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Thursday, June 04, 2009

For Those Blogging Through a Life Transition

This began as a single paragraph in the Roundup and grew into this, therefore, I felt it best to remove it from the Roundup since I already have a very long story about a pina colada I had in New York to bore you with.

What kicked it off was this post by Serenity about finding your place in the blogosphere when you have an established audience, but you've gone through a transition. In her case, she went from IVF to parenthood. While some stop writing due to time or desire, others do want to write and don't know how to leap over the chasm without offending readers or being untrue to their own experience.

This is my advice, but in terms of my own experience:

I am a diarist. A diary writer? A diarrheaist? Someone who keeps an online diary. And I think we'd all do better with transitions if we considered ourselves a diarist (and this is what I notice is the difference between those who cross the line from infertility to parenthood somewhat seamlessly and those who are still trying to find their new voice in a new situation).

Which means that we'll always be talking about what is in the forefront of our mind; what we notice, who we meet, what strikes us. When we're in the throes of treatments, it will most likely be treatments. When we're in the throes of adoption, it will most likely be adoption. And if we're parenting, it may be parenting or it may be cooking or a book that you're reading or a movie you've seen or an insane story of something that happened to you. And you will be a diarist and everyone else--the readers--will place their reading film over your blog and take from it whatever speaks the most to them in the moment. They may consider you an infertility blogger, but you will consider yourself a diarist.

Which means that as you cross from experience to experience, you will attract different people. You will always have with you a core group of people you've touched with your words; who remain with you regardless of what you are writing about such as Serenity for me. I will read her until the day she stops blogging (please don't stop blogging) because I have a connection with her; both on-blog and off. I'm simply interested in the way she views the world and she often makes me think or nod my head. Therefore, if she's writing about infertility, great. If she's writing about her job, great. If she's writing about her marriage, great. I tune in to get her thoughts; not necessarily on a single topic.

She will always be an ALI blogger because that was part of her experience and I think it probably still informs her present and future, perhaps to a lesser degree than it did in the past. But it's sort of like a scar that doesn't completely disappear even if the skin is technically healed. So I will always keep her on the ALI blogroll even if the letters IVF never pour out of her fingers again. But she is, at the core, a diarist. As we all are. And if I connect with your way of thinking, you will have me forever regardless of what you are writing about.

And you will pick up others and drop others over time as people change and grow and hold other interests. Readership is not your problem. You cannot control readership any more than you can control getting to parenthood. Yes, there are some things you can do to give yourself a chance to build readership and certainly things you can do that will guarantee that you will never have someone read your blog, but you cannot control another person's eyes or brain. So leave that out of the equation. Only ask yourself this when you open up the blank post: what do I want to write? What is important to me? Where do I want to connect with others and hear their thoughts? What do I need to process? What do I want to record?

If you are true to your own heart and what you want, the rest will follow. When people ask what I did to build my blog, I simply say that I gave others what I wanted to give myself. Meaning, I have only created projects that I wanted to have for myself and figured that if I was putting in the work, I might as well share it with others. I wanted a daily newsletter so I put together a daily newsletter and I share it with you. I wanted an organized blogroll so I put it together for myself and share it with you. I started the Roundup solely as a way to generate discussion on all the cool things I read on the Internet that week. I will keep writing it even if everyone else deems it unimportant and I never get a hit on a Friday. Because it makes me happy. It documents what I thought about that week. It reminds me of what I read and I always hope that others will find the post too and more often than not, they then comment over there or email me about the post. This is what I mean when I say that I write what I want.

And I write about what is important to me. The ChickieNob processing death? I want to remember what I said and what she thought. I put it out there publicly in case it helps another person, and because in writing about it, people step forward with more advice or ideas that I use in communicating with her. It is interactive and that is why I place my thoughts out there. Because it helps me to hear words back from you.

I keep in mind the audience as best I can in terms of trying not to be offensive. But, again, with so many people reading and not commenting, I can't always control that or even know what would be upsetting for a reader. So I just use my general circumspection that I carry with me in every other area of life. And I write as a diarist. Who happens to identify the most with the ALI community, but a diarist nonetheless.

My words of advice to anyone who is struggling with a transition--into the community, from one section of the community to another, wanting to remain in the community but unsure of your space--write for yourself. When people see something that resonates with them, they follow. And even if they don't read for a bit, even if you go through a dry patch in terms of readership, new people will always find you if you keep writing and putting yourself out there as a reader of other blogs.

Just my two cents, selfishly written because I want her to keep writing.

36 comments:

Delenn said...

Very well said. I totally agree.

'Murgdan' said...

*Nodding my head in agreement* Well said. Also, hoping I get to experience a transition one day...

and in unrelated news, I'm impatiently awaiting the arrival of your book from Amazon.

Carrie said...

Very well put! I know I have lost/gained some readers in our journey from miscarriages to IVF to triplet pregnancy. I know there are many who hurt too much to read what I write, but I too will always identify with the ALI community.

I can hardly convince myself that I am not dreaming and really pregnant finally, and everyone in our community seems to truly "get" that. In fact, I think they will always get me, and I will always understand and empathize with those I have been lucky enough to encounter.

Carrie

JamieD said...

Thank you so much for this as it is something I have been struggling with as well. I was so happy to find a place where I 'belonged' after my m/c, after keeping a pregnancy, I felt as if I was looking for a home again.

I am just recently embracing the fact that my blog is ~my~ place and I should write about what is important to me.

Very well said . . . thank you so much!

momofonefornow said...

I totally needed this. My transition from TTC to getting a divorce is so random that I have felt very unsure as to how to proceed.

This really helped me. I am going to "just do it" as they say at Nike. If people stop reading, that is ok.

I feel so empowered now. Time to re-design my blog so that it fits my current life.

Lavender Luz said...

I am going to start calling myself a diarrheaist. I'll put it on my next batch of business cards.

Great advice, as always.

Kristin said...

Well said Mel!

battynurse said...

This is very well said. I've been feeling like this was a problem for me too since I don't even know what my path is anymore. It has felt at times like I'm posting what others may want to read from me. Thanks.

Leah said...

I want to keep her writing too! I agree with all that you said. Every last bit of it.

Having said that, I still do struggle with what to write when I'm afraid that I'll inadvertently offend someone still in the trenches with my squealing glee over my kids.

Of course it dawned on me the other day that (other than the Google hits), about 30 or so people visit my blog on a regular basis. I know them all, and they all know me. So if they were going to stop reading due to the delivery of my children, they've probably stopped reading. Therefore, I should get the I-don't-want-to-offend-anyone pole out of my eternally infertile ass (okay, my ass isn't really infertile, but you know what I mean) and just blog about whatever comes to mind.

Then it's just the matter of finding the time to put finger to keyboard. [sigh] It's so hard to be me, you know? :-) By the way, does this mean that in addition to the Amtrak funk you'll be sporting, I might get a taste of coconut when I plant your bday kiss? Woot!

Lorza said...

Very well said!! I am taking your book to Hawaii...keep a look out for the picture on my blog. I will send it to you when I get home in a week. ;)

Artblog said...

You're totally right about his Mel. Never really thought of it as a diary but it does keep the words coming if I think of it that way :)

xxx

Jennifer said...

That is so true. Very well said!!

Wishing 4 One said...

(apologizing in advance for this being so long)

I actually started my blog 3 years ago as an online diary for myself and a few family members for my fist IVF. I never envisioned who i would meet, it didn't even occur to me how popular blogging was at time and that it connected people, i know stupid huh? So I did not think i would meet anyone. I was amazed after someone I did not know commented and thats when I found out that so many more women just like me were blogging about TTC too.

My blog is not strictly about TTC, well it is sort of. The times I am not failing at IVF, i write about nothing of importance really, and many times not about being infertile, but rather just about my daily life here in Cairo. I do not claim to be a great writer, I am not. I don't make money from my blog, its not a business for me. I'm just a regular gal trying to get pregnant and this outlet of online writing works for me.

I wanted to say that if this seventh FET is successful for us, i will still continue my blog baby and all. The name will stay Wishing4One as well. Experiencing life as an infertile is something that will stay with me until I am gone, even if my miracle magic baby appears.

Thanks to you Mel, as always, you are an inspiration and have connected so many of us. You're awesome!

Jamie said...

Exactly. Thank you for a great post that reminds all of us about our ongoing journey.

:)

I really want Serenity to keep writing too...

Jill said...

I totally agree! As always, well said.

Kathy said...

Great post Mel! I can appreciate the topic of not being sure how to/what to blog about during times of transition. I have struggled a bit with this too lately.

As Wishing4One commented, when I started my blog it was to keep some of my family and close friends updated during our initial IVF cycles, so I didn't need to make a ton of phone calls after each monitoring appointment and such. I had no idea there was an ALI corner of the blogosphere or that I would become of part of it one day.

When I started writing it was for those IVF updates and as a sort of online journel for myself. When I realized that people I didn't know IRL had managed to find my blog and I theirs it did change my perspective some about blogging.

I guess it is important to recall why I began doing this and as you said, it is okay for our readership and commenters to eb and flow, just as our relationships do in real life.

By the same token though I will always feel a special connection with some of the initial blogs I read regularly when I found the ALI community, as our paths have gone different directions, I haven't always been as drawn to their blogs and what they write about now. I also continuly find new ones that touch me and that I feel a connection with for one reason or another.

So thank you Mel, once again, for putting into words what so many of us are pondering. You truly have a gift and I am grateful for how you share yours with all of us. Most Friday mornings one of the first things I do is read your round up and most days early on I check in with the LFCA. Though I don't always click over, at a minimum I call to mind those who you have posted about and wish them well in my own way (usually saying a prayer for them).

I hope that your first week being 35 is continuing to be a great one for you! Take care, Kathy :)

m said...

so timely for me. thanks, mel. not sure what our lives will be transitioning to but it does feel like a shift is near.

Bee said...

Well put. This is something many f us had to think about.

loribeth said...

Thanks for this, Mel. A few of my favourite bloggers seem to be in transition mode right now & while I understand their ambivalence about whether to keep blogging, or to maintain their current blog now that their situation has changed, I would really miss them if their voices totally disappeared from the blogosphere.

Cece said...

That's almost exactly what I was trying to say when I commented on Serenity's post - of course you said it much better! My blog is my journal... it for as much as it's for the people who visit. I like having the whole history of the creation of Hulk - I love reading back on last year when I was pregnant and the things I was thinking about..

chicklet said...

I've said similar things to Serenity offline, just not as well thought out. But my take is similar in that I started this as a place to vent and get support about infertility, but just because that's where it started doesn't mean I won't change it to be more about running or being pregnant - because that's where I'm at right now. I was afraid to do it at first, in fear that everyone would leave or be bored - or BOTH - but it's where my head's at, so that's what I'll write.

Selfishly, the fear a lot of infertiles have about hurting everyone's feelings being so excited about being pregnant isn't something I worried about too much. It was there for sure, but I took so bloody long to get here that I feel and felt like I earned the right to write about whatever happiness I was finally being given. So I just switched - done. And I'd hate to think I ever hurt anyone, but in over 30 blogs I'd been regularly reading, plus many many more, I was among the last 3 to get pregnant. Maybe I was "lucky" there that the survivor guilt was lessened?

LJ said...

You're such a smart one, you are. It's true though, just like we have friends for a lifetime, we too have different friends at different life stages. I think you captured the essence of why many of us blog...

calliope said...

awesome post.

I have often had struggling posting moments as I wanted to write one thing but was afraid I would upset some of my readers with my change in topic.

But, like you, I keep a blog to chronicle and ultimately it will be for ME. So some days it is all about my Grandmother, some days it is all about zits, and some days it is this weird and new mama world.

And while SO SO SO many of us bonded over shared infertility experiences- we are so much more beyond that.

Fertilized said...

Well stated!

Eve said...

Yes, a well-needed reminder that if we just blog honestly about our lives: the good, the bad, the ugly, the FANTASTIC, then we will never fail.

Pain, growth, challenge and heart-ache come in MANY forms...not just in infertility. Once you've climbed ONE hurdle, you find there are plenty more to go.

I've always admired your ability, Mel, to weave the kiddos into your blog unapologetically. I want to 'save' stories of my son as well, but I do find myself shying away from some of those stories since I have a lot of primary IF readers...call it the codependent blogger part of myself.

Jen said...

That has always been my philosophy- my blog is about what is going on in my life. But I completely understand if someone needs to step away because what is happening in my life isn't happening in theirs.

areyoukiddingme said...

I don't know why blogging would be different than any other aspect of life. As you go along, you meet people. Then you change, and some of the people stay with you while some drift away. Then you change some more, and there is more staying and more drifting. And so it goes, all the way through life.

Mel, you are, as always, very insightful!

Meghan said...

As usualy, I think you're brilliant! This is definitely something I've struggled with. I just need to remember that blogging started as something I was doing for me and I'm happiest when I do it.

annacyclopedia said...

Wow, Lolly. You have a gift for sometimes being able to say exactly what I need to hear. I love that! I've been working through this myself, and even though a lot of people have said similar things, the way you've made the connection here about how a diary changes over time as one's live changes is one I really needed to hear this way. Funny, I just made this point in the article I've written, and it never really clicked about this until now.

I think there's a post in me brewing in response to this about identity in general, and how easy it is to attach our identity to one thing or another. But really, that just complicates things so badly, cause change happens, and then we don't know who we are anymore. And the truth of who we are is way bigger than what's happening in our lives at the moment. No new ideas, but something I, at least, need to be reminded of on a regular basis. Thanks for stirring my pot about this. (Does that sound a bit kinky to anyone else - stirring my pot?)

Bluebird said...

Yes. Exactly right.

Thanks for putting this out there.

Coffeegrl said...

Thanks. I think we all need this reminder once in a while. I certainly did.

Barb said...

Here here! Well said, and what I've often thought.

Queenie. . . said...

Great advice.

*T* said...

Thank you for your posting today (well awhile ago but I am catching up)! I am finding myself in a transition and have been having a tough time blogging through it because of many of the reasons you mentioned. I am aware of my readers and that they have certain expectations and I've found it hard with my life going in a new direction. Thank you, when thinking of the idea of being a diary keeper, it is helpful and resonates with how I think and have been rationalizing the few posts I've kept up.

Isn't it pretty to think so said...

thank you. i needed this!

Shelby said...

I'm a little late commenting here, but I am so happy I read this. In my current transition, I have tried so hard to honor the 'IF' blog that I have considered censoring myself and have been at a crossroads as to where to take my blog. You've made it crystal clear. I'm going to take my blog wherever I am going. Thanks!