I’m at the BlogHer conference in San Jose. It’s the tenth BlogHer conference (and my seventh trip to the conference) and, coincidentally, this year I also celebrated ten years of being a blogger. There’s a strong sense here of blogging “growing up,” if you will, as well as many questions about what’s next. Today some of the sessions I plan to attend will be focusing on just this subject – what’s next for the Blogosphere – and I’m looking forward to it because I honestly don’t know what is next for me either.
These days much of my creative and writing energies is geared toward corporate clients with the goal to make the client – not me – shine. I buckled down and faced the reality that in order to succeed I had to stop thinking like a blogger and started thinking like a business owner. Making that decision at the beginning of the year shifted my thinking and my approach and now that work is paying off as my client base grows. Work is really, really good and I’m proud as hell about it.
So I’m here, at BlogHer, and I’m wondering what is down the road for me as a blogger. Last night as I listened to the readers during the Voices of the Year (an event where bloggers read posts selected by a panel of judges), I was reminded again how powerful blogging can be, how it can build a community, and how the power of story can be transformative and magical. I know, deep in my heart, that blogging is still revolutionary and important – particularly blogging by women. Blogging still matters.
Yet at the same time, I’m not sure it matters if I blog anymore. I’m not saying this to be dramatic or for pats on the back or to elicit pity – trust me, I am really and truly okay with my life as it is, whether or not I continue to blog. But there are new torchbearers telling the stories that need to be told out there, and maybe it’s their turn. Maybe it’s time for an old head like me to stand down, and get out of the way to let others shine in the light and community of the blogging world.
Yet, of course, here I am on my own personal blog, thinking my thoughts out loud. For ten years I have processed the world this way, and in many ways blogging for me is a bit like breathing, a bit like sitting down with a group of friends and saying the things that need to be said, even the things that are foolish and foolhardy and insignificant and hypocritical.
But the problem with thinking out loud on a blog is this: once you hit publish, you cease to own your own story. And I think, quite possibly, that it is time for me to take my story back.
Because the internet is bigger now that it was a decade ago, and sharing on my personal blog is no longer like sitting down with just a few friends. There is a much bigger audience reading and much of that audience lacks compassion and has zero interest in giving the writer the benefit of the doubt or understanding that what is shared is just a tiny sliver of life and not the whole picture.
I started blogging because I felt isolated and alone in infertility, and blogging offered me a community. It transformed my life and gave me so, so much that I have zero regrets. Telling my story allowed me to survive and has helped other people and I am so happy that I was able to do so. I have made friends from this community that I treasure beyond all else and thank God for every single day.
But I know that I got lost for a while. Blogging was the wild, wild west and seemed full of opportunities and money and fame and I saw the opportunity to finally live full time as a writer and fulfill my childhood dreams. I saw that brass ring and I reached for it and became singularly focused on it in a way that was probably dysfunctional and ultimately detrimental. And then I saw others reach the goals I thought I wanted and I became bitter and hungry and did and said plenty of shit I regret. I became a person I didn’t like very much. I made stupid choices, and I wasn’t always the best member of this community, and I acted unprofessionally at times, and that I do regret.
Usually people get their emotional well being together and then begin making professional changes, and I did just that early in my recovery. This time, however, it was the shifting of my professional focus that has pushed me to look long and hard at what is working in my life and what isn’t.
It probably sounds like bullshit, but I’ve been working to extricate myself from the content farm that was Babble for the last year or so as well as shake off the “mommy blogger” label, so the changes at Babble came at just the right time and made it easy to quit, finally. And now that I have the mental space to look long and hard at what I’m doing across the board, I have more choices to make.
What’s next for blogging? I have plenty of ideas and thoughts about that. But as to what is next for Cecily, I just don’t know. But I do know one thing: the next decade will look a lot different, and I’m pretty fucking happy about it.