I do think that a lot of us are searching for connection. We post to our blog, we join a group or forum, and we hope that somehow everything will all fall into place. We will write – and we connect with people who enjoy our writing. Seems easy, doesn’t it? Well, in some cases, this does work – but there is still a lot more going on than meets the eye. I can truly say that I still do not completely understand what you have to do to be successful on social media. I have seen many good writers want to give up. Even though they write wonderfully, they feel like a failure. I have seen them (time and time again) complain about not making it while others (for whatever reason) get a lot of attention. So, it must mean that they are not good writers, right? Absolutely not! It is confusing sometimes, because the reason behind their failure is no more clear than the reason for another person’s success. I, for one, have tried to figure this out, and cannot find an answer. Social media is a confusing place to be sometimes and it is easy to get lost in the crowd. The biggest mistake you can make is to disregard the value of your own voice. Whether you are a writer, an artist, or a photographer – you have something unique to you that deserves to be shared.
Now, there are many things I have seen / witnessed / been a victim of in social media. I have been called out for having horrible writing skills by the same person who accused me of plagiarizing them. I have been told that I have said things that are not true in a poem, even though it was written about my own experience. I have been told that I should write shorter poetry, or more symbolic poetry, more rhyming poetry, or haiku . . . and the list could truly go on and on. To survive all of it – you really need to believe in the value of your own voice. It is not something you gain right away (but if you truly look at it, something is prodding you on to write). Instead, I believe belief in your voice is something that you have to learn over time. All of the negative experiences you could possibly have might make you want to throw your writing out of the window and swear you will never use a pen again. Instead, you must hold on to it tightly. Keep at it – and believe in yourself.
At the same time that I have witnessed these things, I have also become friends with some amazing writers, photographers, and artists. I have learned a lot not only about myself, but also more about the world around me. I have learned to write better and to expand my abilities and interests. I am no longer confined to the four walls of my home or the streets that line my neighborhood. Instead, I have come to know people from all over the world – people of different races, languages and religions. Through their work and words, I have been able to see a part of their world through their point of view. To me, this is the greatest gift: to go beyond what we know and to learn and understand more about one another. In this, we widen our perspective and allow ourselves to grow.
One of the blessings I have gained as part of this experience, is the belief in myself as an artist. It is not to say that anyone is going to be knocking on my door with a publishing deal, or that people are going to be lining up to follow me. No – instead, I believe in what I have to say, how I say it, and that it makes a difference. I may never have realized this if I had not taken a chance on social media. I might not even have been writing at all. So yes, I am grateful.
It took me a long time, but I have finally realized that it truly takes bravery to post and continue to post to social media. You need to step out of your comfort zone and believe in yourself, which is not always easy to do. You must believe that when you step up and submit your work, it is worthy. It does not matter how many people like or accept you – your voice is just as worthy to be heard than anyone elses’. For those that are counting followers and likes, know that if you want to receive sincere appreciation for what you write, you personally are required to appreciate it first. That’s it. You can look outside of yourself, you can compare yourself to others, you can hope and pray that if you make enough comments on other peoples’ posts you will get some action, but at the end of the day – it takes you knowing that your words are worth writing. You must know that someone out there needs to hear your story, be touched by your poem, or see the beauty through your own lens.
I can guarantee you that I have often underestimated the value of my own words. I have wondered why I bother to continue to write. There have been times when I have wanted to give up. Then, in walks someone who tells me how touched they were by a poem or story. They tell me they feel that I wrote about exactly what they were going through at that point in their lives. It gave them hope or a sense of calm knowing that they would get through that experience too – because now they knew someone else who did. There is power in words. I have seen it with my own eyes and I do strongly believe that this is why I so badly ache to write. Growing up, nothing was perfect. I took solace in the stories of others, the experiences of others wrapped up in poetry, prose, and short stories. So whenever you wonder why you do what you do – remember the powerful influence reading has had on you. When words uplifted me, helped me understand the plight of others, gifted me with a different view, and gave me strength when I wanted to give up – I have to ask myself, what am I going to give back?
(c) Sumyanna 2016
Wonderful image courtesy of Morguelife (Ladyheart)