I Am So Not A Good Salesperson

I should be better at publicizing my blog and newsletter. I was pretty concerned about such things when I was in the process of quitting my job and hadn't yet found a new one. But then when I found and started a new job I took a break from writing and marketing. I gratefully dropped out of Facebook and Twitter. So what's a boy to do in getting the word out?

Luckily, I don't need to go viral. There are people who need to make money blogging. I'm not one of them. With money off the table, I just write, publish, and let things happen.

And I do it mostly for myself. Sorry, but it's true. I'm glad when something I wrote works for someone, but I write here because it feels good, feels right, feels like the next level of something I've done most of my life and always will.

Yesterday I posted a newsletter link to LinkedIn, the one social media that seems worth my time. I wanted to identify myself as a writer there and maybe provide someone some enjoyment. It won't expand the subscriber ranks much.

There are easy things I could do to increase readership and having a larger audience might push me in some interesting ways. I'm not against having more readers, but for the moment I'm not interested in pushing that. I'm more curious what happens if I keep showing up and doing the work. I have a feeling things will work out as they should.

I started with less than a dozen readers, all family. Fifty-seven people subscribe to the newsletter now, one more than a month ago. Slow growth? Sure. I can live with that. I'm in it for the long haul and for things other than fame, glory, and money.

That said, if you want to send me money, shower me with glory, or connect me with fame, I suppose we can work something out.

More Papers, No Television or News

This morning I'm attending to a task I've considered for a couple months on and off and pretty much fixated on (without doing anything other than worry about it) for the last week. No, I'm not installing a new sewer line or even replacing the rotted window sill in the dining room. Those would be tasks from which anyone might shrink. I've just been avoiding the pile of papers on my desk. I even wrote about it this week after dealing with maybe a page and a half of stuff there. That post made it sound like I had gotten deep into the task. Writing has that effect. And yet the stack was still there this morning.

Before it seems like I've dispatched all the papers and reached self-actualization, the stack is diminished but I remain far down Maslow's hierarchy. I have read seven articles that friends have sent to me — I am blessed and cursed with friends who want me to read the good stuff they find — but have done nothing with the three essays in need of revision. So it goes. I'm not about completing things so much as giving it the old college try, whatever the hell that means.

As I finished the last of the articles which was about newspapers and kept mentioning the god-awful excuse for a human in the White House, I realized I have been reading a lot and have pretty much stopped watching television. It hasn't been a conscious decision, but I haven't missed the television and its focus on whatever is happening right now. With regard to current events, I couldn't care much less.

I suppose soon enough I'll wade back into all that. I'll resubscribe to the Post or the Times, tune into some show or other either on TV, and otherwise go back into the orange maggot's world. The piles of paper will grow. I'll stop doing the things around the house that feel good and keep things from sliding into disrepair. The books on the shelf will go unread.

It's about balance. I've gone way out on the beam, pulling it down, watching the other pan, empty and light as air, fly up and away. Down here, reading, writing, and making my way through the pile of papers, I'm in the smaller world of neighbors, family, and myself. Other stuff goes on, but the big news of my day is that I've read those articles to reduce the pile and I might revise one those lingering essay drafts.

First though, after over an hour this morning at the desk, I'm going out to see what the blue sky and gentle breeze have to say to me. I doubt they will mention politics, the news, or even remind me of the pile of papers still awaiting my attention. They will have other things to tell me if I'm willing to really listen.

Inconvenience & Intention

"...intention trumps convenience" (53)
"...the inconvenience might prove useful." (65)
— Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism

I'm typing this in Writer: The Internet Typewriter, a distraction free editor that requires me to remember codes to set formatting and hyperlinking when I post these things to the blog. It's wildly inconvenient compared to the ease of Microsoft Word or Google Docs, but I use it anyway. Part of the motivation is that it is distraction free. I'm typing plain text onto a blank canvas. There are no menus, there is no grammar check, there isn't any good sharing system (though the guy who develops it may add that last "feature"). It's just a way to put words on the screen the same way a typewriter puts words on paper. The only difference is that I can use backspace, delete, copy, paste, and undo. That Writer is distraction free is the big draw for most users. I'm more into the inconvenience.

Using something intentionally inconvenient sounds like lunacy. Maybe it can be, but in this case it puts the focus on intention and in that way the inconvenience proves very useful indeed. Because I can't format anything in this editor and since I have to remember markdown codes and symbols in order to have things format correctly on the blog, I am much more intentional about the writing and about prioritizing clarity over anything else. There is work that can be done without such focus but writing as well as I can demands it. Convenience too often subverts that kind of focus.

I only have a minute left to write. The ziti is about to come out of the oven. I took some time with that too. Boiled pasta, grated cheese, made some sauce, mixed and poured all that in a baking dish. I could have grabbed some already made from Wegmans but I like the inconvenience. It's useful and tastes pretty damn good.

Let's Just See What Happens

Keep going. Don't quit five minutes before the miracle.

The first part of that is the title of Austin Kleon's new book. The second part is my paraphrase of a Dani Shapiro idea. I like both thoughts and how they fit together to inform what I'm doing and trying to do.

Last night's sticky note, a reminder to myself and a start my morning pages, says: The slow work. Just keep doing it and believe in the worth of what I am writing. It's easy to forget that the tiny thing I do today adds to whatever I did yesterday and will be followed by what I do tomorrow. I forget that, especially when I want to be published and successful in this writing thing. Successful? Isn't this successful? Does making money equate with success? If money is success, I may be out of luck. A friend wrote me that "Trying to earn anything from memoir is...well, possible. But it helps if you were raised by religious fanatics in Idaho and wound up with a degree from Cambridge." My degrees are from Onondaga Community College, SUNY Oswego, and Radford University. I grew up in Syracuse. My parents were not fanatics about much of anything. I'm so screwed.

What I'm doing now, writing on this blog, sending out an essay or two, earns me no money and likely won't for a while. I have very few followers on the Twitter account I set up only for writing and connecting with writers. I have just over fifty people subscribed to the blog. These are the facts of my networking efforts. But that is less than half the picture.

I have been writing every single day. A lot of writing. It adds up. The effect is cumulative.

Just now I went out and shoveled the driveway and sidewalks for the second time today. The snow is still falling. I may go out later and clear it again. Then tomorrow morning there will be more snow and I will clear that. The snow will keep coming until it isn't coming any more and we see and feel spring. Each time I clear the driveway is one more push to keep things orderly, to keep going, knowing that the miracle of spring is only minutes away if I squint at my watch just right.