There’s one house in my neighborhood that has no window coverings, allowing us, when the light is just right, to peer into their home. This openness irritated me to the point of mania, obsessing every time I passed the house about the why. Why didn’t they cover their windows? Why do they allow us to look inside? Why doesn’t this bother them?
And then I realized that I live in a blog, and even though I have window coverings, they are sheer and at times wide open showing me walking around naked or unkempt. Why do I do this? Why do I want people looking inside? Why doesn’t this bother me?
There were two conversations on Twitter yesterday talking about feeling invisible and openly wondering if we packed up our blogs and disappeared tomorrow, would anyone notice? In a nutshell, the discussion revealed that a lot of us feel invisible and the majority of us feel dispensable. The answer to the age old question, When a blogger leaves in this vast and dense blogosphere forest, does anyone notice?, is no, not really. After a day or two, they’re forgotten and the Internet collectively sighs in relief at having one less person to keep track of.
I’ve been at this gig for almost three years. Three years of pimping myself out, three years of jumping up in down in front of my wide open windows yelling, “look at me!!! Look at me!! OVER HERE! See me?? Please like me!!” And yet? And yet I still often feel invisible, I still feel like I’m not part of the in crowd. Three years of still not being recognized.
“Oh hello, Jennifer. Playgroups are no place for children, you say? Nice to meet you.” says Big name blogger.
“Well actually we met last year at BlogHer, we talked for like, an hour. How do you NOT remember???” I seethe, silent in my head. But what I actually say is, “Nice to meet you, too.”
(No, I’m not talking about one situation or person, I’m referring to probably 15+ different occurrences.)
I am exhausted.
I keep telling myself that I started blogging and keep blogging because of this community. I keep telling myself that I blog because I enjoy it. It’s fun, right? When I first discovered blogs, I found so many like-minded women, struggling through the early days of motherhood, who didn’t sugar coat infancy and playdates and being a stay-at-home mom. Blogs made me feel vindicated.
Writing gave me something to do in those days when Carson was just a baby and I was so lonely, so bored, so discontent. It gave me something to occupy my mind, something to think about beyond my never ending laundry pile, what I could cook for dinner in five minutes or less, or how I was going to make it into the post office carrying a package and a carseat. In the early days, my blog was the sole place that was mine, and mine alone. Carson didn’t poop on it, Tate didn’t leave his dirty socks lying on it, I didn’t resent it like I did most everything else in my life at the time.
Here’s the kicker, though. I resent this blog now. Moreso, I resent that I don’t write the way I wished that I could.
What was once this great way to connect with others, has become this never ending loop of barely keeping my head above the social media water line. I’ve literally lost sleep over the fact that I haven’t ever visited some of the my most loyal commenters or that I didn’t answer a question left in my comments section or that I have at all times at least two or three need-to-be-answered emails. My close friends’ blogs, I hardly have time to read those and when I do, my comments often amount to “great post,” which is apparently the “wrong” way to comment.
Blogging has also become more than simply writing. There’s Twitter, that I do occasionally enjoy, but I feel so out of the loop since I can’t spend hours interacting like it seems so many others do. I talk to people, they don’t talk back. I talk to people and sometimes I don’t have time to reply. Hello vicious cycle! I cannot keep up, I feel like I’m drowning in the wake of bloggers who must have 48 hours in their days to my mere 24.
Then there’s the worry that I don’t use Twitter “correctly,” which really, is just plain STUPID. I’m so very tired of having to comment the “right” way, interact on Twitter the “right” way, always remembering to be “relevant,” when all I really want to do is connect with others because I’m lonely and bored.
In terms of writing, I’ve come to the realization that my writing isn’t, in fact, brilliant. I don’t completely suck, no, but there are millions (LITERALLY) of other women bloggers who smoke me in the writing department. This makes me feel like a very small fish in a huge, swirling vortex to nowhere. I’ve all but stopped reading some of my favorite blogs because they are such amazing writers that it makes me feel even worse when I struggle to write something witty or passionate yet what comes out is basically the same shitty post over and over. I’VE STOPPED READING PEOPLE BECAUSE THEY’RE GOOD???? That is all kinds of messed up.
(I’m not saying this to get some of you to say that you think that I’m a talented writer, because REALLY.)
You want some more brutal honesty? That little subscriber number over there in my sidebar? I have tried to take it down, but I can’t. It is too closely connected to my fragile blogger ego. I look at that number and think that when someone new that’s never been to my blog before sees that number, they’ll read my less than stellar writing and think, “but she has over 1,400 readers! She must be somebody.” The big bloggers may not recognize me, I may get very few @ replies on Twitter, I may sort of suck as a writer, but doggonit, I have subscribers!!
[Fraud, see also Imposter, see also playgroupsarenoplaceforchildren.com]
I think every blogger/writer initially struggles to find their voice. I know that for me, I initially wanted to be very open, too open, writing about things overly personal. My windows had no coverings, and the light was always right for your peering eyes to see everything. Provocative, I remember trying to live up to that word, but all provocative turned out to for me was using the word f*ck a little too often. Now the pendulum has swung almost all the way to the other side, I’ve covered my windows with sheers and try to write watered down stories without curse words and about subjects that couldn’t possibly offend anyone. Now that I have found my middle ground voice, I don’t really like the way it sounds.
The thought crosses my mind nearly everyday that I should quit blogging, close up shop, copy my archives so that all this work is not totally gone. My memories are recorded on this blog after all. When I think of quitting, I get all panicky, though. “Who will I talk to?” “I know that as soon as I quit, I’ll have something really poignant to say.” “What will I do with my time?”
There is nothing simple about quitting. Blogging has become such a part of who I am. Most of my friends live in my laptop/iPhone. This hobby is the source of vacations and get togethers. Even though I’ve long been disillusioned with blogging, I spent a great deal of money to go to Chicago this summer for BlogHer. Without blogging, would I get a weekend away from the kids, spending time with friends?
I’ve been contemplating starting a completely different blog, a fresh start. That, too, makes me feel panicky. Or maybe it makes me feel even wearier. I remember the hours I spent commenting on other’s blogs, signing up my blog all over the place to get my name out there and to think I would have to do that again? And I’d lose my precious 1,400+ subscribers! Saying that makes me stop in my tracks, WHAT THE HELL am I doing? Starting over would be without strings attached, without the stress of “properly” interacting in the community and, dare I say it…, maybe it would be more about the writing. (HA!)
There is also the whole debate in the mommyblogging community about sponsored trips, reviews, free what the hell ever and how it reflects on us as a community. All of it, ALL OF IT, makes me overwhelmingly tired. Why yes I do have opinions on the subject, but since I can’t articulate what they are I’ll just keep my mouth shut. I only mention it because this SITUATION is part of what’s bothering me.
I feel at odds over ads on my site, too, but have justified that they have paid my hosting fees for this website and bought me some cheap shoes at Payless, in the clearance section. What bothers me about ads in general is that I have NOT posted things because I didn’t want what I was going to say to reflect poorly on an advertiser. Back in November when I did an entire month of giveaways, provided from some very generous sources, to “celebrate” my two year blogging anniversary, there were several posts that I WANTED to write, but due to their crass or controversial nature, I didn’t. Certainly that decision was good for “business,” but this blog didn’t begin as a business. How did turn into one?
I don’t really have a conclusion. There isn’t a conclusion. I do know that blogging is more often than not, no longer fun and that I just want to take a nap.
To clarify, this is not an announcement that I’m quitting blogging. In the event that I do quit, it will be without pomp and circumstance. I’ll quietly put up some thick, lined curtains and drive away when nobody is looking, and I won’t leave a forwarding address.
Maggie Dammit also has some thoughts, related to this very subject. You should read her post, Evolution of a Blogger.