There’s what’s true, like really true, and then there’s the right answer. I should probably tell you that I started the Calliope Writes Blog because I’ve designed tools and dialed-in hacks that any aspiring writer can use to elevate performance at the speed of light. Which is true. And I should tell you that I’m all about empowering and educating writers to find writing and publishing success. Which is also true. And those are the right answers. Here’s the thing. While they may be my true north, my why, it’s not why I got off the fence and actually put up a blog.
When my husband Michael said, “Hey, Ang. You should blog,”
I said, “Yeah, I should do that.” Then I didn’t. And I hoped he would forget all about that blogging idea thing. As an author brand and platform designer, Michael is full of excellent ideas for creating free content. Thank the heavens. It wasn’t terribly long before he presented me with another idea.
When he said, “Hey, we should create a podcast,”
I said, “I’m so down with that. Then I don’t have to blog,” which is a really weird thing for a writer, let alone a writing coach to say. That I had a strange aversion to blogging wasn’t like some terrible secret I was hiding from him. I simply could not for the life of me produce a reasonable explanation for my disdain.
It was like my fear of eating shrimp and chicken. I can’t tell you why I love crab cakes and lobster, but I can’t eat chicken unless someone else cooks it, and nobody talks about meat of any kind at the dinner table…or anywhere, ever. And shrimp? Forget it. It’s a texture thing. And that vein that runs down the middle of the little creatures. I do know why I have issues with chicken and meat, I just don’t know why I can eat crab cakes and lobster, the two crustaceans that should most scare the daylights out of me given the wires that got crossed in my brain when I was four years old.
I was biting my nails. Actually, I had chewed my fingernails down to nothing and was working away at a hangnail when my mother said, “You know, Ang,” pointing to the meaty part of her thumb, “there are cannibal colonies that consider this part of the thumb to be a delicacy.” I was cooked. Chicken legs, baby arms, it all looks the same to me. Since crabs and lobsters are basically gigantic spiders, you’d think I’d have a problem putting them in my mouth too.
When Josh Rossi, the commercial photographer who did the shoots with his 3-year-old daughter Nellie as Wonder Woman and re-enacting Beauty and The Beast that were picked up by People, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and dozens of other news outlets, and racked up over 100 million views, who is my marketing coach said, “Hey, Ang. You need to blog. Really.”
I said, “How ‘bout I video blog instead?” I could almost see Josh scratching his head…through the phone…all the way in Puerto Rico. I’m Josh’s writing coach. He’d tell you that I’m brilliant. Enlightened. That when it comes to writing coaching, I’ve dialed it in. Why wouldn’t I use that medium to share my vision, share the wealth?
Stay with me here. I promise I come all the way back around.
Michael says I have two modes when it comes to cleaning. Crazy OCD and complete slob. I have little tolerance for the in-between. When it comes to housekeeping, this little disorder of mine serves me since I have eight kids and grandkids at home. My oldest son is in the nursing program at the University of Utah and his entire brood moved in so he could finish school. Popsicles melted into the couch, raisins mashed into the carpet, no big deal. In fact, when I introduce myself when I speak, after I roll out my cred, I say, “And, I’m a mom and a grandmama. Let me tell you the difference between the two. I’d run into a burning building to save any one of them. But my grandbabies? They can smear poo on the wall and it’s just cute. Look she’s an artist…just like her grandmama!”
There are plenty of things that we can all agree are completely disgusting that I don’t have a problem with. Popping zits, for instance. On my 40th birthday, my teenagers and all of their friends, 40 of them to be exact, took me out for hamburgers, (which I ate without any revulsion
whatsoever,) and took turns sitting next to me so I could squeeze their pimples. I recently watched hours of blackheads being pinched from noses and cheeks and chins on YouTube instead of sleeping. Seriously. I did that.
So why can I chew living flesh from my own cuticles, or pop pimples on loved ones and yet the idea of eating a chicken leg repulses me to the degree that after writing this article I won’t be able to eat chicken for a month? How come carrying a baby in my womb occurs to me like a miracle and chicken in my stomach occurs to me as nauseating? What’s the difference?
And why do I seek out crab cakes on every menu and yet one scrawny shrimp on my plate will ignite a mini PTSD episode? Why do I move a lamp a quarter of an inch or carefully pick one hair out of the carpet when the house is clean, and I can ignore piles of dishes when the house is a wreck. And why can I pound out a 120K narrative nonfiction words for a manuscript, or co-host a podcast, or record a Facebook Live, or speak to thousands and just the thought of blogging sends me reeling?
When Michael and I interviewed Chris Brogan, the granddaddy of blogging, author of something like nine books, NYT Best Selling Author on our podcast and he said, “Hey, Ang. You should blog. Really,” I finally came out. I’m Dyslexic. And I’m terrified.
I know it sounds crazy, but it’s not. The context in which an idea, a thought, or a fear exists is everything. And we all do it. We all resist that which does not exist for us inside of an empowering context. The same baseball being pitched at 100 miles per hour can occur for one person like something to swing at, to smack across a packed stadium, to sail it into the stands, and it can occur for another person, like me, for example, as something that would likely put me in a coma, if not end my life. If that ball was headed toward me in the stands? I would run the other way. It’s all about how the thing occurs, for the individual, what it means to that person.
Blogging, and shrimp, and chicken are not the problem for me. My fears lie in how those things occur for me. Shrimp occurs as low tide crap, something to throw back into the ocean. Chicken legs occur like baby arms, or a delicacy in some cannibal colonies. And blogging occurs as a supreme opportunity to screw up.
Dyslexia wasn’t even the real reason I resisted blogging. That was the surface excuse, the trump card I could pull out that everyone else would buy. They’d let me off the hook. Dyslexia is actually my brilliance. The ability to see writing, story structure, plotting, characters in 3-D, to walk all the way around a story and reverse engineer that masterpiece is my gift. Einstein said he would fly with the atoms. He was also Dyslexic. Many of our visionaries are.
It was really the immediacy of blogging that scared me. There wouldn’t be twenty revisions, or an editor checking for mistakes. I’d be writing naked. (Well, in my pajamas.) Without a net. What if I do that thing I do where I write ridiculously long, esoteric sentences full of non-sequiturs and nobody understands what I’m trying to say? What if I run out of things to say? What if nobody reads it? What if they don’t like me? Surface excuses to hide my real fear.
The real reason I would rather eat a shrimp or a chicken leg than blog? What if there’s a typo?
You can even listen to that interview with Chris and hear that moment when all the tumblers clicked into place and I saw the absurdity. So, I could say that I blog because Michael, and Josh Rossi, and Chris Brogan said I should, but the true reason that I blog is this: why on Earth would I let a fear of typos, and all that a writing mistake means to me, get in the way of serving writers who have important stories to share?
Like I tell my students; be afraid. Be very afraid. And do it anyway.
Ciao for now,