Trigger warning: Feelings of self-realization and having to be honest about your intentions and abilities may occur. If the shoe fits…wear it.
I’m not interested in showing you how to “quit your 9-5” or “live your best life.” I’m a practical, independent, hard working woman from New York. Those sound like personal problems, and I stand to gain nothing from helping you out with all that. I have a family to help support, dreams of my own, and bills to pay. All of which require hard work.
I’m a story teller. I’m a teacher. I’m a writer. I have both degrees in English literature and literacy (reading and writing effectively.) There’s a lot of things I suck at, but I’m a damn good writer. It’s a talent I’ve been given praise on since as long as I can remember. I’ve been inducted into academic honor societies for it, and I’ve won contests for it. Writing essays, stories, posts, is not difficult for me at all. Articulating my ideas and being persuasive in what I say through writing is not difficult for me at all. Writing is my joy, my passion, and my talent. If writing is difficult for you, then you are not a writer.
Some days, being a teacher is the worst job. But, 85% of the time, I love my job. On any given day at my job, my role is to inspire children who have otherwise lost hope in themselves and in society. I’m immensely fulfilled knowing that I provide (hopefully) an environment where my students re-build their confidence, learn more about the world in a fun way, and at least for 40 minutes of the day, feel safe and valued. I take pride that my honest and consistent hard work allows me to contribute to my relationship financially, gives us health insurance, and allows me to make money for travel and leisure. Do I dream of running off to some island where life is simpler? Sure. But, I know that some things are more important than running off to live on some island, like making sure my family has reliable health insurance and making sure I have a life insurance plan that takes the burden off of my family should anything happen to me. It’s important that I have a pension so I don’t have to work until I’m 80 and it’s important that I have a savings in case of emergency. So, no. I don’t think I should quit my job, run off to St. Croix, and become a “digital nomad.” My blog is something I write for fun, I don’t need anyone to sponsor my trips for me, I can do it on my own, and that is something I’m proud to have achieved. ‘
My blog isn’t polished and it isn’t perfect, and I don’t care. However, I’m more than certain that if I put legitimate effort into it, stopped using salty and less than lady like language, and stopped dropping my metaphorical balls on everything I write with the force of a sledgehammer, I could make it as a “travel blogger.” However, who knows? Because it’s becoming apparent that travel blogging has less to do with one’s ability to actually write, and more to do with “how freaking adorbs” their blog page looks. There is more time spent on “cute-if-ying” blog pages than worrying about quality of writing, and it’s sickening.
While many a “travel bloggers” use “swirly teal, pink and white girly font” like it’s going out of style (and trust me, it is) I write everything in bold faced black. While the average “travel blogger” is petite and blonde, I’m curvy and dark haired. The typical “travel blogger” LOVES yoga, smoothies, beaches, and positivity. Most of my travels stories focus on my battles with anxiety, drinking with interesting characters, making questionable choices, not getting enough sleep, and never feeling like I have my shit together. I’ll take a coconut margarita over coconut water any day. I’ll take an entire plate of cheese fries to the face over chia smoothies any day. I will take dancing until I’m a sweaty mess on the dance floor with my friends over real exercise any day. I’m not anti yoga, I like it, and Lord knows I meditate every day, but because it actually helps me get my life together, not because it’s “super ‘grammable.” While most writers use a style that is neutral and like VERY encouraging and lovable, I write how I speak. I’m interested in sharing my stories, and if they resonate with you, great. If they don’t…I don’t care. The biggest praise for me is when I get told that I’m “witty” or “authentic.” Witty and assertive in one’s beliefs is something you can’t copy or fake. You either ARE that way, or you are not.
Speaking of copying, take a look at every travel Instagram and blog. I’d wager 90% of them, for the most part, looks exactly the same. It looks like a valley girl ate a shit ton of cotton candy, glitter, and magic and then ejaculated all over the place. No one can stray away from “the ultimate guide” either. Bloggers are even too afraid to use a word other than “ultimate” GOD FORBID it’s labeled as the “definitive” guide. By the way, another pet peeve… “life style coach?” Move over Barbara Corcoran, we’ve got a 24 year old Insta model who can do your job now! Years of experience? Who needs it? She got 40 thousand followers, a draw string bikini from Baby Gap, and a coconut in her hand!
As an English teacher, of course I think everyone of every ability should write. Writing is fun, it is trans-formative, and it heals. The ability to use words in a multitude of ways to express ourselves is what separates us from the animals. Anyone and everyone should write and even publicize their writing. But, make no mistake, your having a blog does not inherently make you a writer.
Like photography (a skill I don’t have), writing is a skill. The more “blogs” I read (some of which are actually great, and far better than mine) the more I’m personally insulted at having read them. I was writing for fun before it was cool, and before the thought of publishing anything on the internet ever crossed my mind. Why? I like it and I’m good at it. Sickeningly, it’s becoming so obvious that there are people not blogging for fun, or because it is their talent, but because just HAVING a blog MIGHT make them super famous and they might get to take free trips and be an “influencer”.
What ever happened to knowing your strengths? My Instagram description reads, “shitty photos.” You know why? Because I’m not trying to insult people’s intelligence and I own who I am. I suck at taking photos, I don’t sit and edit my photos all day, because I have a life, so I post what I have. If you suck at writing, how do you have the balls to call yourself a “travel writer?” The complete lack of self awareness is unbelievable, and the problem is becoming pervasive. I don’t call myself a musician just because I sing in the shower, and I don’t call myself an artist just because I color sometimes. Telling me via your blog that, “the food was delicious and the bar was super fun” doesn’t make you the next Julia Alvarez or Gillian Flynn, sorry. Let me guess, the water was also wet at the beach? Sand dry? Thanks for the info.
Not. everyone. can. be. a. writer. There is a difference between enjoying writing as a hobby and being a writer. Writing a shopping list of what you did in Los Angeles does not make you a writer.
My point in all of this, is the next time I read a comment of, “How do I grow my blog following” the answer is going to be, “Learn how to write.”