Monday, September 10, 2012

In Which I Calm Down

As I've been going through the archives of my blog (holy CRAP woman, WHY DID YOU BLOG SO MUCH??) and reverting many, many hundreds of posts to draft so they are no longer accessible, I found this one that I wrote a year ago and then never posted. But it feels pretty true, still. It's a constant balancing act, and the blog is not what it used to be, nor will it ever be that again. I've spent the last week rewriting the history of what the blog was, or at least heavily editing it.

The fact of people NOTICING you and appropriating aspects of yourself into their own lives is not a downside to being published. It's merely a side, neither up nor down, and it's something that has to be adjusted to, and the ways in which I adjust to it constantly shift and change. So, take the following post as you will, and know that I adore you for caring about me and my writing, regardless of how much of myself I put out there.

***

Guys, I hate to admit it, but I think I've mellowed out.

Finally.

There was a time not so long ago when I freaked out over everything. Melissa Marr started following me on twitter and I about had a fit. Neil Gaiman started following me and I kid you not I could not sleep at all that night I was so crazy with adrenaline. A good review was the BEST THING EVER. A bad review had me freaking out that no one was going to like my books.

I wanted to be friends with EVERYONE. Established authors, new authors, everyone everyone everyone in the business. And not just friendly acquaintances, but, like, BOSOM BUDDIES or kindred spirits a la Anne Shirley. I wanted to be important in their lives.

I wanted everyone in the world to read my blog, and I wanted to dazzle them with how charming and fun and cute and perky I was. I wanted everyone to like me.

It gets a bit exhausting after a while, you know? More people started reading what I wrote, paying attention to what I said. Rather than thrilling, it led to several OH CRAP moments. People misinterpreted me. They created strange expectations that, when I failed to meet them, meant I hated them or was cold or mean or snobbish or crazy (which, the last one is fair). Or they created huge expectations that I was an infinite ray of sunshine and heaven forbid they find out I'm actually kind of cranky and moody and not actually all that perky all the time.

(My default mode is slug, after all.)

Everything felt huge and important. If I didn't post some glittering piece of cleverness on my blog that day, my books would never sell! If I didn't go out of my way to try and be friends with that author whose work I admired, my books would never sell! If I didn't friend and follow and pay attention to every debut author I was creating bad karma and my books would never sell!

Blah, blah, so on and so forth.

Here's what I've figured out: Slug me just doesn't have the energy to exist in such a state of heightened frenzy. I was talking with a close friend the other day and jokingly said, "I just don't have the energy to be more than five people's friend at any given time." Then I realized...it was kind of true.

I no longer desperately crave to be friends with ALL OF THE PEOPLE. I'm happy to be friendly with a great many people I admire, and to be truly friends with just a handful of people I trust absolutely, who not only have time for me in their lives but most importantly whom I have enough time to be a good friend to in my own. It doesn't mean I hate the people I've dropped out of regular contact with, or hate the people I never got to know well enough. It just means I don't have room in my life to be a good friend, and I'd rather be a friendly acquaintance than a bad friend.

Good reviews and positive regard from people I admire? Still totally awesome. Doesn't keep me up at night, though, nor does it really change my life on any significant level.

I guess what I am saying is I was trying to live so much of my life on display that it got diluted, and strange, and very, very lonely. I no longer desire to share chunks of myself on the blog. I like myself. I like to keep myself to myself and the few other selves that I know love my self even when it isn't being funny or smart. (They like slug Kiersten. Slug Kiersten is cuddly, and sends weird text messages, and never leaves a slime trail.) (Or at least if she does she is polite enough to clean up after herself.)

Sometimes I think about closing the blog forever. It served a purpose, an important purpose, in my life. I had a lot of fun with it, and I learned a lot through it. But I no longer have an entirely private life, and the more public that certain parts of me become (particularly my second-toe on my right foot) (wait I mean not literal parts, that would be weird, that toe should remain off the public radar) the more I want to keep the other pieces of me very, very far from screens or soundbites.

I'll be honest: when people tell me they dream about me, or confess they have crushes on me, or wish they had my life, it creeps me the crap out. I'm not saying they're creepy people. I'm saying the idea that I exist in the lives of people who do not exist in my life is utterly bizarre and I still don't know how to reconcile it.

So I keep writing my books, and I keep my friends close, and if I'm a bit more private and closed-off than I used to be, well, that's just because my second-toe on my right foot demands it.

19 comments:

Lindsey Bench said...

I promise to never pour salt on you like I have all the other slugs I have come across in my life.

Kiersten White said...

Good thing, too, because it would really hurt my feelings and I would take you off my Christmas list.

Stephanie Perkins said...

Slug Kiersten is my favorite Kiersten.

— Slug Steph

Kiersten White said...

SLUG HUG!

Wait. That sounds like the most disgusting thing ever. So we should totally include greasy snacks as part of the Slug Hug Ritual to make it EVEN MORE THE GROSSEST.

Rebecca said...

I love this post!

And it kind of reaffirms something for me. I've always felt like people will be expecting my blog to be something more than what it is now, especially if I ever sell my book (WHEN I sell my book). But at the same time, I've never taken any drastic steps to change it.

So I'll just happily let my blog be what it's going to be and not fret about it.

Anthony said...

Don't close your blog! You're on Stage Three of the FIVE STAGES OF BLOGGING. You're almost there!

All kidding aside (OR AM I), I recently went through my blog and deleted about 23 posts. I felt both liberated and a little reflective that man, I was such an immature little snot sometimes.

Thanks for putting up with me!

My current day job has taught me so much about the online world. One of the little gems I will pass on is in the electronic ether, it's not what is most effective, in the long run, but what you can control.

You have control over you blog. All this other online who-ha can be fun and frustrating, but the mechanism and rules are not you. This is it.

Also: cheese is good. I like cheddar.

Makayla Anderson said...

Thanks for that post. :) It reminded me that being BFFs with all the upper classmen is NOT whats gonna help me survive high school.

Sheepa said...

I love this post. I love the honesty in it.
I think blogs are like the tip of the iceberg, you get a glimpse of the person but there's so much you still don't know. Blogs, social networking sites, etc, are all a way of sharing a part of ourselves, no one said it had to be the whole. We just have to remember that there will always be more to that person - more that we probably will not have a part in knowing.

Live and let live :)

By the way, just so you know, you were exactly as you are on your blog when I met you. No slug Kiersten - but that might have something to do with the fact that you were in Sherlock/Harry Potter land.

Whirlochre said...

In some ways it's a shame you're removing parts of your blog because every post has been a treat, but I get the whole dilution of slugginess thing. Mind you, I've never once thought of you as a slug. If you really are a slug, you're a very fast one. In any kind of slug Olympics you'd come top — apart from the high jump event (or the long jump, which is basically the high jump rotated at an angle of 90 degrees).

Bryan Russell said...

Friendly acquaintances are great. You never have to help them move.

Konstanz Silverbow said...

I promise I won't tell you about the dreams I have of you, but please do not close the blog! (Okay, I am totally joking. I don't have dreams about you. However, I really don't want you to close the blog!)

:)

Konstanz Silverbow
nothoughts2small.blogspot.com

Kristen said...

Did you know that UCSC's mascot is a banana slug?

Clearly, the animal (bug?) has some value.

Love the post.

Lorna said...

Hi Kiersten,
I’ve read your blog for a while but haven’t ever commented until now. I did a Master’s degree in Creative Writing last year and since then have been struggling to write two novels, and I want to say how authors’ blogs are an inspiration to me, particularly yours and Stephanie Perkins’ and a few others; not because your posts are funny and clever and full of advice for writers (although they are!), but because they reflect persons and writing experiences that I can relate to. I’m sure that sounds weird, but to un-published writers the publishing industry can seem very formal and scary and inaccessible, and I think when an author gets published they cross over that line and become part of all that, at least from the outside world’s perspective – books by big names appear in shops, but you know nothing about the persons behind them. Blogs stop that from happening so much. Sometimes when I’m struggling to write, I read Kiersten Writes and feel reassured to know that you manage to fit in writing around a hectic lifestyle, that you have days when you lack motivation, that you stay up super-late at night writing and eating junk food, and that you got published by being a person with an idea who didn’t give up. I don’t dream about you or want your life (how creepy that people say that to you!!), and I certainly don’t think you should feel pressurized to write posts a certain way just to please people, or be afraid to keep a distance between your fans and your personal life (I think privacy is vital to happiness), and I get that it must be freaky having strangers across the globe knowing so much about you when you know nothing about them; but I think it’s nice just to have some sort of bridge between aspiring authors and published authors. Your blog posts remind me what my goals are. It will make no difference if the posts steer away from your private life and start to mellow out or whatever; I and heaps of other fans will still find something encouraging to take from them, whatever they are about, however frequent or infrequent they are.
Oh dear. Now you can see why my word count’s always too long and I constantly have to edit down drafts...!

Lorna said...

(I swear I put paragraph breaks in that, but I don't know where they've gone!!! Argh!)

patdwhite said...

Outside of immediate family I have very few close friends. Probably because for so many years I have chosen to spend my precious free time with my family. Which for the last 9 years has meant driving 1400 miles fairly often. And you know what? my life has been great, no regrets.

Love you tons!

Jade Timms said...

This is why things never worked with me and Prince Harry. Jade the Hermit just couldn't hack it.

I'm always amazed by people who appear to have dozens of friends. How do they have the time or energy? I barely have time and energy for myself!

LauraN said...

I would rather have you spend your writing time writing novels instead of blogs. Fine. No problem. Also--lesson learned by my daughter at 6th grade science camp in the Santa Cruz mountains. Never, never, never kiss a banana slug. They have a special slime that does not come off!

ashley said...

I have come to realize this more and more with my "internet" life. STOP MAKING ME RELATE TO YOU.

(not really. Can we still flame five?)

marissa | Rae Gun Ramblings said...

I have to say I'm kind of in love with this post. I'm a blogger (mostly crafts and my love of YA books which gets translated into bookish crafts) but I and I know many of my craft blogging friends totally feel this pressure. Whether it's to sell books for you, or get great sponsors or just grow for some of us, I think it's so easy to get caught up in feeling like you need to be full true friends with everyone if you're going to succeed. Thanks for putting this out there. Also I just barely finished and loved Paranormalcy I'm excited to make my way through the series.