Canary in a Coal Mine

First to fall over when the atmosphere is less than perfect
Your sensibilities are shaken by the slightest defect
You live your life like a canary in a coal mine
You get so dizzy even walking in a straight line
—The Police

I blame my daughter’s biology teacher. Turns out his main line of communication about homework and such is Twitter…and, while it’s possible to access his timeline without having an account, this process has pushed me over the edge into doing the unthinkable and getting one.

It always seemed as if it would be a fun thing to do, and I imagine it will be if I can keep it firmly in the realm of fun. The trouble is that I have jumped from “isn’t it amusing to tweet strange remarks and phrases that come into my head” to “oh my God, others’ feeds are amazing clearinghouses of useful links to things and mine is not” in record time.

I’m privileged to see a lot of amazing writing about living with mental illness and with addiction out there, and I know that I could spend my days online and never read all of the good stuff there is. One writer I follow (yes, you, K., and you’re awesome) pretty much gives me a daily digest of great articles to read.

It’s not what I do, though, at least not at the current stage of my life, and I tripped myself up by getting caught in expectations for my new account. Then I started thinking that since I had a Twitter account now, maybe I should give in and get a Facebook page for Not This Song, and how does that work, and would it be a separate page from my writer’s page, which I need to get set up too, and…

…and I’ve now sucked every drop of joy out of my writing. I’ve been struggling for days to pick and execute an idea for a Not This Song post. I’ve been comparing myself to social media moguls and thinking that since I don’t imagine ever being able to (or wanting to) do what they do, maybe I should give up on ever accomplishing anything with my writing.

I’ve thought about these things before; the Twitter thing just brings it up in a new way. For example, I tried to figure out how to put a “follow me on twitter” button here on the website, and haven’t yet succeeded–but the process triggered all of my insecurities. This leaked over into my writing in general–every idea for an article turned into haven’t you said this before or hasn’t someone said it better or isn’t this just silly?

This has to stop, because I can’t afford to lose my pleasure in writing. I’ve lost sight of the reasons for what I do; of Not This Song‘s spirit. Of course I’d like the pieces that work to get to more people, but I cannot place the cart before the horse. The writing, the weirdness, the play’s the thing; all of this other stuff is about finding the best ways to put it on a plate for others to sample.

All this being said, I’m going to keep my Twitter account, but only on condition that I keep it fun. For me, this means that, although I’ll sometimes tweet a link I find, the feed will usually be just my remarks and I won’t try to organize and distribute lots of links. I’ll try to think of it like the name; like that canary singing its message of I’m-still-here.

My username’s @NotThisSong. I’ll get that button up eventually, and if someone wants to look at it they can, but I’ll try not to worry one way or another. And I’ll write my next Not This Song article in the old spirit of simple storytelling. Want to help me? Choose one of these three old titles from my “pending” list: Metamorph, Alchemical Sewing Cabinet, or Damn It, Jim! and I promise to do the winner without second-guessing it any more.

One response to “Canary in a Coal Mine

  1. There is far too much quality content to keep up or compete. Just write. I can help you out with the Twitter button and getting your Twitter tag to show up when people share your posts on Twitter. I focus on Twitter notifications, or those tweets in which my tag is referenced.

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