I've been frequenting various author/writing blogs lately in my novel-writing mission, but have found that I feel fairly depressed after browsing too many of them. Now this could merely be due to the fact that they actually procrastinate the very thing they advocate, ie actual, real Writing. Or, it could be something more, something whch seems to strike at the heart of me.
These blogs are exhausting. All written by successful people with twenty zillion followers and thousands of perfect widgets proclaiming their great accomplishments; top ten bloggers ever, fifty books published, their perfect life of writing. Then, across their headers, there's more evidence of their triumphs in this brutal market - their international speaking schedule, their competition wins, their Goodreads page along with endorsements from Famous Folk. They've arrived.
And they tell us that we must do similar, if we want to succeed in any way with our writing. We must spend every waking minute gathering and coddling our millions of Twitter fans, and if we have under five thousand then we might as well give up, because our book just won't sell. Not only that, but we must build platforms on Google Plus, Instagram, Goodreads, Youtube, Facebook and everywhere else it is possible to build a social media presence. And then there's our blog. It must be good. It must be professional, and it must show evidence of our faithful followers.
My heart shrinks a little inside when I read these, because I know this is just beyond me, beyond my capabilities, physically. When it comes to social media self-promotion, I am Unproductive. It seems to me that society requires so much productivity of a person in order to be successful - or in order to be in any way deserving of anything at all, possibly. Those in society who are seen as Unproductive are banded together and shoved to one side; the Undeserving. When it comes to matters such as welfare, sections of the media like to play up the unproductivity of the undeserving - they have not tried, thus it is their fault, thus they are undeserving. Why should we help such people?
Sadly, this tends to enclose many people who are sick and disabled, and to society's eyes may be unproductive. Somehow, society have twisted things here so we see the most needy, the most sick as deserving and somehow heroic, but the long term sick, especially those with fluctuating conditions, are often seen as the opposite to this. They just don't try hard enough. Remember all the stuff going around about the Paralympians - they're disabled but they have tried. They are Deserving. But you haven't. Why not?
The truth is, being long term sick is completely exhausting in a way that is hard to explain. It's not like tiredness, more like a constant flu like feeling, taking over your life. That's why when I look at the requirements it seems it is needed to be an author, I want to close my laptop and wipe the lot. I can't do this, because my body isn't strong enough. Sitting at a computer all day blogging and tweeting may not seem a huge burden, but to someone with long term sickness I can promise that it is a burden much too far. On a bad day, I cannot open my computer. On a less bad day, I can read a bit of Facebook. On a slightly better day I can manage the odd blog post or some work on my books. On my best days I can do a lot more of this, and sometimes catch glimpses into what life might look like if it could always be like this. But because my condition is annoyingly fluctuating, I cannot be consistent. I cannot give this kind of commitment to something. Does that mean it's impossible for me to do this? I'm also grateful for the fluctuating nature of it, because it means I get time off, or at least down time where I feel well. Ish. It's good.
People who are long term ill are not undeserving. In general, they are just beyond shattered. They are trying to live day to day, trying their best to get through, to accomplish the smallest of tasks, and to cope. To then be faced with the media casting these kind of aspersions on them could be the straw that breaks the camel's back for them. I plead with our government, with our media to remember everyone has a story, everyone has humanity. Everyone is valued, not for what they do, but who they are. I'd include those who are seen as undeserving but aren't necessarily physically ill in this. They have a story. They are people. I believe they are made in God's image, and I believe in grace, not only rewarding the deserving. I'd love to see a world where grace shone through. Another subject for another time, perhaps.
Meanwhile, I may as well keep chasing the book thing. It's a bit Rejection City round here though, so I may just sit and mope instead.