Every so often, I’ll read a post that’s eerily similar to one I recently published. Too similar. They clearly—I think—stole the idea from me. And I say “Heeeyy, uncool. At least give me a shout-out!” I’m stepping into that realm today, and I don’t want to be accused of plagiarism, idea theft, unoriginality. Yesterday morning, I added a blog post idea to my big list of things to do. And then later in the day, I read pretty much the same post on my blogger friend Emma’s Year of Vulnerability blog. Emma, I’m not ripping you off, I swear.
~ ~ ~ ~
My WordPress anniversary is coming up. I posted my first story on The Other Stuff in November of 2015. It’s been a couple of years, but I clearly remember a month of banging my head against the wall trying to figure out how to set up my website. Eventually, Susan got sick of me grumbling and just did it for me. So, October is my anniversary month. It’s the month that I have to pay for another year.
When I set up my page, I was starting the final edits on my book, Fragments, a memoir (if you haven’t read my book, you really should—just $4.00 for the e-book!). Because I was going to sell thousands of copies, I didn’t hesitate at setting up a premium website with a custom URL. That set me back $99. A small investment for a professional touch.
Now that I know a bit about self-publishing, I know that twenty-five book-sales is a more realistic goal than a thousand, and suddenly that custom URL seems like an unnecessary luxury. Now, each October includes a bit of financial stress. I need to renew my URL.
Last fall was a rough time for me. I was taking a new medication to suppress my Tourettes tics, and it was leaving me feeling depressed. I was unmotivated; I was posting infrequently; and I was disdainfully unhappy with my writing.
Objectively looking back at what I published during that period, I see some pretty good stories. My writing was fine. Really, what I wasn’t happy with was my readership. After a year of blogging, I had less than one hundred followers. The stories I spent hours crafting were being read by a dozen people.
I was ready to pack it in. Blogging wasn’t worth another $99. I decided it was time to quit blogging and find a new hobby.
Depression is a funny thing. It impacts all parts of your life. Your mood, your motivation, your self-worth. Probably, it was depression that made me want to close down my blog. But it’s also the thing that didn’t let me do it. I was too fearful of changing my life. I sucked up the $99 dollars and I settled in for my second year.
Over the past year, I’ve posted almost one hundred pieces. Some of them suck (one of them I even unpublished because I was embarrassed by it). Many of the pieces are pretty good. And a few of them are among my best. One piece, Follow, was chosen by WordPress Discover as a story to highlight. I now have 1400 followers. The stuff I post is regularly read by a hundred or more people. I’ve achieved the blogging success I was looking for just a year ago.
But more importantly, I’ve got the last year on paper. I’ve kept a detailed diary of my ups and downs. And they’ve been extreme. That depression I was feeling in October turned into a serious medical issue by Christmas. Reading through my posts, I can watch myself spiral down into a major depressive episode. And then, just as clearly, I can see myself bounce back with some new medications and coping strategies. I can track my year of recovery from Plantar Fasciitis. I can see how my focus on gratitude has improved my life. For better or worse, I can read about my job change and my untimely resignation. I can read about me.
I just renewed for another year. Unemployed, $99 seems like a reckless expenditure. It’s money that could be used for something less selfish, less me-oriented. But being a blogger has become a large part of my life. It’s a hobby, sure, but it’s also art. It’s therapy, it’s a record of my life. It’s a place where I’ve made some new and unforeseen friends, like Emma.