A Guest post by Josh Hanagarne – World’s Strongest Librarian
Howdy to you, you handsome and gorgeous Problogger readers and assorted excellent geniuses. First off, let me say that after my first two guest posts here, your comments and emails have flattered me to the point of blushing for days on end. If you are to be trusted, it sounds like you think I give a good pep talk.
I’ve got a big one for you today, and some very exciting news. But you only get to continue reading if you agree that blogging is still alive and kicking. Otherwise, take a hike and go Tweet. Of course, if you’re here, you probably think blogging has some life in it yet. Pat yourself on the back and have a cookie. You’re smart.
I do Tweet, by the way. I’m just not going to let it replace my little blog that I love so much.
It’s been about 6 weeks since my first Problogger post, How To Land Big Interviews When Your Blog Is Small. Because World’s Strongest Librarian is relatively new (about 3.5 months now), I’ve focused more on the “whys” of blogging than the “hows,” while I learn. Anybody can blog about the process of blogging because we are all familiar with it.
I was plugging away with daily posts, soliciting guests and occasionally making a fool of myself. My series How To Have Tourette’s picked up a lot of steam and I received tons of emails from Tourettics and parents of children with Tourette’s. The links kept coming and the spam grew exponentially, so I figured I was on the right track.
The attention was nice, but more importantly, blogging was fun. That’s the only way you can do a good post every day—if you look forward to it and enjoy the process.
People said I was progressing nicely and I took their word for it because I’m a vulture for compliments. Other people said they were confused (and irritated) by how quickly I was progressing and that they didn’t “get it” at all.
Speaking of that…I don’t care about that. I write for myself first.
Then one day I woke up and read an email that made me scream so loudly that I woke my toddler up.
The email was from a very famous blogger who writes dazzling books. It basically said—and I am paraphrasing here—“Your blog caught my eye and I think there’s a book in it. I’m copying my agent on this email.”
After regaining consciousness, I went to work and tried to breathe. The agent emailed me later that day. A couple of days after that I signed contracts to be represented by a real-life literary agency, not the one that has been contacting me in my head for 10 years.
I am currently in the process of finishing the book proposal with my agent (that still makes me feel too fancy and I usually say “the agent,” no offense to Lisa if she’s reading this) for a memoir with the working title of The World’s Strongest Librarian.
There are no guarantees. Maybe that book will never be published and maybe a black hole will open under my desk today and we’ll lose contact because I’m on my way to the other side of the universe. But nothing about this has been typical so far and I’m not going to start second guessing myself now.
Neither should you.
Nobody is more surprised by this than me
I’ve looked at that email every day since and tried to anticipate the questions I’d be asked. “Why you?”
To that I say, “I don’t know.”
“Ok, well…what’s your secret?”
“Uh…ignoring everyone’s advice? Maybe?” Honestly, there’s no plan. I write stuff I love and if other people like it, that’s a wonderful bonus.
Once my blog started rolling and gathering hype, the emails about how I wasn’t focused enough started to roll in. I don’t want to focus. I think it’s boring. And when the traffic stops coming, I’ll start worrying…or just go do something else.
To give you an idea of just how unfocused I’ve been, here’s the spectrum of posts you might expect to see on a week at World’s Strongest Librarian:
- A video about making your wrists stronger
- Articles and videos about battling Tourette’s Syndrome
- A book review of Where The Wild Things Are
- My sister telling a story about a one-eyed goldfish at Wal-Mart
and so on.
I wasn’t sure what to think about their comments. It seemed like things were going okay.
In hindsight, I now say: who cares what I think at this point? I sure don’t. All those little voices that tell me I’m not good enough—I’m forwarding them to the people who already have faith in me. People with a lot more clout than I do who seem to have total confidence in what I’m doing on World’s Strongest Librarian.
You’re no different
It’s true, so don’t protest. If your blog is making progress, than keep blogging. Put your head down and go. As long as you enjoy it, who knows what might happen? Do you? No, you don’t!
This is my favorite compliment I’ve been given:
I read all of your book reviews even though I don’t like to read. I also read all of your strength training and fitness material even though I hate exercising and don’t plan on starting. Keep it coming.
When I asked this person to elaborate, they said:
I read because you write it, not because of what it says.
I didn’t plan that. How could you? You can’t because you’re not in anyone else’s head. People can always surprise you and there’s certainly no accounting for taste. I’m not sure why any of this has happened but none of that means I’m going to put my hat in my hands and reject all the good will insisting that people are all wrong about me.
I mean, come on: Is that really the point you’re trying to make? That you’re just not good enough? I didn’t think so. Then why do we spend so much time correcting people when the compliment us? Quit fussing and go write something that you love and that people can use.
Who do we think we are?
Three and a half months ago I pushed “publish” for the first time in my WordPress Control Panel. My goal was to have 100 daily readers in one year and to make myself laugh. That’s it. Two weeks ago I signed a contract with a literary agent.
You’re always going to be asking yourself, “Who do I think I am? Why should anyone listen to me?” Track down the insecure void that produces those thoughts and throw some acid on it.
Or you can decide that yes, blogging is dead and no longer opens doors for anyone. I see no signs of that.
Once you get over your nagging blogging-blues-nobody-loves-me thought loop, come listen to my voice for a while. I’m nobody, but since I’m here, here’s what I say:
Why not you?
Seriously, why not you? If you can actually explain to me why nobody should listen to you to the point where I agree, then you have no business blogging anyway and should go do something that you love. It will make you happier and there will be a tiny fraction less noise on the Web.
One of the most satisfying aspects of blogging is that I am constantly surprised. I’m surprised by the things I write, the people I meet, and the very real relationships and friends that I’ve cultivated online. Most of the surprises are small, but some are big enough to scream about.
If you’re committed to making a go at this, keep plugging away, take the steps you read about on Problogger, ask questions, and enjoy yourself.
The only thing sadder than wasting time at something you don’t enjoy is wasting time and not getting results.If you enjoy your blogging, no matter how modest it is, it’s not a waste. The results will come. I see blogging as one more way we learn about ourselves. One more mirror to look into.
The Internet makes it very easy for people to do favors for each other. Go meet everyone you can. One morning, you might receive an email from someone who thinks you are worth more than you do. When they tell you that, don’t argue.
Go go go.
Don’t look back
Don’t second guess.
You’re not the passenger, you’re the driver.
Refuse to deal with life. Make it deal with you.
I’ll be doing the same. Thank you all so much for the continued support and encouragement. I will throw each of you a parade with 1000 dancing elephant if the book ever gets published.
Josh Hanagarne writes World’s Strongest Librarian, a blog to help you get stronger, get smarter, and live better… every day. For bonus articles, videos, and original music, please subscribe to the Stronger, Smarter, Better Newsletter. If you know someone with Tourette’s Syndrome, please let them know about the blog. They need to know that someone out there “gets it.”