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On Being On the Blogging Fence: My Thoughts After BlogHer12

In recovery, we talk about how being on the fence is the most uncomfortable place to be; you know you need to get sober, but you can’t stop drinking. It’s hell.

This year’s BlogHer made me realize that in many ways, I’m on the blogging fence.

BlogHer has exploded; it is a powerhouse of influence and power now after all, this year a sitting President of the United States addressed the attendees. But it’s also BIG. And crowded. And full of lots of “new” bloggers.

This year was the first year that I felt like I didn’t recognize myself among the attendees.

I’m a writer, first and foremost. Words fill me with joy each day, and make me feel firmly connected to the world around me, and I love nothing more than spilling those words out onto the pages of my blogs and sharing them with you.

But I felt in the blogging minority this year at BlogHer.

I know, I know. Everyone that blogs is a writer, obviously, but some of us bloggers write just because writing is like breathing and some people write because writing is a requirement for blogging. This changes the dynamic of BlogHer; the focus from bloggers attending is all business, now, with less focus on the creative.

Of course, I play a role in this. I write about the business side of blogging every day for MomCrunch here at Babble, and, frankly, I love it. I love social media, I love techie stuff, and I am grateful to have a place to write about it, and I loved being told this weekend that folks have come to view my work as a resource. It’s very gratifying. And I don’t judge those that make it a business; it’s smart. I get that.

But there is still a part of me that’s over here saying, “But have you ever read MY blog? The one I pour my heart and soul into? The one that saved my life and helped give me my family, my faith, and my hope?” And you know what? That answer is almost always NO. Because my blog isn’t a business related blog. I don’t offer any deals, or coupons, or reviews (rarely, anyway), or talk about events. My blog isn’t hyperlocal, or in a niche of any kind, or about fashion.

It’s just an old school narcissistic navel gazing blog about my life.

Karen at Chookooloonks talks a little bit about this awkward fence sitting place we’re in as old-school bloggers, particularly about how at the beginning (for me back in 2004) the whole blogging thing was still new.

I expect other bloggers who began their blogs around the same time felt the same way.  And you know what’s cool about charting new territory?  There aren’t any rules.   People blogged for tons of reasons:  to keep in touch with friends, as a new way of journaling, to record their young children’s liv”‹es, whatever.  But there weren’t any expectations about what we were supposed to do with our blogs:  there was no such thing as monetization. Or sponsored posts.  Or branding.  It just didn’t exist. When people said “I think I’ll start a blog,” it was generally because they just wanted to write for writing’s sake, and no other reason.

Karen links to a post by Helen Jane that really brings this issue into focus.

Blogs became less of a reflection of a way things are and more a reflection of what people want.

See, longing and hoping is a terrible way to live.
It’s empty.
It creates jealousy.
A soul-hole. A void.

Back when we started blogging/dancing, we talked about our now, our pasts, our dreams. We shared what was real and happening in our lives. We weren’t promoting an aspirational lifestyle, we weren’t selling up.

We were in it.
We created connection through that real story.

 

Yes, this is it EXACTLY. When I started blogging, it was about how it was, right now, this moment, and people related. I started blogging about my infertility journey, and others going through the same thing related to it. Others not going through it recognized the challenges and offered support.

There was nothing about blogging in the early days that was aspirational; instead, it was inspirational.

That’s a hell of a difference.

I write far less about what it’s really like now, as it really is, because I’m afraid. I’m afraid of those people that hover around the edge of the blogosphere waiting for a vulnerability, a sliver of information that might point to hypocrisy or self-pity or any of the myriad emotions we humans feel every fucking day and pick up those slivers and form them into knives to stab us with. Knives that for some reason they (the proverbial they, the ones that hate our vulnerability) don’t realize cause us actual injury and pain because we’ve become less than human to them and have become cardboard cutouts of people that “deserve” to be “taken down.”

So here I am, right now, one foot in the world of blogging as business, one foot not quite all the way in the world of blogging as writing because I’m afraid, and I have a fence post up my ass because I don’t know what to be, nor do I want to give up either one.

The only choice for me is to tear down the fence. Help me do it?

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