You never know how, when, or to whom your words may be important.
A little over two months ago, I wrote a post I called “I Remember, I Remember Everything”. The title came from song lyrics for the band Kill Hannah, which is disbanding this December. It was something cathartic that I felt driven to write when I had unexpectedly strong emotion over the news.
It resonated with a few people. And then it slowly faded away, like everything on the internet.
Until earlier this month, when I received a reply to a Facebook message I had completely forgotten I’d sent. Two months ago, I had sent Mat Devine (lead singer of Kill Hannah) a link to the blog on the off-chance he might one day see it and read. After all, it was him I was thanking for everything. And it was Mat who replied to me, saying he had read it, that he appreciated it, and asking permission to share on Facebook with all of Kill Hannah’s fans. I blushed all over myself, and then I said yes.
What happened next was a sudden influx of love from other fans. The post I had cried over while writing was making others cry as they thought over their own memories. I had no idea when that post went up that it would eventually touch so many people.
And that’s how writing goes, isn’t it? You never know how, when, or to whom your words may be important. That is true of Facebook statuses, tweets, blog posts, and published (self or traditionally) work too. Just because the reaction is not immediate, does not mean that someday someone isn’t going to read your work and be moved.
Neil Gaiman has a quote I love about the importance of creating work that matters. It comes from his 2012 commencement address: “If you didn’t get the money, then you didn’t have anything. If I did work I was proud of, and I didn’t get the money, at least I’d have the work.”
As writers, we should always write work we are proud of. The first step to unleashing something ‘good’ into the world of readers, is being proud of what you have written. If you can’t be proud of your own work, why should anyone else care what you had to say?
I’ve learned this about my blog. After several years of trying every schedule or blog hop or expectation that it seemed all writers knew about but me… I learned I wasn’t releasing good content. The pressure to ‘live up to’ what the internet seemed to expect of me meant my work was poor, and a big reason for that was I was writing stuff I didn’t care about.
My work now isn’t always the best. I still consider myself near the bottom rung of the blogging ladder. There is so much to learn. But a few things have changed from my previous attempts. I don’t write drivel I don’t care about. I don’t follow schedules I don’t think I can keep to. And the instant blogging feels like a chore, I take a break. After all, no one is making me write. And writing when it feels pointless is one of the worst feelings of all.
I feel like it might take another full year or two before this blog is moving along with any semblance of the steam I hope it can gain. But I will tackle it at my own pace and only write the posts I want to write. Eventually the recurring segments I’m excited to share will actually be recurring, and hopefully I will get more engaging with each new post. I want the people who see my blog to want to read it. With luck an investment of time, content, and practice will get me there.
This is true of my poetry as well. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of submitting. Which means a lot of rejections. (So far it has meant nothing BUT rejections!) But if I write poetry geared toward one specific journal – contests and prompts aside – and get shot down… all I have is a piece of work that will be difficult for me to use elsewhere. Whereas if I write something that moves me, feels important to me, and that I can be proud of, it might get rejected a lot since I didn’t cater to a specific editor or style, but if it ever gets accepted it will be that much more special.
I’d rather my poetry be something I can be proud of and the publication of it makes me even more proud, than write something that only has one home and be left with nothing much when it gets turned away.
I dream of seeing my work in print. Most writers do. But when a piece I’ve written still gives me the warm fuzzies and the only publication it has seen is a once-printed Microsoft Word document? I know I’m happy with that work.
So go forth. Take on your week. And write one thing that makes you proud. Whether that be a short story, a chapter, a poem, a blog post, or anything else. Create words that make YOU proud, and you will never lose them.