How are you? It’s been a while since you and I had a proper talk, and this seems like the perfect time.
I saw you walk around the park a few times last week; that’s good news, you must be feeling a bit better. I know how walking, especially on a crisp, sunny winter’s morning, lifts your spirits, those endorphins weaving their feel-good magic through the ‘brain fog’ .
You mentioned recently that you’ve seen your robin a lot lately. Strange isn’t it how we end up talking about robins so much? I smile even now when I remember how much you agonised about what to write for your first ever blog post three years ago almost to the day, and how it was the sight of your Sweet Robin (as you came to name him) that inspired you. And that brazen, puffed-up little bird still does.
Interestingly, I found out a thing or two about robins: they are cute but they are territorial and don’t let their feathered-friends push them around. I had to laugh when you told me about the squabbles at your bird feeder and how there, among the sparrows, blue tits and even a blackbird, stands guard your Sweet Robin, seeing them off, a steely eyed determination in his coal-black eyes.
I read your status update on Facebook this week – one of those ‘Facebook Memories’ thing they like to do – about your trip to London to have photos taken for your first ever article published in Prima magazine. I remember you telling me about that day when, as you looked out of your train window, a beautiful fox, his red fur shimmering in the pale, winter sun, appeared in the middle of a field, stopping in his tracks to watch the train go by.
“It was a sign,” you said, because you have a ‘thing’ about foxes.
But I know that this memory also reminded you of all you HAVEN’T done since then, mainly that you STILL haven’t written your book and it made you feel like crap. Well, I need to tell you now, that is utter bull.
You hear me on this? Now, we are good friends, we go back a long way, but it’s time you sat up and listened to me for once, because, frankly, I’m worried about you. This time last year, you wrote ‘Two Years Blogging and Still Standing’. Well, another year gone and yes, you’re still standing. But now I’m hearing things I don’t like.
I’m hearing that you are struggling so much that you are wondering if you will keep going with your blogging because you are finding it too difficult as well as writing your memoir. You’re finding it too much with everything life is chucking your way, one bloody thing after the other, you say.
But I don’t get it – look at everything you’ve put into your blog. Are you seriously thinking of leaving all that behind, now? Since when were you ever a quitter? Come on, get a grip! For one thing, you’ve told me over and over how much you would miss your wonderful friends if you ever stopped blogging.
They’re amazing you know, your readers and friends online, and your off-blog friends and family who never fail to encourage you and stand by you, send you an email or a text or a Facebook message (and share!) a blog post they enjoyed. You’ve told me many times how much the incredible kindness and generosity of others has restored your faith in humanity.
Remember how you felt when you had 50 followers and you got your first ever blog award? You couldn’t believe it, that someone from ‘out there’ would find your blog, never mind ‘like’ it and maybe even leave a comment. And what about your ‘silent’ readers, those you know visit through Google, especially when searching for information about Asperger’s Syndrome? What about them?
I know how great you felt when you posted your first ever blog post. You didn’t know about tagging or any of that ‘SEO’ stuff, but who cared? Yes, you were nervous, but your first ever comment was from that lovely hubby of yours, and your mum and best friend, who were there for you then and are with you still today.
And what about your fantastic kids? Remember how you felt when they first told you how proud they were of you? Do me a favour will you, when you feel like you’re nothing, that you’ve achieved nothing, always remember this.
Hubby gave you flowers and a card last Saturday and you had no idea why. “To celebrate your three-year blogging anniversary,” he said.
Beautiful flowers & card from Hubby
(c) Sherri Matthews 2016
And you hung your head in shame because of all the negativity and stress and pressure you had allowed to steal your joy and sense of accomplishment and you didn’t feel you had much to celebrate, because you’re so overwhelmed and plagued with worries of ‘keeping up’ and of sitting on the sidelines and achieving jack.
Why do you do that? Why can’t you believe in yourself and stop feeling like you’re such a failure all the time? What’s wrong with you? You need to change that, and you need to do it now. Yes, I’m talking to you…
And what about your reasons for blogging in the first place? Yes, yes, we both know about author platform and all that, and yes, it’s important, but you’ve told me many times that you don’t want to blog for that reason alone. What you’ve always wanted is connection, to know that by sharing stories from your life, past and present, you can reach out to others and let them (and yourself) know, above all else: “We are not alone.”
Your post Asperger’s Syndrome And The Love Of Animals is viewed every single day and has been since you published it in June 2013. It’s your most consistently viewed post, at the top of all your other posts week after week. You have no idea who most of your visitors are, but now and then somebody leaves a comment and shares with you their struggles, their victories, their story. I know you are so glad you wrote that post.
Remember your post Jersey: Occupation Liberation Celebration? Someone called Ed Le Gallais found your link on your public Facebook Page, left a wonderful message and shared it with three tourist websites in Jersey, giving you over 6,3oo views and 36 shares. I know you don’t pay much attention to stats, but this blew you away. You worried that your post wouldn’t do justice to such an emotional and moving celebration. After all, you were just a visitor, you hadn’t lived it.
But a dear man, Robert, shared with you that he had lived in occupied Jersey under five years of Nazi rule, and that he was there, by the Pomme d’Or on May 9th, 1945 when his beautiful, tiny island was liberated by the British. He wrote to thank you for your post. You couldn’t believe it. He thanked you?
“No,” you said, “it is I who thanks you, dear Robert.”
And you cry even now thinking of it.
Remember too how Harper Collins found your blog (and you still have no idea how) and sent you Mary Karr’s book ‘The Art of Memoir’ and asked you to review it? That came out of nowhere, but at just the right time for you, and you still can’t get over it.
None of these things would have happened if you hadn’t started blogging. Don’t ever forget that.
Think too of all you’ve learnt from other bloggers, not just about writing and publishing, but about other countries and cultures, every day life, and all the ups and downs you’ve shared together, the laughter and fun, and yes, even tears, in so many shared experiences, All the writing and photography opportunities you’ve both received and given through guest posts, awards, blog hops, challenges, reblogs and competitions.
And who would have thought that one day you would write flash fiction? Blogging made all this, and so much more, possible.
So don’t you tell me that you can’t keep blogging. Just don’t.
It’s tough when bloggers you’ve known have disappeared, for one reason or another. Some were friends and now they’ve gone, just like that, and you miss them and all you can do is hope they’re okay. But blogging takes a lot of commitment and sometimes things change. Yes, you’re going to have to find a way to keep blogging and get your memoir written, take stock and recalibrate, but try not to panic in the process.
I know it’s bad sometimes, I know that things come along that derail you. I see you on those days when you sit down at your laptop and an hour later you’re still sitting there, unable to type a single word. I know that panic when it rises like bile in your throat and with every second ticking by, you feel your memoir leaching away from you like ice cream left out too long in the warm.
You freeze; you can’t move; you can’t type. Another writing day lost.
So. You do. Nothing.
I understand, I really do. But you will get through this, trust me.
I could go on, but I think I’ve said enough. I hope I haven’t upset you or said anything out of line. I get fired up sometimes, when I have someone’s best interests at heart. I only want to encourage you and say I’m here for you. And don’t ever forget how far you’ve come. You might not have achieved some of your goals so far, but you’re on your way, that’s what counts. But you need to enjoy the journey, otherwise by the time you reach your destination (and you will, you hear me????), you’ll be so knackered, you won’t be able to enjoy anything.
And what’s the point of that?
But wait, one more thing: I realise I haven’t even mentioned the three-year blogging rule. Funny actually, I don’t know why I even brought this up in the first place; after all, you’re not exactly one for sticking to the rules are you? But there is one rule I sincerely hope you’ll keep.
Here it is, and it’s simple:
Hang in there, and I’ll see you soon.
With love from Yourself xxx