Tag Archives: Writing

The “Valley of Despair” Sucks

I sometimes frequent the blogging subreddit, but not too frequently. The sub seems to focus mostly on increasing viewers, finding topics to write about, and doesn’t seem too concerned with the “art” of blogging. It isn’t too active of a sub with most posts getting at most between 20 to 30 comments. Compared to some subreddits (like the famed r/wallstreetbets) it isn’t really active even if you can find some decent information from time to time.

I still check it out sometimes and one comment resonated with me this past week. The actual discussion was about how many blogs actually “make it.” (which is an unexplained victory condition: what the hell does “making it” blogging mean? Make money? Keep it running for more than two years? I mean eventually you’ll die and your blog will end but that doesn’t seem like you’ve “failed at it.” Anyways, /rant #1.) There were varying answers but the one that stuck with me was one that mentioned “the valley of despair.” [Big Fucking Note here: I went and found the thread I was alluding too and the poster in question referred to it as “the dip” and linked to blog describing “the dip.” I really have no idea how I came upon the term “valley of despair” in regards to blogging, but apparently the term is real. Who fucking knows. Maybe my mind just connects dots on its own and doesn’t notify me that it’s doing so. Or maybe I’m losing my damn mind. I just wanted to stay accurate with what I’m actually writing.] I didn’t officially know what the hell the valley of despair was but something in the back of my mind knew it too well. Even if it wasn’t explained to me I already knew exactly what it was.

I suppose it’s easy to see in retrospect, as everything is. This blog right here had a “dead period” (actually two of them) not too long ago and since I’ve gotten my act together I’m finding some success. It feels like I’ve hit a stride where all I need to do is to keep working at the blog and it’ll be successful. I’m quietly confident about it and while I don’t think it’ll ever be a super-popular monetized thing I know it won’t be a “dead blog.” Looking back at those dead periods when I wasn’t writing, wasn’t posting, and felt about deleting the damn thing was, obviously, the dreaded valley of despair. And according to that one resonating Reddit comment, is the primary obstacle to successful blogging.

I didn’t want to make this post about blogging though because I’m in a new valley of despair in another area of my life: creative writing. To sum it up quickly, me, lost without any major goals, decided to take up creative writing about three weeks ago. I attempted this years ago and just didn’t stick with it, but this time it’s different. (Really. I’m fucking sticking to it this time.) I took my old blog and started collecting some short stories and chapters to a “book,” made a Facebook author’s page for myself, and started posting and sharing my work (please go check these out if you’re interested). Initially I was met with some warm reception from a few friends and, holy fuck, I was actually doing it! I was going to be Jeremy the Author Guy and sell books and shit. I was riding the wave and on top of the world was king of the world.

It’s funny what two weeks can do to you though. My last few “chapters” haven’t had shit for readers/viewers/likes/feedback at all, and I’m fundamentally wondering if I’m actually cut out to be a writer. Do I even have that “gift” that creative writing requires. (It doesn’t. I’m convinced, logically, that all anything takes is hard work and “talent” is just some bullshit idea people who don’t want to do hard work use as an excuse to not try anything. /rant #2.) Even if I know in my mind that it’s just hard work and dedication, I still feel in my heart there is some vague thing called “talent” that I might not have and will never have it even if I don’t believe it. It’s like some festering, subconscious fear I have, like being scared of the dark knowing well you’re perfectly safe. Hell, and maybe my stories are just terrible. This is a really scary thought because if they were no one would say it out of kindness. I’d like to really know how bad I am so I can either 1. give the fuck up or 2. know what I’m bad at exactly so I can improve on it. But pestering friends and family to read your shit is a whole new level of cringe that just comes across as attention seeking. BUT I JUST WANT FEEDBACK GUYS.

Let’s define this a little bit more though as it makes total sense with writing/blogging/whatever new project you’ve started. Some uninspired Googling has given me a bunch of charts and websites talking about “emotional change” and while that isn’t exactly what starting a project is, I think it’s close enough to actually be the same thing. Like maybe starting a new project is a subset of “emotional change” as you’re adjusting to having an entire new part of your life you’re dedicated to. There also is apparently a Dunning-Kruger valley of despair, but that doesn’t seem to be relevant to the topic at hand.

Since I couldn’t find a site that seemed legit or non-clickbaity enough, I just screencapped everything Google tossed at me. As you can see most charts show the same sort of trend when faced with “change.” It’s kinda like a sine curve or something.

Close enough, right?

And then I went and drew my own so I can talk about each point I labeled, as well as not get any sort of copyright bullshit tossed at me.

Current Mood vs. XP Points Gained at your “project” or whatever you’re doing. It seemed general enough.
  1. This is usually called “uninformed optimism” or some shit like that. Basically this is the point where you’re high off actually making a decision to progress forward at something. You have a goal that you’ve set upon and you start working towards it. Actually doing work towards a goal feels fucking amazing and even if you’re scared of the future, at least you’re taking matters into your own hands.
  2. This is the start of the valley of despair also called something lame like “informed pessimism.” This is where you realize that your goal isn’t going to be all fun and games and that, holy hell, sometimes doing a glorious and noble task like writing a book is actually not that fun sometimes. And sometimes it’s actual work that you dread.
  3. The pit of the valley of despair. I think with creative writing I’m somewhere between #2 and #3 (although I’d like to be closer to #3 so I can actually get over feeling awful about it. I don’t even know how to explain this spot on the chart because it’s like an unexplainable pit in your stomach. It’s a total feeling of shit, like you’re not meant or cut out to do what you’ve set out to do. Like the universe itself doesn’t want you as an author/blogger/artist/whatever. It makes you want to quit and many people do give up their project in this phase. The project feels like a mistake: a mistake that you continue to put time, effort, and resources towards that also feels like a waste of all of these. The general feeling of being shit is also kinda shitty. There doesn’t seem to be a way forward and you’re not happy doing what you’re doing. It’s a feeling of being lost and of wanting to toss the towel in and give up.
  4. “Informed optimism.” After hard work and giving up all hope you find some success but you’re not letting that shit go to your head because you think you still fucking suck at what you’re doing, but there are clear signs of progress if you quit being pessimistic enough to notice them. I like to think you make progress continually at this stage because of giving up in the valley of despair. You simply don’t care if you make it or not and your project just becomes something you do without attachment anymore. There’s something very freeing about not giving a shit, and this allows you to do what you do in the most genuine way possible. I say this so clearly because this blog right here is at #4 I think. I don’t give a fuck if no one reads it or if I fail, and contrary to what you’d expect, I’m actually have some success with it.
  5. Success! (whatever that actually means) I don’t even want to get into this because I don’t know what it’s like to be at #5. I’m assuming this is the point where you feel confident at what you’re doing — a quiet confidence that isn’t cocky — and your project has become a facet of who you are and part of your life. You accomplish things in a determined but carefree manner. I get this impression when I visit successful and mature blogs as well as many YouTube channels. Like go watch a newer SmarterEveryDay video and tell me Destin isn’t at #5 on this chart. That man is in the zone doing what he’s doing and he’s confident and enthusiastic with what he’s doing.

“Hey Black Haired Guy, got any tips for us bloggers/writers weathering the storm in the valley of despair?” No, no I do not because, like I said, I’m not at #5 so don’t think I am qualified to give tips and am kinda hoping for tips myself. But if anything (and maybe to just get myself fucking hyped the fuck up to continue on creatively writing) don’t give up! Because what else are you supposed to do besides not give up? If you give up in the valley of despair you’re fucking giving up. The whole thing this chart hints at is the fact that success might just be making it through the valley in the first place. Like maybe this is where the 80 or 90% of blogs that “don’t make it” go to die; what if the valley of despair is just the great filter between you and success? I just don’t see what you’d gain by giving up because giving up is giving up!

Being slightly more specific maybe I do have more ways to get myself siked up more tips for those in the valley of despair. Make small bits of progress: a book isn’t going to write itself in a few days and a blog won’t be successful in the first few months or years. Take things one tiny bit at a time. Write a chapter every two days or post a blog post every few days or every week. Maybe make a schedule and hold yourself to it like it’s a job? Try to summon memories from when you first started and we’re enthusiastic about your dream/goal. Find that passion that surely still lives deep within you. And if you’re really lost? Write down a plan. Writing seems to be a large part in marketing yourself so try doing that for some possible success. Ask people to read and critique your writings and learn from it. Or, to sum up what I said before: don’t fucking give up!

Anxiety Sucks

So its currently 8 a.m. and I’m writing this post on my phone (recall I hate writing on my phone). As I lay in bed. Totally unable to sleep. I typically don’t write posts this way. Usually I get an idea, sit down with a cup three cups of coffee at the table, and type up a semi-pre-planned idea on my ‘puter. This usually happens around 1 or 2 p.m. as I typically don’t wake up until noon. (..and so what?!) Being awake and typing on a phone screen at 8 a.m. is unique and not a good sign at all.

So what’s going on here? As the title says: anxiety. Anxiety is why I’m unable to sleep and anxiety is why I’m writing currently. I’m hesitant to get too far into this post because surely I’ve written about anxiety before, right? It seems like such a general and overarching topic that I’ve had to made a post about it already. But maybe since it’s so large of a topic I haven’t even attempted to write anything about it. It’s just too imposing to even attempt tackling.

Part of this is because I don’t think I actually have anxiety. Being an individual leaves you constantly confused as to what’s “normal” in life, i.e. how similar am I to my fellow humans? I have nothing to compare my internal anxiety to because I’m hopelessly stuck inside my own head and body as myself. All I can know of other people is what they tell me through actions, words, music, or whatever else. Basically, are people like me or am I unique with [insert trait here]? In this case, anxiety. Does everyone feel this way or is it me, and hence, an actual problem?

My anxiety doesn’t seem to be life-crippling (like I can leave the house or go to a store) but it also seems to keep me chained up in a way. I hate going shopping alone even though I will if I must. I hate trying out new restaurants. I have no idea how people actually “network” or “ask around” to find jobs, opportunities, or whatever. A good example is finding a possible editor for my two ebooks: how the hell do you find people to read and give feedback on your book? It all seems so difficult to talk to people and most of the time I just do things on my own as much as I can. This totally limits what I can accomplish while not completely crippling me. In regards to my books, yes they’re finally published, but they’re probably not as professional as they could’ve been. Is this normal?

Or is it totally normal to be laying in bed at 8 a.m. after falling asleep at 3 a.m. writing a blog post on anxiety? I love my sleep, am currently very tired, but my mind will not shut the fuck up. I keep thinking of stuff I need to do, and how I’ve been needing to do this stuff for the past two weeks. I need to make a blog post here. I need to work on/post some stories on my other site which is a whole new level of anxiety with people reading fiction you’ve written. I keep thinking of possible chapters and ideas and mentally “writing” them in my head (and forgetting them in the morning). I think of work and sort of visualize how the day will go. (I start at 5 p.m. so have 8 hours before I even need to be getting ready for work. It’s not a pressing matter at all.) I reflect on the past day and continually think about “what people said/did” and if words and actions have deeper meaning than on the surface (“We’re they joking with me or do they fucking hate me?!”). I think of topics to discuss with people in the upcoming day. I think of social media and how I’m trying to create a presence for myself and how utterly stressful that is. I think of the Amazon on fire, the hurricane about to bitch-slap Florida, and the amount of CO ₂ in the atmosphere. I think of how useless I am. I think “Hey, wait. How do wind tunnels work?” and go down a Wikipedia rabbit-hole. My mind won’t shut the fuck up about anything.

One thing about anxiety that sucks is how pervasive it is with the rest of your life; it’s not that you are anxious and, oh well, you deal with it; it seems to subtly or not-so-subtly fuck everything else up. Currently, insomnia seems to be a good example of an anxiety-induced side effect. And naturally, lack of sleep also affects your mood, physical health, eating, and appearance among other things. When I get stressed I usually eat a ton of food. I’m not a stress-eater by far, but I notice it’s difficult to eat healthy if I’m anxious. Anxiety also makes you susceptible to shitty behavior like drinking or drugs which only makes the general problem of anxiety worse.

My anxiety usually comes from worrying about life, and struggling to make progress in life facing this anxiety. So in a way anxiety also makes itself worse by paralyzing my ability to move forward. Consider those fiction stories I want to write/post; the more I think of what to write and how I should be writing the more pressure I put on myself until I’m too scared or terrified to actually move forward. Anxiety is paralyzing and leads to endless procrastination. Earlier I was wondering why I don’t just give up this blogging/writing/self-working/self-publishing “hobby” if it stresses me out so much. It would be easier and comfortable for me to just give it all up, decide it isn’t for me, and to find another pursuit. At least that way I could, ya know, be peaceful and sleeping instead of furiously smashing letters into words on my phone as I lie in bed.

Since I know I have anxiety about being open, writing, and creativity in general that I feel that this is the way forward. Like the anxiety is pushing me out of my comfort zone, being a compass leading me to what I need to focus on. I realize I can’t sit in my comfort zone all day and do nothing and that anxiety is somewhat a part of life. Like if I want to move forward I need to sometimes just deal with the anxiety and press forward in spite of it. It just doesn’t feel good in the moment. 

But, once again, is this unique to me or is this a problem? I’ve really thought about seeing a psychologist or a therapist about this possibly crippling anxiety, but guess what? It makes me anxious even thinking of finding someone to go to! Will insurance pay for it? Will I be put on meds? What if, what if, what if…? It’s always easier to suffer in silence. And am I really suffering or…?

I’m really curious for other people’s opinions on this topic. Do you guys feel exactly like this daily and just force yourself forward? Is this perfectly normal? Is the stress I’m under now what’s actually forcing me forward? Did you use to be this way and finally discovered it was a problem? How did you find someone to help you with the problem? Did they help with the problem? Are you glad that you’ve gotten help with anxiety? Does anyone have any tips on managing anxiety without seeing a professional? I’d love to hear any/everything involving personal experiences with anxiety!

As for me I’m going to pop a Benadryl and see if that helps me sleep.

My (near) Mental Meltdown Sucks

On this blog I try to do proper posts — posts about actual topics/themes — as opposed to the more blogesque type posts of just telling people how I feel. There are a few of those posts here but I try to keep them to a minimum, mostly because I feel that people don’t like constantly hearing how you feel. For example, I try to not be the guy at work that tells people about every miserable detail of his life while constantly whining about the most mundane shit. A conversation is a two way thing and talking about your feelings is very one-sided most of the time. I hate burdening people with it and I feel it also applies to blogging. I’m just some random fucking dude in Illinois so why would anyone want to hear me bitch about things? This is why I try to stay focused on real topics. I think people want to read a directed post about a topic that gives the reader something to relate to, information they might be interested in, or something they will be entertained by. Sadly, I don’t think I’m very good at doing this and that many of my posts are these exact rambly, preachy posts that I despise.

Today I want to write one of these rambly “feelings” posts (It’s my blog so fuck it, right?) mostly because I feel like I’m in the midst of a real metal crisis. Although my mood is slightly better than yesterday, it’s still like a 3/10 if I want to put a value on it. Yesterday I was drunk and seriously considering riding my bike down to the river and tossing myself into the frothy and turbulent water near the dam. It’d say my mood was a legit 1/10 or maybe even a 0/10; I don’t understand how you could feel worse so maybe a zero does make sense here. It was one of those times where you see no real purpose for continuing on. Part of this is surely attributed to my vacation “list of goals” and having accomplished most of them. While my life isn’t “completed” by finishing a few low-tier/mid-tier goals over the past few months I still have nothing to look forward to or to direct my energy towards. It’s easy to limp onto the next day if you have projects to keep you busy and distracted. It seems that I’m in limbo currently.

My mood has improved to where it isn’t blatantly suicidal and I’m to the point of thinking something like “I’ll carry myself through this day, sleep, and then worry about feeling miserable later.” I’m still miserable but I’m willing to fight on through until tomorrow at least, even if tomorrow doesn’t offer anything really. It’s a very basic existence, just taking every minute as it is, and hour as it is, until they all pile up and you find yourself making progress throughout the day. And sometimes your mood even changes for the better if you just give it enough time to do so. 

I think why I want to write this post is because others might find some comfort in knowing that others also feel like shit. One of the biggest downsides to feeling like shit is the belief that no one else understands how you feel. Depression is so isolating that you lose sight that everyone else is also human and most likely also feels exactly like you do occasionally. This gives you the feeling that everyone else has it all figured out and is happy, making being awake at 2 a.m. and feeling suicidal even more depressing. It makes your skin crawl. That’s the only way I can think to describe it: it’s an utter and total hatred of yourself and existence that your skin crawls. Like you have on a horrible and ugly costume that you somehow want to rip off of yourself but at the same time it is you and there is no way to escape. Sometimes I just want to black myself out for a few days even though it’s not possible. Just knock myself out for a few days to wait out the worst of it. Even if I do know logically that I’ll feel better in a few days (because I always do), it doesn’t help the awake-at-2 a.m.-and-unable-to-sleep feeling because your skin is crawling at your own existence. Sometimes you just want a skip button for life.

Hence drugs. Or in my case alcohol. That’s my typical skip button along with OTC sleeping pills. Can’t sleep and miserable? Benadryl. Miserable at the end of the day? Drinking. Drinking always helps because it’s like a good friend. That is until it doesn’t help and it manifests itself as a dangerous threat.

But didn’t you quit drinking boss?” Why, yes I did, but the seesawing of work and vacation the past few months has left me unstable and dabbling with the alcohol again. This week, being my first week back to work with zero vacations left, means I am in the thick of the shit until next year. No escape. No reprieve. And our Christmas holiday shipping season is coming up. Total dread of the future. Yeah, pass me one of those beers right now. Thanks.

And as a side note I agreed (because I’m a fucking moron) to do a really shitty job at work this week. I really like my supervisor and wanted to do her a favor at the expense of my mental and physical health. Claire, appreciate it if you read this.

With my vacations being over I’ve taken up to alcohol as a means to “ease back into work” or some other alcoholic’s justification such as that. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were all drunken days celebrating/mourning the end of my vacation and celebrating/mourning the return to work. I have no idea why I feel the way I do sometimes because it makes zero sense.

Actually going back to work lead to more drinking because of the aforementioned shitty job I stupidly agreed to do. So Monday was another drunken evening (“celebrating my first day accomplishing the shitty task at work”), and Tuesday was a genuinely horrible day. So I drank then. Wednesday, while I initially had hopes of the day being good, spiraled down the toilet so I begrudgingly purchased another six-pack after work and pounded that down even if I didn’t really want to.

This is when I noticed things were going horribly wrong for me. I didn’t really want to drink anymore but I didn’t feel like fighting the urge to not drink. It was easier for me in my stressed/depressed state to drink than not to drink. Somehow those celebratory beers over the weekend turned into something that I needed in some strange sense. I knew I’d have to quit drinking eventually, but I wanted to postpone that day always to the next day, which would hopefully also be stress-free. If this sounds like addiction it’s because it probably is.

Drinking used to improve my mood especially early on in the binge, but by Tuesday and Wednesday even two beers didn’t improve my mood much, and by the fourth and fifth beer my mood was starting to plummet for some reason. Once again my “friend” the alcohol was severely letting me down. I imagine this is how abusive relationships are; at first they’re very loving towards you and over time they start to mentally tear you apart for some evil and unexplained reason. This is exactly what a fucking marathon week of drinking did to me. It was severely degrading the quality of my life in a time period that I didn’t expect possible. I assumed real alcoholics had their lives slowly spiral down the drain over years and decades, not within a week like mine was doing.

So, hence, crisis time! Despite being totally suicidal and creeped out by my own existence and consciousness as described earlier I took a benadryl to just knock my ass out. Just trying to make it to the next day as quickly as possible. To not think for just a few hours until I was in a better mood. I woke up utterly miserable, tired, hungover, and feeling all around shitty. This is where I am currently. I’m at the fucking dentist’s office at 10:45 a.m. feeling just…who the fuck knows. It isn’t a good feeling but it isn’t as bad as before mostly because I’m occupied with something to do. And the more I’ve typed this the better I’ve felt. Toss a few points up to blogging/writing for getting those evil thoughts out of my head, even if it is partly. A friend of mine used to say that writing has some cathartic powers or something and I believe her. When I feel really shitty I have this strange urge to write and giving in usually seems to help.

Once again, why blog about all of this in such a rambly, emotional fashion? Because other people surely find themselves in a situation like this occasionally. The scary part is that logically it’s hard to remove yourself from the mindset. I know that I’ll feel better tomorrow and know that drinking probably caused it, but it’s hard to believe all of this when you’re depressed. I can know I’ll feel better later but that doesn’t help right now when I actually need it. As much as you might feel alone in a state like this, you’re really not. There are countless others who are feeling the exact same way that you are so you’re not alone. I don’t want to say everyone feels like this because it seems that some people are just immune to being depressed, but I think most find themselves here now and again. If people know they’re not alone, maybe that will help. Perhaps doing what I did can help: go write something, find yourself a project to keep busy, just do something to pass the time until your mood inevitably improves. Don’t give into that dismal mindset that tells you there is nothing left for you to accomplish in your life and that you might as well call it quits. And probably don’t fucking drink nonstop six-packs for an entire week straight. Take care of yourself, because near mental breakdowns suck.

My Post on Watermelons Sucks

…and Purposefully Writing a Popular Post

Sometimes as a blogger you write a post (or posts) that you’re really proud of. Personally, I’m fond of my recent 4th of July post (the banner image is amazing…) as well as a few others. There are also a few posts that you don’t really think are that good, especially in retrospect. Usually the posts I make about daylight savings time, calendars, or other shit are kinda lame and boring; I understand why these posts aren’t that popular. Sometimes I find myself writing posts such as those just to post something. They’re posts I’m not that into and know they’re not going to be popular, but since they fit in well with the theme of this blog there isn’t a reason to not post them.

I’ve noticed a strange thing checking my WordPress user feedback data over the past few months that I never would’ve expected; somehow my post on picking out watermelons is continually the most (or one of the most) read posts week after week and month after month. At first I thought it might just be a fluke as if people in the world somehow decided to look up information about watermelons and stumbled upon my post. I even thought it might be a summer thing where, naturally, people might Google watermelons more than they would in December. This didn’t seem to be right and after a couple of months I just accepted it: my watermelon post is somehow my most popular post.

Here’s an example of the screen I’m talking about. As you can see, it is ranked second after my stupid post about Apex Legends, but it’s still up there. Making this even more pronounced is the fact that the Apex post is relatively new as it was written in March 2019. The goddamn watermelon post was written two damn years ago! In third place is the Little Mermaid post which might still be experiencing a boost from it being a recent topic on social media. I expect that to be completely forgotten in a few months though. So why is the watermelon post so popular and why does that suck?

As hinted at earlier, us bloggers have certain favorite posts that we’re proud of and other posts that we’re not so proud of. I think this is true of any artist; the musician has songs they like and the painter has artwork they like. One theme that seems to come up when you hear about artists with options of their own work is that they seem to consistently misjudge what is popular and what isn’t popular. Artists like works of theirs that the general population doesn’t while the general population likes things the artist themself isn’t fond of. It’s a well-known example that the band Black Sabbath recorded the song Paranoid as a quick-and-easy album filler song; the song has with time become one of their most popular songs. Kurt Cobain famously said that Smells Like Teen Spirit was just a Pixies rip-off song.

I suppose that’s how I feel about The Watermelon Post (although I don’t mean to imply it’s a masterpiece like the examples above). I went back and reread it to see if there was any sort of magic behind the post: I couldn’t find a damn thing special about it. I recall that I did have fun writing such a stupid post and I ran with it’s subject matter in a ridiculous way, but I don’t think that qualifies as “magic” at all. Maybe my lack of giving a shit slightly altered the tone of the post and made it fun and light-hearted? Maybe it hit that magical middle-ground of being both fun and informative? In the grand scheme of how I feel about my blog posts I’d put The Watermelon Post in the middle of my writings: I don’t hate it but I don’t think it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever written. To me it’s kinda a mid-tier, meh, so-so sort of post. Just like the example with musicians, it’s a post that I didn’t expect to be popular but somehow is.

I don’t know if there’s any sort of lesson to gleam from this fact or not; for the most part I find it amusing and fucking stupid. It’s hilarious to spend hours making a “good” post only for it to receive lukewarm reception whereas a quick “throw-away” post can find long-term success. If anything I guess it cements the fact that you can’t really write something good on purpose seeing as you are not the intended audience. While the blogger can have a fairly good idea of what will be successful we are not our own audience so there is some disconnect that occurs. You can’t totally get out of your head as a writer/artist to see how your art will be received. You can’t be sure what will be successful and what will fall flat on its face. If anything this somewhat stresses being passive about your work. As a throwback to my last post on publishing ebooks, if you get your hopes up too high about a project you risk disappointment if it fails to meet your lofty expectations. Conversely, you could have a project that you’re not really into turn into a huge hit for some unforeseen reasons. At the end of the day you need to just keep writing, blogging, making music, or whatever the fuck it is that you do. Because while you think you’re making a shitty Watermelon Post the world might actually find something of worth that you overlooked. It’s this inability to judge how your work is from an outside perspective that really sucks.

Publishing (and Selling!) ebooks Sucks

Last week I was on vacation and as an attempt to save myself the self-hatred and directionlessness that I feel while on vacation I made it a goal to finally finish and publish an ebook. I’m proud to say I’ve accomplished this but at the same time any actual “victory” seems to not be much of a victory at all. While I’ve finally published a book, it really doesn’t mean much in the long run and surely isn’t an instant ticket to success even though I wasn’t really expecting it to be.

What did I write about? I wrote about Facebook. I elaborated in a few recent blog posts about how I was thinking of collecting my Facebook Sucks posts into an ebook: it would be easy to do and I wouldn’t have to feel any pressure for it to be perfect. Perfection is always a hurdle when doing anything for the first time. For my first ebook why would I want to spend months or years making it perfect when it would surely end up as trash and not sell? By gluing blog posts into a book I wouldn’t be making a masterpiece but I could take the first step needed to actually be a writer.

I want to cover two things here: how it was actually writing an ebook and how it was publishing that ebook. Luckily (for this blog at least) each aspect sucked giving me plenty of content to write about!

You’d think that gluing individual blog posts into a book would be really easy but it wasn’t. Each blog post was written as its own stand-alone format; when you try to smash them together as “chapters” in a book you’re left with a really disjointed book. It sounds like what it is: a bunch of shit just tossed together. While most of the content was already written I still had to reread and edit all the posts to be “chapters” instead of “blog posts.” This wasn’t really difficult but wasn’t exactly as easy as I thought it would be. I also had to give some thought as to the general flow of the book, how the chapters would fit into the entire project, and edit them accordingly.

And obviously you can’t just slap a handful of blog posts into a book and call it day either! You need to make it, well, like a fucking book so I had to write an introduction and a few more “body” chapters to ease into where the blog post chapters were taking me. As before this wasn’t exactly hard (mostly as bitching about Facebook comes as naturally to me as breathing or eating does) but it was something I didn’t expect to be as laborious as it was. In fact I think previously written blog posts made up less than half the book; I tired to write an “easy” “blog-based” book and ended up writing a book that had a few blog posts for chapters. Most of the book was totally new content so that was more work than intended.

Then there’s editing the damn thing! You have to pour over the entire document proofreading for proper spelling, punctuation, grammar, as well as making sure you don’t sound totally fucking stupid in your writing. This part could’ve been avoided by finding a “proper” editor instead of doing it myself; that entails its own list of bullshit like being social and actually talking to people. While I wanted to finally write an ebook I wasn’t trying to be social or anything and wanted to rely on others as little as possible.

Along with everything else, actually publishing wasn’t too difficult but still tossed up its own unexpected troubles here and there. My book was ready to go but was there anything else I had to worry about? Yes. Consider a book cover: this is the first and usually only thing people see about your book. If you fuck it up the cover one will think about reading it. It could be the next Great Gatsby but no one will read it because the cover is shit. I felt immense pressure trying to make a decent cover and while I think I did a decent job it still looks unprofessional. If you totally forgot the fact that your book needed a cover you’d be in a difficult spot trying to publish a book.

My book cover. Kinda cool but kinda amateurish at the same time.

Kindle Direct Publishing throws a few more immensely important tasks at you beyond the book cover. What is your book’s keywords going to be? This is how Amazon relates search terms to actual products so these have to be dead on accurate. Even worse is you only get seven terms to use. Each one has to be near perfect. The same is true for your book’s category: it has to reflect what the book is about. Plopping a fantasy fiction book in the “technical writing” section of Amazon simply won’t do you any favors and I ran into trouble at this point. Was my incessant ranting about Facebook a “social science” book on the effects of social media, or was it a commentary on internet and computer culture? I still feel bad about the categories I selected because they don’t seem to reflect the book at all. Hell, I don’t even remember what categories I slapped my book in.

You also have to write a “summary” of your book which, after the cover, is the second most important thing people use to decide when purchasing a book. After going through the exhausting process of writing and editing and making a cover you probably don’t want to write more in a desperate last-minute effort to summarize your book. If you’re thinking of publishing write a fucking summary ASAP. At the very least have an idea for one in your mind.

After dealing with all of that intense decision making you upload your book (in a .doc file or whatever) and check out how it’s formatted. I didn’t have any issues here. The rest is pretty simple: pick a price for your book and all of that shit. After a 24 hour(ish) period your book appears and, well, you’re now a published author. Congratulations! But you probably don’t have long to feel accomplished because you probably won’t actually sell anything…

I shared my book to the Everything Sucks Facebook page as well as my own personal page. I figured at least a few of my friends would check out my cheaply-priced $2.99 ebook because they were curious or felt some sympathy for me. Even a week later my sales stand, pathetically, at zero. Check this out:

If this picture looks bland it’s because I didn’t sell any fucking books.

It’s hard not to feel like shit over this, especially after doing all the work to actually write a book. I recall when one of my Facebook friends made an ebook (it was a single short story too, not even a real fucking book); I paid the 99 cents to support him because I’m a nice guy like that. Of course a bunch of other people also supported him and he was just amazed at the positive feedback his book received! I figured I could count on selling at least a few copies out of “support sympathy” or whatever you want to call it, but nope. The goddamn book only got two likes on my personal page. Fuckers.

I guess I don’t want to bitch about my friends not buying my book because you can’t be a successful author limping along with your only reliable readers being your friends/family. But I do want to bitch about the fact that doing anything is fucking hard. And, once again, doing something for the first time is the hardest. Doing anything for the first time usually involves the greatest amount of effort because you don’t know what you’re doing at a time when you have zero self-confidence keeping you motivated and focused. When you do persevere and accomplish your “first” the reception is usually either luke-warm (or nonexistent) and this can totally crush any self-confidence you’ve accomplished at achieving your goal. This is a really risky and dangerous time because if you’ve busted your ass to make progress and have had no success afterward, why would you want to continue?

Luckily I don’t think I’m dumb enough to fall for that trap again and am already working on a second ebook because who gives a fuck? Sometimes I think the real measure of success is just chipping away at something because you don’t actually care if it’s received well. I could stress out constantly over the fact that no one will probably read anything I publish and hate myself for it, or I can say “Fuck it. I’ll publish another one.” and shrug it off. What else is there really to do except make progress? So while I’ve accomplished actually publishing, had it be recieved anticlimactically, and feel kinda shitty about it I know that I need to keep moving forward because the first of anything is usually shit. So, yeah, publishing (and selling) an ebook kinda sucked.

If you want to actually check the book out here’s the link. It’s only $2.99 so it shouldn’t break your bank account.

Everything Sucks: An Update 2.0 (Or Something…)

If you’re a hardcore fan of this blog you might’ve realized that I’ve seemingly dropped off the face of the Earth the past half year or so. But since I don’t actually think I have any hardcore fans let me state that I’ve basically dropped off the face of the Earth in the past six months or so. This is due to a ton of things but it boils down to a basic lack of motivation. Keeping with the tone of this blog, this Sucks and I’m going to bitch about it.

You see, I’ve written a ton of shit about motivation and for me at least it does seem to be in short supply. Even if I intend to blog, if anything more important or taxing comes up I will immediately drop blogging (unintentionally) to focus on what is most stressful/important/whatever. It’s sort of a theory I live by but continually try to sidestep; like I believe the whole “finite motivation” idea is true but continually try to overextend myself into tons of different matters. It’s even more insulting considering that I’ve written a few blog posts about blogging, consistency, motivation, but still seem to drop the fucking ball on writing and posting blog posts. Like the dude preaching about motivation and consistency continually drops the ball on actually making consistent posts.

Currently I’m taking flight lessons, writing like two or three books (depending on what you consider “writing a book” means), trading stocks and options/dealing with a fucking terrible market, working peak season at a delivery company, being a father/husband, and trying to cope with depression/alcoholism. My life is a fucking hellish mess where I don’t seem to have any time to recoup, find myself, or to just relax and listen to music. There’s always something I feel I should be doing even if I don’t end up doing a damn thing.

Obviously given that mess it’s no surprise I haven’t fucking made a blog post in a few months…

What has changed recently was that I made the mistake of checking this blog a few weeks ago. Thinking that the blog had crashed and burned and that no one would give two shits about what was going on here I found myself pleasantly surprised: I was somehow netting about ten views a day even though I haven’t posted anything in a half year! This somehow bolstered my motivation in regards to my blogging and — I assume — bumped my blogging priorities up quite a bit.

So I suck at keeping a schedule and I guess I have reasons for that even though I’m a slacking piece of shit, but seeing how this blog has had consistent views even while I have been neglecting it gets my inspiration up. It makes me want to work on it. Maybe this blog isn’t something to let wither away and maybe I should keep working at it? I’m not looking for inspiration or justification or for anyone to spur me on to keep posting — because fuck that — I just wanted to make a(nother) post about how much of a bitch inspiration and motivation is and how priorities suck. But if you hang in there maybe you can still start over and that even if you have pissed away quite a bit of time you can still jump in and make progress. But what the fuck do I know? Everything Fucking Sucks.

Easy Money or Easy Money?

Everyone wants to earn money and everyone wants to do this in the laziest way possible. I think this is why multi-level marketing schemes like It-Works and whatever else have such success on gullible people. Those who don’t know any better are hypnotized by the possibility of making an easy thousand or even “millions” of dollars by selling some stupid-ass products that doesn’t work and by recruiting others “under them”. Anyone with some sense of logic will know that this just sounds too easy; money that sounds too good to be true probably is. But that’s the holy grail we’re all searching for: Easy Money. Whatever that means…

We think of the popular YouTubers, bloggers, and freelance writers that make a living by doing what amounts to (more or less) a hobby. I see parents playing with their kids on YouTube having millions of views and I think why can’t I do that? Why don’t I do that? Wouldn’t we all like to plop up a blog or a few YouTube videos and earn thousands by just having fun? Of course! You’d be stupid to not want to do this. This is the definition of easy money: getting paid to do something fun and that occurs on your own time. It’s getting paid to do a hobby.

Anyone who actually tried to be a writer, blogger, or a YouTube superstar knows where this is going already. This idea of “easy money” is a goddamn lie. Yes, if you “make it” by doing these, good job, you’re earning easy money but it came at a steep cost that people seem to forget about. What people tell you, and what people don’t seem to listen to, is that succeeding with those takes something called hard work. While you can earn easy money blogging or doing whatever, you need to invest hundreds if not thousands of hours “gitting gud” before you can earn anything. Yes the money is easy, but it’s only physically easy and not easy in any other form. It takes a ton of cost in terms of hours, effort, and persistence. When you look at it that way this easy money isn’t really easy.

If you’re writing or YouTubing you probably shouldn’t be expecting to get rich or earn money. Because then failure will be obvious as soon as you start because you’re not making anything. You’ll plop up a few videos, get zero views, and give up. Sometimes you even lose money by paying for equipment or website hosting fees or whatever. If you want to make easy money, there’s another idea of easy money but no one likes it, including me. It’s called “getting a job.”

I’m serious. If I wanted easy money that was guaranteed I could stroll on down to McDonald’s, show them my Associate Degree (they’re seriously useless otherwise), and I’d probably have a job within a week. I wouldn’t be making jack shit, but that 8 or 9 dollars per hour is guaranteed. If I work 20 hours I know for a fact I made 180 dollars and all I had to do was show up and do some fairly straightforward work. I don’t know how much easier you can make money. Like I said, it’s jack shit for money, but it’s easy to obtain money.

There’s always a fucking tradeoff though in case you haven’t realized it. At McDick’s you don’t earn shit, the work can be physically demanding, and you’re at the will of your employer but it’s a paycheck. We don’t like to view this as “easy money” because it doesn’t fit the mold from above which was working on your own time doing your own thing earning cash. But working shitty McDolan’s doesn’t have a huge upfront cost in effort. You trade off this “effort requirement” for instant (and paltry) money. It’s almost like a laziness or desperation tax. It comes down to what you want to do though. If you need money quickly, work a shitty job. If you don’t need money and want to put in the tons of effort for that “easy money” then get to work doing whatever it is you want to do.

There are many areas in between this “easy money” and “hard money” too. College sounds like a good idea until you realize it’s a combination of both of these extremes. You get to do a job you sort of like and make a ton of money but guess what? You still have a huge investment in the amount the schooling cost you. This is my point: everything has a tradeoff. Want to invest in stocks? That’s easy money. Except it’s not. It takes time, effort, and risk. Hell, you could even lose money which is a bad thing if your primary goal is to make money. Want to sell drugs? That’s cool, that’s easy money, but you shoulder a bunch of risk on yourself, possibly your family, and could end up in jail for a long time. You could also get murdered. Prostitution might be the easiest way to make money because it doesn’t cost anything to get started and you don’t have to “practice” at it, but — holy shit — there’s an expense called “personal degradation” that is rather costly.  You also might get a disease. Most people don’t want to feel like shit by screwing random people for money even if it is “easy money”.

So there’s basically two types of easy money. The most popular idea of “easy money” is doing some cushy job like a hobby and being rich. At the very worst they can be total scams like It-Works and at the very best they takes years and tons of hours of practice, failure, and toil to actually get somewhere. If you can’t tough it out don’t even try it. Then there are “easy money” jobs like working some shit job and getting paid an hourly wage. Here you have to physically work and while the pay is a sure-thing you will probably hate your job and not be fulfilled in life. If you don’t want this easy money or that easy money there are millions of in-betweens that you can try that each have their own drawbacks. There is no easy money, there’s just different levels of bullshit you have to work through depending on your personal ability to weather pain and difficulty. Want debt? Go to college. Want to bust your ass for no return? Be a writer. Want to either be totally rich or totally poor? Trade stock options. Want to have instant money and hate life? Work fast food. Want to risk jail? Sell drugs. Want to sacrifice your personal dignity? Try prostitution. Easy money Sucks because there is no easy money. Everything has some downside and it’s up to you to find it and deal with it on your own terms.