On Writing and purpose

ON WRITING and purpose

It’s that time of year again. Awards season in the land of blogging.

And I’m not quite sure how I feel about it this year.

The last couple of years I’ve done the vote for me posts, I’ve tweeted and Facebooked the links. I’ve highlighted my favourite blogs and encouraged others to vote.

I’ve been thrilled to be nominated.

I’ve enjoyed watching blogging friends do well.

And, I’ve felt a little like I was back at school, hoping to be one of the popular kids, but knowing deep down that I’m simply lucky to be one of the not-unpopular ones.

It’s a bit of a roller coaster, and I’m not sure it brings out the best in me.

Intellectually, I know that being nominated is a wonderful thing and as long as I enjoy my blog, that’s all that matters. Emotionally, it amplifies every feeling of insecurity, magnifies every moment of doubt.

So, what do I do this year?

I’ve seen comments calling blogging awards a popularity contest, that us ‘regular’ bloggers will never win.

I’ve seen comments defending the awards as healthy competition and an opportunity to give out some well deserved blog love.

(Our non-blogging readers must wonder what’s going on!)

I fall largely into the latter camp, but I will admit to feelings of inadequacy on the bad days.

I’ve been very touched to be mentioned in a couple of shortlist posts over the last few days, and I’m developing my own shortlist in advance of sitting down and tackling the voting forms. I may blog my lists later in the week: sharing my favourites seems more positive than a bout of self-doubting introspection.

But, I don’t think I can bring myself to actively seek votes. Not this time. Somehow, it is less disappointing to not get beyond the nominations stage when I haven’t tried to.

All this navel gazing has brought my reluctance to put myself/my writing out there sharply into focus. I know that my blog audience will generally be kind and encouraging and supportive. But, the thought of say, submitting a poem for publication elsewhere?

No thank you.

I was thrilled to see one of the What I’m Writing group have a poem accepted this week, after several rejections, just as she was thinking about giving up. She persevered, believed in her writing and it paid off.

I thought, how brave!

How wonderful to have such courage and conviction. To feel such a sense of purpose.

I can’t quite decide if the fear that stops me from doing the same is sensible self-preservation or something else.

And I wonder if my own sense of purpose is far too tied up in what others think of me, and not enough in what I think of myself.

Or vice versa.

So, while I can’t quite bring myself to ask my readers for votes this year, I can’t quite bring myself to opt out completely either!

And so the navel gazing continues.

Sharing this post with What I’m Writing and The Truth About.


17 thoughts on “On Writing and purpose”

  1. It seems what you’re feeling is very common, Sara, and I can’t say I blame you at all for how you feel. On the whole I find awards season a positive experience. It was my first time round last year and it actually gave me a bit of a wake-up call about how high the very best set the bar and shook me out of my complacency in my attempts to be the best writer I can be.

    Someone made a point the other day that there’s no point complaining about the way the system works and how it’s always the same people who win every year if you choose to sit on the outside moaning. More people should get involved. That’s not a criticism of you or others who have decided to take a step back, because you have been there before and done it and gotten involved, and you have every right to take a more back-seat approach.

    But I also see lots of people complaining that it’s all just a popularity contest without actually bothering to understand how the process works. The BiBs forms a list of 10 of which only 50% are formed by popular vote and the rest are judges’ choice (the MADs are 5 public vote, 1 judges’ wildcard) – so if you put yourself forward, you have a chance. Then 3 out of 5 of the finalists in each category are also chosen by the judges, as is the winner. That’s not a popularity contest (although MADs, which puts the final six to the public vote, is). In fact, very few of the winners at last year’s BiBs are even in the top 100 of Tots – and the fab Julian, who won Best Writer, was known by hardly anyone before he won. If more people actually understood how the process works, they’d realise they actually have a better chance than they think.

    Sorry. Rant over.

    1. I completely agree Tim, in fact it was you I was ‘quoting’ when I mentioned healthy competition :) I’ve been very quiet on the blogging front over the last six months, so I’m feeling less visible and therefore less confident, but that’s entirely a reflection on me, not on blogging awards. Having read your comments on other posts/threads I decided to put the badges on my side bar because whether or not I’m going to be vocal this year (it’s my third year of this!) I do believe that it’s really important to support other bloggers. It means so much to so many of us. I also agree with you that the BiBs are not a popularity contest, in fact I really like the way the lists are created and judged, it’s very fair. So, good luck to you, and me, and everyone! And, the most important thing I’ve taken away from all the posts and comment threads and ranting (!) is your comment about using it as a means of setting your own personal bar higher, that’s what I will be focusing on x

      1. Ah, glad we’re of a similar mind here in terms of using the ‘competition’ as a way of encouraging to set that bar a bit higher. As you know, being the best writer I can possibly be is a huge driver behind why I blog but I’m under no illusions as to how high the quality is in some areas. At times that has dented a confidence which was fragile to begin with, but mostly it has spurred me on to keep getting better and that’s reason enough for me.

        1. You are a great writer, and I think that most of us have our confident and not so confident moments, good days and bad. The trick is using all of those feelings and thoughts to ultimately make us better writers.

  2. I think it just depends where your head is at when awards season rolls around – some people are ready to go for it, and others just don’t want to set themselves up for a fall. I’m definitely in the latter category this year – it’s local government elections in a year, so right now I feel like I have to save up all my reserves of courage to campaign to keep my job. My nerves just can’t take any extra competition! x #thetruthabout

    1. I think you’re absolutely right, our own levels of confidence and resilience matter hugely. There are times when I’m happy to go out on a limb and others when I feel the need to protect myself more. I’m definitely feeling the latter right now! I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to show support for your blogging favourites though, and that I will be doing. Good luck with everything you’ve got going on x

  3. Oh Sara I really think you and your blog deserve to be up there with the best. I love the way you write, I find it so engaging and the content really thought provoking. I’ve decided to opt out this year because it doesn’t bring out the best in me. I know that after three years of being a finalist and never winning! I’m not saying I don’t like the awards per se, they’re just not for me. I will still be voting though. x

    1. Ah, thank you Suzanne x It’s hard isn’t it, I know the whole process doesn’t bring out the best in me either! So, while I’ll be thrilled if people nominate me, I’m not going to seek it out this year x

  4. Decisions decisions. Over the past year my blog has become a bigger and more lucrative part of my life. Chasing nominations stops me earning money and, frankly, I don’t care for popularity. I never started blogging to be popular. I shall probably do what I always do and simply ask politely for people’s votes if they feel I am worthy!

  5. It’s an interesting time of year in the blogging community isn’t it? I don’t really know how I feel about it either to be honest. I don’t like the asking for votes much and honestly it doesn’t make me want to one for anyone. I will vote for who I think deserves it rather than who begged I think. That being said I find it incredibly hard to choose because there are so many wonderful bloggers out there and not all fit neatly into a pigeonholed category. My blogging goes up and down and at the moment I am content that it is a hobby that makes me happy and I get nice comments which hopefully means some people enjoy reading sometimes. I am not expecting to be nominated let alone win as I have withdrawn myself from the blogging community a lot over the last year so just don’t have the profile. And I am OK with that as it was a decision I are to do so. Sorry for the overly long comment, your post obviously resonated with me! Xx

  6. I love your blog too Sara and your writing is brilliant. I’m a firm believer in ‘you have to be in it to win it’ so I’m putting myself in the game but I’m just not a competitive person. A couple of people have been in touch to say they have nominated me for readers choice and I was bowled over. Literally, that was enough for me! I feel like I’ve won already :) Just to know people enjoy my writing is what it’s all about for me. Lots of luck to you fab lady xx

  7. Oh I hear you on all of this! I’ve had a blog for over two years but have yet to get involved in awards season. It’s mostly because I get quite stressed at the thought of competing and I don’t think it would bring out the best in me. Also I think focussing on awards would distract me from the creative writing I want to do outside of blogging – I struggle to juggle as it is! But some bloggers kindly put me in their ‘recommended blogs for nomination’ lists and it gave me a boost. Tim’s comment is interesting too about how he uses awards season to raise the bar for himself good plan. I also like your supportive attitude to other bloggers so have copied you, and just (right now!) put the general ‘nominate here’ badges on my blog! Personally I think your blog is wonderful – you’ve clearly taken the time to make it look great and your writing is beautiful! You should definitley go for it in terms of submitting elsewhere! Thanks for linking to #Whatimwriting

  8. Yup, I totally get this. Both the reluctance to put myself out there and that niggling sense of inadequacy that comes when there’s a bunch of awards on the horizon! I keep telling myself that the blog isn’t my endgame – that it’s just a small part of my whole writing journey. But then I’m also beginning to acknowledge that I’ve been pretty rubbish at actually getting my novels out there too. It’s my big plan for the latter half of this year, actually. To be brave, and actively chase publication rather than expecting it to just happen. And that’s the first time I’ve admitted that in writing, so you’ll have to hold me to it now! :) xx

  9. I so agree with you Sara – it’s the setting yourself up for a fall that puts me off. I know it’s a case of limiting your own potential through fear of failure in a way but I’m pretty sure that the fact I’ve also been a bit ‘quiet’ on the blogging front for at least six months means that my profile is also pretty under the radar of the voting community. I have had a couple of mentions recently from lovely blogging friends so maybe I will actually think about writing a similar post myself highlighting my faves but as Caroline says a lot of us don’t easily fit into one pigeon-hole and I think a lot of us would be flattered that we’d been crow-barred in as ‘preschool’ or something but actually being nominated for ‘writer’ is the one that really matters to us! I like the idea of the award you can put yourself forward for to a judging panel with just one blog post – your very best effort. I think that’s one of Mumsnet’s ones isn’t it – the one The Comeback Mum got nominated for with that extraordinary post about her past. Anyway, I think I’ll have a go at my take on it all when I get the chance! Thanks for linking up this week to #thetruthabout X

  10. It’s a tough one isn’t it – it always feels slightly awkward asking for votes when the bar is so high, and I’m pretty sure that I’m back in the ‘not a hope of a chance’ section, but I did so love being a finalist last year and the only way to get there again is to throw my hat into the ring again. I’m trying to focus this year on making it as much about spreading the love as asking for myself so that I can have an inner hurrah when the blogs I love make the finals :)

  11. It’s SUCH a tricky one for me Sara. Truth be told, I’d much rather sit on the sidelines and view it all from afar. The idea of going to an ‘event’ just isn’t really ‘me’ although I do think that it’d be good for my blog. I’m fairly sure that I’d end up feeling awkward while everyone else drank the free bubbly (I don’t drink for starters and don’t feel the need to just to feel unawkward but even so…). But back to the voting, I’m perhaps letting the ‘side’ down because I vote with sharing, commenting and linking up. Maybe the odd little vote will slip in but generally not I have to say. #whatimwriting

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