Saturday, 29 November 2014

The Struggle of Being a Writer in a Bloggers World


It's always hard to see someone else doing incredibly well, at something you've always wanted to do incredibly well in.

It's an unavoidably human reaction, one which is usually followed by equally unwelcome guilt when you actually see how nice that person is, and how hard they've worked to get there.

But you know, I've come to think that the world would just be a better place, if we all started to be a bit more honest about envy.

So here goes.

The whole blogosphere seems alight with book deals, novel launches and in-store signings right now. Everywhere you look, a new 'top blogger' is seen wide-eyed and bushy tailed in a crowded Waterstones, eagerly holding up their very own first edition with their little inked signature on the bottom.

And you know, despite the beaming budding writers and their weeping crowds hollering in joy, for me, in the most selfish way imaginable, it just feels inescapably, unavoidably, absolutely and positively shit.

I wish to god it doesn't, but it just does.

When I look at these people, I genuinely have nothing but admiration towards them, they are inspirational people who are showing how it is possible to achieve your dreams... but there's this horrible bitter and sad part of me to which it seems like they've got to a point where they can start taking other people's dreams too. 

They've reached a strange height of such untouchable super-fame that they can go, 'release an album? sure why not!' and millions will buy it, whilst hundreds of thousands of bands are sweating it out in their garages for years, scrimping together the pennies to hire out a studio to record an EP. And when these people have reached their fame from doing makeup tutorials, filming pranks they pull on each other and carefully arranging their breakfasts on instagram, and others have grown up with a passion in their bones to master their art and create masterpieces with it, only to be totally forgotten and forever overlooked... it hurts my heart a bit.

And when I go into a bookstore and actually have a look at the content of their books, it kinda makes me want to slam my head against a wall. Growing up with the likes of Harry Potter teaching me about morality and mortality and the importance of education, bravery and loyalty, they have been essential in shaping my development to become the person I am today, and when I see millions of young people crying and weeping at the sheer inspiration of a book with pages such as 'draw a finger selfie', yes, draw a selfie, of your finger, it makes me motherfucking despair.

Now with internet celebs topping the best-selling lists and manufactured reality show runners-up dominating album charts etc, what even is art any more? Genuine artists with talent and passion are shoved aside and disregarded because they don't have a ready-made pre-packaged audience to tout, making the already incredibly difficult challenging of discovery and exposure, now almost an impossible task.

And all of these observations and fears and predictions and theories just smash against my already booming self-doubt in my mind and I just think WHY AM I EVEN TRYING.

I find myself unable to distinguish myself between writer and blogger, and making some pretty screwed up subconscious associations like; 'I've got to become skinnier to become a better writer.' 'I have to post at least one outfit selfie every day if I ever want to be successful.' 'I have to always have pristine manicured nails and perfectly curled hair if I ever want to be published.'

The battle between artistic integrity and audience-raking mainstreamdom is really taking it’s toll on me and I find myself in this totally fucked up position where I don't even know what the fuck I want or I'm trying to achieve anymore.

But despite my genuine conviction in all of these points, it's undeniable that a strong underlying factor behind them, that I see these bloggers and...

I just wish it was me.

I look at the spectacular splendor surrounding the release of these books and the millions celebrating them as the new generation of writer, and I am helplessly filled with unfortunate, unprecedented and most unwelcome envy.

I'm jealous.

And that's the truth.

And I swear to god, in that moment, it's as if I've just uttered the magic phrase.

This maelstrom of negativity that's buzzing around my head, constantly getting me down and preventing me from making any progress suddenly freezes, and there in the middle of the flurry lies that truth so blinding, I'd been unable to see it.

I'm jealous.

 And the more I stare at it, the negativity suddenly starts to dissipate and dissolve as if the act of actually admitting it, was all it took to begin actually undoing it. 'Cause perspective is everything, and it's often only when you finally admit an uncomfortable truth to yourself, that you're able to see it all in a different light. While you may not choose your feelings, you choose your actions and you choose your perspective.

And I believe you can take Little Victories from any situation, even one that fills you with negativity.

1.
Kids are reading! In this super technologically-advanced generation where people are connected with the internet 24 hours a day, we are now heading out to bookstores to buy hardback covers of a novel and get it signed by the author, a tradition as old as literacy itself. These bloggers have effectively made reading cool again, and set the benchmark to inspire others to write.

2.
You can't compare your chapter one to someone else's chapter twenty. Instead of focusing energy on being nothing but bitter, focus on doing everything to become better. If you want to somehow compete with these greats, create something worth competing with.

3.
Don't beat yourself up about feeling jealous. Although is an undesirable trait, underneath it all, it's a form of care. If you didn't truly care about it, you wouldn't get jealous. If you didn't have so much love and passion for something, it wouldn't bother you. 

4.
In conjunction with that, jealousy is not a whole lot of distance away from inspiration. Look at someone you are jealous of, remove the negativity that it's not you, and replace with positivity of how you can make that be you one day.


And at the end of the day, the fundamental thing I have allowed myself to forget is the most important part of this whole thing. 

I am a writer.

I feel so much pressure to try and grow an audience so that I have a platform to launch my book onto, that I completely overlook the fact that all conventional authors begin with no-one. They begin with an audience of their mum and dad and next door neighbour sat at the kitchen table at midnight leafing through their first drafts.

I am a writer with a blog, NOT a blogger hoping to get big enough to write a book.

And anyway, these bloggers who are now so big that they are releasing books, they have done this for years and years. They have built themselves up from nothing and self-made their own path to reach that level of success - this is not something they've just bought in to. 

So fair fucking play to them.

I am a human being who cares about stuff, so it is not my choice whether I feel jealous or not. But what is my choice is how I react in response to it.

And there's no way I'd ever choose being bitter, over being inspired.