starting this new chapter in Taipei has me drawing all kinds of comparisons to our first arrival in Taiwan. one thing I've really noticed [thanks mostly, I think, to the three years of experience abroad] is that I'm not nearly so panicked when meeting new people. when we first arrived, I had no plan and no idea what to say when I was asked the inevitable "so what do you do?"
I've had three years to figure out how to answer that question. and I consider it a major personal accomplishment that now - instead of just shrugging and mumbling "I don't know" - I can confidently respond that I am a writer, a travel blogger, and am working on a book manuscript. and every time I say it, it gets easier.
but of course, saying that this blogging thing is what I "do" probably means I should be taking this seriously, right? I should stay on topic and relentlessly market myself on social media. I should pay close attention to my follower counts and bloglovin rankings. but I should also be myself - honest, authentic, original, relatable. am I the only one who finds that sometimes these things are at cross purposes?
as I've been trying to ease back in to regular-ish posting after a crazy summer, I've been considering this and other existential blog questions. it seems like everyone is doling out advice on how to grow your blog and gain more followers across social media these days. you don't want to be wrapped up in numbers, but some level of marketing is necessary if you want to attract readers.
the internet is so saturated that just being a good writer or having great content isn't enough anymore. sometimes it feels like self-promotion is really self-preservation, because you can't just write and expect people to show up and read it. [as many great but largely unknown writers can attest.]
and it IS important that someone shows up to read it. deny it all you want. say you write only for yourself. but the real reason we write is to show our truth to others. in the words of one of my favorite literary heroines, Amelia Peabody: art cannot exist in a vacuum. the creative spirit must possess an audience. it is impossible for a writer to do herself justice if she is only talking to herself.
maybe some days it's only one person reading [hi, mom!] but it's a bit like that tree in the woods. we write to be heard, and we write to be seen. we write because we crave community. we need interaction - and sometimes though we might not want to admit it - validation.
who we are and what we share doesn't have to always fit into a molded niche, because we are real people. multi-dimensional and often contradictory. I'm going to give you awesome list-y informational posts, and I'm also going to give you posts like this. guys: that's just me being me, and trying to share it in the most honest ways I know how. some days it's empowering and some days it's terrifying - but for me at least - there is a visceral need to share my story either way.
even when my story is just me sitting in a coffee shop, writing a little ramble about this blogging thing.