Hello, my dear friends.
Opening a post to start writing here feels a bit like opening a diary now!
Today, I want to reflect on the meaning of my work. Defining what my work is about has been a frustrating experience for me these last 4 years. I felt like I had to be able to explain what I was about and, to be completely honest once more, I couldn’t.
Whenever I read a book or a blog about podcasting or building an audience, I would bump into the same advice: be very clear on your mission. And I sort of was! I just couldn’t put it into words that made sense to others.
Jumbly and not ‘woke’ at all
I knew I wanted to make people smile. I knew I believed that stories could make people hope (again). I knew that the experience of talking to other listeners could amplify those two things. I never managed to get all of it in a boilerplate ‘this is what I do’ description, though.
In the meantime, I watched other creators of all kinds explain at great length what they were about. They were so damned eloquent too! I felt like I was failing at something important here. I also felt like I was not well-versed enough in the appropriate vocabulary.
You’ll rarely hear me use words like ‘representation’ or ‘tropes’ or ‘radical feminism.’ I’m not well-educated in the terms we use to discuss our culture as a whole and the dynamics within it.
This scared me the shit out of me, to be honest. I wanted to contribute to a better world, but I felt like I might be doing more harm than good unless I knew where I stood in all of these discussions. Or at least understand what people were talking about!
To illustrate this, let me tell you how I picked the title ‘The Lesbian Romantic.’ I knew I was going to write stories with two female characters who fall in love with each other. I simply did research on what the best keywords were to describe that kind of story. ‘Lesbian’ was the top keyword.
I wanted people to find my stories, so I used lesbian. That’s all there was to it. At the time, I had no idea that the term ‘lesbian’ has a more layered meaning within our LGBTQ+ community and that it could make some people feel left out.
Another example. One day, a reporter from Slate was willing to interview me. I was thrilled. We set up a call and she asked me all sorts of questions about what inspires me and what I want to accomplish with my podcast.
I struggled to answer. I didn’t have a coherent vision or mission. It was a weird interview because of it. The reporter was trying to give me a hand in coming up with explanations that fit the mold, I think, but I kept saying ‘No… I just, you know,… do it that way!’
The interview was never published. That could have a shitload of reasons, but I could never shake off the feeling that my lack of an inspiring mission statement contributed to it. It reinforced my belief that I was failing at giving meaning to my work.
A seismic shift
I can go on and on, and on, about how I struggled with this for quite some time. I want to get to the point, though. The point is: I felt a major shift happen this week. The first thing that made it happen was reading Amanda Palmer’s book ‘The art of asking.’
That book was an eye-opener for me. Not only did I find someone who believes in the same approach to sharing content as I do, Palmer actually *has* found a way to talk about it. She literally gave me the words to express and explain what I had been thinking and feeling all along.
I started this ‘Shitty Stuff’ blog as a result. The second thing that happened: I got an email in response to my first two blog posts here. A listener volunteered to tell me why he supports my work. His story was so incredibly unique and beautiful. I honestly couldn’t have come up with anything like it even if I tried!
It finally made something click for me: “It’s not my job to decide what my work should mean to others!”
Oh, what a liberating thought, that was. I immediately felt a sense of peace taking over. What I suddenly knew for sure: My job is to create the stories I want to create, as best as I can, and then share them. That’s it. The people who read and listen to my work will decide what it means to them. It’s not even my business, really.
What gives me purpose
I still have my own purpose as a creator, of course. I just no longer try to project it onto my audience as well. *I* want to write stories and share them with people. *I* want to keep challenging myself to take my stories to a new level in all sorts of ways. *I* want as much people as possible to enjoy them so I share them for free.
I want to contribute to a world in which people feel less alone. I want to welcome them into a moment of immersive fiction that makes them believe that things can change for the better, even if it’s just for a few minutes. I want to welcome them into my life and introduce them to all the other friends I’ve made, to all of you.
There. That wasn’t so hard. I think it might even make sense to you. And if it doesn’t… I’ll just keep creating and sharing my stories anyway.
PS: I know it’s not easy to find out when I post here. I think I’m going to place a 🔔 in the navigation for a day or so whenever I have added a post. That way, you get a bit of an alert.
💜 Dear fellow romantic,
I'm on a mission to make people smile. That's why I share my stories freely: so everyone has access to them.
As a crowdfunded and queer creator, I humbly ask for your support to help me keep going in 2021. Every dollar makes a huge difference.