You probably didn’t notice, but I quit blogging yesterday.
I alluded to it in this post on Work It, Mom! about my son needing braces, but I didn’t spell it out. I had decided not to say anything, to just fade quietly into the Google Wayback Machine, thereby proving a point to myself about the relative unimportance of my blog and making it easy to come back if I ever wanted to.
Let me back up to why I quit.
In a nutshell: my kids went to the dentist yesterday and my oldest needs braces. I had my compulsory unexpected expense freak out, like I do, and then began looking for a J-O-B. And then I realized that it was stupid of me to be looking for a job that would take time away from my family, the people whom I profess to value above most anything else, when I already have ample writing contracts to pay the bills. You know what I don’t have? Ample time and energy. So, I decided to quit blogging here in order to save my creative juices for my paid gigs.
I also quit blogging here because I was sick and tired of feeling like a failure.
I’ve been feeling for a while like I’m writing into an abyss, like I’m pushing flaxseed oil when what people really want is – well, I don’t even know what – but spellcheck doesn’t even know that flaxseed is a word. How’s that for an effective metaphor?
I began spending a good chunk of my day trying to prove to myself that I was relevant.
I tried to write better posts. I checked and rechecked to see if my posts had been shared. I refreshed Twitter to see if maybe the reply stream was just… like… delayed… or something.
And then a dentist told me my kid was going to need braces and I almost went and got a part-time job and I realized that reserving time in my workday for making sure the Internet knew I existed was freaking INSANE.
So I quit blogging.
It was fantastic.
I felt like a burden had been lifted. I felt, I assume, just like feminists who finally decide to stop shaving their legs. I was suddenly free of an archaic measuring system that would never quite fit me. I was breaking the mold of old ways and redefining the new based on careful thought and examination of my values.
I told my husband. He said he was… surprised. I shared the profound revelations I’d had, and he shrugged his shoulders and asked me if I thought the end tables needed another coat of polyurethane. (They did.)
And then a few people commented on my Facebook page and told me how much this site meant to them, how much it helped them.
Ah, that’s nice. But I do not need your validation anymore! I reminded myself.
I told my mom that I quit blogging. She said she was… surprised. She went so far as to say that I “lifted her up”, and then asked me if I’d seen the video clip of Michelle Obama describing her first date with Barack. (I hadn’t, by the way, but you can see it here.)
And then a perfect stranger emailed me to tell me that she had stumbled on my blog, really enjoyed it, and had put it in her favorites to visit later.
NICE TRY, STRANGER! I thought. But I’m totally past needing that kind of validation now. STOP TEMPTING ME UNIVERSE, I GOT THIS!
And then this happened:
I so do not got this.
That made an impression on me.
And fine, people put these lists together in order to generate traffic for their own sites. I know this. But still. There was the name of this site, right under three other sites that I know and respect.
Suddenly I wasn’t sure if I’d really quit blogging.
(Right about that time, Faiqa called to tell me that she does read my blog, even if she doesn’t comment. No matter what I had told myself about not needing validation, it was nice to hear that she was reading.)
The thing is, this cycle of “oh, wah, I suck, I’m going to quit” and “oh, no, you totally matter!” and “oh, well, I do? OK, I can’t quit anyway. I do this because I love it! Really!” is not new. It’s as old as blogging and it is exhausting for all involved, readers and writers alike.
As a rule, I’m not a fan of exhaustive cycles.
I’m just not sure how to break this one.
I know this:
I want to encourage people to become more aware of how they think and what they do. I want to lead a conscientious life of happiness and positivity, and I want to share the idea of empowerment through accountability with other people.
I believe that matters, and that the importance of that message cannot be measured by numbers on a traffic report.
But I also know this:
It is hard to shout into the abyss without becoming hoarse.
I do not have an endless reserve of time or creativity.
I need to think about my definition of relevance and how I measure success. I need to think, too, about how much validation I need to continue a labor of love and where I can get it. I definitely need to stop sacrificing paid-writing time for Twitter checking/blog pimping/site redesign time. (Man that’s embarrassing to share.)
So maybe I’m not quite ready to quit blogging here just yet, but a change is definitely a-comin’.