I’m restarting my blog and committing to one post a week for all of 2020.
Here are eight reasons why:
1. I Want Control
I don’t own my Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts. They’re free for me to use because those companies make money selling my ad views and data. I have little control over who actually gets see my posts or how those platforms will work in the future.
With WordPress, I pay to control my own content and choose if there are ads or not.
2. My Thoughts Are Longer Than A Soundbite
Facebook and Instagram are best for photos, short announcements, or fun questions that connect me to my family and friends. Writing a blog allows me to write about complex topics like: big changes I’ve made in in my life over the past two years, my favorite non-fiction reads, how utopia is misunderstood, why I prefer short stories to novels, or what each of us can do to help reverse global warming.
3. I Want To Contribute To The Tapas Menu of Memoir
When I was a stay-at-home parent struggling with chronic illness I escaped into blogs as a way of vicariously living other lives. I could sample the lives of so many people just by reading a few posts online because blogs are the tapas of memoir.
I read Tara Ariano’s blog about her life as one of the co-founders of the popular now defunct online forum Television Without Pity. I loved reading about the highs and lows of editing such a massive project, complete with her frequent all-night work sessions and weekly game nights with her spouse and friends in Toronto, Canada.
I also was a fan of Amanda Marcotte’s feminist blog Pandongon.net. Her clear, engaging discussions on what feminism is and isn’t, and how it helps daily life— for both men and women— made my life better in concrete ways. Marcotte also described her move from Austin, Texas to Brooklyn, New York. It was like was living in places I’d never actually been to at the time.
Both bloggers have moved on to other projects, and neither blog is available on the Internet anymore, but I’m a happier person because those two women wrote them. After sampling so many blogs, I want to write my own blog again.
4. I Made Real Life Friends After Reading Strangers’ Blogs
Before I decided to apply to the Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA) to get my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, I read Katia Rania’s blog about her experience of going through the program. Katia’s honest, hopeful entries allowed me to virtually try out the program from the comfort of my own living room.
I was in the middle of the MFA program myself when Katia moved to my hometown. I reached out to her on Facebook to tell her how much I liked her blog and we became friends in real life. She now writes about what it’s like to be a newly published author with the time-consuming job of teaching middle schoolers. I continue to enjoy her posts, even as we now get together in person.
Before I went to VCFA, I was also a regular reader of the annual music list on the blog Presenting Lenore. Lenore was a complete stranger, but I noted that we had similar music tastes, and got new music recommendations from her annual list.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Lenore I met at my first residency at VCFA was the same Lenore who had suggested all those new bands I sampled. We’ve been to a concert together in real life now, and she even made me a mixed CD.
My life is better because Katia and Lenore blogged.
5. Thanks To Cynsations, I Know That Value Of Deadlines
I also read author Cynthia Leitich Smith’s fantastic children’s literature industry blog, Cynsations, years before I met her as a faculty member at VCFA. After graduating, I became a “Cyntern” on her blog for two years, interviewing writers and putting together the weekly Friday news roundups. I’m still a reporter for the blog, posting interviews occasionally.
When I first joined Cynsations I had never interviewed someone for a blog. Through working with my fellow Cynterns — Gayleen and Stephani–I learned how to meet deadlines. It was eye-opening to see how a deadline could force me to write a posts I didn’t think I was capable of. A lesson I received only because Cynthia took the time and energy to blog.
6. It’s Time to Embrace My Voice
My very first post on Cynsations was an essay about my struggle to give myself permission to write. I still struggle with voice.
I’ve come to realize that as a kid I unconsciously believed the unfortunate rule that it’s better to be silent rather than to take the chance of offending someone. It’s not like I’m out to offend people, it’s just that when I express my opinions, I’m bound to offend somebody. I used to think I should avoid offending people at all costs.
For years I bent over backwards to not offend people. You know what? I still offended people. Being silent offends people; being sick offended a ton of people. Even being nice to everyone can offend. You might think you’re including everyone, but you always forget someone, and offend them anyway. There is no way not to offend.
What I’ve learned from reading thousands of blog posts is that it’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to offend people. Taking an opinion clarifies your thinking.
7. The Assignment That Taught Me Joan Didion Was Right
At VCFA, I was obsessed with writing a story about a utopian future, but didn’t understand the basics of utopia and couldn’t explain to my advisors why such a story was not delusional, but aspirational.
In my third semester, I had to write a thirty page critical thesis on a writing craft topic. My topic was how to write a satisfying utopian YA novel.
It was the most difficult topic I ever tackled. At one point, I had pages of quotes and references spread out all over my carpet. I was sure I would never wrestle my thoughts into a coherent argument, but I did.
The clarity I gained from writing about utopia, then rethinking my analysis and putting together an even better and clearer lecture for fourth semester, taught me the value of writing.
Before I wrote about utopia, it was hard for me to clearly articulate its value. Now I’m able to easily give a short five minute elevator speech on how utopia is misunderstood, and what value it has for society. (Hint: you can’t get to a new better place if you don’t have a map.)
People tell me that I have changed the way they think about utopia. That ability to change people’s minds is all due to writing it down first.
I’m at a crossroads in my life. Our country and world is at a crossroads. It seems like a good time to figure out what I think and why.
8. There Will Never Be A Better Time
My current circumstances for blogging are pretty utopian. I’m finally healthy! My kids are happy adults, and I’m taking a year long sabbatical from paid work to embrace slow living. Plus, I have my own writing space.
Either I take the chance on blogging now or I never will.
I’ve decided to take the leap and write one post a week for the rest of 2020.
Next Week: Favorite Non-Fiction Reads From 2019