Friday, December 10, 2010

Forgotten Friday: Being Unforgettable. A Blog is a Promise.

No picture this Forgotten Friday, instead it's something I had forgotten. Something I had to be reminded of and remind myself about. If you aren't a blogger feel free to replace the concept of a blog with anything you do to live a passionate life. Love to all and happy weekend!

You may (or may not have noticed) that I had to take a few days off. I've been swamped, in a good way, with other work. But I also got sidelined by my own thoughts.

While I was ruminating on this blog, at the same time, elsewhere in the blog-world there was rumbling. Nothing was new, nothing unsaid or unheard, but Poppytalk, a very popular advocate of the handcrafted, posted an impassioned lament on the state of the handcrafted business today. Although most of it did not apply, certain parts could hit hard for a newer blogger, for someone struggling to find their content, purpose, or path. (To their credit I should mention there are follow-up posts here and here that speak to what I just mentioned).

Let's face it, for those of us who blog or pursue a creative life we know how hard it can be - coming up with new content, deciding on a direction, trying to stay focused (be that in crafting posts or otherwise). For those of you who read blogs, can be pretty tough work. Oftentimes free work.

Free work.

Free work isn't free either. It costs money to buy a domain, to buy supplies, to buy advertising, to set up shops. If we're not spending money we're spending time. Time is worth money.

After all that it is easy to feel derailed. It is also easy to feel unappreciated when you know how much you are putting into something. It's easy to hear the words of our own worst critics (ourselves) echoed more loudly and hurtfully in the words of others.

I may repeat something someone else has done. I may repeat an idea or a project and not know it. I may tell you about something you've heard about before, or how to do something we practically all know how to do (hello, Rolo candy cookies, anyone?).

But here is what I know for sure: I may repeat but

We are unrepeatable. Not just as bloggers, as humans. We are all unrepeatable.

There is a big undercurrent in blogging - to emphasize "authenticity", to hold true to who we are while we navigate the path of opening ourselves and our passions up to the whole world, for praise, or criticism, or sometimes worse, to be ignored. Certainly, if you wanted, you could read about "being authentic" for the next decade - in blog posts and books - but what it boils down to is this: stay true to who you are.

Easy to say, so hard to do. Society has created the ideal of the distinction between work and play – a complete division of our talents, time, and energy. I loved this idea. I insisted on it strongly when I was still in the corporate world and I felt positively incredulous when I felt those boundaries were overstepped.

But herein lies the rub: a blog is a business, a person, a passion, an outlet, a purpose, a brand…I could go on. Even the least “business like” blog is still a business if you dedicate yourself to it in any way – time, money, and value are inherently involved – and the second you agree to the “terms and conditions” of the blog host you become a legally recognized entity (read: business).

So how do you stay authentic? How do you stay 100% you, fully open to the world AND run a business? You don’t if you adhere to the business and pleasure edict. You have to reorient your whole world. Instead of denying that you spend your time crafting and creating posts on a blog you have to own it, and, conversely, you have to acknowledge your life outside the boundaries of HTML and social networks in order to be “authentic”.

You don’t have to change to be who you want to be – you have to be who you already are in a different way. What does that mean for you? Does it mean stepping out of the way and letting your own inner critic pass on by? Does it mean bravely stepping into that dream you’ve always had in your mind but were too afraid to say out loud or own?

I let the idea of “blogging being an oversaturated market” get to me this week. I let myself think I was drowning in a sea of like-people, that we are all endlessly copying and re-hashing the same things.

What I realized was this. There aren’t enough blogs out there. There isn’t enough creative work. There aren’t enough people pursuing their passions. There are not enough promises in the world.

As much as anything a blog is a promise. It is a promise to live openly, out loud, creatively, and to keep contributing. It is a promise to stay part of the world, part of society, to reach out, to connect.

If you don’t already have a blog, start one. I would love to hear your voice. If you aren’t already living creatively, do it. If you aren’t pursuing your dreams, chase them now.

Why? Because
I promise to keep blogging, to keep living creatively, to stand into the dreams I can't almost not bear to speak out loud. There are new things coming - you'll know more soon enough. I hope you promise to keep giving me feedback - good and bad, to keep reading, to keep pursuing your passions, to keep being 100% authentic you. And if I can help, if I can aid that cause, tell me, because I will be there for you too. A blog is a promise.


Brittany | the Home Ground said...

This may be my favorite response to Jan's articles yet. I think that there are good and bad things in Jan's post, as well as in the other (remarkably quick!) responses. Your words feel so supportive, so encouraging. Forgive my lack of depth, I'm still digesting all of this. I just wanted to make sure that I told you how much I enjoyed reading this.

Melissa said...

I found the poppytalk posts very thought provoking. As a photographer with a lot of my work on the web, as well as being a web designer, I struggle every day with my work being used without permission or client sites being flat out stolen. It angers and saddens me. Not just because they don't have the courtesy, respect or ethics to ask me but because instead of trusting in their own voice (and we all have a unique one) they feel they need to use somebody else's.

Absolutely there is room for everyone. That's what makes the world such a wonderful place. Everyone has a story, a unique point of view. Yes, some are similar - that happens with billions of people. But they're all different and we should all be able to trust that we can find our own voice, our own niche to fit in. Everyone has a passion. Find it and nurture it and do the work needed to grow it. Feel the satisfaction in knowing you said what YOU wanted to say instead of using somebody else's words (images, designs, etc).

Tricia said...

Thank you Brittany!

I understand and agree Melissa...I think, for me at least, copying is not creating. And I agree, if copying then you can't be using your own voice. I hope that people who do feel the need to copy, steal, or otherwise infringe on others creativity somehow find their path and their own voice. If someone has to steal my work but it leads to them, hopefully, finding their own talents - well, so be it. I could only hope that would be the case. The world is fine lines and gradients - sometimes the blur is imperceptible, but I can only hope that the end result is inspiration and fulfillment for all involved.

For the record though, I know exactly who Poppytalk's original post was talking about and I too was horrified to see her designs stolen and mass manufactured, thereby removing the soul of the pieces. I hope that she found a more fulfilling path and that the person doing the stealing has found a new, more inspired and original path as well. We never know what will happen or why...or how it will change us. We can only get better if we choose to.

.tif said...

Poppytalk's post created a lot of conversation, but yours, to me, is one of the most beautiful of all responses. As someone who just told my agency I'll be leaving to go freelance and pursue my own creative dreams in January, I find the idea of being true to myself both intimidating and wonderful at the same time. It's a risk, either way, but so are all big, important things.

I will blog. I will create. I will find my voice. I hope not to be lost in the crowd, and yet it's comforting to know that I'm not alone.

Thanks for your post. :)

Tricia said...

Oooh! Good luck .tif! Can't wait to follow your adventures!

k said...

Yes, this was a perfect response! So well said!!

Unknown said...

Thank you for this message. I write, mostly to put out "there," what I'm experiencing at a time. I'm definitely krill in a ocean, and I have peace with that - I don't expect to change people by my opinions or conjecture... I do this as one other form of self-accountability to write in more than just my journals. From someone who uses her blog as a pure vehicle for inspiration, I am saddened that others don't respect creative energy the same. Because, there are more than enough ideas of unique and personal tomes than is necessary or justifiable to share. I may write for my best friend and aunts, who, I think are my only audiences... :) and they receive and read and respond, and there is the gift I give, and receive, myself!