I apparently never learned.
(I’m really bad at it.)
I suppose part of it revolves around my upbringing, which emphasized humility over boasting, self-deprecation over self-aggrandizement. At least for me: I sometimes wonder if my sister was getting a different set of life lessons on the side, and given our relative memories over such things as whether or not we had to memorize the times tables (bear in mind that I took the same math classes that she did, albeit a year later), it’s entirely possible.
Another part, I’m sure, centers on that part of me that is simply out of step with the rest of the world. If I were to, for example, take some fairly mundane skill and dress it up on a resume to imply I’m capable of something that I’ve never actually done… Well, first off that’s… if not a lie, suffice to say an obfuscation. Similar to how I find it difficult to accept why people wear uncomfortable clothes in the name of fashion, or respectability, the notion of falsely inflating one’s capabilities is equally confounding. Much like the job interview process itself; if a significant percentage of the questions are irrelevant bullshit simply designed to gauge the applicant’s reaction, that only really works if the applicant is unaware of the test. Given that the reality of the situation is common knowledge, said bullshit questions will receive bullshit answers. And while I’ve heard the same “well, then it permits us to gauge your ability to bullshit” (admittedly, in somewhat less prosaic terms) line that I expect the rest of you have, it still rubs me the wrong way. Psychological tests function best in isolation or ignorance.
My discomfort with being the center of attention is another factor, I’m sure. I’ve had a few posts on this blog that have gained reasonably widespread attention, and rather than being pleased at the exposure, I’m mostly sitting there in a mild panic state at how many people have been exposed to some bit of horrible and overblown prose that I typed out in a half-awake haze. My post on the closing of Between Books, for example, had people, some of whom I’d barely met, coming up to me and thanking me for writing what they wanted to write, only better, and all I could think of in those encounters was how histrionic the piece had been and how embarrassed I was to have written it.
Objectively, I know that it was a good piece. Too emotional, most likely, but I’ve written out a few of those, and while I may not much care for my writing when I wax purple with the prose, it seems a lot of people do, so I have to accept that maybe I’m doing something right. Even if I have to fight the urge to delete it the next morning.
This factor is almost certainly why my readership isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire (Unless there are pyromaniacs amongst you, in which case I implore you to seek counseling before you engage in some tragic conflagration). I hardly publicize what I write; I typically post it to my Facebook wall, of course, but that only exposes it to maybe 80 people on a good day. I justify this in part on the grounds that I write primarily for me, as a means to clear my head and formalize some thought that’s been bouncing around my head for some time in an amorphous state, but sometimes I think I’d like to have a broader readership.
Writing is the closest thing I have to a passion (I’m something of an emotional amphibian about such matters[cold-blooded, you get it? Not hot-blooded? Eh, they can’t all be golden]), but it lacks direction. And money.
Now, if I aggressively publicized my blog, pushed regular updates, built a devoted following of readers ready to die at my command… well, a devoted following of readers ready to occasionally re-post something that I wrote at least, then I might actually be able to parlay this into something profitable. Maybe write a book. Live the high life of the independent author, which judging from most of the independent authors I’ve known involves cutting a lot of coupons and occasionally selling blood, but at least it would be relaxing.
Though again, judging from most of the authors I’ve known, “relaxing” involves a lot of heads bashed on keyboards and hair torn out in frustration as deadlines loom and creativity departs. To which I reply: “Joke’s on you stress! I have no hair to pull out!”
Regardless, it’s not as though I have any idea how to aggressively publicize my blog. Or even half-heartedly publicize my blog. Apathetically publicizing I’ve got down pretty well pat, but while that suits the aforementioned “writing for the sake of writing” bit, it definitely doesn’t pay anyone but WordPress. And probably not much to them either (objectively I know that there are ads on my pages occasionally, but I never actually look at them so I don’t really notice, and I can’t imagine that a lot of you click on said ads).
Back to quiet obscurity I suppose. For today at least.