“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” – Elbert Hubbard
Making a push for people to know about my blog has been a challenge. Trying to self-promote my writing already made me uncomfortable, but it was necessary if I’d ever have a shot at getting published. When people ask to read one of my manuscripts, I often comply, and then cringe when they tell me they’ve finished, wondering what they’re thinking. Having my father-in-law help me edit was probably the most difficult for me because the manuscript had “adult content”. My husband and mother-in-law thought I was being ridiculous, but I found myself blushing when I looked over his corrections in those sections. Besides, I feared that he’d find my YA manuscript trite and juvenile. But sharing the blog has made me more self-conscious than sharing manuscripts because these posts are available to a wider audience. In the beginning, I scarcely told anyone about the blog, but at some point I realized that if I wanted people to read it, they’d have to know about it. Waiting for the World Wide Web to find me without any work on my part would take a lot longer, if at all.
It’s funny because I can ham it up in front of a classroom, not self-conscious in the least – even when other teachers enter the room. I feel confident in my knowledge of the content and I feel comfortable standing in front of the room. And I’ve developed a repertoire of styles for specific lessons.
Now that I’ve been blogging for over two months, e-mailing virtually every person I know, and pestering my facebook friends, many people have read at least one post. Only recently, have I begun to see people after they’ve read my blog. This places me in a predicament. If I’m complimented, it’s hard to trust because what else is someone going to say to my face? On the other hand, if they seem to have read a bunch of posts, that’s probably a good sign that they do like the blog. I find myself squirming, almost apologizing, especially after Friday’s post, which was a bit depressing. If Julia Child didn’t apologize for a cooking a bad meal, then I shouldn’t apologize for a post (I apologize for meals I think aren’t up to snuff as well). Should I be self-deprecating or exude a confidence I do not feel? After all, I’m not published, so how can I believe my writing is worth anything? The hardest part is that by talking about my blog, I’m opening myself up to criticism about my writing ability and my life.
Several people have become faithful followers. A good friend and my mother-in-law are kind enough to never go on my site directly, but to find it on google, so I can get more hits. Then they’ve happily reported that my blog now shows up on the first page when searching under my name. I appreciate this dedication. Other friends and family have been supportive by becoming followers (sometimes on both facebook and the regular blog), posting positive comments, and sending me complimentary e-mails. My sister even sent my link to her facebook friends.
Last night, my family went to have dinner with some friends of ours. At some point, my blog came up (not initially from my mouth), and I realized that everyone in the room had read at least one post. If I’m asking people to read it, I should be happy about that, right? Well, the state of my happiness became the topic of conversation. At some point, I was I asked that if I was married to a husband with a steady job, and had two terrific children, shouldn’t I be happy? I tried to explain that if my private life is adequate, it didn’t mean that I was fulfilled in my professional one. I didn’t add this, but I’ve been working very hard not to have any unhappiness spill onto my private life.
I’ve mentioned that for a long while, my husband was miserable at his job, which periodically caused strife at home. If my husband couldn’t take out his frustrations at home, then where could he? And if part of the problem was that he was stressed about being the main breadwinner, how could he not take it out on me? Even when he didn’t say something, it was easy to pick up on his state from his demeanor. And when I was miserable earlier this year, I found it hard not to wear my misery like a badge. I’m competitive, especially with myself, so when I fall short, it’s hard to hide my dissatisfaction. Outside stresses can infiltrate and cause great strains on a marriage.
In the week or two before school began, when it became pretty clear that I’d be subbing again, the blog became the perfect channel for me to vent my frustration. And as I've explained, to force myself to write nearly everyday is an important exercise. Also, I hadn’t found another blog that gave the day-to-day challenges of subbing, which is a pretty unique story. Having a birds-eye view of what’s going on in an array of classrooms is a perspective that not even many teachers are privy to. But I want my blog to be more than that. We all face challenges, disappointments, laughs, tears, and jubilation in our lives – sometimes all in one day. In writing about me, I’m hoping to write about the humanity we share. It’s important to write with the reader in mind, so I’ll continue to be cognizant of my audience.