Part of the reason I can’t give up blogging is because I need a space to write. This much I’ve known. Since I don’t keep a regular journal anymore I need a place that’s as easily accessible as a notebook where I can sort out my thoughts. (But even if I did keep a regular journal, the idea of blogging would still appeal to me as a writer, because readers…but I’ll get to that in a minute.) The problem I continuously run into is when I see other bloggers doing certain things that I want to try more than I want to spend time figuring out what’s best for me, which inevitably causes me to lose interest in the blog because it’s not what I really want to be doing.
Then part of the reason I do keep deleting blog posts and restarting blogging projects is because blogging feels more and more irrelevant with each passing year, and I’m not sure anyone cares to read them anymore. I know I shouldn’t worry so much about that part if I’m going to be writing at all, but the natural desire of a writer is to attract readers, to start conversation, to create community. But having those things is also what’s scary about writing. It’s what’s scary about sharing yourself, in general. On the one hand, people are enthused with social media because it opens up copious opportunities for connection, but that can also be what makes social media so painful and draining. I don’t know that balance exists on the internet. We mostly have to determine best practices for dealing with the shitty areas so that it doesn’t overwhelm the lives we live offline.
Social networks like Instagram have changed the way people approach blogging. Some people consider their Instagram accounts to be personal blogs, even though I’m a cyber naturalist and disagree with any Instagram account that makes that claim. A personal blog for me exists solely on a blogging platform, such as WordPress. In my opinion, if the platform limits your word count to anything less than 5,000 words, then that’s not a proper blogging platform. And a proper blogging platform doesn’t limit your text content to a brief caption. Since blogs can host images with captions and also include a major body of text, then that’s what stipulates a personal blog. Everything else are social media components. And that’s why, even though I’ve considered it, I can’t rest easy knowing that my Instagram account is synonymous with my blog. They just aren’t the same things to me. But that may also be the difference between an elderly millennial and a millennial youth.
The biggest issue I run into with blogging is audience. I didn’t start blogging to connect with people I already knew. I started blogging to connect with people I didn’t know, which makes the concept of someone I do know coming across my blog anxiety-inducing. On the one hand, if they connect with something I write that does make me happy, especially if it’s someone from your past you didn’t imagine ever connecting with (at least if the response to your writing is a good one). On the other hand, if someone you know is reading your writing but not commenting about it—either on the blog, across social media, or to your face—then it gives a stronger impression that you’re being judged or, worst-case scenario, stalked. No one wants to be trolled. The idea of writing publicly is to engage your audience, so someone visiting your space, hanging around for a long time, but not engaging in what you’ve said isn’t so much disheartening as it unnerving. The disheartening scenario would be someone clicking through your blog for less than a minute and then disappearing. (Was it something I said?)
Another aspect of my dilemma has been in comparing the life I have (corporate cog, homebody, introvert) with the one I want (financially self-sustaining writer, traveler, I’ll keep the introvert part). Sometimes it’s easy to convince myself that I want the one and not the other, but very rarely can I hold both versions of myself in the same thought. I’ll think that I either need to pursue a corporate career or writing, but not both, as they might become tangled in a never-ending battle for my attention. (But wouldn’t that just be life?)
I’m also going through a phase where I’m either tired of trying to explain myself or I simply don’t want others to know what I think, which is a strange sensation for someone who generally loves dumping her thoughts and feelings into a public platform for external perusal. Roxane Gay said something resonant about this in her Skillshare class on writing the personal essay, stating, “You can write personally and hold things back for yourself,” which completely re-framed my perspective and spoke to something in myself I was already growing into. It’s not that I don’t want to write, I just don’t want to write frivolously. When I come to my writing space, I want to do so with a clear message in mind and I don’t want to worry so much with visual details, which is what generally ups a writer’s blogging game, but which causes me to fret more over aesthetic when I should be focusing on context. And if I’m worrying about someone I know nitpicking over that, then maybe my blog just isn’t their space. I have to get over this idea that by not writing when I want to write because what I write might upset someone is ever going to serve me in a healthy way. It simply won’t.
Especially when the ultimate reason I keep coming back to blogging is because, despite how withdrawn and reserved I tend to get through deeply introverted behavior patterns, I know that at the end of the day I’m still going to light up when someone reaches out to me with an understanding voice. It’s that voice I want to write for, it’s that voice I want in my community, and it’s that voice that’s going to keep me coming back. It’s the hope that when I do put something out there it will be met with empathy rather than antagonism, curiosity rather than confusion. If the person who finds my blog reads what I have to say and doesn’t understand why I need to be here, then they are simply not my person, and I am not theirs.