Could I BE any more out of character?!

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion:
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
An’ ev’n devotion!

–Robert Burns, “To a Louse”

I’m about to post a selfie.

And then ask for help.

That, my friends, is at least two of the signs of the Apocalypse. Start hoarding the canned goods.

phone pics 3 003
Asking for help feels a lot like posting a big ol’ no-makeup selfie of me in a blaze-orange hat. It probably won’t kill me.

 #LiveTheQuest – Prompt 6, from Jeffrey Davis
What experiment for revenue or reach can you define? #experiment
What is one specific experiment you can define for growth and change for this month in revenue or reach? This experiment is similar to the one small project you defined before. But this time I ask you to frame the experiment in these terms, If I did X, then would Y result? If I wrote and published relevant content every week, would I feel better and reach # more people? If I reached out to 3 people this month for possible connection or collaboration, would one of them lead to an exciting new venture? If my business focused less on _____ and more on ______, would this lead to more customers? If I wrote poetry with no imagery for a month, would I discover another way to write poems? (Okay, that last one was not related to reach or revenue, but I include its ilk as an option.)

This is a fantastic question, and I like the focus it places on concrete action. I’ve done a lot of soul-searching over the past couple of months (okay, forever), and it feels refreshing and productive to move on to something less personal.

Revenue, in my particular line of work as an unpublished writer, isn’t even on my radar at the moment, and won’t be until I’ve made significant progress toward my goal of publication. Right now, my family’s revenue stream comes from my husband’s full-time teaching job and my part-time tutoring gig. “Writing” and “revenue” aren’t words I can yet imagine uttering in the same breath. So my focus here is on reach.

Writers are constantly exhorted to increase our reach, which in large part means being active, relevant, and effective on social media–putting ourselves out there and garnering followers with our content. “Putting myself out there” isn’t something I’m comfortable with, particularly within the context of growing a following. It feels like a middle school popularity contest, and I’ve seen writers approach it in this way. I can think of many published writers whose social media presence strikes me as in-your-face, aggressive, or extremely self-serving. I have to acknowledge their success, though–this approach appeals to their followers, so I also have to acknowledge that what they’re doing works for them at the same time as I own the fact that, for me, this wouldn’t feel authentic. I can develop my own authenticity without denying theirs. There are, of course, numerous examples of writers who leverage social media with extreme grace–writers who enrich their readers’ lives and engage them without screaming, “BUY MY BOOKS!!!”

But how do I do this? How do I “put myself out there” as a writer in a way that feels authentic to me? This is a question I’ve struggled with since I became serious about embarking on a career as a writer. I’ve considered a number of projects: creating a Facebook author page; becoming more active on Twitter; recalibrating this blog to focus less on personal insights and ponderings and more on providing something that my readers want–whatever that is. Honestly, I’m not sure. I should probably spend some time thinking about this.

Some options aren’t currently viable for me. I hear a lot of writers touting the merits of conferences, workshops, classes, and retreats. Financially, these aren’t an option for me. I hope that someday they will be.

Here’s the thing I love about writing. Okay, one of the things. Writing is how I make sense of the world. It’s how I know what I think. I began writing this post with the assumption that I’d write about creating a Facebook author page and ask for input–who does it? how should I go about it? what content would readers find valuable? Instead, I’ve realized that before I take any concrete steps, I need to figure out exactly what I’m going for. What, as a writer, do I hope to accomplish by growing my network, my connections? What exactly is it that have to offer readers? Who needs what I write? And why?

So here I am, once again laying down where all the ladders start. I need to see myself as other see me. (As I reach for Yeats and Burns, I’m wondering what on earth I would do or be without the poets who have given me a language). As Jeffrey Davis points out, DIY often pales in comparison to DIT (do it together), so I’d like to ask for your help.

(It’s hard asking for help. I’m afraid I’ll sound wanty. Or needy. Or, worse, like I’m asking for praise instead of earning it.)

Here’s what I’d like to know–what, exactly, is it that I have to offer you? I’m not asking for a list of what makes me awesome; instead, I’d like to know what draws you to the blog of an unpublished writer (as I typed that, my five-year-old just said, “I need to publish.” Seriously. That was creepy). What do you want to read? What would draw you in–or drive you away?

I guess what I really want to know is this–how can I add value to your day?

Thanks for reading. Thank you for connecting with me. If you weren’t reading this, I’d still be a writer, but it wouldn’t mean nearly as much.