How Do You Maintain Your Blog’s Focus?

Back in the day when traditional media ruled, if writers wanted an audience, they were contributors to magazines and newspapers. In order to get stories published and distributed to an audience, writers would go through a pretty stringent editing process. Beyond the fact-checking and grammatical proofreading, usually an editor would ask the question: “Is this a Vogue feature?” “Does this profile work for Forbes?” or “Is this story about teen fashion edgy enough for Sassy?”

Each outlet would have a tone, purpose and mission which the writer would need to adapt to, a uniformity to assume. The Economist doesn’t even give bylines, that’s how uniform its editorial is.

Blogging changed the game. Now any writer has the ability to write about what they want, and an audience could find them. The blogger could set the focus of his/her writing.

But with an audience comes a certain amount of pressure. You might feel an obligation to tell a certain type of story over and over. I saw a comment by Wordgirl on Stirrup Queens asking whether she felt like she was James Taylor wanting to play new songs, with an audience constantly yelling “Fire and Rain!” Do you feel an obligation to keep your focus narrow? Do you feel an obligation to please your readers? Or do you simply write what you want?

If you’ve been reading my blog, you probably know that there’s an undercurrent here. I chose to call out This House is Now a Home about an audience sensitivity issue. I did this because I had a Mother Bear reaction. I have become quite protective of the feelings of my friends going through infertility, and some were hurt by the essay.

I really have been enlightened by the feedback from Kate, my readers and her readers. My hope is that the discussion made people more sensitive on all fronts. (Me included.) My fear is that I went against my own feelings (stated “editorially”, many times, in many places): be supportive of all mothers and try to bring more joy into my life and inspire others to do so. Maura called me out on this. I even say in my bio to “feel free to keep me honest” if I’m not living joyfully. Well, she did. And she has a point.

Here’s where I am on my big mission of 2011: a little disillusioned. Living joyfully every day may be “the good work, the sweet work”, but damn if it’s not difficult for me. I also have a total bugaboo about being authentic. How can you be authentic about feeling joy if it’s such hard work to get there? I still think it’s possible.

But infertility seems to have taken away my ability to look at any given situation in a purely positive light. I don’t know why: I have children, I’ve crossed the finish line. Darcy doesn’t get it either: he doesn’t want to talk about infertility anymore. (And he was totally annoyed he had to film my NIAW video for Resolve.) Maybe I have some strain of Irish melancholic gene, maybe I see the world the way it is, maybe I have taken on the pain of my friends. I don’t know. This post makes me feel less alone about my feelings of both joy and pain.

I think the best way to take action about the pain and agony infertility causes is for me to be an activist, work with Resolve, and do the March Walk of Dimes next year. Those are action items with a real purpose: items that genuinely can help us win the fight against infertility and pre-maturity.

All of you who have dealt with infertility, however you are dealing with it: you have my most upmost respect.

What makes you feel joyful? Do you think I should continue to try to seek joy? Have you ever wanted to change the tone or focus of your blog?

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6 Comments

Filed under Discovering joy, Family, Fear, Infertility, Parenting After IF

6 responses to “How Do You Maintain Your Blog’s Focus?

  1. Mother Bear reactions are normal (even when you’re not technically a mother). I’m guilty of it as well – I felt defensive towards Kate because while I don’t know her personally, I’ve followed her journey and blog from the beginning.

    I think you are amazing for self-reflecting and being open to everyone’s feedback and comments – not everyone is capable of doing so. Do I think you should continue to try and seek joy? Absolutely! I think we all should – but I also don’t think you should feel guilty if you don’t find the positive in every single situation. For lack of better words, life sometimes sucks. And we’re allowed to rant and rave about that to a certain degree – I think it’s healthy to say, “Infertility sucks” or in my case, “Being single and fearful that I’ll never find someone sucks.” Are those pains the same thing? God no. But everyone’s pain is different. I never regret speaking of my fears or pain, because out of it, I’ve had so many women that have said, “ME TOO.” And that’s kind of an amazing thing, because a lot of the time I think we feel alone…when really we’re not. It’s the gift of blogging, I think

    Funny your question about your blog’s “focus” – I went through the exact same line of questioning. My blog had (and sometimes still has) an identity crisis. I started my blog after reading healthy living blogs, where everyone took pictures of their oatmeal and talked about running races, etc. I tried to follow suit but it just really didn’t suit me. I found my niche in talking about being single and sharing (horror) stories of my dates. Sometimes my posts are (hopefully) funny, and other times I talk about lying on the floor and crying out of frustration that I’ll never get married. Depends on which way the wind is blowing.

    I say you just be you – write what you feel, and keep being self-reflective and open to all perspectives. You shed light on infertility in a way that I never considered – making people think is a great thing. And I think we can all benefit from trying to place ourselves in each other’s shoes.

    Now that I’ve written a novel, I just want to say I look forward to following your journey from here on out!

  2. I don’t know about the whole blog having a focus thing. I do tend to confine my blog to a fairly one-pointed focus, myself, but I enjoy reading other people’s blogs that ramble all over the place.

    As to finding joy–I think the *finding* part somehow implies searching as well. So your less than joyful posts could simply be seen as steps along the way to the joy you are seeking. I don’t know, I think I’m most moved by writing that is about something the other person feels strongly about.

    And anyway, I like your blog just the way it is. ;-)

  3. Personally,on a regular basis, I ask myself what am I really trying to do in the broadest sense. Heal? Give? Work things out in my head with help from the All? Vent? Build something? Whatever it is, that’s the touch stone so before I post or when I think about what I want to post, I try to see how or if the topic fits into that frame work. When I get off point, I just explain why I’m off point. It’s your forum. It’s you in text so the reason you blog is really just the embrace of it all. If it’s rigid it begins to feel oppressive. Too much of that already…

  4. hi! (I’m back!)

    I think for me, my blog changed on it’s own. It started out as a pregnancy journal for my family back home so they could know what was going on with me so far away, but then it unexpectedly morphed into something entirely different. My blog has given me so much needed joy…joy that I never expected it would give me. It has given me so much support throughout these past few months…and for that, I could never turn my back on it (even though I easily get of habit of posting and am having a hard time jumping back in at the moment, but that’s another subject).

    And I think the day you stop seeking joy would be a very sad and very dark day. Don’t ever stop seeking joy. Joy is why we get up in the morning. Joy is why we fight the battles we do. Please don’t stop.

  5. This post, and the question you posed in the title, spoke to me so much that I wrote a (1400 word!) post in response. You can check it out here: http://esperanzasays.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/thoughtful-thursdays-where-is-my-focus/

    I’ve thought a lot about our reaction to Kate’s blog since you posted about it (and I say our, even though you wrote it, because we shared all those emails about it before the post went up). I’ve really struggled with what bothered me about it and I think I know what it was and it actually has something to do with this post. I felt like that post, and the article in the GGMG magazine I got so heated about, were too simplistic. It’s obvious that Kate feels tremendous joy about being a mom, I feel like any mother could write something like that post, but that it’s not representative of the experience as a whole. Of course we can’t always communicate everything we feel about a certain experience, as Kate stated in her response, but I think I feel very guarded when I see something that presents one side of a reaction to something without acknowledging that any other side even exists. I don’t know. I guess what I’m saying is I want to read what feels authentic. And I’m not saying Kate’s post wasn’t authentic, but I guess it didn’t feel authentic to me. Or it felt too one sided to be authentic, if that makes sense.

    Maybe it just comes down to me feeling attacked because deep down I wonder if she likes motherhood more than me and if she does, what does that say about me? Our anger towards others is almost always about our own insecurities. That is a lesson that I know well but that doesn’t always help me to figure out why I respond negatively to certain things.

    As for your project, on your blog? Maybe it shouldn’t be just about the joyful things, but about your journey to joy. Or your journey in search of joy and how elusive that joy can be. I think exploring why you find being joyful difficult is just as valuable as achieving it easily. In fact I would say it is more productive, because many people struggle to find joy in their lives and interestingly, it’s usually the people who have very much (like you and I) that struggle the most with that. Those people (like me) would find your journey very enlightening.

    I’m trying to find joy in a few ways right now. One is living more simply. I’m trying hard to get to bed earlier because I feel that makes a huge difference on the joy I can experience the next day. If I’m tired and run down it’s almost impossible to experience job. This is such a small thing but it affects so much. I’m also trying to live in the moment, because my fear of the future robs me of immense amounts of joy. The best way I know to do that is to stop myself from pondering or planning for my “what if’s” and just bring myself back to whatever is in front of me. Sometimes it works better than others but it’s always worth the effort. Finally I’m trying to practice being grateful. I’m using some Buddhist techniques to do this and I will write more about them on my blog as I become more familiar with them.

    Anyway, I hope that answered your questions. A quest for joy is a noble quest indeed. And providing us with an honest account of that quest is very valuable. Even if every day it’s about why you’re not finding joy I bet in the end you’ll have realized how to find it. You just got to stick with it.

    I for one am very eager to join you on this journey.

    Thanks for the great post today!

  6. I’ll echo what Esperanza says about the journey to joy. When I read food blogs, I like reading about the disasters as well as the finished products, because it makes me feel like I have the potential to make my mess into something beautiful, too. The best blogs are about the journey, I think.

    That said, I often struggle with “the same old story” and what I’m going to do now that I’ve “crossed the finish line,” too … especially given that I have an audience. Two followers left the other day, and I wondered, “what did I say — or not say — to make them go?” It’s stupid, because my blog is my space, not theirs, but I can’t help but let it nag at me.

    BTW? Glee as life? ABSOLUTELY.

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