I said I would take a break, but I did not know I meant it. My relationship with blogging is hardly like Linus and his blanket from Peanuts. Without the intention of patronizing Linus, whose relationship with his blanket I fully support, my relationship with blogging is a little more complicated. I don’t participate in social media. I used to, in my teens and early twenties, but I got over it right before it became normalized to the extent of being a) not only for young people anymore and b) not only for fun anymore, even though the typical visualizations of both these ideas are still very much there in all of social media. You could probably have an app for people above the age of sixty that would be packaged in such a way that it will inevitably have a user base also comprising of a much younger age group. It’s sadder to think I’m not the one who has speculated this situation or that it has not probably happened; it has happened.
The reason I’m going on about social media is because blogging is all the social media-ing I do. And, after deciding to take a break from blogging at successfully completing NaBloPoMo, I’m having, kind of, low-level, withdrawal symptoms. It has only been two days, but I feel a sort of emptiness that I didn’t feel to this degree when I was a less frequent blogger. And it is not to do only with writing. I am writing actually, I am working on something else that has a deadline coming up soon. It has all the ingredients of what makes me a writer – anxiety over deadlines, writing something I’m passionate about, being dissatisfied with what I write. So, it isn’t straying out of my comfort zone. That is, it used to be my comfort zone until blogging came along and rewired my brain, also causing chaos in my circulatory system. Suddenly, this strange pattern of writing an approximately 800-word thing about whatever catches my fancy, editing it, adding a picture, publishing it and responding to its feedback became part of my life. Like a love affair, where everything else to is either a distraction or a resource for it. But, what makes my withdrawal symptoms worse is it’s making me question whether this love has only to do with ideas, observations and making my writing better, or whether a large and significant part of it has to do with the other relationships that are formed in social media – the strange ones you have with people you have never met.
The excitement that a writer feels towards his or her work is not a self-congratulatory pat in the back for how ingenious they think they are. It is having a story inside they were excited to tell which is finally out and which they wish to share with the world. Why? Because they want you to feel some of the excitement they themselves feel. Writers who say they don’t care about feedback only do so to protect themselves. It is true that the harder your circumstances are, where you have surprisingly managed to keep working hard in spite of it, the less likely you are to care what people think. Those who care what people think have the luxury to do so. It is excitement that is addictive in social media, not validation. Yes, many use social media to promote a self-image that they are half in love with, and need daily approval to fill the other half. But, for most people, whether they have a following of 2 or 2 million, it is simply the ability to share your excitement, your passion, your opinion about something that is important to you – whether it be silly or serious – and hopefully, important to them as well.
I have no idea what my small but lovely group of readers expect from my writing. I have no demographics, in practice or theory, that I can brainstorm about in my office – my laptop and me on my bed. My two-day withdrawal has shown me that, because I have become comfortable with blogging now to an extent (though the Linus and his blanket stage is far, far away), I actually want to give it more time, not less. I want to prioritize it more, try new things, make it better. I don’t want to intentionally take a break from it because, I want to make the most of it while it lasts. I hope you do too.