Tag Archives: blogging

Mojo Rising: In Which I Want To Be A Blogger

307153_272353769461853_100000616957975_876750_1805170655_n (1)Hey, reader.

So I’ve not been blogging on purpose. Didn’t have it in me. For two years. Yeah, I know. You can fake it if you wanna, but I don’t phone it in.

What you don’t know is, the more annoyed or passionate I’ve been of late, say the last six months, the more I’ve been writing, and never doing anything with, new posts.

So it occurs to me that I’m, you know, one read/edit and a click away from having a shiny new blog post. Yeah! Something to ACTUALLY read, for you, the reader-person.

Doesn’t that just blow your fucking mind? A click away, man. A click!

•click•

But that’s the thing that’s been missing — the desire to write for public consumption. Or even write at all.

Lately, though, I’ve actually stopped what I was doing just to write something. Write a thing that doesn’t even pay me money! Lemme tell you, friendly reader: That blows my fucking mind.

You got your writers who’ll tell ya that writer’s block doesn’t exist. I’d agree with that. I can write six ways to Sunday all day long, but it doesn’t mean it’s got anything worth saying. And sometimes the saying of it is just a thing that keeps you hemmed into an already-troubled mindset. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

You wanna yammer on because there’s “no such thing” as writer’s block, or wallow in your you-ness, you knock yourself out. I know when I’m writing crap I wouldn’t even line a birdcage with. Let’s call 2012 and 2013 my “Bird Sanctuary Years,” okay? The Epic Saga of When the Crap-Writing Canary-Cage-Liner Sings.

But I got out and dialed up my creativity for photography and cooking, things a brain can pause for. Pause, a nice thing to use. Lovely. Pause. We should all pause a little but more, but petting zoos should have unicorn rides and shoulds don’t mean shit. Creativity is creativity and a writer doesn’t always need to write, I discovered. But now’s a different thing entirely.

So here’s the deal. I’m back. Not in a blogging-daily type incarnation, but then who knows? Maybe. I used to do the EB White write-500-words-a-day and it mostly wound up on here when it went well. Far be it for me to eliminate anything.

But wait! There’s more!

There’s something in this for me too. I’m writing ebooks. Not just one. I have a very crafty scheme in mind for taking this whole entire blog and giving you a radical reinvention of it in ebook form. This one will remain as it is, but I’ll have my fun. I need to get you all riled up about it. All in due time, reader. The grand tease thing. I’m shameless, friend. I’ll admit it. But I’ll make it worth your while too. Found my mojo, after all.

Thus it’s time for me to resume blogging for public consumption. I had my break. It was groovy. I have several things kicking around I can fire up and finish off. Longform stuff too.

I have mounting anger about the stupid-ass bullshit in the world and a raging hard-on to tell you why. I want to write. I’m twitchy. I’m ranty. I’m occasionally funny. I’m freeing up time in my life to take back writing and to own my voice.

Giving myself permission to just not write was what made me eventually write for the hell of it. It’s like rediscovering your golf-swing. You can’t just order it on Amazon. It’ll find ya when it finds ya.

So… I said Hey, reader.

In case you missed them, I have blogged lately… three times this year in larger posts I wrote and stuck on Medium. There was this about Philip Seymour Hoffman that got widely read and was an Editor’s Choice, and then there All The Fucks I Give, my thoughts on people who self-censor and the act thereof, which also was an Editor’s Choice, and finally this on how Twitter Doesn’t Suck, you make it suck.)

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Legacies: When All That’s Done is Said

Wow, so this posting got long. It should probably be separated. I just don’t have the emotional-editorial prowess for that, so I’ll leave it all jumbled together. I’m sure as the days and weeks move on, I’ll become more cemented in what I believe about Derek’s legacy in the blogging world, but, for now, I’m less academic and more the fumbling friend amazed at the outpouring of interest in a loved, lost voice on the local scene, to say the least.

__________________

As of yesterday, our Vancouver friend, the Penmachine, Derek K. Miller’s infamous The Last Post had gone viral both on the web and in the world’s news media. On Monday, the Canadian Press newswire went live with a story on Derek, it was picked up by American Press’s wire, and suddenly it went from 23 notable world press stories on Sunday to more than 220 press organisations (at this time) carrying this story on Derek’s passing worldwide.

I wrote last week that, in blogging, Derek would “…have told his story. A ripple in the pond. That’s all most writers really want to make — a ripple in the pond.”

Some kinda ripple, Derek. Well done, friend.

Words, words, words

I think, in the scheme of Derek’s life work, in all he tried to share with others, that the legacy being created through this worldwide exposure to what blogging can DO for a man, his life, his legacy, and the memory others get to have of him, that Derek’s changing the world’s perception of blogging.

Maybe I’m too close to it.

Maybe I know the man, his work, and maybe I want this to be bigger than it is, but as someone who’s watched the press all her life and knows what the public thinks and feels, this is a rare, rare moment when a really honest, simple, powerful statement is getting heard by the whole world.

And it’s not a world leader. It’s not some political activist dying for a cause. It’s not a celebrity known the world over.

It’s just a statement from a good Canadian man. A father of two, a guy who married his soul mate and died still madly in love with her. It’s the guy we all knew we could call with a technical problem that needed urgent solving, or who we KNEW had just happened to take a secret perfectly-timed picture of us at that event where he just had a camera. He was that guy.

And somehow, who he was, who he loved, and the life he led, that was all captured in a mere 1,500 words. His perfect 1,500 words.

Then the world read it and, in 1,500 words, realised what was truly important in life, what can all disappear in a moment.

Like Derek wrote, “As soon as my body stopped functioning, and the neurons in my brain ceased firing, I made a remarkable transformation: from a living organism to a corpse, like a flower or a mouse that didn’t make it through a particularly frosty night. The evidence is clear that once I died, it was over.”

In a moment, we’re all gone forever. Then what?

Legacy-Making

So what’s his legacy, then? Super-nice local legend loved by those who were at the cusp of all the tech/web/music developments for 20+ years? Great writer? Spokesman for cancer, early testing, and living out loud?

Sure.

But I think Derek’s legacy is bigger, with more global implications.

Derek Miller took time in his dying days to write a post that, if we’re lucky, changes the way we’ve been thinking about language, communication, social media, writing, and connection.

For Derek, blogging (and podcasting) was truth, education, community, sharing, connecting, activism, camaraderie, and putting his stamp on the world. He did it all. He stamped good.

There are a lot of really shitty blogs out there. Content farms, traffic-whores. A lot of bad blogs.

Derek was never guilty of bad blogging.

He wasn’t a “writing filler” kinda guy. He didn’t have some self-imposed turnstile of copy-quota where he “had” to blog every day. He was a writer who was compelled to share a statement, a truth, or anything, but he certainly didn’t blog so we the audience had something to read, or the PR companies with schwag gifts had reason to mailing-list him.

Derek K. Miller always blogged because he had something to say. Something smart, well-said, perfectly edited, often insightful, and never sensationalised.

Somewhere along the road in the last five years, blogging became about expected numbers, certain amounts one had to get done on a weekly basis. Some “experts” claim 3–6 posts is the “perfect” amount. They’ll tell you a “good word count,” and that Derek K. Miller’s The Last Post was 900 words too long. They’ll show you how to juice it up with “search-engine optimising,” and sex it up with a graphic or two — oh, and break it up with headings, gotta do that too.

But they don’t tell you how to have heart in your writing.

They don’t tell you that your readers deserve significant content. They don’t tell you that creativity, quality, honesty, and originality count.

Somewhere, somehow, blogging and social media became about having a social resumé, hawking your wares, getting connected, getting laid, everything someone like Derek K. Miller never bothered manipulating it for.

I’m a writin’ romantic — a passionate idealist about language, writing, and communication.

I believe that blogging is the BEST thing to ever happen to writing.

And I think blogging is the WORST thing to ever happen to writing.

But, for every site concerned primarily with driving traffic, and not worried about enriching your life, there’s a blog quietly churning out good content week-in, week-out, just like The Penmachine did.

I believe a quality blog only needs one posting a week.

If it’s great, then one will do. If it sucks, then none will do.

I believe the sparse, simple, shocking truth behind Derek Miller’s brilliant The Last Post serves as a reminder of what economy of language, a simple desire to state the facts, and opening yourself up to the world can provoke in all manner of people.

We all want to be remembered. We want a legacy.

Blogging: Whoop! There it is

Not stupid blogging. Not bad blogging. Not blogging where you’re talking about ordering a muffin.

Blog about what that muffin means to you — what do you remember when you’re eating it, what was the most emotional muffin you ever ate and why, what happened right before that muffin was served, how did it smell, how did it taste, and does the emotional overload that triggered that muffin return to you now and then when you’re enjoying one, and if so, what’s that like?

A muffin, does it matter to the world at large? No, but your experiences that determine how you feel about a particular muffin, those experiences might.

And that’s a sort of ridiculous-but-clear example of blogging is — a chance for every person to have a real, true, digital record of their understated lives. Their commentary, opinions, injustices, whatever. It’s a record.

We’ve lived in a world where publishing, media, communication have almost always been in the hands of those with money and power.

For the first time ever, we can control our words.

We can make sure others can read them, even strangers in far away lands.

AdAge magazine called Derek Miller’s The Last Post an example of the “democratization of publishing.” Yeah, okay. Sure: Cheap-n-easy self-publishing.

Personal blogging is powerful, not only for you but for the people who get to read it… and maybe even those you leave behind.

We’re told not to “tell” too much. Yeah, all this not-sharing stuff seems to be doing a LOT of good for society.

Oh, no one will ever understand what you’re enduring. No one will get that.

Derek Miller blogged about wearing diapers, yet millions are hanging off his extensive cancer-living archives this week.

You know who doesn’t know what people want to read? THEM. The “experts.”

You know what I want to read?

I want to read people who write about things that leave them feeling uneasy when they hit publish — or proud, or desperate to see what the comments are because that post mighta been pushing it or so angry while writing that clicking “publish” felt like they’d just flushed the toilet on all the shit that had ‘em feeling that way.

I want to read about people experiencing life — in all its varieties.

If you CARE what I think, I probably don’t want to read you. If you think, while writing, “how should I say this to best elicit a reaction?” then I likely don’t want to read you.

If you write because you need to write, because you feel like you have something on your chest and you’re hoping writing will help sort it out, or because you just can’t NOT share THAT observation you had earlier today?

Then you’re the kind of blogger I wish everyone was.

Empowered by Blogging

Blogging is a tool we have for breaking down barriers.

We can connect, teach each other, expose injustices, examine life, do whatever the hell we want.

No longer are we under the thumb of industry when it comes to distributing our creations.

As artists, writers, musicians — if an audience is all we require, then we have the whole world before us. We have 100% artistic control. We have instantaneous access to publication and audiences. We are not at the mercy of industry. Industry is at the mercy of us, and the tide is turning.

Back in 1990 was a movie I always thought was ahead of its time on some of the issues (though dated now), Pump Up the Volume, about Christian Slater as a pirate radio DJ named Happy Harry Hard-on, aka Chuck U. Farley. The premise of all his angsty railing against society was pretty simple come movie’s end: You have a voice. Use it.

In the end, if Derek Miller’s legacy is that people realise they can use the voice they have, I can’t think of a better one. Nothing broke my heart more than to know Derek had lost his speaking voice for much of his remaining weeks in life, and to think his “eternal” voice is heard around the world now… well, it blows me away.

You have a voice. Use it. Leave a legacy of your own choosing.

And, more importantly, consider today what you’d write in your obituary for tomorrow, and take stock now of what you need to change to have that obituary reflect a life you wish you’d have been living — and an emptier bucket list.

Blogging: It’s good mental lifting. Writin’ does a soul good. Check it out, kids.

(Photos: Derek K. Miller — from Facebook profile shots he’s used.)

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A Good Man Is Gone: Words About the Penmachine

There’s something really right about how people around the world are being moved to tears at the amazing end-of-life “The Last Post” published posthumously by my friend Derek K. Miller.

If you don’t know the story of Derek, you can read the Vancouver Sun’s tribute to him here.

I didn’t know him well. I had the good/bad luck of befriending him when he had less than a year left to live. We were in touch online for a few months before that, but we didn’t even meet until a year ago this week. After, I only saw him twice more. He invited me to his 41st birthday at his home, where I met his family, as well as his incredible Living Wake celebration of life in March of this year.

It’s with great sadness that I know now that Derek was friends with friends of my brother, more than 20 years ago, but we never met until 2010.

There are a lot of people I “know” today about as well as I knew Derek, but few could have me this devastated upon news of their death.

Did you see Harry Potter, the first movie? Remember the opening sequence when Dumbledore stands on Harry’s street, and plucks all the light from all the streetlamps, and the world falls dark?

I sorta felt like that when I woke yesterday and heard the news that Derek had passed. Few lights will ever shine as brightly as that man. Not for me.

On the page, erudite and expressive, profound yet simple when commenting upon the world around him, and in person, the warmest, kindest face you could ever see, with eyes that just drank you in because he was THAT interested in everything you had to say.

He was one of those rare people I consider a “hundred-percenter”. He absolutely gave 100% of himself to you, to his work, to his family, to his blog, to life. He did everything seemingly effortlessly, with grace and cool that people just don’t have anymore… even as cancer ravaged him, even to his final days.

In the end, I got to experience him the way the world did, electronically. Cancer’s not exactly awesome for one’s social calendar, so Derek wasn’t getting around much in recent months. His blog was all we got. But what a blog — an affirmation of life being worth living, death not being so scary, and how important little things are — from Diet Cherry Coke to walking the dog.

I knew he was dying, so I read his blog as he wrote it, but now I have years and years of archives to read, and I’m thankful his friends will be keeping that temple of Derek alive online for us all to experience.

Derek found me. He started following me on Twitter. I checked him out. There, in his bio, was “stage IV colorectal cancer.”

Me and cancer, we go back. My immediate reaction? I wasn’t gonna make the mistake of befriending this guy just so he could go and die on me.

And then I read his content.

I thought about it. Pretty fascinating guy. And, “it’s only Twitter.”

Followed him back. We engaged. He read my blog, commented regularly, and the exchange and mutual respect grew. Pretty standard digital story.

Then the Northern Voice conference came along in May, 2010, and I had to do a speech. The auditorium was packed with a lot more people than I’d imagined would come out, and my nerves were at Puke-Alert Level 3.

They tell you one of the public speaking tricks is to find the face of the kindest, most interested, most riveted, gracious-looking person in the auditorium, and look to them when you need someone to buoy you.

Instead of my friends, I made eye contact with Derek K. Miller and felt safe. I felt really, really safe, I let my guard down, and I had one hell of a successful talk. I don’t know if I could’ve had that same vulnerability without lucking into someone who was so incredibly responsive and supportive in the audience, like Derek was for me. He had this little smile throughout the speech, never broke eye contact for the whole half-hour, and now, whenever I think of Derek, I see him sitting left of centre in the front of that audience, his legs crossed, leaning on the armrest, his camera in his lap.

But, because the advanced stage of cancer left me unable to experience more tangibly the gift of his in-person friendship, the part of me that will mourn Derek the most is Me the Writer.

Even seasoned writers will tell you that ripping the Band-aid off and exposing your gaping wounds on the page is a tough, tough business. So many of us get wrapped up in the drama of it, dressing up the experience and making it so much more, or else totally missing the ballpark with this clinical detachment that “tells” and doesn’t show what’s going on. In those weak and affected retellings we lose the truth of the experience, and it’s nailing the truth that makes for great writing.

Derek, though, he had this incredible balance, an economy of language, and it just worked so well. His scientific predilections made him irrepressibly truthful, always, and frankly straight about it, but his heart infused his passion in his words, and his boyish wonder of the world would be inescapably obvious. Few writers can offer that combination of heart, passion, matter-of-factness, and childlike wonder, and Miller brought it all with a bang. His voice was rare.

And he wasn’t afraid. He had no pride getting in the way of telling us he was wearing diapers at the end, or in explaining physicality of the disease itself. He didn’t play the sympathy card. He simply wrote.

He wrote for the purest reason a man can write — to share his story because he knows he’s not alone in the human condition, and even if he would never meet that face on the other side of the world, he’d have told his story. A ripple in the pond. That’s all most writers really want to make — a ripple in the pond.

Derek K. Miller had one of the earliest online presences in this country. He had a legendary history on the web. He kept a weblog for almost as long as they’ve been around — 14 years now.

He wrote because he simply had to write.

He’s the kind of person I want to be when I grow up.

And he doesn’t exist anymore.

We, the Vancouver community, will forever remember you, Derek. You used the internet in the way we dream the whole world would — to teach, inspire, communicate, shed truth, entertain, build community, record posterity, and, most of all, just plain make friends.

Another good man’s done and gone, too fucking soon. Rest in peace.

**** **** **** ****

My Dream For Derek:

I love that Derek’s The Last Post is causing people to stop and rethink life around the world — from Roger Ebert all the way down to a housewife sobbing as she reads it on her iPhone in the WalMart parking lot (like a friend back east told me she did). He was that good a writer. He deserves the audience, even if he’s gone.

It’s his ripple in the pond, and I hope it ripples forever.

I would love a publisher to take his work and make it into book form. I would buy that book. I would gift that book.

I would love his amazing daughters and wife to receive royalties on his life’s work.

If Derek’s work could have a life after him, and provide a life for his daughters, it would be a beautiful, wonderful thing to behold.

The world would be a far, far better place if it were men like Derek that we all aspired to be, not celebrities.

Derek K. Miller, a man for the ages.

PS: The photo’s caption isn’t displaying for some reason. It’s a self-portrait taken in the photo booth at Derek’s Living Wake, about 6 weeks before his death. He chose it as his last Facebook profile avatar, and I think it was Derek’s funny way of toasting his friends for being a part of his life. ‘Cos he’s that kinda guy.

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Of Bloggers And Trolls: Oh, My!

Sometimes all it takes to get back into writing is to sit down and do it.

Got a comment this morning that I promptly deleted, since I’m just getting too old for that shit.

If you want to call me out objectively on anything I’ve written, step right up, my friend. Let’s have a beer and chew that chat, all right? I’m down with dissent, constructive criticism, and I don’t shy away from debating anyone I know. I call it like I see it ‘cos I’m too lazy to keep up with lies.

Love dissent and debate, in the real world. Online, who wants to type that much? Still, I try to engage.

But when the extent of your entire comment is “you’re rambling lately,” the delete bin is for you. I used to be one of these “Hey, I’ll publish every comment!” types who purport to be encouraging dialogue, but then I realised that, um, no, it’s just encouraging stupidity.

The older I get, the more I think they might’ve been onto something with eugenics. I’m very aware that, while the internet is giving much-needed voices the airplay they deserve, it’s also broadcasting some real fuckin’ tools.

Here’s the deal. If you go around commenting on posts all the time, and you don’t have a blog, and you’re always antagonistic and IN YO FACE BEYOTCH about it, then just shut the hell up. Really. Do some self-medicating, find a mountaintop guru for advice — I don’t care what you do, but just find a purpose in life, ‘cos it’s just sad, sad, sad to see what some folk get reduced to in life… commenter.

Thank god for the nice people who comment to share stories and are awesome and open and rah-rah-rah, because they’re the reason we keep pushing “publish.”

Them’s the new house rules. No more troll comments published. Dissent? Okay. Be smart and respectful and tell me I’m wronger than than wrong, I’m down with that.

Otherwise, hey, don’t like the writing? Don’t read it. Don’t like my opinions? There’s the door. There’s only 100 million blogs in the world, I’m sure you can find some carbon-copy of you out there somewhere. Good luck lookin’, Skippy.

Life’s short, man. I’m living it as me, writing what I want to say, and that’s the way the blogging cookie crumbles. If I gave a fuck about pleasing anyone in specific, I’d be checking my Google Analytics more than once a month. And probably swearing a LOT less.

Instead, I write or I don’t.

Sometimes the writing blows monkey chunks. Welcome to the “I’m a real person” thingie. Creativity isn’t a tap you turn on and it rushes out. We’re lucky to tame the whirlwind once in a storm season. Now and then: Brilliance. The rest of the time? It’s why sailboats come with motors. Sometimes you’re gonna coast a while.

And that’s blogging. A less-than-selective writing process.

You want consistency? Read a book.

You want real-time accuracy? Snapshots of a person’s life in weekly digestible bits, largely a little less censored than they ought to be, flaws hanging out for the world to see? Read a blog.

You want to be the loser that just writes negative comments without anything of value, lacking useful critiques? Don’t.

As much as many bloggers are self-involved twats, there are a lot of bloggers are ripping off Band-aids most publishers wouldn’t pay to publish. They’re being brutally real about their lives, thoughts, and worldviews.

Bloggers started this whole firestorm of openness and communication that we haven’t figured out how to use for the betterment of mankind yet — Twitter, Facebook updates, blogs, video blogging. It was all born because some dude began journaling on the web a couple decades ago.

Maybe blogging hasn’t definitively changed the world yet, maybe there are lots of twats making it look ugly to others, but I still believe in the power of blogging, the quest for individual truths, the dynamism of millions of voices saying what needs to be said if only for a dozen other people.

And when people who might be timid otherwise finally have the courage to click “publish” and start their blogs, they don’t need spineless hacks pissing on their parade.

There’s a growing call to remove “ANONYMOUS” comment ability. Having one’s name on their vitriol doesn’t make it any more valid, just not as despicable. Maybe one day I’ll remove anonymity here, too.

In the meantime, I blog on the things I think are interesting, important, or that I’m just obsessing about.

Because that’s what blogging’s for. We now return you to your scheduled silence.

I thank those of you who’ve read me (inexplicably) for years, who’ve shared your experiences and opinions. You’re awesome.

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In Which Steff Talks About Mental Health

Come Saturday I’ll be giving a talk at Vancouver’s “Mental Health Camp,” where the goal is to get people thinking about stigmas attached to a wide range of mental conditions — from ADHD and depression through to eating disorders and compulsions all the way to harder-core afflictions like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Me, I’ll be talking specifically on two things — one, I’ll give a 45-minute session on blogging for therapy in my solo “Ripping the Scab Off through Blogging” talk, and two, I’ll be on a panel discussing how each of us 4 panelists have used social media to share our psychological struggles and what it’s meant for us.

This posting is sort of to just touch on both of those, in support of the event, and to let you know what’s going down.

_____

I’ll be honest: Yeah, I’m not particularly wild about talking at something called “Mental Health Camp.” There is stigma, yeah. Damn right there is.

I also know that if there’s anyone who can overcome such stigma, I’m probably at the front of the line.

I’ve spent much of the last five years already writing about myself in very open ways as I take the journey of going from She Who Was Very Unhappy to this much more interesting and fun-to-be-with version of self I’m excavating from under years of neglect.

Writing about myself has been a huge part in how I’ve been able to accept where I was, where I needed to be, and what it would take to get there.

By learning how to write in an open way while still hanging on to details that weren’t really necessary to share, I’ve managed to be open yet keep some of my struggles inside, too. Snapshots, that’s what y’all get.

In homage to one of the great Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, I call the writing technique “surfacing” and it’s pretty simple to do, it’s just a matter of perspective. Shifting that perspective ever so slightly creates a whole new reward from the writing.

I’ll be talking about it in  detail on Saturday, and don’t want to blow my hand by writing all about it here and now.

The talk will include a lot more than that, though.

I’ll look at the differences between journal-writing and blogging, and point out all the pros and cons of turning to the web for an audience. I’ll tell you who should be blogging more openly (almost everyone) and who shouldn’t (and there are some).

I’ll tell you the top 10 reasons I think anyone willing to blog should be willing to be more personal, and why blogging for therapy just makes sense from a societal point of view — both from solidarity and healing perspectives.

I’ll also share the prices I’ve paid while attempting to cash in* on living the revealed life. It’s not something one should enter with the foolish notion that “I’ll write it and they’ll read it.” There’s a lot that can go wrong. There’s a lot that can play out well. There’s much to consider.

____

Later, I’ll be on a panel with three friends — all of whom have had far, far harder mental health journeys than I have — discussing how we’ve been “out” about our lives and the prices/rewards it’s cost/yielded us.

In both situations, I’ll briefly outline the facts: I lived with mild depression for most of my life. I’ve learned that, when it comes to natural depression FOR ME, it’s controlled with diet and exercise. I have indeed been medicated on a few occasions, both for “situational depression” as well as ADHD.

I’m on no meds now. It’s not a prize I’ve won for being a Good Mental Health Patient. It’s just that I’ve found a way to mostly regulate my chemistry.  When I was ON meds and began eating well and exercising, what WAS a good level of meds went sideways fast as I started building my own seratonin and dopamine.

Do NOT fuck with meds just because I’ve been able to get off mine. It’s NOT about the meds, it’s about what’s safe for you. Talk to doctors!

But all this is to say I’ve been to my mental health hell with a chemical depression that took two years of medication to regulate back to normal. I’ve been on the verge of suicidal with a desperate cry for professional help in the past, all while being an intelligent person who felt trapped in this chemical mood I couldn’t shake for months and months.

Before that, I had to overcome a head injury. Since the chemical depression, I’ve had to learn to adjust to an adult-ADHD diagnosis and how it makes me see the world.

So, I’ve had some experiences, and they’re probably more common to the general populace than my colleagues’ are, so I’m happy I can provide a “mental health light” perspective to balance it out.

Being on the other side now, I remember how hard it was to be in the chokehold the disease of depression had on me. I never thought I would escape. Suicide seemed like a smart plan.

Here, now, and looking back, it does shock me how putting my head down and keeping on keeping on, fighting the fight, eventually paid off and has brought me to a better sense of self than I’ve ever known before. Yeah, I’m proud of the stuff I accomplished.

The journey was long and strange, and I feel I’m still on it and I’ll always have to be aware that depression can find me again, but having this kind of self-awareness and openness, as much as it’s been problematic at times, is something I feel that will probably help me navigate whatever stormy waters might one day roll my way again.

The truth shall set you free?

Yeah. Maybe. Let’s talk.

____

People in Vancouver can see these talks, among many other good ones, for a lowly $10 at the door. There are plenty of tickets, and, yes, it’ll be air conditioned in the heatwave. Wahoo. There’s a chance it’ll be streaming live, and if so, I’ll be posting that URL for my followers on Twitter, and you should check there Saturday morning, in case I forget to post it here.

*Figuratively, not literally.

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RANT: Elite? Who’s “Elite”?

Yesterday, someone in the Vancouver social media scene* sort of thought it ironic that I should slag “tweetups” as being elitist and circle-jerky, since I was avoiding the whole worldwide “Social Media Appreciation Day” thing that Mashable sponsored and launched right here in Vancouver.

Apparently the thought is that I am now “elite” in Vancouver.

Yeah, whatever.

I was taken aback a little, to be honest. About being called elite, not that Mashable should say we are the seat of the world’s social media scene right now.

So, about that. Let’s talk about social media in Vancouver and maybe how I do or don’t fit into it, okay?

These days, compared to a lot of people, I don’t have a “huge” Twitter following — it’s about 3,500, but in there are a lot of really notable people in media. I suppose that’s why Klout thinks I’m up there in my influence now. Weird shit.**

Now, you gotta know: I logged onto Twitter back in April of 2008, looked around, and said “This is fuckin’ lame. No way this will ever catch on.”

I didn’t log in again until August, when it sorta started making some sense to me.

Then I found myself liking the challenge of coming up with interesting things that people might get a kick out of, or respond to — I loved the resonance I had when I was creative and/or funny.

For me, Twitter has always been about the thrill of creation. I challenge myself to see the world uniquely, and try to relate it to others in a way that makes them indentify and think, “YEAH, TOTALLY.” I like to make observations most people have only the inclination to think, but seldom to speak.

I try and be to Twitter in lifestyle observations what someone like George Carlin might’ve been — that’s my goal. I’m falling short, sure, but that’s the goal. I’m not fucking there to be all buddy-and-chatty, but I do let myself get social on there, and love the friends it’s brought into my “real” life.

Frankly, being on Twitter has changed and improved my life in EVERY way. I don’t deny that, and it’s why it’s such a valued role / time-focus for me. I do LOVE the opportunities it generates.

When it comes to blogging in Vancouver, I can count on one hand the number of official “blogging” events I’ve attended — and one was as a speaker. I’ve been to less than 10 tweetups in two years. I’m hardly “on the scene” except via what you see online, and that’s how I’d prefer it.

To be truthful, I have social phases, they come and go — usually with the seasons, literally. Winter, I hibernate, but summer, I love to see people more.

As far as celebrities and/or “connected” people on Twitter or in blogging, know whose ass I kiss? No one’s. People I talk to, I talk to because I’ve got something to say or I genuinely like them, or, as is often the case, they’ve said something that springboards into the perfect joke for me to crack.

I think blogging/Twitter celebrities are a fucking laugh, because I’ve “been one” in the past, and I know what my life was like behind the scenes and how hard I had to work to keep that wagon-wheel turning — and how much I personally began to compromise to see that happen.

I know how disposable we “social media stars” all are. Think you’re a creative genius? Yeah, you’re just one of millions — and it can go as quickly as it comes, as I’ve learned myself. Get over yourself, ‘cos pedestals and empires both come tumbling down, my friend.

Online celebrity that your livelihood depends upon not as enviable a position as you might think, so I don’t care to be a professional blogger. If I did, you’d see oodles of ads on here or affiliate sites.

But, you don’t.

Maybe you will one day — I’m not above it; it’s just that I’m not interested in what it takes to keep going successfully. I have NO illusions about how hard it is to keep that success going, and I don’t want to be beholden to my content right now. Advertising can influence content if it becomes too financially integral to you, and I’m on this blogging journey for myself and to create dialogue about things, not to have a livelihood. Priorities, and I know what mine are right now.

As a result, I don’t need to go to tweetups to whore myself for clients, network, or make buddies, since I’m already stretched for making time for people I care about, so I kinda hate tweetups, for the most part.

Why? They’re awkward. A lot of tweetups can be phony, filled with self-puffery and promotion. Every time you shake a hand, you get a resume. It’s often loud and blarey. No “real” communication happens at them. They’re cliquey — I’m forced to pick people to hang out with, and I don’t WANT to pick a table and stick with it; I’d rather meet a wide assortment of people. I’m a mingler, not a “sit and be exclusive” type, and I hate feeling like I have to stick with who I came with. I prefer smaller events with 10 or fewer people, where I can actually make eye-contact with everyone and talk to each person at the table.

In short?

I didn’t fucking ASK to be liked by you, or anyone.

All I sought to do was be real, be myself, have a place to put my voice, and honour my responsibility to deliver the content I know I’m capable of creating.

THAT’s what I do.

THAT’s what I want acclaim for and feel I deserve it for, because I do take risks and put myself out there, and I’ve been judged, and I’ve lost jobs, and I’ve been ostracized, all while I’ve fought to have relevance for my voice and the beliefs I think deserve to get air time with everyone else’s.

I’m a WRITER. I’m a writer who uses the now-accessible modern tools well. That’s ALL.

I’ve paid the real-life price to get noticed and be outspoken, and I did it on my terms the whole goddamned time.

Yes, I think that’s worth saying.

Yes, I’m proud of never compromising who I am.

You think that makes me full of myself? Then I’m sorry you don’t know what it’s like to have pride in what you’ve created. Pride is good, so long as you realize you’re not the only one with skillz.

I deliberately avoid hanging out with those perceived to be “the elite” because I don’t want ANYONE to think that’s all that I’m about.

I’ve worked too hard for this NOT to be about MY CONTENT and ONLY my content.

Am I going to diss the elite? No fucking way. Why not? Because some of them are incredible people doing incredible things, and they deserve every bit of their acclaim, whether you think so or not. A lot of people slam the “elite” out of jealousy or some sense of entitlement that leaves them feeling like they’ve been robbed via others’ success.

It’s bullshit. You get what you work for in life, and if you’re not getting what you want, you’re doing it wrong.

Trust me, this I know. I’ve spent a lot of time fucking it up over the years. I have a doctorate in fucking up, honey.

These days, I’m just riding the wave life brings me, and if being myself and not censoring my thoughts on Twitter somehow has given me cachet with a wide range of people, then that’s great, but it’s not EVER been the motivation behind anything I’ve tweeted or blogged.

I was the unpopular kid in high school so I get how bullshit popularity is, and how, for every person who’s accepted and celebrated, there are a dozen who are isolated and hurt — and that, too, is bullshit.

I am NOT a part of that circle. I am NOT a part of that hurt.

If I fucking cared about the circle-jerk, or thought my social status mattered, I’d probably try to offend fewer people.

I don’t even know what elitism is anymore, because I know I’m sure as hell not guilty of it, yet I get the feeling I’m accused of it.

I’m an anti-social person who comes to hang out some of the time, but would rather have someone over for coffee, not tweet about their visit, and just keep it real. I’m not snubbing anyone, it’s just not my deal.

Walk a decade in my shoes and maybe you’ll see why I like my quiet, anti-social life.

Know who I had over for breakfast this morning? Nope, you don’t. They’re “elite”, according to some people’s skewed perspectives on things, but I don’t give a fuck if you know. Why? Because I don’t need your approval, I don’t need the reputation-crutch of name-dropping, and I just generally don’t care.

The only time I do care is when people think I’m mean or a jerk, because I’m not, and it’s plain wrong to think so.

Find a time I’ve used cruelty against a person or group for humour. Give me an example. You can’t. Tell me about the time that I publicly ostracized someone who did something inconsequential, making an mockery of them in an attempt to belittle them. Right, you can’t. Tell me about the time that I snubbed people who approached me at an event. Yeah, you can’t do that either.

Because that’s not who I am.

I’m a scattered ADHD chick with strong but fair opinions and a biting sense of humour who’s just doing her shit, and people seem to like it.

Where you think it places me on the social spectrum is all about your deal, it’s not my reality.

It’s like that line in the Breakfast Club opening voiceover — “You see us how you want to see us.”

But I’m the chick that wakes up knowing I live with a bug problem and have to struggle to pay the rent.

I’m not on the A-list, I’m not hobnobbing, I’m not well-to-do, and I’m not who you fucking think I am.

Just because I give you this strategic view on my world doesn’t mean you really know jack shit about my life, so don’t kid yourself. You know EXACTLY what I want you to know, and not a fucking bit more — because I’m anti-social and things about my life don’t just “slip” into the public knowledge. It’s very much under my thumb. All of it.

You think I’m the ultimate oversharer? Heh. Right. I’m pulling the puppet-strings — I’m a content creator, I’m not a diarrhetic flood with no censure. Trust me, there’s a master plan, but it doesn’t involve hobnobbing with “the scene”.

It’s time to get over what we think other people are, and just take them exactly for what they say and do.

Because, you know, if you actually judge me on my words and actions, I’ll be goddamned proud to stand behind them.

And that’s who I am.

*This person meant it in a casual observation way and I didn’t take offense but it was the first time someone really put into words what I’ve sort of had people suggesting for a while now, and now that it’s out and said, I thought I’d write about it. As I started writing, I got worked up. Thus the cookie crumbles.

**Maybe being interested in Klout seems hypocritical after this rant, but why would I create content if I didn’t want it read or absorbed? I’m absolutely interested in knowing my resonance, I want to be read, I just don’t care about getting on “the list” socially.

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