2016: Year of the Ambivalent Blogger

canstockphoto32948297New Year’s Eve came and went with a snore.  A literal snore, as I tucked in at 9pm. New Year’s Eve used to be this time of unfettered optimism and limitless booze, followed closely by regret and a massive hangover. In earlier years, I met and lost boyfriends, babbled incoherently to the police, best-friended DJs and insulted strangers. In my thirties, it was couples parties and babysitters and wine/cheese tastings (never seemed to find the cheese). In my forties, it’s been going to bed when I’m tired and not giving a shit what day it is.

canstockphoto11441269So, hello in 2016. I was up at my usual 4am, delighted by the territorial hooting of great horned owls outside my window. December was a good month. I didn’t write or blog. I cut back on my consumerism (Amazon stock took a dip – coincidence?). I gave what I could, when I could. I didn’t send out holiday cards. My husband took a couple weeks off of work and my daughter was out of school. We did nothing. And it has been wonderful.

As I enter my 5th year of blogging, I did a little re-reading of past posts. This blog has, in some ways, served as a journal about the ups and downs of working towards personal goals. The hardest thing to accept is that I move at a glacial pace in terms of development. There is movement, but it is only discernible over a long span of time. Perhaps this is what I fear most about death – that I’ll be too slow to accomplish the things I would like to and it will be too late.

I remember the impatience I felt in my teens and twenties. It made every failure seem so important and they were important, but not for the reason I believed them to be. Every failure counted towards a bigger picture – it was a step in a marathon, not a loss in a sprint. It was building a reserve of resiliency so that I could make it in the long run.

canstockphoto7381049So here I am at the 20th mile mark. Offhandedly I tell myself that I feel the same as I ever have, only that I go to bed earlier. But it’s not true. I’ve run the race, I’ve overcome injury and setbacks and found a 2nd, 3rd and 40th wind. I’m still here. I still feel optimism. I still hope that I’ll become a published writer, that I will continue my pursuit of knowledge, that I’ll look as strong as I feel, that my heart can open a little more.

For years, I’ve read blogs on a wide range of subjects. I’m feeling some fatigue from the high levels of outrage, the sociopath comments, the irredeemably cheery memes, the stranglehold of nostalgia, and the momentary obsession with shiny new objects. I’ve resisted Facebook or Twitter, because I am uncomfortable with its carelessness and ubiquity. Mind control doesn’t seem like science fiction when you’ve seen the same posting or meme in a hundred different places. Olympic bandwagon jumping. No one gets the gold, but everyone gets a Wheaties cover.

This is all to say that, as I have many times in the past, I am questioning the veracity of writing online. I don’t know if it detracts from or adds to my attitude, outlook or development as a writer. And if it no longer serves that purpose, then why do it? If it is just a way for me to procrastinate, instead of writing things that can be submitted for publication, then shouldn’t I quit?

canstockphoto4962137In the last year, this blog has gained a lot of readers – and lost a few as well. The numbers at year end rattled me. It seemed like a lot of visits and readers, many gained through a single post and social media sharing of that post. I’m not going to write that post again and it is obvious to me that it was a peak point for this blog. It’s the child star syndrome and I’m just two shakes away from rehab and a prison stint.

This is a bit of a grim opener for the year, I suppose. A new year always begs the question how did I spend my time last year and how do I intend to spend it this year? In the absence of a clear answer, I look to the reasons why I like blogging – meeting other writers, sharing a laugh, connecting with people around the world and reading things that teach me or piss me off, but make me think. Knowing that what I do here really doesn’t matter, yet knowing that if I spend time doing it, it needs to matter to me, is a delicate balance.

Clearly, I think things to death.

But if you’re a longtime reader, you know that. If you’re just joining the conversations here, be warned. Of long-winded diatribes about bad gift-giving and road rage and comfortable socks. Of angsty essays on writing or not writing. On middle-aged whining and childhood misery recollection. Of awkward interactions with other humans. Of things I’ve said a thousand times before, but can’t remember that I wrote about already. Oh, and the profanity and lack of perkiness and disinterest in being hugged, virtual or otherwise. I’m a shitstorm of contradiction and depressive tendencies, highbrow intellectualism wrapped up in perverse, lowbrow humor.

But I’m still here. And I hope you are, too. Let’s see if we can’t enjoy the ride.

Administrative Note: Thank you to readers who stopped by in December and commented on various posts or emailed me via the Contact page. I will be responding to your comments and emails over the next few days.

79 Comments on “2016: Year of the Ambivalent Blogger

  1. Thank you for this post. I believe you captured the prevailing mood of the moment, my moment, anyway. It’s as good a reason as I can think of for you to continue blogging. Blogging is writing, after all, even if you aren’t paid for it. Best of all, your audience finds you, so you don’t have to seek it out.

    Twenty years hence, you may be able to look back and see how all this builds on itself, allowing the most important themes to congeal into a clearer understanding.

    The blog world is newer to me than to you and seems dominated by those in their thirties and forties or younger. I like the buoyancy of those younger than me who haven’t become so jaded by promises unfulfilled or betrayed. It gives me hope for humanity.

    The advantage of blogging, for me, is that it allows me to interact individually with an unlimited variety of creative minds, who are interested in all facets of life, in an immediate way. It allows people to express whole thoughts without fear of interruption or argument, at least until the thought is finished. I find, generally, that comments are supportive or at least thought-provoking, and far more civilized and mature than what we see in the mass media.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I would agree and alternately cringe about the immediacy of it all. I suspect that is what has hooked me and I worry that I’m missing the bigger picture about the balance between short and long term goals.

      And the variety of creative minds is definitely a pro, although when I am feeling insecure as a writer, it is sometimes intimidating!

      Blogging as a social media practice is something I enjoy more than the other forms, because it is a slower pace, a kinder, albeit smaller audience and it tends to entail longer form writing. For me, it does tend to be time-intensive, so I have to be careful that I’m not diverting creative energy from long-term projects. It’s all about that elusive balance!

      Liked by 1 person

      • May I suggest that when you write anything, even a grocery list, you are furthering long-term writing goals in the short term? The illusion that the goals are in conflict may be inhibiting you.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ll quit blogging when I have nothing else I want to blog about. I think the other reason why I keep doing it is because I like to be an entertainer. It’s also possible it’s because I have no life..haha. I don’t think anyone should quit blogging if they enjoy it. If anything they can just blog less.

    Like

    • I’m on the fence about what I need to be doing now in terms of writing and that’s part of the problem. But then, I go through this ambivalence about twice a year – maybe it’s a necessary process to keep on keeping on.
      It sounds like you have a good sense of what you want in terms of blogging – that’s always a happy place to be!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Michelle,
    Well I’ll be the first to say that I am definitely NOT a New Years resolution person. But this is the first time I’ve come across your blog. And I’ll definitely be back. I enjoyed the ease in which you got your point across. I can imagine you sitting on your back patio, being elegantly bored, slowly smoking a cigarette while checking your perfect manicure. Life is soooo droll!!! Please don’t give up on your daily musings of life. I’m new to the blogging community and could use your humor and insightfulness. (Is that even a word?)
    Until next time,
    I’m going to stalk you like the newbie blogger that I am. (Joking of course)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I’m not a resolution person either – of course, this comes after years of making and breaking them! I’m not particularly droll or sophisticated – although the scene you wrote immediately reminded me of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
      Congratulations on starting a blog! I remember writing for an audience of possibly 3 for the first 8 months or so. Blogging is definitely a marathon, not a sprint. See you around the blogosphere!

      Like

  4. Michelle, Thanks for sharing this as I felt it summed up the multitude of feelings that I have this New Year. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts and hope you continue doing so. I’m new to blogging so enjoy reading other people’s posts as it helps me learn and exposes me to different styles of writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the kind words. You make a great point about reading different styles of writing. For me, too, getting perspectives from people of differing genders, cultures and backgrounds is really a gift.
      Best wishes to you on your blogging journey!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such a good article. I started writing a response and it became its own blog post so I thought it might be rude to post a 200 word essay on your personal property. Instead I’ll post a link to your article on my blog and my response to it there. It’ll take me a minute but in the meantime, it looks like you speak for plenty of writers here. Certainly a timely piece for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks – I read your post and laughed. I have gone through the should I – shouldn’t I thing so many times over the years. When I have the time, I really enjoy being part of the blogging community, but as my focus narrows to the writing, I’m not sure it’s the best way to spend time. On the other hand, it’s nice to have a place to go for writing all that other stuff that isn’t intended for publication.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Blogging. Why? | BzirkWorld

  7. Well throw my hat in the ring too. i share many of the same feelings about blogging, but FB friends rarely really read anything longer than a paragraph and twitter is like shooting at a star and hoping to see some result. I think this year I’ll spend more time visiting blogs instead of cruising facebook looking for meaningful thoughts. Thanks for sharing and I’m glad to have found your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My momentary attempts with Facebook and Twitter reminded me of eating junk food – tasty in the moment, but not particularly filling. And time is always a factor. I favor blogging for its longer form, open community and slower pace. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

      Like

  8. I think many of us feel the same way. If you glean anything out of writing; satisfaction, self awareness, creative thought generation then keep writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There’s no question that I’ll keep writing, but to blog or not to blog seems to crop up for me a lot. I imagine that a regular re-evaluation is a good thing – time is finite when it comes to creative work. Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love you for this raw honesty. I am returning to blogging, slowly but surely after many years. Your style pulls me in, sits well with my glass of merlot and calms me when I fear I am not good enough. Please keep writing.

    Like

    • Thank you. It’s interesting that you’re returned after many years. Does the blogging experience seem different now? I’m always late to the show and when I started blogging, there were articles suggesting that blogging was dying or dead. It still seems like a fairly active form of media.

      Good enough is what I say before I hit the Publish button. It only means that it’s good enough for me and without money or work on the line, that’s just fine. If it’s good enough for you, that’s what matters.

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      • I’ve spent the last five years worrying about whether my posts are good enough to publish and now I see how foolish I have been. I started blogging for fun and ended up stressing about ‘building my brand’ and other stupid stuff. I’ve been acting as if my whole career was on the line when I have a perfectly good job and writing is just my hobby. I don’t know what I was thinking! I’ve made it so serious and boring.
        This year I’m going to focus on being honest and making friends with writers/bloggers whose work I admire. It’ll be a case of publish and be damned and I’ll be back to read more of your posts.

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        • I tend to be an intense person myself – everything I do sometimes takes on a greater sense of importance and gravity than what is necessary. I have to often remind myself to breathe, put things in perspective and remember that this is supposed to be fun!

          That “building your brand” thing snags a lot of us. I hate the expression, because like so many things, it turns any human effort into a commodity. We are not beverages or jeans. When I read about successful people, writers or any creator, it always strikes me that they simply loved what they were doing and everything else came after. In this marketing world, we seem to have that ass backwards. Create first, market later, is one of my new mantras. It keeps me focused on the right thing. Best wishes to you in 2016!

          Like

  10. Hi again! How about a challenge then? Might bring a taste of reality to the question of ‘to write or not to write’… If that is the question.
    Check out the competition venues online at NARRATIVE MAGAZINE. I recently submitted and did not win anything, but it was good for me to put out something I thought mattered.
    Blessed New Year to you!

    Like

    • Thanks for pointing me towards NARRATIVE. It looks like something worth exploring. I have some short term writing goals for 2016 and some contests and publications I’m targeting. Writing is no longer the question. Writing online is always on the tentative list and up for evaluation.
      I wish you a happy new year as well!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Glad to do it Michelle, although I’m aware I’m building up my competition for that prize money. Actually I’d be thrilled to get a mention in a magazine by and for writers!! Would you consider sharing some of the other contests you’re aware of out there? If you are in California, I can share another one with you. Feel free to reach me via email IVLeaguer@gmail.com.

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        • I am pretty non-methodical in finding contests. I read a lot of indie publications and university presses, use the Writer’s Digest guides and learn about them by reading other blogs. And don’t worry, until I actually DO something, I’m little competition for anyone – good luck!

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  11. The thing about writing is, you may never get paid for doing it. You may never be published. But it was the gift you have been given on this earth, one of many I am sure. Blogging is writing. Writing is being a writer. Being a writer is living your soul’s purpose on this planet, or one of anyway. If you want to stop blogging, stop blogging. But write something else. Whatever you do, write. I have learned that i have to let go of the end result. Don’t let go of it enough to stop. Just keep going. Take a break when you need it, reinvent yourself when you need it. Nothing lasts forever. But one thing i do know is writing has a habit of kicking your ass when you try to leave it behind for too long. Happy New Year to you, and great post 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • What you say is true, but I’m honest with myself about the fact that I want to get published and paid for writing. Writing is no longer the question for me. How I spend my time generally is and what you say about reinvention is absolutely true.
      While blogging is writing, the purpose of it has changed for me over the years. It got me going as a habitual writer. This year, I must balance what is essentially a hobby with the creative work that will get me where I want to go. It’s the transition from being a dilettante to a working writer that puts every activity under the microscope.
      That being said, when I am actually writing (and not planning), I am invested in only the moment, not the outcome, which I think is creatively important.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and happy new year to you as well!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I hope we see you flourish as a paid writer one day, and please, share a blog post on getting published as a writer when you do! 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  12. You have done a lot better than I have. I can’t seem to find subject matters, or anything of interest to anyone that I might want to write about here on this site, and yet on another site, I am quite happy to write my own diary.

    I guess the difference is that my diary is private, and on here it’s not private it’s open for anyone to read.
    I guess I am ambivalent at blogging. I seem to have an audience, but not really. I might be one of those people that think they might have something to say, and something to write about, but actually has nothing to say at all, and nothing to write about?
    Joy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have long given up on the idea that I can pick a subject. I usually start with a thought or idea or just a stream-of-consciousness blurt. From there, a theme or thought emerges as I write and then I mercilessly chop it to bits and rearrange things to fix the flow. That’s my process and it sounds like you just need to discover yours.
      I will say that every time I approach a blank page, there is always that moment when I think I have nothing worth saying. Every single time. It’s a weird thing, this whole writing business, but I wish you the best on your continued exploration!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Love this sentence: “I’m a shitstorm of contradiction and depressive tendencies, highbrow intellectualism wrapped up in perverse, lowbrow humor.”
    Moi aussi! Salut!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Yes, you DO think things to death. But you are wise and entertaining as you do so, and we don’t all manage that. I found this especially astute, and I empathize: “Knowing that what I do here really doesn’t matter, yet knowing that if I spend time doing it, it needs to matter to me, is a delicate balance.” Indeed; work that feels meaningful to its creator is vital, even if it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme. And maybe it does matter, indirectly, by feeding our souls and helping us be people who are more engaged and open to others. A loving, creative new year to you, friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fantastic points about meaningful work, Cate. Also, I recognize that if what I’m doing makes me happy, it works like ripples in a pond, affecting the people around me. I think too, recognizing the dichotomy of nothing matters/everything matters is a very good thing in keeping one’s perspective balanced. We can’t become too precious with ourselves, nor disregard what we do. Thanks for the new year’s wishes – I wish the same to you!

      Like

  15. Michelle, I *always* enjoy the ride with you. Honestly I wish I could write half as well. I too question why I’m doing it, and the freedom I’d feel if I stopped, but I still get so much pleasure from it that I can’t help myself.
    Alison

    Like

    • Good to hear from you in the new year, Alison. I’m so glad that you are still blogging. I did experience the freedom in December of not feeling “hooked”, but I failed to mention in the post above that I missed my online friends. I missed that immediacy of connecting with other people outside my daily circle.
      I wish you and Don a lovely new year!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Between your post and Katherine’s response, I think you two have covered it. But it would be so out of character for me not to speak, even if I had nothing to add of value:

    I grow to suspect, Michelle, that IF publication is the goal, one should drop out of blogging until one’s book is submit-ready. This is ugly, for you know how long it can take to (re)build an online presence, and gosh knows publishers now want that. But blogging can be like…one is surviving by floating on a leaky air mattress, with that leak down at the base of the valve, where you can’t patch it. Blogging keeps inflating it, but if one has the time and ability, building a raft is a better choice.

    On the other hand, people other than I can juggle, balance plates, or even walk and chew gum, so:

    Nevermind. Keep blogging, Michelle! 😀

    (For me, I blog because I must. I haven’t, yet, the time, nor, yet, the feel for what my maybe-book might be, and I enjoy-love-the support of my online friends.)

    Like

    • I think as I age, my plate-juggling-gum-chewing skills are diminishing. However, responding to these comments allowed me to arrive at some new reasoning. Writing is a lonely business – being able to connect to the larger world is good for my well-being. I just have to ensure that how I spend my time makes sense and that I don’t mistake blog post writing for writing towards my goals.
      I’m glad you’re blogging and I look forward to catching up with my blog reading. Happy new year, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Michelle. I’m glad your post clarified your thinking. Your insights clarified some of mine. (Everything after the hyphen I should print on a card and wear pinned to my shirt. I could even replace the “writing” towards my goals with “working” towards them.

        A Happy new year to you!

        Liked by 1 person

  17. I think that because I’m still a new blogger I have yet to face the struggle of feeling like quitting. But at the same time, I do experience moments of doubt with my blog and wonder if anyone will read it and enjoy it. I’m hoping to work on that now this year as one of my goals, but will just have to wait and see. But I hope you have a good new year and that it’s everything you want it to be and more. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Starting a blog can be a tough journey. There seems to be so many rules and none at all. It’s a challenge to put all of the “shoulds” out of your mind and just do what works for you. Building an audience takes time – sometimes it feels like shouting into an empty auditorium. Wishing you the best on your journey and a happy new year!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I have to say that I have missed your posts, but breaks are a necessity. Thank you for what you write! I look forward to your new year 🙂

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  19. I’m a new blogger, and 50, so I’m thrilled to stumble over other midlife people in the blogosphere. Thank you! I will definitely keep reading and appreciate your insights.

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    • There seems to be a plethora of us running about, so you’re in good company. Fortunately, there are also a lot of younger and older bloggers out there, just to keep us from devolving into curmudgeons. Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I enjoyed this very much. Its nice to read stuff like this. Especially when you endure psychotic episodes. Sometimes it just takes a little push to get back on track. Thank you

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  21. All I can say in response to this is that, probably like most of the consistent returnees here, I come precisely *because of* the rants, maundering, meandering, challenges, chiding, and other assorted internal-speeches-externalized that I find profoundly provocative, somehow familiar, and definitely well written!

    Cheers to you, no matter where 2016 takes you, and may it do so with utmost generosity and kindness.

    Kathryn

    Like

    • Thank you for your kind words, Kathryn. Sometimes I think my brain gets so noisy that I have no choice but to externalize. I hope that 2016 keeps you well, creative and content.

      Like

  22. Pingback: Hello, 2016: Perspectives on a New Year of Blogging | The Daily Post

  23. It looks like everyday I find a new wordpress (but not only) blogger to follow! Life’s getting sweeter by the day!

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  24. This is fantastic. Love your honesty, dry humor, and imagery. Impressed that you’ve stay off FB and Twitter. Perhaps makes you more authentic. Good luck in 2016. Keep the long-winded diatribes coming, and I bet you’ll get somewhere (I’m hoping the same for myself 🙂

    Like

    • Thank you – I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. I have found that shorter, instantaneous forms of communication give me the sense of having techno-ADD. But I suppose that makes me sound like a crank. Which is probably pretty authentic!

      Thanks for the good wishes and taking the time to comment. Happy 2016!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. The reason to do anything creative in front of an audience should have two reasons:
    1. You have an audience.
    2. You show your soul.
    I think you’re doing really well in both areas!

    Like

  26. I’m really enjoying the conversations here. I feel like I’ve stumbled on a place with a whole bunch of slightly intense over-thinkers who are also kind-hearted and smart. And everyone loves writing, so it’s awesome. I might even do some actual writing today myself. Thanks!

    Like

  27. “Perhaps this is what I fear most about death – that I’ll be too slow to accomplish the things I would like to and it will be too late.”

    This is the sentence that made me follow. I could have easily written myself. It both incredibly honest, but hopeful at the same time. I started my blog a year ago and haven’t posted nearly as much as I’d like. I too “think things to death”, so busy planning that doing doesn’t get done. But forward I move with full intention.

    A good reminder…Thanks!

    Like

    • I’ve finally come to terms with my over-planning and over-thinking habits. They seem to be an inextricable part of my process. The real trick is moving beyond that stage and I have not yet mastered that.
      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Michelle, I’ve been ruminating over many of the same emotions and issues, and I guess so have many of the other commenters. Must be a virus going around. 🙂

    I’ve been blogging for a full eight years. Blogging takes up so much time that might be put to better use. However, at this late point in my life, blogging engages my attention in a way that nothing else does.

    Your post and the comments make me realize anew how fortunate I was to live during the final decades of the newspaper and magazine era. Before the advent of computers, publishing was labor intensive. Even a modest-sized newspaper employed a significant number of writers and editors, not to mention skilled printers and press operators. Most of those jobs have vanished into thin air. I am in mourning.

    Oops, the point I was intent on making is that in the newspaper and magazine era, nearly anyone with a thimble-full of ability to observe, and a pencil to write down what they saw and heard, could actually get paid for writing. Usually a pittance, but we were getting paid, and at the time we didn’t realize how fortunate we were.

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    • I see your point, John. Writing a blog post is a lot of work for me as well, but the idea of monetizing makes me slightly ill. I think we’re seeing a lot of writers being treated as “content creators” and being misled into thinking “exposure” pays the bills. I resent corporate bullshit terminology and having people talk about creative efforts as products. I’m off on a tangent as well, apparently.

      In the current environment, as a reader, I miss editors. I miss them when I read online and some offline as well. While many writers have innate talent, much is lost in the lack of polish, organization or even basic proofreading skills. But, what can you do? Just keep trundling along writing, submitting and writing some more.

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      • Yup. WordPress.com, for example, thrives on the free content created by you and me. The new pro bono economy! Soon, drivers will be paying Uber to allow them to drive.

        Liked by 1 person

  29. Each one of the posts you referenced here reflects an experience I have had this year. Nice to know I wasn t alone. It is encouraging to hear from other writers about their struggles and know that you can move forward. I am excited about 2016 and looking forward to coming out in my blogging a lot more.

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