This morning I woke up to a question posed by Jjiraffe: How do you maintain your blog’s focus? and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I found myself failing to answer the question as I was confronted with another question: What is my blog’s focus? Does it even have one?
I’ve actually pondered this a lot lately, especially since the inception of my new blog. That blog was created with a purpose and every post I write there is meant to further explore and validate that purpose. Mel wrote this week about possibly changing the name of her blog, which got me thinking about the name of my new blog. I worry the name of my new blog only encompasses one part of my project (not buying anything new) and ignores the important piece of simplifying my life by getting rid of things, both physical and committal. It got me wondering whether I should still focus on that aspect of the project since it’s not eluded to in the title.
For Mel, I think the question is harder to answer. While the title “Stirrup Queens” assumes a certain focus on infertility she guesses that only about 40% of her content is infertility or ALI focused. I countered that while 40% of her post content might be dedicated to infertility, much more of what her blog has to offer, such as the famous Blogroll, each month’s ICLW list and the amazing Creme de la Creme are very much mainstays of the ALI community. In fact I believe those pages alone make her site the undisputed hub of the ALI community and I doubt anyone would argue with me on that point. But does that mean her blog should continue with the name Stirrup Queens? Or should her every day content inspire her to change her blog’s title? Is Stirrup Queens’ “focus” defined as much by those community-centered pages as it is by what Mel actually is trying to say?
For those of us who do not host incredible resources that are relied on by an entire blogging community, we must define our blogs by the content of our posts. Some blogs are created for very specific reasons, and even for specific periods of time. My new blog, Second Hand Happiness, is a one year project documenting a one year commitment to myself and a change in the way I live. Marie’s (now finished) blog Bakery Closed was a project spanning the conception and expected due dates of her lost pregnancy and was an attempt to find healing and closure after her loss.
Most blogs in the ALI community are about the author’s struggle to deal with the heartbreak and loss associated with the devastating disease that is IF. They chronicle the monthly loss of BFNs or failed cycles; they express the tragic bereavement of lost pregnancies and children; they attempt to make sense of what it means to live life without feeling whole; they record the anxious, uncertain journey of adoption; they are about a mixture of these things, some are about all of them. (I chose not link to blogs here because I didn’t feel it right to judge the focus of other people’s blogs when that purpose has not been spelled out specifically by the author).
These blogs are also about the community they provide. They are about the people who read them, who become commenters and followers. They are about finding comfort and understanding in numbers and common experience. They are about walking the arduous path of infertility and loss not alone, but in the company of others.
And as the women who write these blogs become pregnant or give birth to live children, the “content” of their blogs changes. Many ALI bloggers struggle with this. How much of their blog is their own? How much do they owe the community of readers who got them there, whose comments are as much a part of the blog as the content that inspired them?
Some bloggers jump wholeheartedly into their new lives and their blogs become increasingly “kid-centric”. Others continue to write about infertility despite the fact that (or maybe because) they’ve “crossed the divide”. Some straddle this divide, writing about motherhood through the lens of infertility and others bounce back and forth, sometimes dissecting the overwhelming reign of mother-dom, other times revising the pain that got them there.
How do people choose which direction their blog will take? I think our blogs follow the compass of our hearts. I believe in the end, we are all “general diarists,” as Mel put it. Some of us become mothers and rarely look back on our infertility struggle. For others motherhood will be forever marked by the journey through infertility. Some of us live our lives in between worlds, losing ourselves one day in the strangely precious yet monotonous role of mother and other days feeling intensely grateful for what we worried we’d never have. Our blogs reflect where we are any given day. They mirror what we’re thinking and what we’re feeling. They are a glimpse into our minds. The substance of our lives is reflected in the content of our posts.
And what about my blog? Does it have a focus? I guess it does. I guess its focus is me and this means its focus shifts with as much regularity as my own. While I now am a mother and my blog focuses on what that means to me, I continue to focus on how my TTC struggles and my loss affect my life. I don’t force those issues for the sake of my “readership” (the reality is I don’t even know how much of my total readership has or does suffer from infertility as only a small percentage comment), I address them because they continue to be a part of my life. I continue to struggle with feelings of jealousy towards other, more fertile, women. I will always remember my lost pregnancy and want it validated by others. I’m scared to start TTC#2 again as I wonder whether or not my amenorrhea will rear it’s ugly head making it impossible for me to get pregnant. I’m terrified I will suffer more losses. These fears and thoughts are a part of my life and are therefore present on my blog. I include them for the same reason I include reflections on my daughter, my relationship, my friends and my work.
My other blog, of course, is different and in choosing the content for that blog I’ve looked more closely at the content of this one. There are times when I’m deciding which blog will host a certain post and I have to think long and hard about where the post fits best. I also have to consider the tone. The tone of this blog is very much affected by my TTC struggles and loss. It is more reflective of who I actually am. The tone of my other blogs is much lighter and, dare I say, funnier (maybe snarkier is a better work, though I kind of loathe it). It is an attempt to express another side of myself through specific content and a distinct voice. Some topics that could be tackled on either blog feel better expressed in one tone than the other.
I guess, in a desperate attempt to wrap this monstrosity of a post up, I will say that I did find it difficult to find a rhythm and focus for my blog after my daughter was born. I struggled with a lack of direction on most days and I dreaded my blog becoming a jumbled list of what I’d done. For that reason I started my “Paint-by-Weekdays” series. Each week day has one or two kinds of posts dedicated to it. Choosing topics that fit the focus of each day gave my blog a structure that I felt it needed and has helped me tackle (what I hope are) interesting topics and not just the random musings of work-outside-the-home mom. These topics are still determined by my life, the series just shapes what I say and how I say it. I’m really proud of the direction my blog has taken since I made that change.
So now I will pass Jjiraffe’s question on to you (and ask you a few of my own).
How do you determine the focus of your blog? How do you maintain that focus over time? Do you wish your blog had more focus? Do you cultivate a certain tone in your blog? If so, how?