And all the posters are merely…well, what exactly.

On one level, I’m glad I haven’t entirely abandoned the exercise that is this blog.  I am still posting occasionally and some of the stuff I’ve posted I’ve been pretty damn happy with.  And then there’s been the odd filler crap like the post immediately below, but hey at least it’s something.  But I still fight with apathy about the blog as a whole, and I’m pretty sure I know why.

Some of this goes back to the anxiety I still struggle with that I talked about at Father’s day.  Even recognizing that I put way too much pressure on myself because of this imagined standard I have to hold myself to that is unrealistically high, that anxiety, that need to live up to an impractical standard still lives and breathes. And that compels a strong tendency to just decide that nothing I write is worth shit in the first place so why bother.  Hence tuning out and going brain dead in video games again.  That moratorium didn’t last that long, which is more than a tad disappointing.

But more than that, the real reason I think I find myself so reluctant to write more came to me out of a place I didn’t really expect.  I’ve been reading the webcomic Hijinks Ensue for a while now, having met the author and buying a t-shirt from him at Dragon’s Lair a few years ago.  As a repository of geek humor, it hits a lot of notes that really resonate with me.

I didn’t expect something Joel wrote that wasn’t directly comic related to hit such a resonant note with me, however.  I also subscribe to his Tumblr, and it was there that he threw up a post about audience expectations and why he does what he does.  The opening is pretty standard fare, him quoting a complaint from a reader and his response to it.  In addressing his reader’s dissatisfaction with a change in the comic’s direction, Joel states an artistic truism more baldly than I think I’ve ever heard it before (emphasis mine).

That’s what happens when you change creative direction. Your mistake is in thinking I am doing something inherently wrong. I might be doing things YOU don’t like, which makes it wrong for YOU. I hope you can understand the difference. My comics are not meant to be love letters to you and your sensibilities. I make comics that I like, that interest ME, and others with similar tastes are invited along for the ride. If our tastes have diverged, don’t take that as a sign that I’ve lost my way.  I’ve simply lost you.

I mean, yeah this should be obvious to anyone who’s ever tried to write regularly.  You should write about the things that interest you, that make you passionate.  And then as you fine tune that message if others come along for the ride, that’s great.  But you have to write for yourself first and being able to do so happily and willingly is what proves empowering enough to tell people who think you’re their trained monkey to sod off.

When I am my own worst critic, though, and feel like everything is shite, I can’t ever be completely happy with my writing and that’s a pretty strong disincentive to keep it going.  It’s weird, but it feels a lot like I’ve taken the mentality that I makes me struggle with dating and transposed it to the writing circle as well.  I feel like everything has to be perfect the moment I put pixels to screen and if it isn’t then I can’t possibly have anything worth saying that anyone would want to read.

That’s a ridiculous amount of pressure to put on myself.  And the fact that I do so probably surprises absolutely no one who knows me personally.

One of the other things that made me put a check on myself mentally recently was getting a random link from my friend Audrey.  She sent me this random link on Twitter, with the comment that it was a long article about Brave that she thought I might find interesting.  I click through and find…the exact essay that prompted me to write my take on Brave several months back.  She laughed apologetically, commenting that that is what she gets for not clicking through when I link things.  But in a sense it made me feel better about what I wrote.  Hell, if it was enough to prompt her to think of this longer (and in my opinion much better written) essay that spurred me in the first place, then clearly I captured a lot of what the original author was conveying and related it back to myself pretty effectively.

I can’t do that sort of thing if I suck completely, I’d think.

Aud hasn’t said if she is going to do the September Writing Challenge this year.  She’s working on editing her own novel, and doesn’t need the distraction.  Every year she had done it previously I said I would do it to the end, and I never quite get there.  I need to hold myself accountable on some level for output regularly to try and push myself past this hangup that I’ve got caught up in my head.

So regardless of whether she does it or no, I’m going to do it on my own regardless.  I’ll probably just go back and take the prompts from the last year or two and redo them in a different take than what I’ve done previously.  It’s a good challenge for me to try and stay regular on this thing, and it’s a damn sight more productive than beating Arkham City for the umpteenth time.

Although it does kick ass being Batman, if only virtually.

So look for that in the next couple of days.  I need to get on track and learn to shout down this voice in my head that tells me I don’t have a voice worth listening to.

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