Thoughtful Thursdays: Where Do I Go From Here?

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?

5 responses

  1. I know exactly what you’re going through! I used to write books in my teens, but then somehow gave it up. I picked up my writing – in forums and blogs – about 8 years ago and later played with the idea of becoming a writer. But two things interfered: English isn’t my mother tongue so I doubt my abilities. And I am not all that fluent in my mother tongue anymore… And it seems like I lost a lot of my imagination since I was in my teens. Sigh.

    But I do ask myself ‘where now?’ all the time. Right now I almost decided to change my career.

    Possibly, my career, the ‘what to do?’ is the part of my life I cultivate. All the other parts seem to be cultivating themselves pretty much on their own…

  2. The conference sounds like such a great time! I think it will be an awesome experience for you.

    I know what you mean about being naive about parenting a toddler. I am months away from that, but I watch my 2 good friends who have girls Isa’s age and it kind of freaks me out how active and into everything they are! But I figure, everyone in the world was a toddler once and their parents figured it out, so I will too.

    Where do I go from here? is a question I ask myself a lot. I love my blog, but am still not sure what audience I am targeting. I want more kids, but when? Do I want to recharge my painting business and start being creative again? How many more damn doctors am I going to drag my poor son to in hopes of one more piece to this puzzle?

  3. first – jealous of blogher attendance. i want to go. badly.

    second – i just wrote a post about this, because, master’s degree in hand – i have no idea what I want to do. i don’t know where I want my blog to go. i don’t feel like ihave a lot of true direction at the moment. a little frustrating, but at the same time, a little freeing!

  4. I’ve been feeling like this since we came back from our vacation. We went back home which is also where we want to “retire” when Nav is done with his military career in 6 years. Going back always brings up so many questions. Where will we live? The town we love is expensive but has great schools and friends and family nearby. What will he do? He gets a retirement pay but it’s not enough to make ends meet. He wants to find a job doing something he loves. What will I do? We’ll still need additional income from me if we want to live in our preferred town. But I strongly doubt I can jump back into my chosen industry after such a long sabbatical. Do I go back to school? Do I start over with a new profession? Do I just get a job to pay the bills and not a career?

    We have ~6 years (given his current track) which isn’t all that long. We’ve been together 6 years so it’s an easy gauge of time. But at the same time it’s long enough to know that things can and will change.

  5. I can’t wait to go to BlogHer with you! I am on the same path: I have no idea where to go from here. Hopefully we can get some help from the “pathfinders” 😉

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