Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Welcome to My Dollhouse (I Hardly Ever Lock the Door)

Woody Allen once said that 80% of success is showing up.

(When you don’t know how to say something it helps to begin with a quote.)

I am pretty sure Woody Allen made up that figure, that 4 out of 5 doctors don’t necessarily agree and that there was no testing on animals involved. But it’s true, nonetheless, don’t you think?

When you’re little you think that fame is inevitable. Fortune. I was going to be a Runner! No mention made that I never ran anywhere or that running is not really a job for most. But there it was: a Runner! Or a Writer! I was going to be a Millionaire! The Queen/Ruler/Boss of Something! Big! It was a given, the future capitalized like that; why, it said so right there on the rainbow-lettered poster I taped to my bedroom door.

And then you get to junior high and care more about whether or not your period has leaked through the back of your capris. You master the art of changing into your gym clothes without ever once showing skin. You shrink. Shirk. High school: you fall in love and become two. Then one again, which feels like half of what you once were, less. Smaller still. College is fun and then you graduate and get a job but your business card does not make a very impressive poster for your bedroom door and HR refuses to print exclamation points after your title. (Just a fax number which is communal and never works anyway.)

I hate it when bloggers write about blogging. The meta-me-ness of two mirrors facing inward into infinity. Dude. And yet.

Not to be an asshole, but... this usually means someone is about to be a total fucktard asshole, and me stalling here means I am about to write about my writing, i.e. be an asshole, a fuck, you ready? Here we go.

80% of blogging is about self-promotion. And yes, 4 out of 5 doctors tasered lab rats to prove this statement true.

Blog rolls, awards, rankings, nominations, kudos, Kirtsy, Digg, Babble, Stumble, stats, technorati, and twitter. Followers. Fuck. I was the kid who tried very hard not to care, the studied nonchalance of a girl who held out the hem of her shirt so her boobs wouldn’t cast a shadow. I write because I love words, yet I would be lying if I didn’t also admit to loving an audience, all the www a Slam Book in which, god forbid, I do not merit a mention.

My stats have teetered a bit since I stopped posting so often. Which is, well, duh. Days go by now with no comments. Something about a tree falling in the woods, I am sure. It’s silly, this feeling. The addiction to response. Sick, really. If I write for the sake of writing, then why do I care? (And boom goes that tree, yet another victim of scale.)

What do you think of the girl who says it out loud? I want to be popular. The very word makes me cringe. Popular. (She who says it is usually not.) Popular brings me back to wannabe, to the days when we said face to each other coupled by the gesture of scratching down your, um, face. Did you do that? Face? Squirmy-wormy here in my Keds complete with friendship pins I made for myself? (And yes, I know that comparing the blogosphere to school is hackneyed at best, but it's not enough like my daily commute on the bus to find an analogy there, so-)

I suck at self-promotion, preferring, instead, to pretend that I don’t care. Vote for me. Or don’t. Whatever. As long as I don’t care I cannot fail.

There are bloggers who are great at self-promotion. They are big on blog rolls, they have pages dedicated to badges, they rank. Some write well, some not-so. On small days I think they are lame. On days that I feel big I admire them, their confidence. How do they do it—put themselves out there? Market themselves? Treat their writing as something of worth?

Short of showing off my tits (the shadows now longer like the end of a day), how do I comfortably sell myself? Paste a poster on my 37 year old door? Perhaps in black Sharpie for sophistication’s sake? Petunia Face! Blogger! Writer! Me! What do you think of self-promotion? The awards and links and lalalalala of the www? What would you think if I cared? Do you care?

Incidentally, Woody Allen also said in Annie Hall that he wouldn’t join any club that would have him as a member, although I think he stole that line from Groucho Marx.

(When you don’t know how to stop something it also helps to end with a quote.)



Vanessa said...

When I went back to work and started posting only 2-3 times a week my stats fell dramatically. It was a bit of a blow to the ego but it was too hard to keep up my blogging energy level. I don't want to spend all my time after work leaving comments on other blogs just so people will come visit mine. Blogging is actually so time-consuming and i've never been able to figure out how working women can keep up suck popular blogs. When you figure out the secret be sure to let me know :-)

Mrs. Blandings said...

Gosh, Susannah, I just really like coming here and reading what you have to say, regardless of how often you post. I've pretty much given up the "great post!" comment but wish there was some kind of "like" button so a blogger would know I had been there and, well, "liked" her.

As for the promotion, I think it's a fine line. It sort of depends on why you're blogging. And, I don't think more people hitting your site necessarily means that the best or right people are reading. And, in the end, those bloggers who are grabbing and preening, is that someplace you really enjoy going? Me, I'd rather come here.

appleTree Staging said...

My acupuncturist once told me that she sensed a deep sadness within me. That made me sad when I was actually feeling ok.

But now I get it. I feel better than ok most of the time, but the deep sadness is there and when it comes, it helps to write. And it helps to know that it is just a part of me. Sadness. I am deep, dark and twisty sometimes and so are you.

sorry that was not meant to make you feel badly.

KJZW said...

Susannah- I love your blog. I have you bookmarked on my computer but also on my cell phone (you know so I can read you on my lunch break). Fewer posts or not I will keep coming and keep reading, because I think your blogs are funny and very imaginative.

Chacha Perdu said...

aren't you just asking for mimitos? (that's spanish for little caresses/pampering). I'll give them to you!

I'm a lurker all right and, speaking on behalf of my kind, please know that we visit, we read and we love thee.

'Cause we sure love the oh so cool, prose savvy gal that is you, babe! Love!

jennifer said...

I was raised by a narcissist, taught to hide. I started to blog on my birthday to prove to myself that nothing bad would happen if I stepped out. It feels good, to not care! and nobody ever comments on/reads mine it's like a diary that I keep and never lock. it sits open on my bed but no one ever goes in my room.

Sarahviz said...

I hear you. And feel the same way myself, actually.
(And you would definitely make MY list.)

Miss to Mrs said...

I think we all care. I don't think we would take the time to blog if we didn't care just a little bit. I took a very long break from blogging. I'm back now, but now I'm blogging more as just a journal for myself. My stats have nose dived and that makes me a little sad. I like acceptance! I like having comments, but I've had to accept that now my blog is for myself.

I LOVE your blog. You inspire me. I can tell you that I would come and visit this blog no matter how many times that you post. I get that you are a wife and mother and work. Those things are much more important than trying to inspire me! You should do this because you enjoy it. Because you love words. Don't let it get you down. Your loyal followers will stick by you no matter what. Kind of like a cult! But, if we are going to be a cult could we get some cool Petunia Face gowns or something to wear? Maybe something in a nice tu-tu pink color?

JackeeG4glamorous said...

Ditto to all of the above. Sometimes I don't comment, much like my own blog posts because I have so very little to say. (also as evidence-my blog posts, which have been sorely lacking lately) But I read alot! And sometimes I comment out loud, so sorry you can't hear that well.

boops said...

i feel it's a common experience to think that what you do does not effect people but i find there is always the inevitable acknowledgement that appeases one's doubts. i read whenever you post; i don't always leave a comment but your words do sink in. in my opinion it's a matter of understanding what you want out of this activity, and figuring out how to get it.

Anonymous said...

YOU can want to be popular. you're that fucking good. i'm sure there are tons just like me who read and love every single post, but don't comment for fear of coming off as patty simcox to your cool rizzo.

Elizabeth said...

I like you I really, really like you! Keep up the great work! I'm here lurking everyday!

Jenn said...

There was a day in high school or college that many of us looked at the popularity game we used to try to play and said, “I’m so over that. I’ve risen above it. I’m not concerned with having people think I’m the awesomest.” Except that we are. Every one of us wants to be thought of as the person who does THAT THING the best. Writing. Competitive Eating. Blow Jobs. What have you.

We all want to be popular, and it never stops; the only thing that changes is what we want to be popular FOR. I want to be popular in my extended family for how well I cook. I want to be popular at work for how funny and at ease I am. I want to be popular in the world for my writing. I write for me, but I write for you, and for her, and for that one guy that hates everything he reads except when he reads my writing.

So self-promotion, however lame, is something not one of us escapes. We have to embrace that we all do it on some scale, whether just with our families or across the world. Even those uncool kids in high school – the Goths, the Freaks, the Scene kids, or whateverthehell they are now – wanted to be popular for being UNpopular. “We’re cool because we don’t care that we’re not cool, and we want you to know that” is screamed from every piercing, every head of orange and blue hair, every safety pin lined perfectly with the next down a huge pair of Jncos. (By the way – what happened to Jncos?)

Regardless, by the comments above mine, it seems you’ve been promoted, whether by your own doing or not. I’ve seen your thoughts posted and reposted throughout my favorite blogs. (I’ve wished I could write like you, and I’ve worried that I try to hard to write like you.) But really, I want you to promote yourself, because the best thing I could imagine in the world is a book, filled with the very same stream-of-consciousness ramblings you put in your blog. I want to see you published, and I want to be popular for knowing you “when.”

Sharon Brown said...

Like you said.

Geli said...

I am on the other side of the blog - I am reading them! In fact, I have become a blogaholic in the meantime. Once in a while I drop a blog because
it just gets too much to read, but then I feel like one
of my "kids" has left home. So I sneak back. Some
blogs get kind of repetitive, especially when it involves a lot of pictures taken from other blogs. Yours however Susannah, is always entertaining and makes
one smile. Even your pictures are original! Yours is one of the blogs everyone chimes in.....

krista said...

it's most definitely true that we write for (at least the idea of) an audience. anyone who says they merely write for themselves and yet has a public blog is doing it wrong.
for me? i came to the conclusion long ago that i make up these constructs for myself. these ideas of popularity and followers and stats and such. blogging is a very specific fishbowl. talk to someone who doesn't read blogs and they will have no motherloving idea who or what you're referring to. it's the cool lunch table in junior high. i don't remember the names of those people anymore. that can't be a coincidence.
i have a feeling people will read you no matter what.
if you're going to promote yourself, i say write a book and promote the signings. make a real living at it. cause i believe you will.

*~(boom)~* said...

Your blog is delicious, and the yumminess of it all keeps me coming back for more every day.

The first post of yours I read was
"An Open Letter to the Lady with the Turquoise Sandals" I have never laughed so hard. I had tears. My stomach hurt.

I am getting fat, darlin'...(and I have yet to poop in public)

Keep it up, and are awesome, and you were certainly popular enough that I found you. :)

Petunia Face said...

Oh my god, you guys, I swear I wasn't fishing for compliments, but of course reading the post again I totally was. THANK YOU ALL. And mimitos is my new favorite word (along with Snooch, which Zoey taught me. Apparently a Snooch is someone in preschool who hits and pushes, like Sloan in Pre-K is a Snooch).

I feel silly for this post but sometimes it feels like there's this other layer of blogging that we're not supposed to talk about, or maybe I'm just not comfortable talking about it. The "popularity" thing.

But reading your comments here--well, I don't care who we all are--cheerleaders or stoners or the kid who picks his nose in the back of the classroom... I want to be friends with all of you. Thank you.


Madame Sunday said...

I just started blogging because I really needed an outlet for my thoughts/inspiration/ideas/etc. and diaries are just soo middle school! And who has time to assemble a scrapbook of all that stuff?! I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting people to read your blog or self-promotion because what's better than having someone else be inspired by (or heaven-help-us trying to make a living even) by something that you love doing? It's important to find your creative "voice" and I happen to love reading your blog and listening to your "voice" all the time!!

Post whenever you want and promote as shamelessly as you want because I know your readers will follow you regardless! I'm always inspired!

Anonymous said...

I gave up on posting daily because the quality of my writing suffered. I realized not everything needed to be documented on my blog and I let got of the stress my internal deadlines were giving me. It's freed me, but has cost me some readers, to be sure.

That said, my reason for blogging has remained the same -- I write because I have something to say, the validation is nice, but I'd probably say it with or without a comment. Some of my favorite posts have less than 10 comments to them, but they're my favorites because they were meaningful to me, not to the blogosphere.

Hang in there, keep writing. Trust that the readers are there. At least the ones (like me :)) that matter.

Jules said...

Here is another word for you: someone looking for mimitos is mimosa (female) or mimoso (male). It's one of my favorite words in Spanish. I feel like captures emotion with syllables.

Anyway, I loved this post. And, I agree. Sometimes I go days without posting, and other days I could easily post little nothings 3-4 times in one day. I don't know if my readers come to me for little nothings, and I almost blogged asking them if it bothered them. WHAT?! Suddenly I remembered--who cares? My blog, my content.

You summed up what we talked about yesterday so perfectly, I have nothing left to add except to agree that the best authored blogs aren't always the most popular. Just like literature and art, there is a certain amount of self promotion required. Sad, really, because that means there are great blogs out there some will never read.

Jane said...

Hi there. I have just stumbled across your blog. Very interesting, and I won't compliment you because you SOOO don't want that!

I think you can categorise bloggers as follows - first distinguish between people who are trying to make money from their blogs and\or running a business and those who are not and under that you have self promoting narcissists including the less malevolent category of boasters who make us feel bad because of their great life, home etc, lonely people, people who are just really insecure and need the constant reinforcement of followers, votes, comments and finally (the category we ALL fall into of course) those who are just in it for self expression. Or fun. Or for no particular reason. Or maybe I am a combination of all of the above.

I can't post everyday and I know it is a sin to say this but I Have Better Things To Do.

Anyway, sorry for my early morning rant, happy new year. xoxo

Unknown said...

Susannah - You (via Petunia Face) have made me want to start writing again.

I figured it would be lame to ever comment this to you, but since you're implying that you enjoy comments I'll go ahead and tell you.

Thanks for being inspiring. Now, that's one for the rainbow poaster: Inspiring!

Duel Living said...

I know exactly how you feel. I get the shakes when I see there has been a comment left on my blog. Then I see it's in some foreign language and I can only understand the word TITS.
Susannah, you have been on my blogroll since the beginning babe! I have yearned to be on yours...but I know that only happens when someone feels the same way about you as you do about them. I will continue to stalk you from afar and you can continue to kick ass.

Anonymous said...

I do like to read your stuff here. if you just keep it all funny & witty (as you already do) the self-promotion thing is completely forgivable. keep going.

Petunia Face said...

You guys are too, too kind. No really--stop! Don't! Stop! Don't Stop!

Duel Living, your wish is my command :)

Duel Living said...

Oh...I just creamed my jeans...really? No really? I'm so so flattered! I'd like to thank the Academy...and my parents...and ok enough. Thank you have made my blogging day/year...because of what you said in your post today.
Thank you.

Richie Designs said...

well as the other saying goes "you know who your friends are" or something like that.

I have three people that comment on my blog you are one of them. some days I get sad about it, most days I don't care as my posts aren't generally comment worthy anyway.

do it because you love it, or somewhat like it I guess.

but yah somedays I wish I was the bitchy interior decorator writer that gets 50 comments to the color of a wall. ahhgad makes me want to hurt myself.

you rule

Randi said...

Frankly, I love you blog. I very much look forward to your posts and honestly believe that you have the most adorable/beautiful child on the planet.

Happy New Year!

Bree said...

I am lurker, I don't really comment too much, but I'm there. I read you when I get a chance and thoroughly enjoy myself! I do have a blog for business, but when I am in school it goes out the window and I feel guilty when I am not posting as much, :( ,I just don't have the time...but when I get to it I make it a good post to show people, if there are any out there who read me, that I'm alive. When I check back on you, it's always a good read. :)
Keep it up, I'm still here!

laura said...

aw, crap. totally wrote my current blog post before reading yours here.

um, i'm sorry? or not?

i love you. and i am glad you wrote this post. because you are you. and you have words to say. and people need to hear them. *i* need to hear them.

you're the bee's knees.

screw stats. just be you and write. period. i will always be here to read it.


benson said...

the eighteen year old shoe queen of "sea of shoes" clicked off her comment button because she said (among other reasons) that she wrote the blog for herself and not to please/displease others. I love that. What confidence to say "fuck you people, I'm doing this for me" and she's a teenager...geesh. Anyways--always love to come over for a good read and although I may not say "hello" ~ I'm here.

anita said...

there are "stats" on blogs? shit.
one day i noticed my followers number had gone down from 28 to 27. who stopped following?! and why? i got mad at myself for caring so much.
human nature - we all need nurturing.

Anonymous said...

First off, I love your writing.

I stumbled upon your blog from Decorno, who I stumbled upon from I Suwanee, who I stumbled upon from some "why we don't have/like kids" blog which I always find endlessly entertaining.

Bottom line is, I look forward to checking on your blog from time to time to see if you've written anything new. I hope you continue to blog for a long, long time, but certainly understand if the frequency is less frequent because of the job and family and all.

Best to you - Carolyn

Anonymous said...

Selfishly I hope you stop blogging and start writing a book. Many. But I also selfishly hope you don't stop blogging because what would I read that would simultaneously make me laugh and cry? Oh right, all your books. :)

Pretty Widow said...

I still wish you blogged everyday. But i love reading whenever you can post. Please don't stop!

mosey (kim) said...

In your two or three posts a week you say all the things I like to read. Well, mostly. Except for the stuff that makes me go "ewwwww", but even then.

Happy New Year!

Lolo said...

Your writing shames me, as in "crapsticks, I'll never write that well on a regular basis and why doesn't she have a book deal, why do I even bother when I can just go read her words all strung together and glowing, and then envy her ability?"

Shame and envy.

If you stop, I'll miss you.
Don't stop.

Robin said...

Crave or dismiss popularity - but at the end of the day, I think all people want to be understood, appreciated, known. If not in a big way - in an authentic way. There is no shame in that.

Yours is the first blog I ever read and still my favorite. I am confident that you will write witty books and I assure you I will buy them.

I also thought of you the other day and I meant to email you because it is a bit long for a comment, but maybe this lovefest is the right time...
On Zoey's 18 month birthday you wrote a post - I am 1 and a half times the mom I used to be (or something similar) - I was pregnant then and that post moved me in a way I did not expect. I got all teary at work, and I assure you I am not that girl. Anyhow. I wrote a love letter to Micah when he turned one , and planned to do one again at 18 months. Then, on his 18 month birthday I had a banner bad mother day. At the museum with friends, I tripped over my friend's daughter. Twice. Made the poor thing cry and felt like an enormous asshole. The I went home to find the dog ate the Godiva truffles for my company dinner that night. I called the vet, hoping to be told it was not enough chocolate to be concerned about. Oh, no! Rush her right in, they told me. So I left sleeping Micah with the cleaning lady and went to the vet where they made my poor girl throw up. Then I left both babies with my parents and still went to my company party and drank too many vodka tonics. So I wrote nothing. I know you would have still found a way to make a crap day into a moving post about parenting - which is why your Zoey posts are my favorite.

I hope 2010 is the year you get a sweet book deal!

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it.

Erin said...

Just chiming in with the 41st I TOTALLY CARE, even though I say I blog for shits and giggles. I hate promoting my blog - it makes me feel dirty. But I guess it's a necessary evil.

The Thirty-Something Bride said...

It appears that there is a rash of this going around. I blogged about it myself - wanting to be the cool blog on the block. You, however said it much more succinctly.

Does it help that I think you're cool and now plan to stalk your blog?

Or is it just creepy?

Alexsandria said...

I blogged once on the topic of blogger popularity. It was kind of mean I think.
Oh well.

Of course we all want people to read our blogs. Why the fuck would we have them otherwise? You are neither vain nor ridiculous. You're just like all the rest of us self centered assholes.

kathleen said...

I haven't been to your blog in a while. Now that I'm back, I can't remember why I didn't come every. single. day. Maybe it's because - like a crazy person - I moved to Las Vegas for love and lost track of some of my favorite blogs. It's the heat and all the neon. I don't know.

What I will tell you is that I think we're sisters. Seriously. Everything you write - I think to myself, "Me too." That's the beauty of your words. They make us feel less alone. Even if you're talking about a leaky pad in junior high.

Oh, and excuse the long comment. My Tylenol PM is kicking it and mama's feeling funnnnyyyyy. :)

Acanthus and Acorn said...

Probably think it's weird that I chose this post to comment on...but god can you write and say what most of us can barely think, I've been here already over an hour. I certainly won't care how often you post!

I started blogging in December so I am so new and still finding my way. And blog world has exploded! It seems for every fantastic worthwhile read I am lucky enough to find....there is a truck load of @#$%! Now that I've been here, hopefully it will serve as a reminder that I am going to have to work harder at not getting run over by that truck!!!