By guest blogger Jane Koenen Bretl
When I log in to blog, on any given day WordPress enthusiastically shares that there are 376,364 bloggers, 479,781 new posts and 95,964,119 new words posted THAT DAY on wordpress.com. I find this staggering; that is just WordPress.com, which does not include the .org folks, or the writers on Blogger or Typepad or any of the many other blogging platforms. Which doesn’t include any of the other bazillion people writing something other than a blog. All on one random day.
After I catch my breath, awed by these numbers that represent unlimited creativity, I am left to wonder: which subgroup of people reads these statistics and thinks “Wow! If that many others can publish their ideas, then I can do it too!” Which subset looks at those numbers and extrapolates “Really? Is there really that much worth saying? And, even if there is, what can I write that has not already been said?”
I discovered blogging two years ago, and early on I was invigorated by the statistics. Anything was possible in my brave, new, webby world. I met truly amazing people, writers mostly, whose words inspired me to reach for my dreams and taught me to be a better writer. I learned that social media is a valuable component of platform building, networking and ongoing learning. So I joined in on Facebook and Twitter, and soon found so many incredible writing blogs that I started a Google Reader blog list, so I could efficiently check them each day.
There was so much! A feast of fascinating information for my brain! Every day delivered a wonderful flood of links in tweets and posts, any of which might be just the inspiration I needed to kick-start my writing that day. Then somewhere along the way, among the blogroll posts and facebook updates and tweets, I found doubt, a voice of uncertainty asking if there was anything left to say that someone was not already saying.
My clever friend aptly calls it the “glittery internet”, and indeed, I was continually distracted by something shiny. But I was so disciplined, I thought! No dawdling on cute kitten photo sites or YouTube videos of roller-skating monkeys, not me! I’m just going to keep up with the writing world. How hard can that be? <cue ironic, foreshadowing music here>
We all have that one thing, the thing we seemingly have to keep learning over and over (and over and over) our whole lives. It turns out I have a whole bunch of one-things, but the one pertinent to this discussion is my propensity to think about writing and research writing and write about writing, instead of, um, writing something. The internet provided so much – too much – advice that could further my career, if I could just stop reading it. Really universe, how many times do I have to learn this same simple lesson?
As any roller-skating monkey could have predicted, I did burn out on trying to keep up. A recovering perfectionist should not be in the room with her addition. So I took a break, or five, and now am easing myself back in, on wonderful sites such as this one, to take one nugget of inspiration at a time. Then write.
When I need a reminder that there is still something to say, I can keep working on the second draft of my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel. Sure, the story arc is still a hot mess. But there are also these quirky characters, ones born inside my head, formed from my decades of unique experiences and humor and pain, that no one else could have written. When I reread my stories, I am reminded that no one else could tell them quite my way. Just as it seems impossible to me that the same notes can be combined in infinite ways to make different and equally beautiful music, the 26 letters hold a glittery amount of possibility.
When I write them.
Jane Koenen Bretl is a freelance writer living in Ohio, taking one day at a time and writing about it. In 2009, one of Jane’s essays was published in the anthology “The Ultimate Mom”, which she feels compelled to mention might be the most ironic book title ever. She is working on a middle grade children’s novel that was born in NaNoWriMo ‘09, and a collection of essays that served as her pseudo-NaNoWriMo ’10 project. Jane can be found at http://janebretl.com, where she blogs about motherhood, launching a writing career, and myriad creatures that get along like cats and dogs.