This short, simple question can stop a even the most confident person in their tracks. Recently I’ve found myself asking this question as a mother, as a writer/illustrator (ha! I love that I’m calling myself that now) and as a blogger.
“Where do I go from here?” is the question that all bloggers face at some point. Whether they ask it because a change in their life has transformed the tone and subject matter of their writing, or because they want to explore new topics or audiences for the simple challenge of it, all bloggers approach their blog with renewed intention from time to time.
This question is so common that BlogHer has created a whole day dedicated to answering it at this year’s conference. It’s called Pathfinder Day and it’s taking place on Thursday before the actual BlogHer ’11 conference begins.
And I’m thinking about going to it. I mean I’ll already be at the conference so why not arrive a day early?
That’s right, you read that correctly. I’ll be at BlogHer this year (at least that is my intention). In fact, I’m planning on going with Jjiraffe! It’s like a dream come true.
I’ve come to realize in the past months that blogging is a very important part of my life. It’s not just the gateway to a community for me, it’s also an outlet for the writer in me. There was always a part of me that loved writing. I fancied myself a would-be writer for a time, back when I was young I thought you could fancy yourself whatever you damn well pleased. As I grew up I adopted the notion that only certain people could be writers and some how I determined that I wasn’t one of them. I scrawled my thoughts in journals and letters but I assumed my writing would remain just that, personal ramblings and sporadic communications.
Then I started blogging and I realized that what at first seemed only cathartic and transitory was actually an enduring creative exercise, one that was fulfilling both emotionally and professionally. I also realized that I could write and that I was compelled to write. It was the absence of such a compulsion that led me to believe, in my “early years”, that I was not a writer. Now that I’m confident in my need and ability to write, I think I might have it in me to pursue it.
These are huge declarations for me. Monumental. And after having said them, I’m not sure where I stand, especially as a blogger. Do I want to do something different? Do I want to take my blogging to the next step? If so, what would that step be? I’m not sure. My new blog and new project were certainly steps in the direction of “uncharted” and “challenging” but they obviously lack direction and purpose. I’m hoping the BlogHer conference will instill in me the decisive purpose needed to guide my renewed determination. I also plan to have an exceptionally good time with a friend I admire and respect in an environment where our passion is both celebrated and cultivated.
As a writer/illustrator, I’m unexpectedly excited to dive into my illustrations with wild abandon. Tuesday’s quote, along with some supportive emails from friends, has replenished my desire to illustrate my book and tamed the fears that I’m incapable of even an attempt. For the first time since I started this project I feel confident in taking my first steps, no matter where they might lead me. And now I ask myself, if I’m actually going to try to illustrate this thing, where do I go to find the expertise I need to make my visions a reality? Where do I hope for this book to go? How do I get it there?
As a mother I’m realizing, quite suddenly, that my daughter is soon to be a toddler. She is crawling with purpose, if not agility. She can pull herself to standing confidently and without fear. She chooses her toys and plays with them intently. She can feed herself solids and is newly tolerant of textures and chunks. She expresses herself and her intentions in myriad ways. She associates me with “ma ma” and her father with “da da”. In short, she is become a little girl and will needed to be treated as such.
With this (seemingly) hasty transition I am abruptly aware of the fact that I don’t really know how to parent a toddler. I’m ignorant of the developmental and linguistic milestones I can expect. I’m unaware of how to respect my daughter as a person while making my expectations evident through developmentally appropriate boundaries. Basically I’m not sure which limits I can set nor how to set them in a way that my daughter will understand. I am totally naive when it comes to being the mother of a toddler. And since I’m spending ten weeks with my own this summer, I better get an idea, and fast. So I’m reading books and speaking with other mothers and trying to prepare myself for this new, exciting, nerve wracking role – that of mother to not a baby but a little girl. Eek!
I’ve also been asking myself “where do I go from here” financially and professionally and in my relationships and in building my family. But those are all better tackled in a different post. For now I can say that I’m eager to uncover the answers to that many faceted question in all the different areas of my life. I’m excited to see what my future holds.
What does “where do I go from here?” mean to you? Which parts of your life are you most interested in cultivating? Which parts do you question only tentatively, if at all?