The Business of Blogging: Rejected

Thank you to my guest bloggers Amy and Kara and to all of you who stopped by the blog while I was away.  I hope you found time to hop over to Things We Make and Nest Candy.  And I apologize for any problems you might have had with the comments last week.  I really tried to create a seamless reading experience by setting everything up before I headed out on vacation, but Blogger and I were clearly not getting along.

Smoky Mountains Trees

Without internet access in the mountains, I did my level best to forget that such a thing as a computer or a blog exists.  No offense to any of my readers or to the blogosphere.  You really are dear to me, but the line between affection and obsession is frighteningly thin when it comes to the computer - at least for me.  What had been a delightful hobby and creative outlet has, in the last few months, morphed into an ever-expanding pile of to-do lists and plans, all focused on growing my "online presence" - writing more, gaining followers, building networks.  As I've become more aware of professional bloggers and people who have parlayed blogging into freelance writing gigs and book deals, my attitude has changed.  I panic when I don't reach my writing goals, I chastise myself for not being more dedicated, I compare my blog to other blogs and myself to other bloggers.  I berate myself on evenings when I watch television without a crochet hook or a needle in my hands.  I forgot what it was like to just snuggle on the couch with my sweetheart, what it was like to be still.

I had two craft projects bagged up and ready to take on the road, and I combed through the magazines at Barnes & Noble looking for the perfect crafty one to add to my luggage.  But the more I looked, the more overwhelmed I got.  Each one had projects that I would want to add to my to-do list, that I would begin imagining as a blog post, perhaps THE blog post that would propel me toward blog success.  I realized that I needed to take a vacation not just from work but from my hobby. Dreams of doing something more with the blog had turned that hobby into a part-time job.

I'm not against hobbies as a part-time job.  For those artists and writers who are attempting to make a go of it and who need the security of a "regular" job, that's often the only way to get started.  But it's a lot of work, and it can be very stressful.  Every time I overslept instead of getting up at my usual 6:00 am to blog before work or spent the weekend hanging out with Navah and found myself on Sunday night without a new blog post, I would think about all those people who were devoted to their self-imposed part-time jobs and measure myself against them in shame.  Meg of A Practical Wedding was my most common yardstick - she started her blog while working twelve hours a day.  And she never watches tv.  And she's having a book published.

But alas, I am not Meg.  My sanity limits are not the same as hers.  Always an overachiever, I developed an eating disorder in college and had to go on medical leave during my junior year.  Even lacking one semester of courses, I still graduated on time. During my senior year, I commented to my mom how great it was that I had started college taking three extra credits every semester, resulting in a credits cushion when I was out.  My mom looked at me like I was a bit daft - "perhaps if you hadn't taken those extra credits, you wouldn't have developed an eating disorder."  Touche, Mom.

I'm not sure she was right - there was so much going on there mentally and emotionally.  But the concept is one I have tried to remember.  I am not a machine.  I can compare myself all day to other people who seem to need no rest, no space, no down time, but there are consequences when I ignore my limits.  And right now, working the long hours of a first-year associate (and all the mental and emotional exhaustion that entails) is my limit.

What I need when I'm not at the office is a hobby, not another job.  And sometimes what I need is just to go straight to bed, or to watch an episode of Glee and eat ice cream, or to turn my alarm off at 6 am and go back to sleep.

Smoky Mountains Flowers

What underlies all these things, and what I need more than anything else right now, is to get cozy with some imperfection.  Mine and life's.

So I left all the crafty magazines at Barnes & Noble.  This vacation would not be about planning blog posts or storing up crafting ideas.  There would be no to-do lists.

And I put back one of my craft projects and brought only my crocheting with me - to be done only for fun and relaxation, not to mark it off on my to-do list.  This vacation would be about uni-tasking with zero productivity.  Looking out the car window as the mountains and trees sped past would be activity enough for an afternoon.  Snuggling with my love, listening to the sounds of the birds, watching a creek trickle along - that would fill my days.

Smoky Mountains Leaves

The vacation was not as ethereal as all that because they never are.  It rained a lot, all of our stuff was wet, our lantern was giving me fits, and we ended up moving campsites in the middle.  But I did look at mountains and listen to birds and dip my fingers into cool creeks.  I had given myself permission to be on vacation not just from my job, but from my aspirations, from my endless need to move forward.  That's not to say that I didn't talk about them - Navah will tell you that I did.  But I didn't do anything about them.  I just gave them the space to be.

It made a difference.  It made this post possible.

I've never met an overachieving perfectionist who can just turn it off after a week-long vacation, and I don't expect that to happen here.  But I'm making a commitment to myself and to you to allow this blog to be an imperfect place.  There won't be a schedule.  I won't post the same number of times each week.  I may post about things that don't fit in with the rest of the blog.  This blog is not going to be a business

You may be thinking whoever thought this blog was going to be a business?  She has 20 followers.  You are correct.  But we never know what hopes and dreams people are carrying around in their hearts.  And while those dreams are often important motivators to action, they can also keep us running and running and running with no rest. 

I'm not letting go of my dreams - of one day immersing myself in the world of writing and creating.  But I'm letting them rest for a bit, confident that they will be safe and ready to step back into action when I call them. 

Smoky Mountains Tunnel

For now, I'm honoring my edge.
I'm reclaiming the joy of creating just for creating. 
No to-do lists, no plans.