Sometimes things need to be said out loud, not for anyone to hear them, just to be said. Just for thoughts to take a more solid form. For intentions to be stated, and thereby crystallized. This is one of those posts: it’s very meta, which probably means very boring. With a bit more ambition it might have been a mission statement, but I’m not doing ambition right now. I’m doing hopefulness. So this is about what I hope for, and what I’m allowing myself.
There has been a lot of conversation, this past week, about blogs. On Twitter and elsewhere, I’ve seen much discussion – from all angles – about what blogging is, how it’s changed, what it’s great for, what we miss, how we “should” blog (or not). Sadie wrote eloquently about how the craft blogging landscape has changed, with personal journals giving way to more professional (or, many times, would-be professional) sites. Kate started the “Love your blog” challenge with weekly themes, the first one being “interactions and community”. Via Abby Glassenberg‘s fantastic newsletter, I found this great post on “What to do if you don’t want to blog”. And on Medium, “Don’t play it safe on the internet”.
Ok then. That last article isn’t entirely on topic; the author is more engaged with the risk of future embarrassment from personal photos etc than about the question of how personal to be on a (semi-)professional site. But it still struck a nerve with this line:
“It’s okay to take risks online. It’s okay to be vulnerable.”
I have to start with the disclaimer that fear of vulnerability is not even close to being the reason for scarce posting on this blog. (I have a rule, by the way. While I want to post regularly, I’m not allowed to “apologise” – read: whine and self-flagellate – about failure to post. You’ll see my posts when you see them, you won’t see any excuses for when you don’t see them (this post aside!), and RSS readers are wonderful things.) No, my problem is the very simple and boring one of time constraints. I have way, WAY more work to do than time to do it in, and while blogging is actually pretty important to me, it’s nowhere near top of the list. So while I’m about to tell you of all my Issues and Intentions, none of this is likely to have any direct result on posting frequency. It may change posting content a bit, though.
When I say blogging is important to me, this is what I mean:
I started a personal Blogspot site about 10 years ago and found it honestly thrilling. Conversations and friendships bloomed with people across the world, people I would never have otherwise encountered. I wrote everything from jokey little half-drunken snippets to carefully crafted essays and witty, sideways-on accounts of my life. It felt free and creative and wonderful. But I worried that my readers would be turned off by the knitting stuff, so I hived that off into a separate knitting blog. Which didn’t really work.
I started Purlescence, and with it a new blog: my personal knitting stuff combined with shop news and yarny snippets from around the web. This, too, didn’t quite work. Partly because of time, I imagine (since I was now running a business alongside my day job), but also, splitting my blogging activities into two streams – knitting me and “personal” me – was stifling. Given how much part of my identity knitting is, that shouldn’t be surprising. So after selling the shop I started a WordPress site for personal and yarny blogging together. But that didn’t really get going either, because – sigh – time. Babies. Babies are murder on personal goals.
AND THEN I set up my spanking new site here, to present my “professional” self as I slowly develop the knitting side of my portfolio career. And of course it needs a blog. And since I remembered all too well how unproductive I previously found it, splitting parts of myself off into separate sites, I vowed I wouldn’t do that. I decided to write pretty much whatever I wanted... within limits.
Oh. Limits. Yeah… I’m not someone who gets motivated by limits; I get turned off. I’ve found this to be true in my knitting (telling myself to knit only my own designs, or only with Purlescence yarns) and it’s true here too. I would find myself drafting posts in my head, and mentally deleting them as being “unsuitable”. Mostly because I worried they would sound too negative. I wanted to write, for instance, about the frustration of being full of creative ideas and energy, absolutely fizzing, and not getting even 5 uninterrupted minutes to work on them. Which is pretty much my life these days. Anyone who follows me on Twitter (or even just glances over to my latest tweets, there in the sidebar!) is probably heartily sick of this stuff. Even I’m sick of my own whining. But this is a big thing for me, the astonishing challenges of being an at-home mother, and I absolutely lap up these posts from other writers, and being someone who loves to write (and write, and write… god this is going on), I itch to put the thoughts out there.
(Actually it’s not just about being a writer. It’s about the isolation of being a hausfrau in a foreign country, and the lifeline that is online connections, and being able to express myself and all these THOUGHTS in my own language. But that’s a whole post in itself, and who knows, maybe one I’ll actually write some day.)
So Sadie’s post about missing more personal, “amateurish” blogs, with long, chatty, reflective posts that aren’t trying to sell anything, struck a chord. Not only do I miss reading those blogs – I’m guilty of erasing my own, turning it into a bland marketing tool instead of the true expression I want it to be. I want to try to change that. I want to let myself write anything. Especially because, you know what? I’m not even trying to be a professional designer. Not yet. I take design seriously, but I think of myself as a designer in training. I’m choosing what to create based on my personal and family needs, rather than any kind of strategy; I’m deliberately allowing myself time to knit other people’s patterns, both for fun and because I learn from them; I’m consciously absolving myself of any pressure to produce. I have the gift of a space in my life where I can learn, and practise, and try to get better.
I’ve been treating this website as a professional marketing tool, and it is, to the extent that I can hang out my shingle and let people know what I can do. But frankly if I’m serious about marketing, I need to do a lot more. And if I’m worried about looking “unprofessional” because I write long, rambly posts about motherhood and feminism and language barriers and Gilmore Girls and everything else bumping around in my head, well, I need to get a grip, because no one visiting this site to find out if I’m the right layout designer for them is going to care about my blog content. I mean. We all know that nobody reads on the internet – unless they are reading for pleasure.
So if you’re still here, I guess that means that you’ve enjoyed this post, or at least found it interesting. Even if nobody’s reading, though, I’m going to allow myself to write like this again. For me.
Okay so I can’t say WHEN I’ll write like this. I’ve taken about an hour of precious child-free time to write it, time I should be spending on so many other tasks and projects I couldn’t begin to count them. But as I said at the top, there… statement of intent. I’m giving myself permission to be myself in public.
By the way? If you have a response to this, I’d really love it if you commented here, rather than on Twitter. I know Twitter feels so easy! But I love how blog comments can become whole conversations, and while that happens on Twitter too, people get left out or left behind. Let’s agree to share blog posts via Twitter, but talk about them on the actual post. That would be awesome.