Content. Whoof. There’s a word to casually instill fear on an otherwise unassuming Monday morning. I have fought many mediocre battles in my life, but the battle to create content is my longest-standing, and right now it’s sitting right around Kathy: 0, Content: 1,000,000.
Any time you find something to measure your self-worth with, life gets terrifying real quick. For (my type of) creative, the definitive measure of self-worth is the ability to create things that interest some section of the general populous. The bar for this ability feels Everest-high, unachievable, the sort of thing you have to pay a Sherpa thousands of dollars to help you every step of the you’ll-probably-die-on-the-journey way. It takes one flip through a glossy magazine for me to feel equally inspired and idiotic.
But then, enter the internet. A quick scroll through any feed and the retina is greeted by articles, listicles, and content of a fairly non-threatening variety. It feels somewhat accessible and, dare I think it, achievable! Suddenly the bar is lowered, temptingly so, and you sit there and go, “Y’know, I can do that. If an article of reposted Tumblr memes can get clicks, then I, too, can get clicks!”
So you do the thing. You sit down at the coffee shop with your latte, artisanal sourdough toast, and whipped honey butter, and do your damnedest to write some bona fide interesting content.
And THAT’S when it happens. WHAM – you realize something so deafening, so critically offensive, that you don’t know how to handle it.
You don’t have anything all that interesting to say.
Worse, and perhaps just applicable to me, you realize something more terrifying: you do have something interesting to say, but interesting is a relative term, and your relative version of it is that everything you have to say somehow relates to the pop culture of years 1995-2008 – those in which your own culture was cold-pressed, fermented, grown, whatever – and if there is one thing that paying websites aren’t interested in, it’s really, really specific nattering about Meg Ryan films and how underrated the film Titan A.E. is.
What’s so terrifying about content is that like any slice of self-reflection put out for the masses, it gets held up to the lens of everyone else’s standards. What you thought was cool is not cool according to MaryUnicorn007 or Stan McClusky from Bend, Oregon. It’s definitely not cool or interesting to the Huffington Post, or Vogue, or Vice. So as you throw your 1,500 words out into the great void that is the internet, you hear them knock, hollow and unexpectedly, against a back wall you never saw, before clattering to the floor where your mother and sisters will be the only ones to ever read them.
Content. Maybe the content itself isn’t terrifying, but what everyone is about to think, or not think, about it, certainly is.
What turns that terror into beauty is that it so, deeply, profoundly, doesn’t fucking matter. Yeah, it does if you’re trying to pay the rent with it. But ask any freelancer, any writer that’s managed to go from hobby to hustle to full-time gig, and they’ll tell you that if great money is solely what you’re after, you’re in the wrong trade. Writers write to relate to others. To get their thoughts out there to help others. To form a club of cool losers who are on the same page about this one particular thing. To brighten a day or educate a stranger. And they’re right: if you want to get rich, you’re in the wrong trade. Which brings me to why I stopped stressing about content and made this very website happen.
If there is any one thing you can find that increases the likelihood of a smile, why on earth wouldn’t you want more of it in your life? It’s nobody’s business how interesting that smile-starter is to other humans. Put it out there if it makes you happy. Put it out there if it’s only going to get one unique view per day (from you, when you check the website to remind yourself that yes, it was the best idea to pick that font for the header, because look at how fucking amazing it looks). Create content for you, in every facet of your life, and you can’t come out the other end a loser. Or at least, if you do, I’ll think you’re a very cool loser.
There’s been a bit of an unaddressed hiatus here at Viv + Kit for the past few months, and to be honest, it’s because my life has been a bit of a shambles since July 27, 2019. I haven’t been able to get ahead of things or find balance or have great vision and control since my dad died and my work got unexpectedly unstable. It’s been a fear of being interesting, of creating content “worth” reading, that’s kept me off of here. I feel like a thorough fuck up right now – what on earth could I have to throw into the void that’s going to do anything for anyone?
But sometimes the moments where you feel like all you’re doing is tripping from one fuck up to the next are the moments when you draw the best conclusions. Even if I don’t, the one thing I absolutely need more of in my life is what I love. What makes me smile. That has always been, and will always be, writing. So in a way, while it feels like the birth of this website two weeks before my life imploded was, shall we say, the most shit timing ever, maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s exactly what I needed.
So stick around for the content, or don’t. I’ll still be here, creating it. Because that’s what makes me happy.