Books aren’t the only ones having to live up to expectations.
This is me explaining why the blog suffered from a lack of posts recently, so you don’t have to read it!
I have been blogging for more than a year. I’m still not over it. I can’t believe it’s been twelve months since my quivering finger pressed the button who gave life to Chocolate’n’waffles. Time flew but I remember not having a clue what I was doing or supposed to do. I still don’t know what I’m doing but don’t tell anyone.
Of course, there was improvement. Of course? No, THANK GOD! My first reviews show just how little I knew about blogging or talking about books. Or about everything actually. Rereading my first posts makes me cringe. Don’t do it unless you want early wrinkles. But everyone goes through this stage, it’s the embarrassing birth, the blood, the sweat and the swearing before you start feeling your body again and believe the worst is behind you.
Then it dawns on you that it was only the beginning.
With the practice comes improvement, confidence (sometimes) and a better hang of things. You manage your time better (or not. Someone tell me how I’m supposed to visit every single one of your blogs every day!), you expand your blog with challenges, tags, you meet people, you share more. If you’re doing it right and with a bit of luck, you gain followers. Better than than, you get blog friends. If you’re really lucky, you hit the jackpot and find real friends.
So your stats grow, you let your blogging voice do the work, and you create a routine of interaction with people who like your rambles, who don’t care about all the tiny mistakes you make, genuinely kind people who want to share your journey through the realm of books. It is great, isn’t it?
So great that you start pressuring yourself.
Maybe it’s just me. It’s probably just me, I’m the queen of creating pressure out of thin air. So with its big fat red nose and whiny scary voice, Quality Pressure takes room n°3 in the B&B that is your head and comfortably settles with its cat slippers.
At first, you mistake it with No-Confidence’s voice, another tenant from your B&B, telling you those reviews are not good enough, but then you realize this voice in nastier. It tells you the quality of your blog is lowering, people will realize you’re a fraud (*You’re a fraud and you know it….* Love that song. Damn it, Mike Ross, I’m just like you) and they will stop coming.
Should it matter if people stop liking your posts and start visiting you less and less, like they do to that old smelly aunt living too far anyway? It matters to me. I love seeing those now familiar names appear on my notification bar, my heart flutters when I see your profile pic and I just can’t wait to discuss with you again, even if it’s just to say Hi.
So in order not to lose this routine of interactions that make blogging 200% worth it and has become essential to you, you double your efforts to keep the standards you set for yourself. You start proofreading every post five times. You question your choice of books, or words, of graphics. Is it time for a design makeover? Should I start using more intelligent words like “plethora” ? (I love this word, saying it is like hugging your tongue.) Is this post fun enough? Am I doing enough?
It’s good to be on your toes and there is always room for improvement. We should ask ourselves questions to make sure we are happy with our babies. But what happens when this fear of losing the people you love to chat with is what drives your blog and you end up losing the real purpose of the whole thing?
Sometimes life kicks you in the calf and you don’t feel at your best. Your motivation is here, but your brain won’t let you have all the brilliant ideas, the marvelous and inspired reviews, the words that will make your reader cry with laughter. Is it okay to keep going anyway? Is it okay to go with “good enough”?
If this blog had stayed where I thought it would, meaning in the deepest hole of the basement of the blogging universe where nobody goes, my answer would have been a big yes. It’s okay not to feel you’re doing so great but to continue. After all, you can’t always be at your best, and it comes and goes in waves (I’m wondering how many songs I can fit into this post…).
But when your regulars are around (not sounding like a prostitute at all here…), you don’t want to disappoint them. I know I don’t. I want to keep producing posts that make you react and willing to keep me around.
So I hide a little, I search for ways to makes things better without having to use steroids or send free chocolate. I torture myself thinking it will all go away, that the magic is gone and I am back to being this boring and shy person. I lose all the confidence I slowly built with your help.
Most anxiety-sufferers know that feeling but I am sure everyone gets a visit from that old Quality Pressure lady once in a while. Unless you’re that brilliant blogger with all the answers and creativity springing off your fingers every time they touch the keyboard, and in that case, you’re not reading this.
But there’s one thing that blogging keeps reminding me. I am not alone.
When you last expect it, when you’re repainting your nails for the fourth time because you can’t figure out how to review that hundredth book, when you think the world doesn’t need your input, you get a message. An actual message, I don’t believe it life’s messages, you should see what she did to my January… So a DM, comment, tweet, whatsapp, skype thing, or FB post comes along. You receive or you just see something and it reminds you we’re all in the same pit.
Good enough is okay, you don’t have to settle for less, you just have to settle. To guard that place you made, to keep caring for your books, feelings, blog, blog friends. You just need to hang in there and do your best. Even when your best is a retweet of your favorite review. Because this is good enough.
You know what, Quality Pressure? I hope you get eaten by Anna’s inner goddess one day. Until that moment comes, I’ll fight you. I’ll prove you I can keep going. I’ll show you any post or comment written with warmth and honesty can bring just as much as any beautiful piece of work. I’ll keep going and reaching for bloggers, I’ll keep caring and sharing, I’ll keep working hard. I’ll keep enjoying the hell out of it. Maybe this is what quality is about. Being in it for the long haul. I’ll never make the best blogs list. I’m okay with that. As long as blogging brings me joy and a place to escape, a place to be. And if a few people disappear along the way? It’s okay. After all, people come and go into your life all the time. Don’t take it too hard.
Now you deserve a giant bar of chocolate if you actually read this rambling til the end. This is a reminder you don’t have to be 100% all the time, and you rock.
Have you met Quality Pressure? Has the amount of people enjoying your blog made you feel pressured to do more and better? Should I just shut up now?
PS: This post deserves a lot of Donna Paulsen gifs. Deal with it.