I have come to a moral crossroads. Where art meets compromise.
I was alone, in my garret. Wearing my beret. Washing my paintbrushes and eating a crust of bread. Listening to La bohème and shouting Viva la Revolución!
Holiday decorating with evergreen garland and mercury glass ornaments.
When there was a knock on my door…
It was the suggestion that I compromise my integrity, my morality, my principles.
The crass distortion of my craft was just sitting there on my doorstep—squat and immovable, and holding a sign that said: Boost your page views, write about Christmas crafts.
And I was all like—Moi? Mais non! I am a writer!
A thinker! An auteur! A visionary!
Look at my smock! Look at my gnarled and ink-stained fingers. Do I look like someone who would sell out her heart’s blood?
Oh? I do? Okay, hang on.
So, two weeks ago, I pimped out my blog with a how to make a bow tutorial. I did it on purpose. Not because I love crafting, or ribbon, or even Christmas in general. I did it for the search-engine value.
It felt sordid… Planning a post based solely on my craven need for attention.
Bringing people to my blog via desperate, ribbon-based measures. Wading out into the holiday-crafting-fray and dragging people here by their hair.
Um? Hello? Other bloggers? Do you know about this thing called Christmas?
Do you know that ALL day and ALL night? People are out there on Google, looking for DIY Christmas decorations?
Did you know about this and didn’t tell me?
Hmmm? Kind of like how not one of you told me I COULD GET RID OF THE LIKE BUTTON. So that I could stop feeling insufficient and back in high school. And also stop mentally calculating what percentage thirty bloggers liking me is, in comparison to the 58 million blogs hosted on WordPress.
Decorating a mirror for Christmas. Obviously, this is incredibly easy to do! All you need to do is go find a Victorian gilt pier mirror. (Try to do this tonight.) Drape evergreen garland over it and hang some pretty ornaments from ribbon.
I’d like to offer my fellow bloggers this bit of advice: if you are not writing about Christmas, and Christmas crafts specifically?
You are a fool.
The week after I posted my how to make a Christmas bow tutorial, I sat slack-jawed in front of the computer. Compulsively refreshing my stats. Struck dumb by the beauty of Google image search.
The magic of Christmas has been redefined for me.
I do not have to do anything. I probably don’t even have to write anything.
I just have to make bows, and people SHOW UP. I love you, people.
Incase you missed how I believe that disco balls make a sophisticated and elegant holiday decoration… I submit: exhibit a.
Don’t get me wrong. I mean, I totally love going on and on about my life and giving you all the most self-absorbed details about MYSELF. Because I am totally the most fascinating topic. EVER.
But even more? I love the random-reinforcement of having hundreds of new blog visitors, courtesy of Christmas mania. It’s reinforced a rat-like mindset that has me frantically swatting the food bar for pellets.
GIVE ME PELLETS.
It made me ecstatic. And then plunged me into despair. Because I have no more crafts. And? I will not go back, people. I will not go back into the darkness. The cave of obscurity. Do you understand me?
I WILL NOT GO BACK.
Forget my life. Forget thinking of stuff to write about. Bring me yarn. Bring me bark. Bring me faux berries. I will craft them into something delightful for you.
Eventually it occurred to me to go to Google-image, to see exactly what results people were getting. I searched: how to make a bow.
OH MY GOD PEOPLE. THAT IS ME. RIGHT ON THE FRONT PAGE.
Holy shit! I am WINNING.
Do you think this is what my parents meant when they told me I could do anything?
Because all this time, I thought they meant cure cancer. Or sing at The Met. Or do doctoral research in Ancient Greek civilization.
But maybe this is what they meant! And that is SUCH a relief, because let me tell you, I do not care at all about the Ancient Greeks.
Tell me you do not want to come to my house and steal these bows… They are everything I look for in a decoration—huge, unusual, and requiring acts of last-minute-frenzy, alternating with the question: Do I really not have anything better to do?
Do you think they’ll be happy that they can FINALLY start telling people what I’ve accomplished?
I mean, my Christmas bow is like—THE MOST FAMOUS BOW EVER.
Except? I am so totally modest? I did not even TELL anyone.
I didn’t want to make my friends and family jealous that I am experiencing such epic fame and recognition.
And also because none of them care.
In fact? I seriously cannot overstate their lack of interest.
No one in my family… or even my husband for that matter… are following me around going—oh my God I love your blog so much. You are an amazing superstar. An artiste.
Not one of them has begged to be featured.
I said I wasn’t going to decorate the dining room with anything but evergreen garland this year. And you can see how AMAZING the garland looks. And how then I emptied out every single Christmas box and made a huge gigantic mess all over my house that I just pushed to the side to take pictures… all in the name of one more person finding my blog.
After my ribbon post, and my rocket ship to bow-fame and stardom, I faced every artist’s dilemma.
Like Hemmingway, like Melville, like Spenser, like Pushkin… I stared at the ceiling, night after night. Debating my commitment to the purity of my prose. Chastising myself for the greedy impulse to sellout.
Weighing my truth and honor versus the possibility of untold new visitors.
So I came up with a compromise—I would do both. A mashup. Combining my real post with a blatant pitch for Christmas-decorating traffic.
Where I would keep the readers I already have—who appreciate my literary genius… but also capitalize on society’s absolute obsession with decorating the shit out of our houses.
So, I used photos of my front porch, decorated for Christmas and captioned them with holiday-related decorating tips. But then went on to write about me, me, me.
I thought it would effectively outsmart Google.
It didn’t work. (Although you can see I haven’t given up.) Proving that I am not smarter than their algorithm… but not deterring me from trying one more time.
I’ve always been like this—scheme-y. Wanting everything. Immediately. Regardless of feasibility or logistics. And calculating how to get it. Preferably by devious, corner-cutting ways, rather than hard work and perseverance.
Like at my first swim meet. When I realized while swimming the breaststroke, that it would ACTUALLY BE WAY FASTER to kick like you normally do— up and down, rather than the frog-leg action.
I still did the breaststroke arm-motion, because that is clearly the important technical aspect of it. But apparently the judges did not value my upgrade to what is undoubtedly a subpar stroke… because I was disqualified.
Mostly, I haven’t changed at all.