Or any writer, I suppose. But I imagine the things I talk about might hit home more to writers around my age.
I wish we were living back in time when the internet didn’t exist and you could only read a writer’s work if it was published in a book or in a column. When their success was dependent only on the way that they wrote. Nothing to do with social media or their image.
I long for this to be again. Hard.
In my life, writing has been my constant, never-ending love. There’s something about a pen and paper in front of me that makes me feel… myself. Like I’m at home.
When I was in elementary school, I had journals and journals of stuff that I would just document. My mind too young to make sense of things- I would just write of what I observed.
In middle school, I was the QUEEN of writing notes. Like the number of times I got caught writing notes instead of taking actual class notes was just ridiculous. I loved to write to my friends. My family. I loved to write for myself. In 7th grade, it was the first time a teacher ever pulled me aside to talk about my writing. That I had “talent.” My Grandparents, telling me all the time that I could grow up to be a successful writer.
I ate it up. Loved it. Writing was totally my thing.
High school, I wrote a little for the newspaper. My “passing notes” stage only got
worse better…. let me tell ya, my storytelling skills totally sharpened out in this phase of life. I prided myself on writing these bomb ass notes. I rocked the HECK out of signing yearbooks. Cards. You name it. I just liked to write and make people smile or feel something.
I think one the most romantic things I’ve ever experienced in my life was when my high school sweetheart and I wrote letters back and forth every day for an entire summer when he was away at Marine Bootcamp. I’ll never forget it.
In college, I kept writing. A couple of freelance things. But mostly for myself. I remember certain dark moments when the only thing that would calm my 3am thoughts was turning on my lamp and sitting at my desk and just letting it all pour out. Crying and writing until I got everything off my chest. Writing has always been an escape for me. And a means to heal.
After college, I launched my first blog… not knowing wtf I was doing but committed from the start. I also wrote for a magazine in San Diego. A couple other freelance projects. Four, maybe five years after that- I quit my first blog and launched The Violet Fog. And here we are! And while Violet Fog is still small- this has by far been my biggest accomplishment in life. I should preface by saying I don’t judge success by numbers. That includes how much money I make. How many hits the website gets. Number of people following socials. I measure success by knowing that what I’m creating is meaningful. I think a lot of writers are this way. They just want their work to mean something. To speak to someone. Not to make dollars, although that’s nice and we do need to make a living too.
No doubt about it, The Violet Fog has been THEE love of my life. I find so much purpose through this community.
But there are parts of it I feel trapped by. And this is not me complaining- because it’s all worth it in the end. But yes, now that I’m here… now that I’m where I’m at with my career, I feel trapped in certain ways.
Mainly with social media. I don’t want my success as a writer to be hinged to these vanity numbers. Hinged to the way I look. For the way I take and edit and organize photos. Photos… shouldn’t even matter since I’m a writer— but they do.
Instagram is so appearance driven— I really don’t like this. Not only is so much of it fake and staged- it f*cks with our minds. Makes us place importance on things that aren’t what truly feeds our soul: connection and purpose. I see so many bloggers and “influencers” that just reinstate this way of the “gram life.” And for what? Likes?! It’s robbing people of happiness by pushing them into the comparison trap. I’m not about it.
I also don’t want my success to be contingent on hashtags and witty captions and headlines. On posting at optimal times. On constant footage of myself to keep my content relevant. I’m kinda over this shit, I gotta be honest.
It drains me. And takes away from my true love of writing just for the sake of writing. I wish I could just hit publish and let it be. But to get eyes on it, to make a living, you have to promote like hell. Social media being a driving force of promotion.
I hate it and yet it’s a game I go along with because it’s just how things are. And some rules you gotta follow if you want to play. I just wish it were all more meaningful. Honest. And less vapid. For everyone. And by the way, before anyone jumps down my throat, I KNOW there is a ton of good that has come from social media. And I make my interactions as sincere as possible because hearing from readers really does mean the world to me. I’m trying so hard to do social media the RIGHT way. With thoughtfulness behind it. By showing the imperfect sides even more than the “Instagram worthy” sides. But I just want to grow Violet Fog itself and not social media. Ya feel me? But it seems like I can’t do one without the other. I just can’t. Social media metrics matter in the writing industry.
Ever since my car accident and losing my Grandpa earlier this year- I’ve just wanted social media to take a backseat. And yet my numbers start to suffer when I do. When I pull away. It’s a battle I can’t win. And to reiterate- I f*cking hate these vanity metrics because it has nothing to do with the quality of my written work.
When I got a boyfriend- my numbers started to drop.
When I moved to Austin, my numbers started to drop– losing people from the Bay Area.
It SUCKS that personal life is so tied to my business. Yet I just want to be me and live my life. I won’t change my life for social media. I won’t alter it. Many people are revolving their life around the gram- I won’t do that. It makes me so sad that people do! But I get it- you need quality numbers to make a living. Can y’all sense my frustration? I still wonder if I let too much of my work life infiltrate my personal. And this is something I’m already so conscious of.
I think of my Grandpa when I think of Instagram. I have so many videos saved of him. And while they make me happy, I wonder if those exact moments with him would have been richer had I not been on my phone. Like was it a good thing or not that I have so much recorded of him and I? I’m not sure. Were there sincere moments I missed out on? I’ve thought about this so much these past few months.
I wonder, if I deleted all of my social media– would the readers still remain? Surely, my brand deals would not. This day and age, brands don’t just want an article. They want a social media push. Sometimes these brands don’t even CARE what you write, how authentic your messaging is. If you can highlight a unique angle or not. What they WANT is the images and the shoutouts. It’s much more narcissistic than meaningful. I choose not to work with these brands.
^^^And by the way it’s usually those brands that pay the most. Go figure.
I think of writing a book all the time. And not doing the blog thing. But I’m like… where would I promote my book? Oh, the blog! And where do I promote the blog? Oh social media! lol. It’s a dilemma. At the end of the day, I just want to write and connect with people.
Writing about writing… I just think, who am I going to talk to about writing if not you guys? The very people who READ my writing. You know such an intimate part of me. Perhaps even things that people in my own life wouldn’t know unless they read Violet Fog.
I’ll be honest: it’s much easier for me to be vulnerable with VF readers than it is in my “real life.” I know that’s weird to say but it is what it is. I’m not a social media guru- I’m a writer. And a true introvert at that– I think many writers are. I don’t “open up” face to face as well as I do with pen and paper. I crave connection but in my own, protected way. On screen, I’m pretty brave. Off screen, not as much. 😛 Anyway, knowing this… publishing such deep pieces often worry me. How much will it impact me OFF screen?
I write about very personal things. Like heartbreak. Depression. Feeling out of shape. Insecurities. Sleep problems. Eczema. And that’s just scratching the surface! I like to write about things that I know so many people deal with but maybe don’t always talk about openly and without the stigma attached to it. Writing these things is very freeing for me. And hopefully helpful to some of you.
But ohhhh the anxiety that comes with knowing certain people are reading. Family members, coworkers, friends, past or present lovers… etc. What if they read something I wrote that I would have wanted to tell them about first in person? What if they read something and then think differently about me after… in a bad way? What if they use certain information against me? This runs through my mind ALL the time. And it no doubt hinders the depth of what I choose to publish. And when I water my work down… I feel cheated. And I feel like I’m cheating the readers. too So it’s always a battle to conquer these thoughts and JUST PUBLISH THE DAMN THING. Just publish it and do yo thaaaang girl. <—-Is basically what I always tell myself. 😛
(I often wonder if less people I know in real life would read my stuff if it was in an actual book. Which genuinely makes me want to write a book instead.)
(***Or PERHAPS… a better question for me is: why do I give a f*ck about what people think? As long as I’m happy and being good to others. Who cares?)
Ahhhh, to give a f*ck and also not give a f*ck. I am always somewhere in-between.
I’d love to know what other writers are going through in their career right now. Similar themes I keep hearing are: content farms (Elite Daily for example) ruining journalism. No one wanting to pay writers. Not enough readers with the attention span for long form writing anymore. Also to note: the emotional toll it can take on a person to recall certain memories and live them all over again through their stories. And yet- this nagging feeling that follows if they don’t write about it.
Where my writers at? I wish I knew more of you. Drop your links in the comment section- would love to see your work!
Katey || INFP || Founder/Director of Violet Fog ||