The post from Melody Moves to Bulgaria was the first thing I read this morning as I was lolling in bed like a walrus, my head still hazy and heavy with sleep.
“So, here is the truth about why I haven’t been writing on my blog,” she began. The experiences she shared seemed dreamlike, when viewed in my somnolent state.
“But at some point, as we moved into our 3rd year in Bulgaria, I didn’t feel like writing anymore. It’s not that the adventures stopped. Quite the contrary!” she wrote. It’s just that the novelty had worn off.
I’ve read many similar posts from other beloved bloggers in the past few months. “Motherhood is my state: no longer a novel experience, it is just blessed, pedestrian, everyday life,” wrote one particularly articulate friend. The bold adventure that had launched her into blogging was now just … daily life.
I can relate to this malaise.
I was corresponding with my friend Tom (aka, “The Blogfodder”) last weekend about this very topic. He’s not only a dear friend, but also a frequent muse and a superb editor.
“The tone shift [in your blog] is not blatant or jarring, but … guarded, perhaps,” he wrote. “Not at all impersonal, but no longer intimate; I don’t get the sense of daily/weekly/seasonal routines, walks and talks with friends like Pam or interchanges with fellow bloggers.”
His observations were so spot-on that I felt like I’d taken a two-by-four on the forehead. (Which I’ve actually done, in case you’re wondering.)
It began last year, I think, when I acquired a stalker super-enthusiastic reader. Not the dangerous type … more the type who means well, but has no sense whatsoever of personal boundaries. Whether consciously or not, I began writing much less about my private life — especially the existential fuzzy-navel-gazing that used to make up 30% of my posts.
At about the same time, I acquired a whole mess of new subscribers — almost 2,000! Yet, post after post, few seemed to be reading or commenting or even clicking the “like” button. Conversations with my friends moved to other platforms. Pretty soon the blogosphere felt like a dark, word-swallowing void. I started to worry that I’d lost my edge, or that I’d become boring.
So I did what every good writer is taught to do, and I set out to “know my audience.” I tried writing short posts and funny posts and long posts and photo posts. I even launched contests and challenges, in an attempt to engage my readers.
But the needle didn’t budge. I then realized it was impossible to please almost 2,000 people all over the planet whose only interaction had been to click “subscribe.”
Soon I started asking myself the same questions so many of my fellow bloggers seem to be facing:
Is blogging worth it? Is it worth the effort, the time, and the self-doubt?”
I thought about the wonderful people I’ve met through my blog who have become real-life friends. And I thought about the equally wonderful experiences I’ve had with these friends (like getting an insider’s look at Paris, and doing a joint post about the Catacombs, and touring a World War I site) that never would have happened, if not for my blog.
But then, in spite of these marvelous fringe benefits, I realized I was asking the wrong question. The real question is,
Why am I blogging?”
Am I blogging for some fellow in India I’ve never met, or to amuse my friends, or to promote my services? (“I write really good. Call me!”)
I started blogging for one purpose only: to write for my own enjoyment. And by that measure HBlog has been a huge success.
Maybe it’s narcissistic, but I enjoy reading my old stuff. Sometimes I can even remember where I was sitting, or the sounds that surrounded me when I wrote a particular post. They’re like little time capsules that crystallize everything I was thinking and feeling at a particular moment.
So … to my friends all over the blogosphere who don’t have the time or the energy, or who feel that they’ve settled into a routine (and that somehow “routine” equals boring), or who feel lonely when no one seems to be reading or commenting … to those friends I say, PLEASE KEEP AT IT.
Even if you make all of your posts private, even if you don’t finish half of them, please write for yourself. Please write for yourself so that many years from now you can look back at the moments that today seem so ordinary, so you can realize in hindsight how extraordinary those little moments really were.
And yes, I promise to take my own advice.