Flounder (Not the Fish) and Goodbye, For Now

I’m having a crisis of self and why I bother blogging.

I started blogging because I’m from the Xanga generation and I loved posting on there. It was my own little journal with friends. I briefly tried LiveJournal, but never connected with it very well. I transitioned to blogging later starting with Blogspot and moving to WordPress. This is actually my third personal blog. The first two were full of trial and error (not that this one isn’t), and I did a lot of learning along the way. This blog still isn’t exactly what I want it to be, but it’s closer.

I have never expected to have a large readership. A lot of why I blog is just to get my own thoughts out and attempt to process them. Having readers is the fun part. But I’m starting to feel directionless in my own thoughts so blogging with purpose is getting harder. I’m struggling with sounding personable vs. technical, something I’ve always had trouble with when trying to keep paper journals.

I also blog, at least partially, because I have been told time and again that without a following, a readership base, I’ll never be published. Twitter is too overwhelming for me, so at the least I should maintain a blog. And I do enjoy posting here. Most of the time.

I want to be a fun blog. Something easy on the eyes, a read you look forward to, one you hopefully learn from at least once in awhile. But I don’t know what that looks like or how to create it, especially in a sustainable fashion. I don’t know how to give you consistency and avoid a stress breakdown for me. I don’t know how to be engaging or how to code a website in a simple yet beautiful way (nor do I have the money to pay anyone else to do so). I’m struggling with feeling subpar in content and image. (As if body image issues aren’t enough, add blog image issues to that!)

So I’m not sure what to do.

Do I call it quits? Wave goodbye and disappear from the online world again for awhile?

Do I call a hiatus for an extended period of time, likely lose any readers I have anyway, and then try again?

Do I try another overhaul of the blog with my limited graphics and coding abilities and risk continuing a subpar image?

How do I learn to be a better, more engaging blogger? I don’t feel like trial and error is getting me there anymore.

Not to mention all the questions I have about the status of my poetry “career” (if I can be so bold). Getting published and applying for grants that I will rapidly be too old for is a lot of pressure right now, but I also feel like I need to forgo any attempt at that for awhile, focus on writing and building my list of poems, and then come back to the ‘publishing’ game in the future. But will I be behind then? Will stepping back just make it harder to jump back in? Will it take me a couple of years once I start again to even hope to get my foot in the door? My foot, my toes are barely in the door as it is, but I have at least one or two editors that recognize my work and name now, and I have a publication (and a possible pending publication) from this last year. It is exciting for me, but is it enough to even be worth it?

To sum it up, I have no idea what I’m doing. Trial and error along with perseverance has taught me a lot, but it’s still just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve worked at blogging off and on for 8 years and poetry for a bit longer, but do I even know anything at all? I don’t feel like I do and that tells me I’ve hit a wall.

I’m going dark for 2019. This blog will still be here. You can follow me on instagram (username lissa.clouser) where I will still be personally active. My Facebook page will also be inactive, just like the blog.

I’m deleting nothing because I have every intention of returning. But I have a great deal of figuring out to do. I need to step back from everything and evaluate my personal life, my blog and online presence, my writing habits and perhaps career, and more. I can’t do it if I feel like I’m constantly expected to be creating content and showing up, even if I’m the only one expecting that of myself.

So please, this is not me quitting or giving up. If you choose to leave I completely understand. If you choose to stay, I hope to begin 2020 in a positive and meaningful way, able to interact with you and build a better community and audience once I know what my goals there should be.

May 2019 be a glorious year for you of growth and joy, and may we meet again in 2020.

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Why I’m Not Doing NaNoWriMo This Year

  1. I could be eating something pumpkin-flavored instead.
  2. I could finish watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Miss Hammurabi, Game of Thrones (I might still be on season one), or find a new nature or travel documentary.
  3. I could deep clean my house, or at least go through the clutter, or at least give it a surface clean, or at least straighten things up…
  4. I could learn to knit?

Okay, silliness aside, Continue reading

Christmas Postcards!

Announcement time!!

Last year I wrote a Christmas poem to include in all of the cards I send out to family and friends. I had so much fun doing it that I want to write a small Christmas poem again this year… but I’m going to share it with you too!

If you aren’t already on my Christmas card list and you love snail mail that isn’t asking for money or selling something, then I’d love to send you a Christmas postcard with a poem on it this year.

I’m not putting a limit on how many cards I’ll send out just yet. If the requests are overwhelming I’ll edit this post that I’m no longer accepting addresses for this year when I hit a limit on what I can handle.

I am accepting requests from now through November 30th. International addresses are okay.

(I hope to mail everything the first week of December.)

Please post your name and mailing address in a comment below or email me at lissa.clouser@gmail.com if you don’t want the information publicly visible.

Legal/Privacy: I will not be sharing your name or address with anyone. This is simply for the purpose of a one-time postcard mailed to you. Addresses will not be kept afterward.

 

*Photo by user Jo-B at Pixabay, creative commons usage

Fall 2018 Writing Retreat (Journal 4 of 4)

Ankles in the watery muck!

We’re packed and ready to leave soon. Well, not ready but our time on retreat is up for now.

Last night we were treated to one last view of the Milky Way before the clouds came in. This morning it is a calm sort of overcast with a light breeze at just the perfect temperature. I’ll miss the water and the cottonwood that sounds like rain. I’ll miss running barefoot in the grass. Continue reading

Fall 2018 Writing Retreat (Journal 3 of 4)

Poor birdie flew into our door and was a bit stunned, but he flew off okay!

It’s the dawn of our last full day here. (Okay, it’s 9:30 am, but it’s the start of my day. This is vacation after all.)

I’m sitting on the front porch in a wooden rocking chair. The sun is beautifully bright reflecting on the surface of the pond and the tiny, rippled waves on the water are soothing to watch. The air is comfortably cool, the breeze is fresh, Continue reading

Fall 2018 Writing Retreat (Journal 2 of 4)

Sunset walk

Last night we saw the Milky Way. It has been more than ten years since I was anywhere dark enough (with a night clear enough) to see. We wondered aloud how could anyone live somewhere where the Milky Way is visible and not stare up in awe each and every night. One of the RRFS noted that people get desensitized to it over time like we do everything else. She then added, “and it’s a damn shame.” Continue reading

Fall 2018 Writing Retreat (Journal 1 of 4)

It’s hard to make the switch to going on retreat. It’s a vacation, of course, yet quite different. Once we’ve stopped by the local grocery store there’s no shopping to be done. There are few, if any, sights to be seen. Just a cabin and the noises that nature brings. It’s a hard stop from working the day job, running errands, and planting yourself in front of the TV.

I’ve spent the last few weeks so eager to get away, to breathe, to read and write… but there’s something to be said about waiting too intensely for something. Something to be said, but I don’t have the words. Continue reading

October

I’m throwing all sense or hope of schedules around here out the door and just promising not to forget about my blog for too long at a time. I honestly do enjoy blogging, even if sometimes I struggle with what to say that anyone else may want to read, but sometimes even existing feels like a lot of work and when that happens, things like blogging get put on hold. That’s pretty much been the last 12-15 months for me. And you know what? Existing is hard work and if that’s all you can manage (speaking to everyone now, not just myself) that’s okay! That’s the most important bit. Always continuing on, even if sometimes everything gets put on hold and you work at a snail’s pace to get back to it. Just keep existing.

That being said, I recently went on a writing retreat and wrote a few short journals while there. I’ll be posting those starting next week!

Then in early November I have a fun little announcement to make…

I may blog in bursts, but I’m currently in one, so stick around for the next few posts!

 

Worldwide Post Report: 2018 Part One

Time for a fun post and something simple while I’m still tackling brain fog and fatigue that makes snails look fast.

It’s been quite some time since I posted an update of my postcrossing adventures, but I’ve been getting back into the habit slowly this year and have a few new favorites to share.

For those of you new to the blog in the last year or so, postcrossing is a hobby in which you receive the address for someone in the world, write them a postcard, and when they mark that card received YOUR address gets handed off to someone else so that you can receive a card. You never know where in the world the cards will come from or who you might meet. Most people treat these as one-time interactions, but I have actually found a long term pen pal this way.

This first one is from Russia. The postcrossing project asks that all cards be written in English (unless the person you are writing to has specified they can read another language), but unfortunately this one is written IN Russian so I’m not sure what was said. The handwriting is very flowy and beautiful though! Continue reading

Life Update the 2nd

I just realized I haven’t done a life update since March, and now it’s nearly August. This year is beating me up.

  • Hubby and I bought a new lawn mower, because the one we got when we initially bought the house has needed major repair every year. It was time to bite the bullet and we could handle a small loan for a new one, so we took on the expense.
  • With the new mower came the need for a new shed, having torn down last year the very old, very large mess of a shed originally on our property. We opted for one with just a little bit extra room for other tools, and took on that expense too.
  • In May I was driving to work when suddenly my car start shuddering horribly and would barely accelerate. I called my boss, told him I was driving straight to the mechanic while my car was still sort of working, flipped on my hazards, and hoped I’d make it the 3ish miles to the mechanic. About 2 miles in, a lovely police officer pulled me over. The first time I’ve EVER been pulled over. Did he pull me over to check on me since my car was shaking like crazy, I couldn’t get up to speed, and was obviously distressed? Nope. Pulled me over to tell me it was illegal to drive with my hazards. Even after telling him the trouble I was having he just told me not to do it again and didn’t offer to follow me the last mile to the mechanic’s or anything. Our police department here is pretty awesome, so I’m just hoping this guy was having a bad day. At least I didn’t get a ticket.
  • Back to the car… once I made it to the mechanic’s it didn’t turn back on again. One of the caps somehow came off while I was driving and flooded oil through much of the engine. It would have been thousands to fix it.
  • Much as I absolutely hated giving up my car (the only one I’ve ever had, it was only a 2002 and under 130,000 miles), it was time to buy a new car. I am fond of my new car, but still missing the old one. And certainly missing the days when I didn’t have a car payment.
  • Not long after this, my health finally gave out on me. (I know I’ve said it before, but autoimmune diseases suck, ya’ll.) I’d been having more trouble since last fall, but figured it was just a flare I couldn’t kick. I’ve spent most of this month only working half days because that’s all I could manage. Went to see my doctor and she took one look at me before asking what on earth had happened, she’d never seen me this bad. The first round of new meds didn’t work. The second round of new meds seem to be helping at least some, for which I’m grateful. But new meds and several appointments are an expense I was not prepared for, especially after taking on so many new expenses already!

Guys… I’m wiped out. I apologize for not blogging, but if I’ve learned anything from hosting three different personal blogs (trial and error) it’s that sticking to a schedule when I don’t feel up to it just makes me worse.

I’m wiped out, but my brain has taken a lot of time to reset (when it can think straight anyway). I’ve done a lot of thinking about the type of poet I want to be while I’ve been doing a lot of reading other poets. I’ve also done a lot of reflection on how my views of myself as a poet have evolved over the last few years. (And I’m sure will always evolve.)

I don’t have the words to spell it out yet, so I’ll just keep writing poems and see how it goes.

Maybe I’ll have something interesting and coherent for all of you soon. Assuming I can stay awake for more than the bare necessities and use brain power for creativity any time soon!