It’s happening again!
Not a real milestone. Just one I will celebrate amongst myself.
The blog is celebrating two years! Which is mostly true. I did start my quest to be a blogger in 2010, then evidently got bored and stopped halfway through 2011 only to pick it up again on (tomorrow’s) this date two years ago in 2019.
Of course, as happened last year, when I got the magical Yo shawty, it’s your blog birthday email from WordPress, the pondering started. Will there be a cake in my mail this year? There wasn’t one last year for the first anniversary. Was that due to Covid? I wonder what kind it will be?
While I stand fixed at the window waiting for Cakes R Us to arrive, let’s talk about growth! During the year of the revamped blog, 52 of you hung with me as I figured out how to post weekly excerpts from my life. In the last twelve months, that number has grown significantly and much more quickly than in year one. At last count, I believe we were nearing the 500 Readers mark. Which is a total guesstimate because I have yet to figure out the analytics button in WordPress (give me a break, it involves plug-ins and verifications and probably a lot of wine). I know for sure that there are 178 of you that follow the blog directly via email – and the remainder follow via Facebook or Twitter or from readers sharing the link. Am I Sally Field? Do you really like me?
So, thank you. THANK YOU. For those new to the party – I started this blog as a way to
not kill my children journal. I started this blog as a way to suss out much of the daily garbage that was swimming around in my head as the result of being a wife and a (step)mom. I wanted to see if having some sort of self-imposed, weekly therapy session with my laptop would help me find clarity. I wasn’t worried about stats and likes and clicks – only that, in writing, I might be able to locate the words I was trying to use when communicating with those in my life. Like the multi-syllable words. Having followers became an added bonus – and having followers who interact and respond, whether within the public comments or to me directly, has been a lifesaver and a great temperature check for all of us in our quest to survive this life.
So again – THANK YOU.
Words. They are hard. I have a tendency to get so wrapped up in my emotions that my words come in like a wrecking ball. It is very hard for my husband to pick that wrecking ball apart (as it is flying at him with Miley Cyrus on top) into a logical oh, so that’s how you feel interpretation. I think that is where my blog has helped the most – being able to sit with my thoughts, filter through them in real time, and then revisit those thoughts to navigate what it is that is really going through my head. I think we call that the feeling behind the feeling. So, yeah, journaling. But knowing that those thoughts will eventually be on the interwebs forces me to not just write and run. Or, at least, I’m aware that if I do just write and run publicly I could absolutely expect Child/Husband/Pet Services to show up at my door after each post. I’ve learned to work through the thoughts so that they might make sense to both me and whomever is out there reading. So, yeah, journaling, except a continual revisiting of the pages.
I did it! Another year of weekly blogs.
In lieu of a cake, my husband forced me to sit down at my computer last weekend and back all this shit up. What? Don’t I work in technology? Don’t I know the importance of a back up? I mean, yeah… But once I got past the bajillion entries without a backup mark, it seemed like a rather large mountain to climb. But, per his gentle nudge (it wasn’t gentle), I did it. I did it by pairing – doing something I love (watching awful television) with something I do not love (backing shit up). For many hours….I listened to Below Deck Mediterranean while copying and pasting and copying and pasting and copying and pasting…nearly 300 entries, going back to 2010…and a whole lot of Season 1. How did I not know about this show? I can’t stop thinking about the next episode. Will Danny get speared at some point?
I think the biggest win for me this year (re: technology) was finally becoming brave enough to ‘schedule’ my posts. This means writing them early, declaring them complete, and telling WordPress when to publish. The hitch on this practice has always been Declaring it Complete. I could go back to any and all entries right this very minute and find things that I wish I had written better. To shut my laptop and trust that what is written is enough was a bit terrifying. But, with the seventy-two Covid breaks we took over the last year, it was much easier to schedule posts than it was to stand in the popcorn line at Disney while trying to pound out a blog on my tiny phone screen.
A beneficiary of that? THE BOOK. What book? What? Oh, yes, still in progress. Very much in progress. It is so in progress that I stick to a pretty firm writing schedule each week which can sometimes make my creative brain explode. The schedule is broken out by blog days and book days, which allows me to work ahead on the blog, as needed. In other words, if my brain is getting overly mashed, I know that I need to take a day or two away from the keyboard. It seems super simple – but the ability to plan ahead for needed breaks now extends into other aspects of my life. I guess in being able to recognize a need to be still here, in cyber life, I’ve learned better how to recognize a need to be still in real life as well.
Yes, the book. The book is nearing first draft completion. I have slowed down a bit in productivity as I (apparently) saved the harder topics for last. While I am able to go for a long block on the funny stuff or more anecdotal items, the deep thinking bits burn me out more quickly. When I get burnt out, I start obsessing over whether it’s even worth it to keep going, are there enough page numbers, does this content interest anybody else, will I win a prize of some sort, or can this be a viable retirement career? Hello rabbit hole, I have missed you.
I’ve also caught myself in the comparison zone with books that I am currently reading. I do read a lot – and across a variety of topics. I know, logically that it is completely, well…dumb…to compare the chronicals of life in 2021 to the chronicles of (my current book of choice) a pair of brothers navigating World War II. What in my writer’s brain causes me to compare a tongue and cheek book on (step)parenting to something so devastating? I have no idea. But, yet, I go from opening books and seeing a thousand plus pages and wondering if that’s the expectation to relishing in the beauty of another author’s words and suspecting that mine are not as well-written. I suppose that’s why there are so many novels hidden in notebooks, files, or floppies. There is always a feeling of Is this enough? Mine will be a book of essays related to (step)momming – with zero regard for research and numbers and percentages. Essentially, an expanded blog. Like beyond the point where someone might hit the red X on my story and start their Amazon shopping.
Personal win? Growing confidence (wait, didn’t I just say my confidence is hit or miss? I’ve developed an ability to jump in and think later. For a very brief two months, I was invited to blog for my company’s WorkLife Balance team. I was pretty excited and would still be doing it – it’s just that the person organizing it was hit by one of the many pink slips passed out this year. I was also nervous and scared and worried what people would think. Maybe two entries was sufficient. Except that each entry lacked a byline citing me as the author. So, maybe not a huge win.
I’ve started submitting articles regularly in response to prompts from LinkedIn, typically on today’s workplace challenges. This is by no means a hired gig – I’m sure there is a robot somewhere that sends out emails to, well, sooooo many people, requesting a specific hashtag in relation to the Topic Du Jour. As the submitted articles become ‘live,’ there has been a noticeable increase in the land of website clicks to my blog. Pretty sweet.
In the great backing up my blog, I have noted that my topics land in the same areas much of the time. I write about family life, travel, doctors who say I don’t exercise enough, opinions about sports, stories about why my pets are the best, and more about family life. While doing the back ups, I wondered if I was getting a little stale. Of course, this was two hours in, so probably the eyes dried to the shape of raisins didn’t help. Or maybe I am just stale. Will try for more excitement in 2021. Like maybe leaving the house on the reg.
Blog goals for year three? Pretty much the same as years one and two. Keep writing. I’ve promised Rich that I would try doing the writing on our cloud and then pasting it into WP when done. This is supposed to help me with the back ups. I’ve (not fully) promised that if I do write directly in WP that I will also back the blog up regularly instead of once every (ahem) years). I’m going to figure out these stinking analytics. I’ve been trying to get my “in” with the TodayParenting team and have finally reached the status of getting the directions on how to do so. Of course, these directions meant for someone with more technical capabilities than knowing which button turns on their laptop. Of course, I keep opening these directions when it is 9pm and I’m exhausted and ready to go to bed. Of course, that means I just get frustrated, yell at my husband, and then decide to stop blogging altogether.
But then this group of nearly 500 followers wouldn’t have a reason to put off their Amazon shopping.
That wouldn’t be right.