blog,  Writing Journal

Write Great Shit

I started Kitten Holiday in October of 2013.  Since then, I’ve written ten stories, six hundred blog posts (insane, right?), and submitted articles to over twenty publications. I’ve published essays on numerous online publications and I’ve got a 40,000-word non-fiction book in draft and 75,000 words of scrap and freewriting for a novel–both have remained unfinished for two years. I need to focus and outline and edit and get the work done.  It’s time.

My goal in starting Kitten Holiday was to get back into the routine of writing after a ten-year hiatus and to improve my skills.  I wanted to be able to take creative risks and push myself without feeling like I would be forever tied to my mistakes and my creative growing pains.  I wrote under a pen name and sent my art into the interwebs to see if anyone was reading.

Turns out, you were.

You have stuck with me as I’ve shifted from a fiction writer to an essay writer and back to a fiction writer. Thank you.

Seriously.

Thank you.

Some days I think my readers are more loyal to me than I am to myself. I’ve given up on myself and my dreams many times but you have never given up on me. You are always cheering me on, waiting me out when I go into a funk. You have been with me in the stillness of heartbreak and the thrill of new dreams.

My writing has improved. So has my confidence. I branched out into writing essays which I didn’t think I was smart or qualified enough to write when I started the blog.  Then I won Best Dating Writer in 2015 with the Indie Chicks. That just encouraged me and I focused on writing essays almost exclusively for a couple years. I was chasing validation. The idea was to get published and get readers, right? And that’s what I was getting writing essays.

From that award, I got enough legitimacy and attention that people wanted to interview me on podcasts and have me write guest posts on their own blogs. I published essays on numerous online publications. Essays were easy for me to write. I could write one a day, more on weekends.

While those essays brought a lot of good (maybe they brought me you!) I didn’t start writing again to write pop culture hot takes or to give people advice.

I also didn’t come here for the drama. I came to meet writers, write better and write more. But my essays  attracted the attention of others in the dating sphere who were writing to promote their coaching businesses. I was out of the realm of fun and into a world that was competitive as different coaches angled for their market share. The joy left, but I kept trying to recreate the thrill of connecting. I started out having conversations and seeking truth but somehow ended up in the mix with coaches fighting for territory, market share, customers and ownership of ideas.

That’s not why I came here. I couldn’t possibly have gotten farther off course than I have.

I was chasing the dragon. I was chasing the connection and community that no longer existed.  It was never going to be the same. Twitter has become a sales platform for coaches, lifestyle bloggers, dating gurus and social media experts. It’s also become a verbal boxing ring for politics dividing people into tribes.  I blocked the haters, unfollowed the promoters and muted the politics.

Behind that was another layer–a constant stream of clickbait and lifestyle pieces.  I couldn’t tell if something was written by a serious writer or if it came out of a content farm loaded with opinions, quizzes, ads and brainwashing.

It changed long before I realized it. Everything was different. The thing I went online to get wasn’t there anymore.  It wasn’t anywhere to be found. Classic bait and switch, it was replaced with everything I was trying to escape to begin with: egos, competitiveness, fighting, garbage content, distraction, mind-numbing crap.

The collaborative spirit, truth seeking, sharing, community and laughs had moved far away while I was caught up, high on retweets and clicks, watching feuds and taking sides.

Social media has become a way to make money off of others not by selling them something they need but by convincing them they are lacking and need to buy a spot in an online community just to keep up. Instead of buying the latest shoes or purse or car to signal you’ve made it, you join a group, get follow backs, take a course, attend a conference.

In August, I took a break and got some perspective. I went off grid to see what life was like away from the buzz. But I came back quickly.  I missed the energy, the pace, feeling in the know. So many hot takes! I had opinions too and there were people who wanted to hear them! I posted them and immediately they lost value, like a new car fresh off the lot, once posted it’s already old, getting miles and someone has a new car on another lot, a hotter model, new gadgets.

I miss the community, I miss searching for truth, I miss the authenticity I once found online when we were all nobodies.

The internet has changed. I’ve changed.

Now, I need to go change some more.

I am going to quit social media.  This is going to be hard for me because I’ve met so many people I care about and don’t want to lose contact with but if I want to get somewhere different, I’ve got to do something different. If I want to find a new path, I’ve got to exit the path I’m on.

I don’t want to lose you, but I’m stuck.

I’m both nervous and excited about this change.  I don’t want to fail. I don’t want to risk losing connections and then still not reach my goals. If I’m going to give up something that has been a big part of my life I want it to be worth it, but of course, there’s no guarantee. I might find something else to distract me, I might have more excuses to use, I might just give up in defeat.

Self Doubt is So Real

I keep catching myself typing out “I hope I will be writing. I want to be writing. I need to do more.”  This struggle is hard for me. I really don’t know if I can do this.  I want to believe I can but I know this will be hard.  I have been on social media for ten years clicking away, posting, sharing, liking, commenting. It’s a part of the fabric of every day from the moment I wake until I go to bed. I look at my phone more than I look in the mirror, more than I look around me.

My Excuses Are Bullshit

My two biggest reasons to be online have been the people I care about and my desire to self-promote to get more readers.

“I’ll quit Facebook, but I still need to post my links!” Or, “I don’t want to be on social media but I need to engage to network!” “If I were published, if I had an agent.”

I’ve done the math: the time spent on social media does not translate to growth or hits or awards or books. It also, not surprisingly, doesn’t turn into finished books or new fiction or improved writing. It turns into history. Social media takes the present moment and makes it the past. Your good energy and time is history. It’s a time chipper. It fritters the time away.

It is the friendships and connections that give me the most reservations about this change but there are other ways to stay in touch and I hope we will stay connected by email, through my writing on this blog, or IRL. Remember that? Real life? It’s still out there waiting for us.

I’m not sure how this will play out.  So far I’ve had to adjust my plan daily if not hourly because it’s a major transition in my routine and habits.

If you want to stay in touch, the best way will probably be through my monthly newsletter and/ or Patreon.

I will post new episodes of the podcast, new articles on the blog, pictures of my dinner (kidding) and progress on the blog and Patreon and send out a summary once a week in the newsletter.

If that’s not enough, you can frantically check this website for updates every five minutes the way I’m checking the weather because I’ve deleted all the other apps on my phone. (insert sad manic/maniac laughter) (this is no joke y’all)

I’ve Got to Do the Thing

In the meantime, I’ve got to do that thing I’m not sure I can do. I’ve got to dive in, take a chance, go it alone.  I’ve got to quit.

Can you believe something as frivolous as social media is so hard to quit? I’ll tell you a secret, I quit drinking on January 1. I’ve quit drinking before. I should have quit drinking many times. I loved alcohol. I loved drinking. I loved catching a buzz, taking the edge off. And I love getting drunk. There, I told you. Now you know. But I don’t love being hungover, dragging through the day, losing sleep, losing time, wasting energy, wasting my life. I’m 45, I started drinking at 16. Booze was easy to quit. When I quit I realized something shocking. Drinking was a giant time waster, energy killer, creativity wrecker.  But not as big of one as social media.

Let’s let that sink in.

For as much as drinking was a part of my life, it was only a fraction compared to the constant clicking of social media. I didn’t drink every day. I didn’t drink every night. I didn’t reach for a drink the way I reach for my phone. If I did, I’d be dead. This is hard. This is really hard.

I’m really worried I’ll fail.  I’m embarrassed it’s really that much of a battle.  I’m confused how something so trivial and pointless became such a big part of my life. I’m angry that I’ve lost so much time putting energy into something that has questionable value. Worse, I wonder about the nefarious intentions behind the owners of social media and all that, but that’s a gripe for another tinfoil hat.

Here I am but there I go.

I’m going to go now. I’m going to go and write great shit.

Wish me luck. I need it.

Love, Kitten

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