Being A Writer-Author-Blogger Can Kiss My Bootay. Pt. 2

Being A Writer-Author-Blogger Can Kiss My Bootay. Pt. 2 July 9, 2013

Yesterday, I shared how I need my blog to be different.  Per my promise, today is pt. 2 in which, I hope I can explain why being a writer can kiss my bootay.

One of the biggest revelations I had on my bloggy hiatus was this:  I don’t want to be a full time writer.  More, I’m not supposed to be a writer-author-blogger by trade.

{record skips, everyone stops, stares, crickets chirp}.

For awhile there, I thought maybe I was supposed to throw all my writerly eggs in that basket.  I wondered: is that road a “simple matter” of garnering a certain level of success in blogging, finishing a first book, publishing it,  starting a second book and skipping off into the sunset in a life of writing grandeur?

Let me back that thing up un momento…

the history

I was on staff with a Christian non-profit from 2000-2012.  I assumed I’d always be on InterVarsity staff.  Diverging off the path of that calling wasn’t an idea allowed to even register given that IV was always going to be my dream job and my favorite place to be.  But, things change.  Marriages need afixin’.

While InterVarsity was a part of my life-long career path, I assumed I’d eventually publish Detroit’s Daughter.  I knew even a modicum of success would never be financially viable enough to replace my salary unless I could book hella speaking engagements.  Operating on unicorn-like assumptions I welcomed this idea because I love to teach, speak, train and preach.  I would “balance” my InterVarsity work with multiple speaking engagements, travel, writing, blogging, parenting, etc.  The innocence is shocking really.

All these assumptions came before people’s stories unfolded in tribe writers and platform Universities.  The word “online” + “platform” wasn’t in my vocabulary.  This was well before I knew people made a decent living blogging or made these amazing jumps from blogger to double book deals like my friends Addie, Preston, Micha, & Sarah have.

At some point, between the blog, the book and the push to “platform” the pressure came tumbling down on me -not from my aforementioned friends- but from myself and my own misguided need to “make it” as a writer-author-blogger.  That led me to compare my writings, book project & blog.  And that led to hair pulling.

Over the course of 4 years I’d had a 2nd baby, been bitch-slapped by post-partum depression, marriage crumbled, ministry suffered and I faced what I’m pretty sure was very own female mid-life crisis.  What happened next can happen to anyone.  In the midst of the cray I’d lost a vision for my life and replaced it with one singular vision: survival.  When survival is dominating so much of your life even your blog goes into survival mode.  Surviving survival mode means pressing in.  I’ve done a lot wrong but I press into survival mode and as a result my heart changes wildly, my blog following suit.  (Hello multitple redesigns anyone?!)

the transition

When I left my job last April, I decided (very quickly) to recover by starting a coaching company, launching a new site for African-American Christians & pursue writing full-time whether that be freelance or whatevs.  Four weeks into these incredibly short-sighted and grandiose plans I learned somethings about myself that I hadn’t made room to process before.

Within 4 weeks I realized the entire aforementioned paragraph was not going to work for me long-term. That sent me into a blithering tailspin but people, we need these tailspins in our life to WAKE US UP do we not?  Here’s why I realized I’m not supposed to be a writer-author-blogger by trade… (in my beloved list form of course, Dahling)

the extroverted community addiction

1.  I need to be a part of something bigger, something structured with a specific mission & vision WHILE in community.  When I look at widely respected writer-author-bloggers RHE or Enuma Okoro I believe 100% they are a part of something bigger.  Yet, I sense my personality withering underneath the many lonely days a writer-author-blogger needs.  I’ve read a great deal of Anne Lammott and she weaves this narrative evenly through several of her projects. I need the side-by-side-ness of working alongside others for a mutually agreed upon goal.  I need to see or know the results of my work daily-ish.  I need to know it matters.

I spent 12 years in InterVarsity with nearly 99.9% career satisfaction because of this dynamic.  It’s hard to go backwards, y’all.  I am so much less fun for myself alone.

the BHAG’s (big, hairy, audacious goals) + organizational objectives

2.  Similarly, I have a strong value for joint mission.  An individual writer-author-blogger may have their individual mission but they work for themselves.  They may have a blog link-up or three but my personality is well suited in an environment where hundreds if not thousands are all working towards GARGANTUAN organizational objectives like IJM (freeing slaves), World Vision (feeding the poor) or InterVarsity (transforming college students).  Many writer-author-blogger friends do this via blogging trips but that wouldn’t be enough for me.

(I hope I am clearly communicating that my personality and preference have led me to these conclusions not that there is anything wrong with writer-author-blogger’s.  You get that right?  Because writer-author-bloggers are a fantastic breed of human and I am not cut out for it, yo!)

the fortitude issue

3.  I don’t have the fortitude to write each day for 5-8 hours.  As a full-time writer-author-blogger you have to work long hours JUST writing & content creating.  Most bloggers I know put in 20-30 hrs. on top of their full-time daily hustle.  I know I have.  The truth is, I could never maintain that pace.  I do better writing for 1-2 hrs. each day.  When I attempt an 8 hr. day of writing my book I spend half the day smoking my facebook crack.

I’ve had to face it y’all.  I’m a BETTER person and a better writer when I’m out there living my life -doing work that matters- and coming home to write about it.  In the past, when I’ve tried to forsake all else to focus solely on blogging and book writing I become uninspired…and then my content and insights all go to shit.

biggest of all

4. I’m called elsewhere.  As crazy as it seems -even to moi- I have never felt called to be a writer-author-blogger by trade.  I have wanted to feel this call.  I have in fact, tried to shove myself into this call.  Yet, nothing.  Nope.  Not what this life has for me.

At 36, yeah, I’ve hoped I wouldn’t still be in career flux yet the uncertainty of this time has shown me that what I am called to is leadership, speaking, writing, teaching, serving, equipping, empowering, etc.  As it happens, by personality I need to do all that within an organization, specifically a non-profit.  I believe the “what”, “how” & “where” will work itself out.  The clarity is that I’m not supposed to work for myself as I carry out these gifts.  I can lead, speak, write, teach, serve, equip, mentor, disciple and empower almost anywhere.

when I break out in crazymatic dance

Understanding these realizations has been incredibly LIBERATING.  My first thought was, “I HAVE SO MUCH TO SAY!” Followed closely by, “I HAVE TO FINISH MY BOOK!” When I removed the pressure of I-have-to-make-my-blog-work-to-platform-build I realized I was a writer.

I am a writer who can write ANYTHING, ANYWHERE, ANYTIME with zero pressure because it’s not my long term income-bringer, it’s not my call.  It’s not my hustle to have.  Like I said yesterday, when it comes to blog writing, social media or authoring books: I DON’T FREAKING NEED YOU TO SURVIVE.  The medium is irrelevant, y’all.  I am writer because I love to write.

I will write and I will communicate my ideas to a blog of 10 people or 10,000 people.  I will finish and publish my book to a large platform or an itty bitty one.  I will fill hundreds of journals with pages of written prayers to my Lord.

Medium be damned, I will write.

You can join me on this journey or not and I will do my best to celebrate if you do and get over it quickly if you don’t.

medium be damned

you can write too

If you love to write, may I suggest you do just that?  Being a full-time writer-author-blogger is not for everyone.  If you have begun to suspect that making a living in this field is not for you, why not face that sooner that later?  Screw the blog-to-business business and by all means, WRITE.

 

 

 

 

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  • Jerry

    I hear clapping and organ music slams. Amen! Preach on sista! I love how you processed through this time of reflection. I am encouraged. My life is filled to overflowing with family and work framed in by prayers and a cloud of witnesses looking on. I will write, but not to forsake the life before me. It is from the tussle of marriage and family and church and God that the words will come in due time. If writing is not a propulsion of joy…I will slam the laptop shut. Keep on that book when you can. (Ha!…had to lol at the fb crack statement.) I want to read your story.

    • Yay! I love clapping and organ music slams! =) Thank you Jer. I know this time of reflection was a gift from God, and God’s grace that I didn’t have to do it in the midst of work…that I’ve had a couple months off in between jobs has been so lovely…such a nice little package God gave me with a big red bow on top. I love what you said about slamming the laptop shut, if it’s not coming from a propulsion of joy…that’s an interesting way of putting it….Is this writing coming from a place of joy? As for the book, yes, MUCH to update on that but I thought I’d save that for later b/c this was all ready SO OBNOXIOUSLY long. ahahahahaha but thank you for asking! the Lord is helping me with that project.

      • Jerry

        Sweet! Carry on.

  • Natalie Hart

    Preaching to the choir today — thank you for this! (Also pleased to hear about someone else who writes her prayers.)

    • Jillie

      Hello Natalie. Good to meet you here! I’m a fellow “Gobbler of Grace” words. I’m so glad she’s back, aren’t you? Nobody writes like Grace does.
      Just wanted to be added to the names of those who Prayer Journal. Years ago, I ordered a wonderful, and beautifully-illustrated book, ‘Love Letters To God’ by Lynn Morrissey. Have you read it? She is such a beautiful, eloquent, Spirit-filled lady, and her book confirmed in me that it was perfectly ok to journal my prayers. I have at least a dozen filled journals upstairs in a Rubbermaid container. Lynn would be thrilled to meet you, I’m sure. She has such a passion for journalling. She’s praying about starting her own blog…and I sure hope she does it.
      Just wanted to say “Hi” to a kindred spirit.

      • Natalie Hart

        Good to meet you, Jillie. I’ll have to check out ‘Love Letters to God.’ I process my life so much better through writing than through thinking — it’s harder to get away with self-justification when I see my words on the page 🙂

  • I *heart* you & this post!! I love writing, but definitely don’t have the desire to attach myself to a chair or local coffee shop for hours on end doing so (nor the time!) I tend to shy away from all the talk about ‘platform’ and ‘growth’ and ‘audience’ and ‘SEO’. I figure if God wants people to read my words, He’ll point them in my direction in His miraculous, amazing way.

    Anyhoo, welcome back! I’m excited to follow you on your journey. I enjoy your writing style and the refreshing honesty you bring to the table. I haven’t discovered too many black, Christians blogging outlets. Looking forward to the new site too.

    • Sabrina, yeah, I wish I had shy’ed away from the platform, growth, audience, SEO stuff a long time ago. Oh freaking well right? For now, we write. thanks so much for being here with me. Much, much mutual respect & interweb love. =)

  • Caleigh Royer

    I love this, absolutely love this! I am in a similar place with feeling caught up in the “need” to be a writer/author/blogger. I also realized that being a blogger doesn’t make me a writer. I am a writer and the words come from deep inside of me and will always be there.

    anyway, go you! this is exciting, and I hope you can continue to be yourself and write what matters most to you. 🙂

  • Gary

    I, myself, have loved the development of the writing art. But, also know that if I don’t have my “real people” ministry in function, I will – sooner rather than later – have no wellspring to draw upon. As much as I pretty much like myself :), I’m not enough to keep me going and inspired with real life…reality. Also want to say that I love your “voice.” You’ve certainly found it and your personality is very “touchable.”

    • Thanks so much, Gary! I see what your saying about the wellspring issue. I feel that too. I think I have tried to train myself to fill that inspirational well up with lots of things (books, movies, other blogs, friendships, etc.) so as to not run out. Taht’s a skill though, eh? We press on…

  • Grace, I just found your blog today via Twitter. Did we meet at the Gabe Lyons event at Multnomah? Or am I thinking of someone else?

    I just spent the last 24 hours in a secluded hotel room trying to figure out what I wanted from my writing life. I came to a lot of the same conclusions you did. I do feel better about life and hopefully will not care any more if I write 2 posts a week, 4 posts a week, or no posts a week. Because really, it’s for me anyway, right? And if friends want to come along on the journey all the better.

    Great 2 part post. Glad I found you.

    • Grace – never mind. We didn’t meet. I love your blog though! 🙂

      • Andee…well, it sure would have been nice to meet you. =) / I’m glad you came to those conclusions! i think it’s so so so helpful to come to a place of peace about and call a spade, a spade. it still just makes me so happy to have come to this conclusion. =)