I’m working on being a more generous blogger. This means reading, liking and promoting the work of other writers.
Why is this so hard for me?
My first answer is that I’m a competitive person. That’s an easy answer. It’s like answering “I work too hard” when asked by a prospective employer to name your biggest fault.
Being competitive is a good thing if you claim to be a feminist because, at first swipe, it lays claim to what is traditionally seen as a male characteristic. So, being described as competitive brings the same old school feminism self-congratulation as being told one “drives like a man.” But even updating my linguistic consciousness so that competitiveness becomes gender-neutral, it’s still a cop-out.
It’s not about competition. Not really. Although everything about blogging fosters competition. The WordPress metrics are all about competition, with oneself a year ago, with more popular bloggers, with new people starting out, views on this post versus that one, topics that always draw, ones that never do. It isn’t long into blogging that a writer ditches the notion of writing for its own sake.
Still, there’s writing to maximize readership, hopefully, by doing the things that also make one a better writer like writing often, tackling new subjects and new forms and participating in writing challenges. Consistent effort yields improvement in any endeavor although I’m hoping 10,000 blog posts won’t be necessary for me to be established as accomplished. The metrics are motivating; only the writing monks don’t care about the stats.
Because other bloggers are kind to me in terms of reading, liking and commenting, I try to do the same. I’m not very good at commenting, my skills at literary analysis are childlike, words like ‘great’ and “I loved this’ are as complex as I get and I admire people who can explain exactly what it was they liked about a piece. I am similarly inept at responding to comments made on my blog. Sometimes the comments are so insightful and acute that I think the commenter must have misplaced their words, hit my blog instead of one more deserving. I respond with ‘thank you’ said in various sophmoric ways. I can’t ever trade insight for insight so some higher level discourse can occur. I’m working on it, though, becoming ‘more better’ as my third grade self would say, going from a C+ to a B-.
Where I am really challenged, however, is in promoting other bloggers’ work. Why is this important? Well, first, there’s the matter of reciprocity. Others have shared my work, re-blogged my posts, shared my writing on Facebook. Sometimes I’m surprised by this, sometimes a little embarrassed since I still try to keep a little moat between my day to day me and my blogging self, but I’m always flattered and grateful. So there’s that. One good turn deserves another.
But over and above that, to me, the promotion of other people’s work tells me that I’m not competing with anyone. I don’t need to compete. My voice is unique, my stories my own; for better or worse, I am my own little weird hybrid. I’m not diminished by recognizing other unique voices with their own stories. It makes me unselfish, generous to promote others, share their work. It adds to the sense of community that I appreciate so much in the blogging world.
I say that but it sticks, the keys get gummy. I am still competitive. I compare myself to other writers constantly. I read terrific pieces and wish I’d written them. Sometimes when a writer writes about their terrible disease or some awful event, I momentarily bemoan my pedestrian history. It is a sorry thing to have catastrophe envy but I sometimes do. If I had more material, I think, I’d really be an amazing writer.
These are the thoughts of a small person and an often jealous writer. Oh well.
Perfection. I’m working on it.
Here is the gripping story that inspired this bit of self-examination. Written by Elaine Maly, The Incident. And, yes, I did share it. And I aim to do more of that, appreciate what’s around me and pay my respects to great writing.