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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Product Promotion & Blogging: I Want to be Jenny Lawson

I have mixed feelings about this issue.

On the one hand, everyone who writes wants to make money doing what they love to do in addition to what therapeutic value the endeavor provides. Wouldn't we all love to be Wil Wheaton or Jenny Lawson famous in the blogosphere? Sure we would. Bloggers with Anxiety & Depression issues, myself included, would love it if we could sit through our episodes of self loathing, self doubt and defeatist rumination and come out with a following and products. We have bills to pay but not necessarily the proper level of inner strength to deal with people in the flesh. So getting paid to write is a goal for most. Getting paid to stay home and do art without dealing with the general public would be awesome too.

Now the positives, anxiety relief benefits aside, of staying home and getting paid to write and make art are petty awesome. For one, you get to take your own Number One Reliever that you hand out to your friends who suffer: do something for you, something creative that makes you feel good. Even if no one buys it/likes it/understands it. Creativity built the world. If you don't dream it you can't make it. Everything starts in the mind. As we who suffer well know, for better or worse, it starts with the mind.

For two, you get to stay home and engage in a mental health practice of Avoiding Negativity, the Number Two thing we like to tell our suffering friends. Stay home or or hang out in a coffee shop. Oh hey, if you are lucky, your city has WiFi at the beach or some parks so you can be out in the sun. Unless you are a Vampire and will explode in the UV light. Regular folk who like to be outside can write in peace in their favorite park. Hey, if it isn't your favorite now, it will be when you find out you can blog from there. Writing in the comfort of your home space insulates you from the mass of negative people flinging their emotional poop like underwear at a strip club. You don't have to be the third party to a family feud of dystopian drama. There are no coworkers spewing bullshit and complaining about every little thing you and management do, justified or not. And, random triggers don't get pulled.

The third benefit of staying home and writing, besides the potential income?  It's the one we hate to recommend because it was the catch phrase and go to answer for all of our mental health issues in the 80s and 90s. Blogging is cathartic like journaling. Blogging, especially for lifestyle bloggers, is journaling. Imagine it! Getting paid to write your journal! How cool would that be?

Yes the fantasy is real.

And then reality sets in.

First your internal editor tells you that no one wants to know what you think about anything. What kind of cache do you have? You aren't Wil Wheaton with a pool of fans to draw to your blog. And you aren't Jenny Lawson with a truly unique and quirky pull... the pull of bizarre links: bad taxidermy, dressed taxidermy, Beyonce the Chicken. Once your internal editor whips out its comments that Pen is bloodier than a Viking broad ax or Roman sword. And you are done before you start.

Second, your editor has convinced you that your creative expression is worthless. So you end up not doing it.

Third, you might be able to avoid flesh and blood people by staying home. But the second you hit publish you wear a target for all the mean people hiding behind avatars and fake names who are just waiting to unleash their vitriol. You are vulnerable to attack from people you don't know; vulnerable to counterpoint opinions. Blogging looks private. And it is...

Right up until you hit publish.

Fourth, your journal is public. Your journey through the treacherous land of your own head is open to the kind of scrutiny you never dreamed possible. So while you are working out your issues, finding insight and hoping that in publishing your thoughts that someone else with a similar situation finds relief or support, there is someone out there who will take your intent and twist it. Your words and thoughts are public and subject to sharing across a range of media. It is also subject to being copied and pasted into an email and sent to people out of context of the greater body of work.

Publish or Perish! That was the motivating catchphrase for newspapers and journalists in the early history of Print. In the modern world... Publish and Perish is just as likely. The internet can be a wonderful place to meet new people, find deeper avenues of learning with all the experts at hand and grow beyond yourself. As with all things, there is a dark side to the internet. The dark side is where trolls go to stagnate their minds and exercise and build angry hearts, vitriolic voices, and arsenals of equally ignorant and irresponsible  ideologies.

In my case, all of the benefits of blogging have legitimately helped me. And I am still finding new information about the Anxiety and Depression that has plagued me for better than a decade. For those reasons I continue to blog. Even though I have found I am not immune to the dark side. But I am not Wil Wheaton and Jenny Lawson famous. I don't make money doing this as much as I would love to. And right now, that is okay. Wil still has people telling him to "Shut up Wesley" as if they can kill him with that single blow. Though, death by a thousand cuts is a real thing. So maybe that is why the trolls gang up on him. Which sucks because he has some really valuable things to say and is a constant encouragement to make things that make you happy. Jenny doesn't get trolled as much. But then her head does a really good job of that without added help. I look at those two examples and review my own personal experience with an anonymous (to the net) troll and wonder why do I do it?

Because benefits.
That shit in our heads needs to come out. And since the medical and psychiatric world doesn't know how PTSD happens and why it is so hard to cure along with the other mental issues, it is up to us. We have to find our own answers. And if we care about making the world better, we have to share what we learn with others. I didn't mention the fifth benefit of blogging. And that is finding encouragement. Your mental health professional will tell you to join a support group, go out and volunteer because helping others is the best help you can give yourself. But really... if you live in a small area surrounded by nose to the grind stone people who don't get it, how is being around them helpful? How do you go out and support others when the thought of going out is the source of your issue? So blogging, lets us find the people we need who need us. If we all share what works for us, someone who is desperate will find more options than they could have come up with on their own. That is why we are here.

That is why I am here. Fun and therapy.

I firmly believe that is why Wil and Jenny are here.

With the growing waves of hate and the boldness of internet trolls, we need to find each other and support each other. I have mixed feelings about blogging for profit. Nothing I love that turns into a job makes me happy. I think as much as I need money to survive as a single girl that I actually loathe the stuff. I am much more concerned with my spirit than my physical comfort. And I care about other people's spirit more than I care about money. So while I may never get famous or make money doing this, I have no problem supporting people who do. And I do not have a problem sharing resources. If I find a tool that I think will help, I will share it. Even if it is my own personal issues and insights, painful past experiences. Call it oversharing. But I know that support groups help. When you find the right support.

Adult coloring books are all the craze right now. And there are a lot of them. TV show themes building on the TV show themed books we had as kids, art of other cultures, famous artworks re-interpreted at your hands, obligatory cats, birds, dogs, horses, butterflies and 60s & 70s patterns abound. The 80s argyle and chunky color blocks should be showing up any month now. There are even promotional coloring books for cities, states and festival tourism. Hey where are the colorbooks representing the countries of the world? A whole book on India would take a life time to color with all the zen-tangled bedazzlement going on. But of all the books out there, I haven't seen anything that has encouragement in it beyond the benefit of mindful coloring.

Today Jenny Lawson announced her new book is available for pre-order. "You are Here" is a visual journey through a profoundly difficult period of depression and anxiety during a promotional book tour. Jenny, literally worked through her episode. With depression that deep and that strong many people collapse while they are doing what the world tells them to do. "Suck it up, Buttercup." In her own way, Jenny found a path through that dark wood. Along the way she showed the internet her doodles. Her doodles have become a book. As far as I am concerned it is a must have book.

What ever thoughts Jenny battled, the things that let her come out of each skirmish, are incorporated into the work. While you color you have a prompt for your own exploration of Things You Can't Put a Finger on  but Are There or a mantra to get through the Thing You Know is There but Don't Like to Look At. I am hoping that the leviathan grabbing the sailing ship is in the book. She shared that the day that it was done. It was a day that I was drowning in my own blood, blood spilled by my Internal Editor's sword pen. And it helped. A LOT!

I have mixed feelings about ME making money doing things that I love. Part of it is my guilt fueled anxiety. Part of it is my parochial upbringing. Part of it is my own sense of justice and social growth. I have, however, absolutely NO qualms about helping other people make money. So go order Jenny's book. Order it for you. Order it for your friends who suffer. Order it for an emergency gift for that time when you want to comfort someone and have no idea how to do it.

And when you order her book from anyone of the fine establishments she has trade agreements with, take some time to read her blog if you haven't already.

Then, follow her on twitter.

And if you are drifting, helplessly alone in your mental health issues in a sea of people who just don't get why you can't get with it, join the rest of us under the hashtag #TheBloggessTribe.

While you are at it, follow Castle's mom, Susan Sullivan for uplifting quotes, calming mantras, unsolicited advice and a dose of gentility often lacking in media that is bound to make you feel better.

Depression lies, And it never shuts up. But we can drown that little fucker. Join us.

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