My English teacher in high school used to say that it’s the little things in life that fuck you up. That you will never run and fall because a vehicle or building tripped you, it will always be a small rock you ignored or didn’t see.
We stumble on pebbles, he would say.
It’s one of those things I have never forgotten because it applies to almost everything in my life.
For instance, two weeks ago I received an email from the company that provided me my domain. It was a reminder email that I have to renew my annual subscription before expiration to prevent this blog from being shut down. I knew that I was almost hitting my year mark but I threw the thought at the back of my head where high school math formulas are.
You see when I decided to self-host I thought that in a year’s time, I would be swimming in checks. I thought that by now my stats would be booming and I’d have an ad banner from a decent company. I thought that it would increase my chances of getting a BAKE nomination or even a win. But BAKE noms were announced and we weren’t there. I went through some of the blogs that were nominated and some broke my heart. Until someone told me that they might not even have read my blog because ‘watu ni kujuana’ and some nominees were put there because they knew someone that matters. For a moment, I’d forgotten how rotten our country is. I digress, though.
It’s always a machine-generated email that will hurl you deep into forlorn thought.
When I read the email, a mild depression came descending upon me like a meteorite from outer space. It hit me hard. I dissected my life inside out, thinking of what I did wrong to have grown so little over a year. Sure, we have picked up new consistent readership and we thank God for it, but it’s still below what I had set for myself and Lord knows how low I set my bars to avoid heartbreaks.
I’m not one to blow my horn but I think I’ve grown as a writer. My sentences are better, and I have a voice of my own. But why then haven’t I grown as much as I’d want to? Is one year not long enough for growth, and if it isn’t, how long should I wait before I start being anxious again? All I have is questions.
On days that I’m low, I think about deleting this whole thing, throw it into the pitch black nonexistence and forget it ever existed. But then I remember why I started it in the first place two years ago on feelingthegaps: to just write and not care about numbers. These posts were supposed to be my vanity cards – (borrowed from Chuck Lorre, creator of Two and a Half Men, Big Bang Theory and Mom) – my mementos to my future self. I was supposed to read them when I’m sixty to relive my youth. But somewhere along the way, numbers and compliments got in the way. And more importantly, age. That I’m old and I need to start thinking of ways to make money; that I should be proactive now that I have time and energy. And that’s where the little devil of commercialization sprouted from.
I wasn’t supposed to post this, I thought it was bit too personal but again, successful sixty year old me would get a good laugh from this. He would laugh at me for this needless pressure I have put on myself to accomplish everything at 21 because sixty year old me will definitely be a heartless, whiskey-loving old man with silver hair, a thunderous laugh and a love for red meat.
Fuck sixty year old me though.
To survive these paralyzing thoughts, I have learnt to celebrate small wins. I take solace in compliments but don’t brood in them. I take solace in the fact that I can afford hosting fees. And I take solace in simply, writing
After all, cha muhimu ni uhai.
2 thoughts to “Rocks and Pebbles”
Sometimes the question you need to ask yourself as a writer is why.
Why do you write?
Why do you have a blog?
Why should you keep writing?
Is it the awards? Yeah. There’s that allure if showing up on that nomination list. The thrill that comes with filling your social media with posts asking guys to vote. Sharing links on whatsapp to the point of spamming getting your people behind you. People you’ve never talked to. You want to be the guy that says happy new year. Only you don’t say that but ask a stranger, complete one, to vote for your blog because well – relevance.
Then it hits you. Like any other cartel we have in this country it doesn’t solely rely on merit. Up there is a trail of kisses added and wild cards picked to appease the commoner gods. So you know that it will never happen. So your sights change. You’ll be damned before you go grovelling at someone’s feet for the sake of networking.
Then you realize you just write for the sake of writing. Because in the darkness you bleed words. Yes, it’d be great if a million plus one guys read them but at this point you’re just contented with them being out there. With the small compliments from your circle of friends that tell you to keep writing because “you’re good at it”.
It really is a thankless job. And you never know what happens five maybe ten years down the line. If you’ll look back with regret or if you’ll just be fine.
But those pebbles they keep reminding you. Do what you do. Do it for yourself. No one else will.
Thank you. I needed this. And hopefully, we’ll not look back in regret.
Comments are closed.