When I started blogging nearly 8 years ago (next month-ish), it was as if some magical portal was opened into the world of words and stories and the actual people who wrote them. Blogs were places to go to read about others’ lives. To meet them on their turf and get to know them through their words. I understand that a blog is a representation of what people want others’ to see and never the full story. But the stories were there! A post would lead to a comment which would lead to a conversation that later lead to phone calls. Soon, those words on the screen were people in my heart. It made me feel incredible every time I wrote. I began to know the people who commented either through comments that led me to them or even in emails.
One time I posted that I was having some health issues. Who called me? Gloria Steinem. Yes, that one. She was concerned about me and left me her home phone number so I could call her back. Because I wrote a post on my blog. Because I was myself online. I opened up about who I am and what was going on in my life. (I could use more information on that heart/stress/health connection again, my friend. I sort of lost the information and, well, when Gloria Steinem calls, one can get forgetful about writing down information to remember 5 years later.)
Then of course there was the most life changing, terrifying yet amazing comment on my blog that changed the way I looked at writing forever. That comment led to emails which led to phone calls which led to me being signed by a literary agent who has had enough faith in me for both of us when I lost my way. Because I wasn’t afraid to put it out there that I was working on writing a book proposal, she found me. When life kicked my ass from here to hell and back, she didn’t give up on me. I pray she never does. (Laurie, I’ve got something you’ve waited a long time for!)
You all know that I have blogged openly about my history of addiction and my kicking its ass on a daily basis for nearly 11 years. Because I was not afraid to blog about being a recovering addict that led to a relationship with Five Moms which led me to a trip to DC (Face it, Dave, there is no real White House!) which led to dinner, a day of lobbying and a face to face talk about my addiction with Dr. Drew Pinsky. A conversation that made me see something in myself and my addiction that not only had I never thought about, it was a complete game changer. I wish I had more time that night to talk about it more in depth but with just a few insights into what I was saying, Dr. Drew changed something broken inside me.
I was able to test drive several different cars for months at a time. I made incredible connections with the gaming community. All because they knew they would get a quality write up from me. Whether I liked the product or not.
I was offered paid writing jobs that I loved so very much! (But as kids tend to do, my babies weren’t so young and a target market anymore. But, the opportunity was incredible!)
Because I wrote a blog.
Where people comment.
And relationships are formed.
And things changed. Suddenly all of these new catch phrases were vitally important for bloggers. Things You Must Know. Your stats? (You have to know your stats! They measure whether you are worth anything in this world!) Branding. (“You are your brand!” was shouted around the land.) Do you know your page rank? (Everyone should know that! Duh!) What about your Twitter followers? (Do you have enough clout (ahem) to mean something to PR pros?) Facebook fan page? Have you optimized it? Where is your media kit? Don’t run with scissors! (Okay, I threw that in to see if you were paying attention.) Have you set up an LLC? Are you actively seeking sponsors? What ad network is best? Should you use an ad network? Do you know SEO? How much do you charge for every single thought in your head?
Holy crap on a crispy cracker! ENOUGH!
And that magical portal that was all unicorns and double rainbows slammed shut for me.
Writing online wasn’t fun anymore. Writing online had to be work or you were a crappy blogger. Blogging for fun? That doesn’t pay the bills. The noise in the blogosphere became so loud, I could no longer hear my own voice. I lost my blogging voice. I couldn’t find any passion for writing about anything. Oh, I could kick and scream and be that old blogger yelling for these new-fangled bloggers to “get off my lawn” (and I did to my old school friends in private) but that didn’t change the climate. It just made me feel less significant. Less effective. Just…less.
So I started to write in a real journal. (Like with real paper and a pen!) And I wrote mundane things and memorable things. I vented my frustrations and fears. I wrote funny stories and things that broke my heart. I took 2003 and flipped it around. When I started blogging 8 years ago, I went from a journal to a blog and it brought forth the writer in me. In 2010, I went from a blog to a personal journal. And it brought back the writer in me.
Now? I’ve learned to merge the two with (somewhat) peace of mind.
I may not follow the shouts of what blogging “should be” today and I may not know all of the buzz words of the day but what I do know is that I love to write and make connections. It truly makes me happy and fuels my passion for writing. If that leads to opportunities, that is wonderful. And? If not playing by the “new rules” gets doors slammed in my face, so be it. The bottom line is that I blog for the love of the blog.
Not for love of the game.