Corinne, I think you are right--so many writers have decided to regain ownership over their creative lives and I happen to believe that it's not always, entirely, just about the end result of pushing the publishing button for many. There is something highly empowering about stopping the chase, finding a center, and releasing expectations that do not serve you.

    2. Yes, exactly. And it's true in all aspects of life. There is peace to be found in letting go of those things that are causing the negative type of strife. You don't want to just throw up your hands and say nothing matters... but if you can feed the good things, and follow your dreams in the process, then you're doing just fine. Excellent advice.