Sometimes I miss writing for no one
Some weeks ago — I noticed something that bothered me for reasons that I swore I would keep to myself — but damn it — I’m a writer!
At least that’s what I tell myself — and that’s what drove me to create my very own platform in the summer of 2011 — when I decided that I needed a space where I could use my own words and run free — with no restrictions or recommendations.
Back then — I was working as an executive assistant for one of the top money management teams at JP Morgan Private Bank and needless to say — my workload was impressively demanding — which is why I was determined to flush out my desires as a wordsmith in ways that would compensate for the hours spent booking hotels and juggling expense reports for over-paid executives.
I settled on the domain — MyTrendyBuzz because it was the convenient choice that ensured the necessary .com — which I felt would elevate it’s status in the realm of respectability. I commissioned the wiz who was responsible for Fashion Bomb Daily — because at the time — I loved the vibrancy of the page and the way it was laid out to encourage easy navigation — without the pitfalls of what we now encounter — as we try in vain to focus on articles that are heavily guarded by ferocious pop up ads — literally holding pages hostage.
Once the site was ready for my attention — I complied by lavishing it with everything I had to give and more. It became an explosion of interests that somehow merged into a cohesive pattern that mimicked all the highly popular and more established brands.
Yes — I knew that I was failing the basics of web production when it comes to providing one-of-a-kind pieces that stand a chance of competing with the best of them. But — I was just so damn happy to even have the option of figuring out how to present my varied tastes in ways that would satisfy my palette.
I serviced my portal with unrelenting adoration because it astutely represented why I loved to write and what I enjoyed writing about. I covered the gamut of what you would expect to find on any platform that is dedicated to hot ticket items that aren’t embedded in fluff.
I cared about fashion — and since I wasn’t special enough to score an invite to New York Fashion Week — back when it was the esteemed event of the year before it was tainted by the attack of bloggers — I relied on shared images and videos to assess the best and worst of the season. I eventually enticed interest from PR firms who needed a shoutout for their clients — and felt that I was just the person to do it — despite the fact that I really didn’t garner that much traffic.
That was the other thing about my love affair with the website that was saving my life — I was so hooked on the honeymoon stage that I lost my head and inadvertently failed to feed the source of our survival. I didn’t quite comprehend the importance of algorithms or the mechanics of fueling audience engagement and growth.
I just wanted to keep writing and proving my prowess with the awesome interviews with Nollywood actors and immensely talented fashion designers from Kenya who were under the radar when they needed me to curate their press release after I featured them — and then a year later they blew up.
I needed to keep targeting my lust for advancement on my terms without the judgment of Google Adsense or Analytics — that I signed up for to assuage the nagging reminder of insufficient optimization. The numbers were dismal at best as my ability to reach a wide audience never escalated into anything that remotely signaled the possibility of monetization.
This brutal truth didn’t deter my consistency or adherence to what I deemed as my mode of excellence. I did get a few readers who miraculously found me and left evidence of their presence with sporadic comments — and those moments were a nice surprise. But — for the five years that I managed MyTrendyBuzz — it remained my precious lair that I had to purposely invite potential employers and curious parties to partake in for mutually beneficial results.
Fast forward to the present — and I’m fully immersed in the numbers game even though I like to believe that my intentions are still unfiltered when it comes to the words I disperse on the page.
This time I’m not publishing my essays just for my own benefit and without the reinforcement of applauses. And I’m not reveling in the blissful solitude of creativity — that doesn’t come with the disclaimer of accounting for just how good you can be when everyone’s watching — because the climate of optimal performance with filters has overtaken us all — to the point of viral infections with no cure.
That’s why sometimes I miss writing for no one.
I never considered how infected I was until a few weeks ago when I noticed my mood after the numbers weren’t adding up. They were dipping so drastically that I became alarmed and not only began to question my tactics — but even considered altering my regimen in order to get back on track.
As I began to plot my revenge against the coup to overthrow my once consistent stats — I plunged into a deeper concern for my new self — and then my quest for validation reverted back to that time when I gladly gave my all — for the return of pride and gratification — stemming from being unconquered by the elements that were waiting with earnest to devour me.
I loved and respected who I was when nobody was watching and the analytics confirmed that status. Graduating to thousands of followers that are a handy mix of humans and bots — absolutely raises the stakes — and when you throw in monetization — there’s even more shit to contend with and it’s actually not bad shit.
It’s good shit. And that’s the problem.
You get so used to something and adjust accordingly — and then when detours happen — you’re faced with the realization that you’re slowly but surely inhabiting the cells you swore your immune system could fight off with gusto.
There’s no turning back now.
I’ve submitted to the playground of “views,” “applause,” “stats” and programs that are instituted to test you every step of the way. It’s up to you to decide how far you’re willing to go and whether or not you should be judged by the readily updated graphs — that serve as the converged mood swings of happiness and torment.
I will try not to lose my head to the point of ignoring the symptoms until it’s too late to treat them — but I can’t ever summon the purity of writing for no one — because I surrendered to the privilege of knowing that my hard work will amount to the numbers I’ve earned — even if the guilt of making sure I reach my monthly goal stings enough to reboot nostalgia.
I liked who I was when I didn’t give a fuck about the stuff that I care about now and so I have to make sure those two versions get along.
My writing depends on it.