The Anti-Social Network

I’m sitting at Starbucks.  They are playing The Shins.  I am updating my blog.

Talk about cliche.

“Update blog” has been on my to-do list since my last post in April.  Suffice it to say, I don’t think I am very good at this blog thing.  Actually, I don’t know if I am very good at the whole “internet social networking” thing.  When I was in college, I was better at it, but these days I don’t particularly care about what people’s statuses are or where and with whom someone just checked-in.  Whenever I am online, I typically feel like there is something better I should be doing.

Since I started building my career as a writer, I have been more focused on drafting material, doing all the necessary reading.  Up until this point in my work I have been focused on production- drafting and revising stories.  Feeling more confident, I met with a family friend, who is an editor at a publishing house, to discuss my next steps in my professional development.  She encouraged me to build an “online presence” so I can connect with my readers–which brings me to my task for today: Make a website.

There are some things that I just don’t like.  Mean people, for one, which is why I typically try to stay positive and not fixate things I dislike, but there are things that I simply do not care for.  The Home Depot.  Setting up VCRs, DVD players, video game systems and other tangled wiring.  Reading instruction manuals.  In order to make a website today, I have to learn more about internet technology (dislike) and talk about myself (dislike).

I was a quiet child, shy and unsure of myself.  Back then, books appealed to me because they served as an escape- I could read during the school day and imagine I was somewhere else, I could be someone else.  I don’t know if that ever really changed– as I grew up writing appealed to me because I could participate in the world, and have my voice be heard, without having to face anyone.  The shameless self promotion involved in making a website about yourself seems to go against the values that attracted me to writing from the very beginning.

Talking to Jason on g-chat not long ago, he jokingly said he wanted to start a social networking website called “The Anti-Social Network.”  The premise: You start out friends with everyone in the whole world, then you de-friend them, one by one.  The accumulation of “Friends” is as strange to me as his concept.  I have to admit, I don’t really know more than half of the “Friends” I have on facebook– atleast, all I really know is what they choose to post.

Maybe this is why I am so bad at blogging, why I don’t update my own facebook.  I scroll through the News Feed and see what people say, but I don’t really care.  I wonder, why did they choose to post this?  What are they trying to say about themselves?  Who are they trying to impress?  Who are they trying to be?  There’s part of me that is just anti-social to begin with– I don’t think to share my thoughts with others, I don’t care what other people think of me.

But there’s another part of me that does care.  It cares a lot.  And that’s one of my biggest stumbling blocks in my process as a writer.  I put something down on paper, or come up with an idea for a story– or a blog to post, or a status update– and I think, but who really cares?  Or worse– what would they think, how am I going to be judged?

It’s taken me 20 years to acquire the skills needed to write well, and I am not ashamed toadmit I do a good job.  I can use words as they appear on the page to describe anything.  These days, the only thing stopping me is the fear that no one cares about the stories I want to share.

Keeping that fear at bay is part of my daily process.  I sit down to write in the morning, and it sits with me, and I have learned to ignore it.  Some days it’s easier than others. After a particularly difficult day, I checked facebook and saw that a “friend” had posted this picture–

In the real world, there are signs everywhere.  Some of my friends think that to interpret these messages is over-analytic, or a waste of time.  But when I am walking down the street and randomly see a sign, something with message or insight or meaning–I can’t help but stop and think–and that’s yet another reason why I am a writer.  Because there is plenty of superficial bric-a-brac in life, random and careless, but there are messages too, signs of caution and encouragement that give us reason to pause.

I saw this picture on an especially bad day, when I just kept asking myself, “Why?”  Why am I doing this, what makes me think that I can be a writer?  Self doubt is an endless path, but this sign stopped me dead in my tracks.  It was a reminder, this is why– this is what you love, this is why you get out of bed in the morning.

Writing is my passion, and I am grateful to be able to share my work– even in a silly blog post.  It’s not something that I can squander in self doubt, because life is short.  Do what you love and don’t apologize for it, celebrate it, share it with others.

And on that note, I’m off to make a website.