On Transitioning to Writing as Work

Hi Friends,

I haven't posted in 2 weeks, so I thought I'd check in. I'm in a state of transformation when it comes to what I do for work and to make a contribution and it's complicated. It's easy to say I'm a writer, but there's so much more to it than that. I lept into starting this Substack in December and I'm just now figuring out how to do the work I want to do with more intention, both in this space and with writing essays for publication. As I reflect on my intentions I notice I'm experiencing multiple struggles.

It's hard to transition from a full-time worker with daily external motivation for 18 years, to a person too disabled and too traumatized to work at all for 3 years, to a form of work that is entirely self motivated. Add being a spoonie who can't maintain a specific schedule to the mix and it's a struggle to show up to the work consistently over weeks and months. 

It's hard to transition from a career based on service to others to a career that is mostly self oriented, especially as a memoir writer, which is sometimes hard to see as valuable a contribution as my old career or writing that teaches in some way. 

It's hard to balance persuasive writing with memoir writing, especially since persuasive writing is what gets the attention on social media. I'm potentially writing for different audiences, but I can't, nor do I want to, maintain two different writing platforms. I'm all of me whatever I'm doing and so I guess my most resonant audience is people who jive with that. 

It's hard to balance the need to build an audience to have readers for my work and the instant gratification of posting on social media with the need to invest time in publishable essays that no one will see for months and months and then may not get selected for publication. (I’m slowly working on a few essays with the goal of getting a piece about my adoption triad published in the NYT's Modern Love column and something from the Transgressive Woman memoir published in Roxane Gay's Substack, The Audacity, as she's exclusively publishing emerging writers twice a month.)

I've been a public writer for 21 years and I've never struggled so much with being myself online, both because of trauma stuff that fucked me up in regard to relationship of every kind and because social media has become a frightening place to be real. As my audience grows I notice the fear grows.

Sometimes my self doubt is so big I go into a sort of freeze response for days or weeks. 

Sometimes the world is too violent and painful to believe that my little posts have any real meaning at all or that my stories are as important as other stories that need to be heard and so I go quiet and just listen.

I'm processing all of this as I write and edit behind the scenes and grateful for those of you who stick with me thru it all. More writing on supremacy culture and safe relating is coming, as well as some personal writing. While writing within IG posting limits (about 500 words) has been really good for developing my editing skills the last couple months, I'm going to start putting longer form pieces into the mix. Overall I'm looking to write and publish with less consideration for what's popular on social media and more consideration of who I am and how I want to use my voice in the world.