Monday, October 24, 2011
If I had to do it again, I would have never used my name. I thought by using my real name, Susan, I was ok, because I didn't mention my surname. I kept that hidden and only told a few people I trusted online with it. So far so good. Then I made a mistake. A huge one. On the advise of a fellow blogger who encouraged me to open a Facebook account, I linked my blog to my profile. Only my profile had my name on it. My real surname. I didn't catch it for several months, but by then, the damage was done. Quick readers who followed me onto Facebook now knew my surname. And even though I have a very common name in the NYC Tri-State area, people found me. People I didn't want to find me, like state workers, local hospitals, and local doctors. Not to mention my family. Now it seemed that everyone knew me. Again, I didn't think this was a bad thing, until I quit my psychiatrist that I had since 1999 back in 2007. When I was shopping around for a p-doc, none of the ones I contacted would touch me. Why? Because a quick Google search with my name brought up this blog, and none of them wanted me as a client. I can't say I blame them. But it was a huge error on my part.
Even worse was my candor. When I started blogging, I had several friends, other bloggers who were encouraging me to write my thoughts while I was dealing with a very bad break up. "Write like therapy" they all said in so many different words. "You can really write. Do it".
So I did. I was open and honest. I looked around at other bloggers and noticed one thing. There was a dearth of 40 something bloggers who had been in the system for twenty years or more. More than half their lives! Most of the bloggers seemed to be newly diagnosed, or parents of a child that was diagnosed. Or they were former/active journalists writing objectively on the industry.
I figured I would write that blog- imagine a "Bell Jar" written by a woman in her mid forties who has been living with everything for over twenty years. That was my goal. To some degree, I think I succeeded, and in other words I failed. Some people told me I was such a good writer they found it hard to read me without Cliff notes! Others told me, I was pulling a James Frey on them-I couldn't have lived what I was writing about. No- everything was true- only the names were changed to protect the innocent, as they say in "Dragnet".
I made a mistake in thinking I needed to blog every day, or every other day. When one piece was brilliant, I made a fluff piece if I felt I had to keep up. The fluff pieces hurt me.
I also made a mistake in writing about NJ health issues. They have a place. What I need to do is fix my blog so one part will just be my biographical stories, one part will be on taking care of yourself and healing , and another news stories. I need to make tabs. The way my blog is now- everything is a mis mash. I really need to learn tools to clean it up. So it's not a mistake- it's just something I don't know about and need to fix so I don't confuse readers, or people who stumble in. Right now, when you visit, you don't know if you are going to get a bio piece, or a news piece. It has to be clearer.
I think one of the biggest mistakes I made was with my writing, period. When I first started blogging, I was writing for myself. I didn't know who was reading me. Along the way, I got into thinking- "I gotta have good stats. I have to have a lot of followers. I want to be the best blog out there". It made me loose my focus. I became overwhelmed with stats, and wondering what I should write to please people. There was a mistake. I wasn't writing for myself anymore. All of a sudden, hits disappeared. Comments were few. I didn't know what I was doing. I had lost *me*.
If you are a new blogger, the biggest advise I can give you is don't compare yourself to others. You are unique. So is your blog. Just like there will always be someone who is prettier than you, smarter than you, richer than you, thinner than you- the same rules apply for blogs. There will always be a blog that is better than yours. Do you like your blog? That's all that matters. If you see a layout on someone elses blog, copy it. I would love to have a blog with three columns instead of two, and tabs in the front. I don't know how to do it, but I am willing to learn. Always be willing to learn. A blog is a living thing, a work in progress.
Read other people's blogs. I love reading blogs that are from people I agree with, but the ones I get more from are the ones from people I disagree with. I learn from those.
I'm still learning. I'm still trying to write. It's harder now than when I first started, because in the last year my physical health really took a tumble. I do write, but I carefully edit. I have pages and pages of blog entries, all half written, all not good enough to post. I'm working on quality not quantity right now. I'm trying to get some work as a writer. It doesn't have to pay, I just want to get my chops back and gather a portfolio. Mine is years out of date.
My goal for the next year- keep writing. Keep learning from others. Don't stop. Don't let the little things bother you, and don't compare myself to others. There is only one me. I want to think I am like a fine wine- I am getting better with age.
I look forward to another year with all of you. Thank you to those who regular read me, and those who pop in once, read a few pieces and leave. I am grateful for each and every one of you. I may not be a great correspondent, but you can always reach me, (and the cat) at Hollythecat at Gmail.