Grab a cup of tea, or coffee, or better yet a glass of wine, as this is a long one.
My last post opened quite an interesting discussion, so interesting in fact that it inspired another one for today. You could say that the change I have spoken about over the last couple of months has finally settled in and I'm feeling myself again but from a completely new vantage point, especially in relation to this blog I keep. Honestly, I've had a few things on my mind that I've been meaning to share, so here goes.
It wasn't until I read Ellen's comment yesterday when she referred to blogs as being too "nicey nicey" that I knew what I wanted to say. Now let me take a moment, following my own advice to make sure this is coming from the "right" place that I spoke about yesterday, otherwise I might be a hypocrite and I definitely don't want to be that. :)
You see I studied Improv for a solid two years, and one of the main lessons of Improv, and all comedy really, is to state the obvious. Usually the obvious is what's funny and often times the obvious is what people won't readily discuss. This is probably one reason we have that famous saying, "there's a pink elephant in the room". Since my days of Improv I chose to assimilate this idea of stating the obvious into my every day life. And this is because I find my life is so much easier in the long run when I "state the obvious", mostly because for me it's just too much work trying to continuously cover things up, and then remember what needs covering up, and then...you get the idea.
When I first became interested in blogging it was just two and half years ago now. And the reason this interest turned into a passion for this new medium was because it felt like the most honest expression I had come across in a long time, what seemed to me to be a truly authentic slice of people's lives. In light of all the over-styled lives presented in traditional media, blogs felt like a breath of fresh air, so real and genuine (still edited of course) but with an individuality that was and in many cases still is so refreshing to visit ~ as you get to "know" the people behind them a little more all the time. Blogs provide a glimpse into the lives of people and how it might really be for them day to day. Blogs give us a chance to be inspired by people that feel more "real" than other public personas, ie celebrities in television and film, and those featured in magazines who have an entire crew of people working to make their lives look like what someone else thinks is the "ideal life". Believe me I know, I've worked in front of and behind the camera since I've been in Hollywood and I had a huge eye opening about what actually goes on behind the scenes to create an image that I once perceived was to some degree real. Nope not the case, well maybe if you had about 20 people obsessing over only you every day. I digress.
Alright I've prefaced this enough. What I'm trying to say is that I'm simply no longer willing to ignore the obvious as I see it in much of the blogging world that I follow. Many (not all) blogs, and I narrow this down to the creative/artisan/crafting/design blogging world, are in my opinion losing their individuality. They just don't feel genuine anymore, let alone honest. And to use Ellen's phraseology, I agree that many are just feeling too "nicey nicey" ~ and I'm going to go ahead and include my blog in that mix. It goes without saying that in no way or shape or form am I suggesting being rude is or unkind is what needs to happen with the blogging world. Good Lord, no. Of course being nice, supportive, inspiring and uplifting is a wonderful way to be in the world in general let alone the blogging world. And these qualities continue to dominate this blogging niche that I follow and am proud to be a part of.
But there are times, when it feels like too much. It sometimes feels like blogs are no longer being written from a unique perspective, but instead being written as if they are competing to win a popularity contest. Sometimes sweetness is being pushed to the limit and it fees like saccharin, not sugar. Don't get me wrong, I love sweetness and I love a happy life, I live one, and I love to spread the message of that, but even in a happy creative life there are challenges. And it's disappointing. It's disappointing to me that what I thought was a more authentic medium, as it gains popularity is slowly becoming watered down in it's efforts to gain and keep approval just like all other forms of expression that came before it. This may be because blogging is now also another medium open to advertising, which I think is fantastic. I sincerely think it is great that bloggers can make a living this way. But how can a blogger not be influenced by wanting to keep their traffic numbers in support of their advertisers? I'm just wondering if the number of visitors and comments a blog gets is beginning to define blogs vs simply being creative outlet to freely express yourself? And you know, I can see how this can happen and does happen all the time in all forms of creative expression. I'm not complaining and I'm not criticizing ~ and of course in line with yesterday's topic regarding value and pricing, I'm not in any position to say whether anyone is being truly authentic or not. I don't really know. There's not a right way or wrong way to blog and there's room for all kinds of "voices' out there. I'm just observing and saying what I see, expressing what works and no longer works for me. And since it was brought up in yesterday's comments and has been a regular topic among my blogging friends lately, I'm wondering if you see it too?
The reason I am even calling attention to this at all, is because I am wanting to use this in reference to my own blog. So this is about me, no one else, just me! I think I've fallen into this category of blogs at times, still seeking the approval of others, and as my own traffic and customer base has grown, I've found myself caring a bit too much about my own popularity and probably being a little artificially sweet on ocassion, to keep the approval coming. But for me it's time to let the approval seeking go not just here but everywhere, and this is my public statement saying that I do not want to fall into the category of being an inauthentic voice in the world, not personally or professionally. By looking out into the blogging world, the differences I see are helping me to become more clear about what I want this blog to represent, moving forward from here. All I can say is that I am drawn more and more to blogs who over time are consistently themselves, who don't seem to be keeping a blog to win popularity. It's possible that as a reader of my blog, you do feel that my blog voice feels consistent, and I have certainly tried to be this, as it's always been important to me to make this a genuine, albeit edited slice of my life. But I know there are times when I'm not truly being myself here. You see, my desk while often straightened up, is also incredibly messy sometimes (as in the photo above, taken just this morning)...especially when I am creating. Straight or messy, not one is right or wrong, good or bad, it's just how it is, I experience them both. And I don't want to leave one side out of who I am.
It's almost as if a few blogs lead the way in this niche, and we were inspired. So we all started blogging too and then the few blogs that started first became popular over time. And then we naturally looked at them as examples of "how to blog". Nothing wrong with that, and totally understandable as that is typically how anything new gets developed. Someone starts and we follow. And we can't help but be influenced by what inspires us. Yet without realizing it we start to look the same, until someone veers from the following and something new begins again. It's what keeps things fresh and exciting. And then there are those who I am coming to admire more and more, the ones who came to know themselves right away, who evolve in the same way I mentioned above, but they manage to always evolve by consistently staying true to who they are. And this is the age old question, "how can you tell?" ~ I don't really know, but I think you can just tell. I've said it a million times before, but I can appreciate any creation and expression when it feels genuine. And when you seek to become more genuine yourself, the people who have always been this way begin to come into clear focus.
I think that as I become more of a public persona myself via this blog, there has also been and increase in being overly concerned with how I will be perceived. I also have to say that I have a new found respect for anyone who is in the public eye. And after yesterday, I finally realized that no matter how much care and thought I give to a post or to how I choose to be in the world, someone out there will interpret it the way I intended and someone else out there will not ~ This was a concept I always knew in theory but have just come to understand in practice.
So if you've made it this far, let me repeat and let me try to be clear, the main point of this post isn't about anyone else, it's about me and my blog. It's about defining where I'm wanting to go from here. I've always been teetering on the sharing more/versus just sharing and focusing on my work but it appears that I'm feeling drawn to expressing my voice here more and more, (as my "thoughts on things" category is getting a lot of use these days!). It does not mean that my tone to this blog, one that I intend to err on the side of genuine, honest, happiness, hope, support and inspiration is going to change ~ imparting those qualities via my art and my writing is still of utmost importance to me. Nor does it mean that I plan to air all my laundry here, dirty or clean in the name of honesty! It just means that I'm opening the door to what's next, which I believe will include more of my voice via writing and podcasts. To be honest, part of the reason I've been slow on the podcasts is for the same reason. I've been concerned about how I would be perceived. My following has grown here, and I haven't felt entirely ready to go along with that expansion yet. But for some reason on the heels of all this change, I finally do.
At the end of the day, I may be able to manipulate my words in a way to present myself in a certain way, but my art cannot be manipulated in the same way. My paintings are what really started this blog, and they will continue to be one of the best representations of me. My true candor is always present in my paintings. The joy that is in them, that's me. I really am this happy most of the time. The thoughtfulness that is in them, well no need to explain that one really...also me. The honesty that is in them ~ it's me. And I want to speak freely more often about what feels honest to me. The humor you see in some of them...sometimes... I actually am funny. ;) The love that is in them ~ and that exists for the work that I do, is something I want to continue to share here at my blog. And the message that you too CAN do it ~ follow your creative dreams or any other dreams for that matter ~ that message will never change.
Well that should about cover it for the time being. Now it's back to business...as usual...but with a slightly new twist.