Ain’t that a Kick in the Head
WordPress, which is the platform I use to modify this blog and host my site, has this thing it calls “Freshly Pressed.” In case you’re unfamiliar, it’s basically a list of highlighted posts from WordPress blogs that, when chosen, get published on the Freshly Pressed page for a day or so.
The cool thing about getting Freshly Pressed is that it can bring thousands of new readers to your site — readers who, with literally millions of blogs to peruse throughout a particularly unproductive work day, often refer to the Freshly Pressed page for the lucky picks the WordPress editors choose to highlight.
Needless to say, ever since I became aware of the phenomenon, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the day when I, too, would get Freshly Pressed and my new wealth of fame and readership would finally — finally — justify why I ever started this thing in the first place. After all, I wanted to be a writer. A surefire sign that I was on the right aspiration path would be to get pressed. That’s what happened to Catherine. And Nate. It happened to Kat twice. So it was perfectly reasonable to think it would one day happen to me as well.
So I waited.
Maybe it would be one of my food posts.
Okay, so I’m not a cook per se and definitely didn’t create the recipes, but if I don’t share the joys of an orgasm panini with the world, who will?
Maybe it would be one of my DIY home improvement posts.
Okay, so I’m not the first person to tile a backsplash, but this might very well be the only place where, among the slew of detailed, step-by-step how-to photos, you can also see photos of my husband’s butt and learn why the word “caulk” is a homophone.
If it wasn’t going to be any of those things, then it would definitely be a post about one of my trips. Who doesn’t love reading about vacations to Hawaii or 2-month trips to Costa Rica?
Apparently the WordPress editors, that’s who.
Wait — that’s not right. I’ve seen Freshly Pressed blogs on each of those topics, including one almost exactly like my (and Erin’s) post about waterfall rapelling.
My post about waterfall rappelling.
Freshly Pressed post about waterfall rappelling.
So apparently they just don’t like my posts about these topics.
I honestly thought for sure one of my posts about Spain might get pressed. I mean, I realize there wasn’t much writing involved, but I still have some highlights of the trip I’d like to share now that I’m home, and I somehow just knew the editors had my blog on a “watch” list, just waiting for the right post to press and finally give me some sense of validation.
Then, today happened.
I went to the Freshly Pressed home page and saw it — a post someone wrote about their recent trip to the South of Spain.
You have GOT to be kidding me.
It made me want to chuck my computer out the window.
It made me want to punch the wall.
It made me want to cry.
It made me want to quit the blog.
I realize this is a huge show of weakness on my part. I mean, I didn’t start the blog for anyone else, so why do I suddenly care if many people read it?
Then it hit me: I care because this is what I want to do. Write.
I decided while on the trip to Spain that I would attempt to get a “real” job upon our return. Not a “career” job, but something with a steady paycheck that I could manage while still trying to do the writing thing. But still, in the back of my mind, I had this dream that some sign would intervene — one of those epiphanies you read about where some lucky person is handed a clue that tells him — beyond all reasonable doubt — that he’s doing the right thing.
The problem is, I was so intent on looking for affirmation that I failed to accept the obvious signs that maybe I’m not doing the right thing.
Or, maybe I’m concentrating my efforts on the wrong thing.
Or, maybe signs are bullshit.
I don’t know.
But I do know that persistence and grit will only get you so far. After all, continuously spinning the tires will often dig a deeper rut.
So. I’m not quitting the blog. Not even close.
But this is my renewed commitment to myself to try some new venues on the path to becoming an actual writer. You know, like maybe sending some pitches in to various publications. Freelancing for other blogs/writing projects. Starting up a rejection pile. Things people who actually make a living in the industry actually do.
I know — there’s going to be work involved.
I can’t believe it either.
Here are some more Spain pictures if you’re one of those people (like me) who actually likes looking at other peoples’ vacation pictures:
Graffiti near Becca and Brad’s apartment.
Malaga from above.
Old juxtaposed with the new.
Malaga store window.
Ferry ride with our hosts, Brad and Becca.
How Spain said goodbye through an airport window.
See more Spain photos here, here, here, and here.
If it makes you feel any better, I’ve never been Freshly Pressed, although another writer on Musings has.
For what it’s worth, I’ve found that the spike in readership you get from a Fresh case of Pressing is fleeting. I get the impression a lot of Fresh Pressing commenters do it, so that they can spread word of their own blogs.
My experience has been that, to really cultivate fans, you simply have to do it the hard way and get out on other people’s blogs and become active and regular commenters.
Dennis, I admire you so much as a writer, you’ll always be Freshly Pressed in my book. ;)
And you’re right – it’s likely short-lived. To be honest, it’s unrealistic to really expect “fans” from a blog on which I only spend a fraction of my time. I need to remember that this is a creative outlet — something I did (and still do) purely from enjoyment and as a way to share my life with the various people I know around the globe. But, if I really want to build a career, I need to start pursuing legitimate “gigs.”
Great advice, as usual. :)
P.S. Thanks for reading. Sincerely.
To be perfectly honest, I think you are a fantastic writer and although you may be wondering why you have transitioned into a more public craving with your blogging, I think you can still go home at night pour yourself a glass of wine and say, “I did pretty darn good today.” Let me explain. Take someone like myself for example, I get up every morning at 6 AM, do my routine and head off to work. When I arrive at work, I turn my computer on and wait impatiently as is boots, then something amazing happens. My email goes, “bling” telling me I have a Domestophobia thingy to read. In a way it is my therapy so thank you Doc.
On the other hand, I can’t imagine how frustrating it would have been to be “outpressed” so to speak. Alas, one day your break will come, as do all and the only person you will have to thank is yourself! That doesn’t sound so bad now does it? So I say give yourself a pat on the back for the hard earned work of entertaining your already existing readers. Aka myself, and I’m sure many others who are looking for a way out.
Just an aside, if your writing career goes into the pooper(which I am assuming that it will most definitely not), your photo skills are fantastic and you should have no trouble creating a portfolio, as a matter of fact you should make a coffee table book!! Speaking as a photographer myself. You have that “eye” that people often miss. Don’t give, good will prevail!
I love this. Thank you, Jamie! And you’re right… I think my frustration is seeing posts that are so much like mine get pressed. It makes me think that someone’s trying to tell me something. When I really think about it though, I’m not sure I’d want the attention of some of the people who read freshly pressed… they can be harsh.
Anyway, it’s difficult for me to tell exactly how many people read this thing on a regular basis, so I’m always happy to hear when someone comes out of the woodwork. :) As far as “getting out,” I’m glad I can help you with that — even if it’s just a little every day. That seriously is amazing to hear.
And thanks for the photography encouragement! I’ve never taken a class or anything, but maybe I should. I’m sure the technical aspect could use some work, since I’m not quite sure what I’m doing.
Thanks, Katie. The feeling is mutual. ;-)
I don’t want this to sound like sour grapes, but I really do feel that getting Freshly Pressed is just WordPress’s carrot to its bloggers and other amateur writers. Sure, it gives you a temporary boost in site hits, but I doubt it’s going to do anything to help your writing career.
Yeah… I was fairly certain it wouldn’t directly help my writing career (since the goal isn’t to base it on this blog anyway), but it would’ve helped my ego, and then my writing career as a result. :)
Why don’t you ever post pictures of your husband?
I do on occasion, like here and here, but truth be told, the “superiors” in his line of work would prefer that he (or I) don’t plaster photos of him all over the internet, so I keep the photos sparse per his request. In fact, they’d probably rather I don’t have this blog at all. And now that I’ve talked about it, they might have to shoot me. So if the posts suddenly stop with no explanation and I “accidentally” fall off the roof of a seven story building, I think you’ll know what really happened. But don’t talk about it — no matter how badly you want to avenge my death.
Katie, I went to a weekend writer’s workshop a month ago and picked up a few helpful tips
1. Get out of your own way
2. Begin Anywhere (John Cage)
PS I totally agree about the portfolio!
GREAT advice, as usual. Thank you!!
Don’t worry. Soon we’ll all have the vineyard. :)
Is it weird that made me feel better? :)
So I totally wrote this super long comment earlier, then my computer decided it hated me, and then I had to leave for a meeting, and I’m only just now getting back here, and you’ve already written a new post. So here’s a general synopsis of what I had written before.
You already know that I think you’re an amazing writer with super awesome photog skills, but how about just a bit more ego-stroking: You Are A Great Writer. You’re already there. Your blog is one of the few that I actually laugh out loud at, or nod my head to as I read.
Since I’ve already established you’re a great writer, turning that into being a paid author will just take those scary calls and proposals. So bravo for making the decision to make that happen.
As far as being Freshly Pressed, maybe it’s like getting pregnant. You want it so bad, and everyone else is pregnant including the 13yr old who is totally not mother material, and it’s just not happening for you, but sometime later when you’ve wrapped your head around the fact that it might not ever happen, and you’ve started shopping for adoption agencies – boom you’re pregnant. I’ll admit, I’m envious of the “Blogs of Note” on my blogger dashboard. Especially when I’ve read some of the schlock that gets picked. It’s hard not to wonder how those blogs are anymore noteworthy than the one you’re writing.
Let me just put it out there, they’re not more worthy, they just got picked. Good luck with the whole being proactive thing. We’ll be cheering for you.
This comment is just plain awesome. Thank you! You can stroke my ego any day. ;)
(By the way, I “pinned” the link to your Naughty Girlscout Cocktail on Pinterest and like 4 people have re-pinned it!)
Yay! I have yet to join Pinterest, because apparenly you need to have a Facebook or Twitter account to sign up. I think Facebook is the evil empire, and I’m not sure if I’m interesting enough to tweet. Still very exciting that people like the drink.
I’ve been waiting for the day you will be Freshly Pressed. I know it’s coming. Your photos are too beautiful and your writing is too poignant for you not to be. Trust me, I have NO IDEA how the powers at be at Freshly Pressed decide who to feature. I have no idea how I got so lucky for them to recognize me twice. It’s been such a fluke – the first time, it was a post I wrote on a whim early in the morning (I never write in the morning) and the second time, it was a post that I wrote that was mostly filler material because I was having writer’s block! And, that post was written months before they Pressed it! Either way, you deserve it. I can’t wait for that day to come :)
Hey, guess what? “Caulk” is only a homophone if you’re from North America. My fella’s Australian and I had to spell it out for him why his boss kept giggling when he was asking about where he could buy some. He was shocked that a) his boss was that childish, and b) we thought they sounded the same, because apparently to the Australian ear, these words are very different.
I will always be that childish. It’s like… ingrained. Silly Aussies. ;)
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