When I started my blog in 2014, it was for a very specific reason. I’m a writer and I needed to build a platform. I needed to write more, every day. I needed to put work out there. I needed to push myself to connect and I needed to push my writing, both in volume and quality. I didn’t start a blog for fun or because I felt I had something important to say and wanted the mic for a while. Truthfully I wish I could be like Jem – have a holographic persona who said whatever I wanted to convey. I like my privacy. I loathe attention. I would prefer to sit in the shadows, and be forever unnoticed. But in today’s literary-scape that is not an option. So I started this blog.
In the past 2+ years I have pushed myself and my writing. I have also found myself reevaluating my blog, why I do it and what it should be. Last year I decided to split my blog into two blogs because it kind of felt like two things, even if both of those two things were still largely undefined. In truth, I like being undefined. I like not prescribing into any one train of thought or philosophy. I hate rules and being told what to do. I just like being me, doing what I do, and let other people figure it out. So with my blog I didn’t find a niche. I knew all of the “advice” and I didn’t listen. On purpose. I was never trying to have 100,000 followers, even if I was trying to build an audience base. This blog was an experiment and that constant push forward.
Earlier this year I decided I needed to take a step back from my blog. Not abandon it, or even neglect it – but I felt after some personal and professional evolution, I couldn’t commit the same amount of time to it. I would rather be submitting pieces, working on a novel, getting involved in literary circles, etc. And so I have.
Since this step back I’ve had two pieces published on The Huffington Post (one on the tragedy in Orlando, homophobia and gun violence and another on gender roles and how I’m happier without them) as well as had an essay appear in a literary journal. I have more plans still, more hopes and dreams and very-real goals, both short-term and long-term. To me it is important to put these pieces first, but it is also important not to lose sight of this blog, and just what it means to me. It’s still a push, and I still need to be pushed constantly.
One thing I have been mulling over however is just what makes a blog post? What I mean is, what is the difference between something I write for this blog and something I submit to an online venue? Because I don’t do fluff. I don’t write just to put something up – nothing is absolute crap, etc. I write everything because it is an idea or because I feel I should. Whether it feels like an exercise, exploring something new, pushing myself or a finished piece – there is always a reason. But after my past publications I realized I have posted a lot of things that I should have submitted instead. And to me – that’s a problem.
I have since spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what constitutes a blog post, something that I want to share but would never submit, and what makes something with the potential to appear elsewhere. I asked a lot of writing friends and colleagues, even a few writing groups and communities I’m a part of. I was surprised that many told me to stop blogging altogether. That I used it for a purpose that was no longer relevant. “Stop giving away your work for free.” But I have no intention of stopping or walking away. I feel like I should be able to do both.
Other writers gave me tools, framing questions and things to consider when pondering what makes a blog post and what makes something that could be bigger than just my blog. There is of course that “easy” distinction of individual versus universal, but I guess I can connect almost anything personal and make it universal or take something with great universal elements and limit it to the personal. So then what? Honestly, I’m not entirely sure.
I know that going forward I’m going to be much more cautious and discriminating about what I post on this blog and what I save for something else later on. That doesn’t mean that what I blog about is less important or silly, it just means that my blog is the ideal place for that piece of writing. I’m sure I’ll make some more mistakes, but I hope that there is a lot less, “Ugh, I should have submitted that” as I become a better judge of my own work and where it stands.
Because few (as in less than 1%) publications, online or in print, have any interest in something that has appeared elsewhere before. Even if the piece was an earlier, rougher, fairly different draft, disclosing it appeared elsewhere – even just temporarily – effectively kills the piece/idea for any other outlet. And not disclosing it, but it coming out later… pretty much kills any future opportunities/relationship with that publication.
So it is likely I will be posting even less than before. I’ll make a point to at least write a post on this blog once a week, and ideally will still keep my twice a week pattern/schedule but I want to stop getting in my own way. This blog has been wonderful for me – that continual push forward, constant momentum… I have no intention of turning it into a series of obstacles I deeply regret.