They Only Like it When I’m Funny

Photo Credit: Me

I remember when I read the biography, Rosemary; The Hidden Kennedy Daughter, written by Kate Clifford Larson.

I was struck with disbelief. She struggled with behavioral issues and to ensure the future of the Kennedy name their father, Joseph stuffed her away. At 23 years old she had one of the first lobotomies ever performed. It was botched and unsuccessful. She spent the remainder of her life institutionalized and cut off from the family.

Here’s a family that’s boasted as an integral part of American history. Well, crap. That’s fucked up. It was only one book I had read, though. Is that really enough to form an opinion or believe it to be true? I started doing the research and sure enough, it’s the only information I could find on Rosemary and I found far too much information on what life as Joseph Kennedy’s children was really like.

I love to research. It makes my heart flutter. I’m thirsty to learn and not drink a glass of water and I’m cured, thirsty. I mean guzzle from a water spigot as I choke and gag, and get soaked and drowned, and it’s still not enough. I need to know more.

I thought about writing a story on the topic but I didn’t. I chose not to because stats show me my readers don’t enjoy reading stories I write about serious shit.

They only like it when I’m funny.

I’ve recently written a few stories on topics, serious topics, important topics that matter to me. such as this one:

and this one:

and this one:

Few people read them and even less engaged, proving to me that they just don’t care. Why is that? Am I not intended to write serious topics for my readers? I sell articles to publications on serious topics for their public, but my readers aren’t all that interested.

I thought, Maybe it’s because we need humor in a time when America is going to shit and the world is filled with evil? Maybe we need humor when life struggles exhaust us or humor provides a break in the stress and chaos of our daily lives. Maybe, somehow, my ability to find that humor feels good to others.

Stats show that a tight second of most viewed stories are on the topic of depression. So they, as in my readers, like reading about my misery. I don’t think it’s because I’m miserable. I think it because there are more people out there in the world that connect with how I’m feeling than I could even begin to know.

We’re trained to wear a mask. We’re conditioned to hide it, but I won’t. Screw that.

The third runner up are stories of memories. Something about my heritage or surviving child abuse, or stories about young motherhood or a slightly perfect (for us), yet also flawed marriage peak the interest of others.

When I write those stories I’m processing my own emotions. Perhaps others who relate are processing their emotions as well.

I know nothing more than what the stats tell me.- Erika Sauter

How can I use these stats to improve my writing, market my work and myself throughout 2018?

Topics-

I’ll focus primarily on humor, misery and memoir. I’ll save the serious shit as exclusive content for my patrons.

Word Count-

I’ll stick to writing 750 words or less. Readers tend to lose interest if stories are too long and it kind of blows when I write a 1200- 1500 story that no one reads. I need to say more with less words. I can do that. It’s what writers do.

Marketing-

I’m going to social media every day on eight different social media platforms. Sounds impossible, right?.. because it is but somehow I’ll pull the time out of my ass. I will not succeed if I don’t throw myself out there.

I want to be a person and not a personal brand. My plan isn’t only to share my work but my life as well. I need to protect my children’s privacy but I intend to share more of my husband in my marketing goals because he’s willing and such a good sport about it.

I’ve also switched up rewards on my Patreon. Two of my favorites are sending books from my personal library to patrons via snail mail and Skype video chats. The thing is, I desperately need my writing and art to financially sustain but equally so- I want to do these super cool things with readers.

Create More Stuff-

For real, because that’s what it’s all about. Less feeling like I’m getting nowhere and more pushing myself to live up to my best potential.

The Daily Three-

I do this thing where at any moment this amazing story idea pops into my head. By the time I get to my laptop to vomit the words out I find myself thinking, What was I thinking?

It’s a shit of a struggle. From here on out I’m writing down three story ideas every day.

Document My Work-

I constantly take photos and videos of what I’m creating as I’m creating it. I write a great deal of notes and draw out sketches with these really bizarre things referred to as pencil and paper, but I rarely share anything online. I say I’m going to but I just don’t because of the no excuse I have.

Collaborate-

I want to work on more collaborative projects. Who’s down? Get at me.

Drafts-

Yes, there are 122 drafts in my Medium draft folder. That’s four months worth of stories if I finish and publish one each day. (Hence the daily three. Clearly, I’m scattered- a.k.a. manic).

Hold Myself Accountable-

By publicly announcing my short comings because, whatever. We all suck at something.

I lack time management and organization. My mind travels and carries me off task, and as with anything in life it’s a wave I ride. There will be words and art I create I’ll fall madly in love with and others I’ll want to run over with my pickup truck. It will be trial and error but I’ll get there.

I began a Patreon in August and opened an Etsy shop in October. I told myself if I were unable to sustain by January I would give up and go back to selling stories I don’t want to write to publications I don’t want to write for in order to put food on the table, but that’s not being creative. That’s selling out for survival. I can’t settle for the capitalistic American way.

Perhaps a better option for me would be to try again, and to try harder, and to try everything before I toss in the towel?

In ‘life,’ I don’t want to be reduced to my work. In ‘work,’ I don’t want to be reduced to my life. My work is too austere.
My life is a brutal anecdote.- Susan Sontag

Newspaper reporter in Eastern Iowa. The views expressed are mine alone.

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