When the world stopped in March, the lack of a formal schedule and the need to make sense of the mess overwhelmed even the most driven of individuals.
I still had to teach. My kids still had to do school. My husband still had to work from home and exiled himself to the garage so he could work in peace.
And suddenly everyone on social media had ideas about how we could best use our time, and between online learning and grading and starting multiple home improvement projects at once, I decided that I too could maximize this time at home by working on my writing dreams.
I started blogging years ago when I decided to write about our home renovations in Indiana. What started as a blog to remember all of the changes we made to our house also became a place for me to write about everything that was on my mind. It was a comfortable place for me to work on my own writing, process my thoughts, and remember many of the things that were happening in our life.
When we moved to Texas, I decided it was time for a new blog, so I changed the host, played with the design, and started writing about our life in Texas with the theme of “accepting the unexpected journey.” But again, it was just a place for me to write and reflect. I wasn’t worried about brand or consistency because I just wanted to write.
When I started thinking about the future and my desire to eventually write a book (or several), a good friend and writing partner suggested that I should treat my blog like my own personal writing workshop space. Over the past five years, it has become just that. After nearly two years of intermittent writing, I stepped away from the new blog for just over a year when I started getting some of my work published. When that opportunity dried up just under two years ago, I decided it was time to dust off the blog and really dedicate myself to regular writing practice. I started writing at least once a week and stuck to it, determined to make sure that, no matter how much time I had, I spent some time each week writing.
But even an introvert who hates self-promotion struggles when the audience is only a handful of readers. I expanded my social media reach, I created a writing Facebook page, and then I had to figure out how to work all of this in while still striving to be a dedicated wife, mom, and teacher.
Even during the best of times, that is a lot to juggle.
COVID seemed to be the time to figure it all out. So in-between everything else I was doing at home, I started following a handful of Facebook groups that would allow me to share my blog posts, grow my social media following, and teach me a few things about the blogging game.
I got sucked into rabbit holes, spent hours sharing and commenting, and obsessively watched to see if my following and page views increased as a result.
Through that experience, I’ve encountered every kind of blogger: Mommy bloggers, travel bloggers, food bloggers, money bloggers, teaching bloggers, blogging bloggers. All of them are working hard to prove that they have the hustle and skill to make money off of their writing, experience, and developed expertise. Many of them are not only good at their chosen niche; they have become incredibly successful and are able to support themselves or contribute to their families by working the blogging game full time.
I admire their skill and tenacity. I recognize the amount of work they have put into their trade. I respect their decision to risk a lot to enter a world that can be incredibly difficult to crack.
And I’ve decided that pursuing the goal of “blogger” just isn’t for me.
The truth is, I don’t want to make money off of playing the blogging game; I just want people to read my freaking writing.
Blogging has given us struggling artists an outlet where a small number of people can read our writing and feed our fragile egos. We spend a couple of hours a week dreaming of that day when we can quit our day job and just write in a private, bookshelf-lined office. And then we return to our jobs, the ones that keep us and our families fed. For many of us, they are jobs that we love, but that doesn’t keep me from remembering that there are people in this world who can say that they once had Stephen King, John Green, Lin Manuel Miranda, or Jon Hamm as their teacher. (And secretly hoping that someday my students can proudly say the same.)
My objective is to keep improving my craft. My goal is to someday see my words on bound pages in a bookstore. In the space between being an unknown hobby writer just blogging away and occasionally submitting work from my humble home in Texas and hoping to someday achieve that goal, I will just keep writing and slowly building my audience.
For me, blogging is about loving the art of writing and wanting to share that writing with others. It’s about wanting my words to mean something to someone else. It’s about looking back at something I’ve written and saying to myself, “wow, those words came out of my brain.”
Even more than that, blogging has been about expressing how I see the world in all its complexities. It’s hoping that someone out there shares my struggle. It’s about encouraging others to learn and grow and explore.
So where does that leave me? I honestly don’t know. But with the return of some semblance of routine, I’m having to let go of the constant quest for readers and followers and a constantly growing audience. Instead, I have to let the words speak for themselves, reminding me of who I am, where I’ve come from, and where I’m going.
That’s a goal worth striving for.