In the near future I will post a link to a guest blog that I wrote for an organization that I deeply admire. It reminded me of that fact that before I started my own blog (a mere few days ago!) I did do some guest blogging on occasion. I realize that part of the appeal of guest blogging, firstly, was that I was flattered to be asked by a friend to contribute to their blog. But more so, guest blogging feels like it has that editorial stamp of approval—a topic that matters to me, and that comes up in my soon-to-be-published guest blog post. If someone has asked me to contribute to her blog, or if my work has been accepted by a journal, I feel legitimized. This is a feeling that many of us writers seek out—hence the endless attempts to get published. And hence the initial squeamishness some of us have about self-publishing, though it’s clear that self-publishing is taking on a new and exciting life of its own (a topic for another blog post at this humble, non-blog blog).
As a writer and an editor, I’m on both sides of coin. My work as an editor both professionally and for my literary journal sharpens my critical eye, which can be very helpful for my writing. There are times, though, when the editor in me gets in the way of the writer in me. I start composing the draft of a poem and can’t get past the first few lines cause I’ve already backtracked and started editing. This applies to my essay writing as well, which has tended to be slow and careful. That may not be a bad thing, but I know there is a certain amount of freedom that comes from simply allowing oneself to create that first draft, without judging. In a way, hesitantly allowing myself to publish my own blog is my way of offering myself that invitation to freedom. Without confining myself to a particular topic, without desperately hoping to get a book deal or a mass audience, I can return to the roots of my writing process.
Sometimes we feel the need for the approval of others to feel worthy of the work we do. The guest blog is one way to achieve that, and getting published in a venue one admires is a great ego boost. But blogging right here, at my own lonely blog, with the self-publish “button” so temptingly close to my fingers, is a scary thing. It means that I’m trusting myself to say what I have to say, and to provide a space for my words in this world. It means that the stamp of approval is my own, as I hover over the keys and hesitate before I click “publish.”