I’m going to tell you a story. A fairy tale, if you will, set in the Land of Blog.
There once was a girl. She lived in Real Life where she felt very alone, misunderstood by everyone. One day the girl started a blog, a portal of words that transported a part of herself elsewhere, to a land of acceptance. Many months passed and the girl poured her heart into post after post until finally people started reading. Eventually her special place became a means of escape to the Land of Blog, a community of like-minded women who supported one another in good times and in bad. She spend a lot of time in the Land of Blog, she loved it there, but she began wondering if it could offer something more.
Then one day something magical happened. A few fairy godbloggers (and very popular ones at that) linked to her site and lots of people read her work. She reveled in the assurance that she was articulate and had interesting things to say. She started to care about her writing, not just what she said but how she said it. Now instead of purging her insecurities she was confidently presenting her point of view. She reveled in the act of writing and she adored when people actually read what she wrote.
She began craving a larger audience. She realized, though she was loath to admit it, that her little community might no longer suffice. She was spending more and more time fashioning better pieces and she was disappointed when so few people read or commented. Her wicked step-mother conscious chided her for neglecting her family, her chores, even her job, to write that which few cared to read. Increasingly, from the Land of Blog she could hear the Real World beaconing.
By this time the girl had friends in the Land of Blog and lots of them. Some of those friends were nominated for the Land of Blog’s Best Of and Top 50 lists. The girl started to get discouraged. She secretly (and remorsefully) felt a little jealous and wondered why her own blog wasn’t nominated. She started getting disappointed when her stats were down. Sometimes she cared more about the quantity of the comments she got than the quality of what was said. She was starting to feel discouraged and ashamed of the blogger she’d become. She didn’t understand when or why the Land of Blog had been poisoned for her.
Then one day she woke up and found a post in her reader. That post was a Mirror of Truth; suddenly she saw clearly what had changed. The Land of Blog had become, for her, more than just a way to make sense of her life and connect with others. It wasn’t just about the community, which she could find on Twitter or Facebook or maybe even the new fangled Google+. No, for the girl the Land of Blog had become a writing sanctuary. And writers crave readers and feedback and recognition. She didn’t coveted acclaim or accolades, she just wanted people to read her work and validate her efforts. She didn’t feel she could justify the time she was investing in honing her craft without some way of measuring her achievement. The problem was the girl didn’t even know what she hoped to achieve.
What is this blogger’s happily ever after? Will she find it in the Land of Blog? She doesn’t want to write a book or become a brand. She doesn’t even hope to be paid for her writing; she never dared to dream the Land of Blog and Real Life would ever intersect. She recognizes that she doesn’t need this place for the reasons she first came and she suspects it can never give her what she’s looking for now. Could she keep visiting the Land of Blog, just to revel in the pure joy of writing, or would lingering there be an egocentric, self-indulgent act?
Perhaps for this girl, there is no happily ever after in the Land of Blog. Or perhaps she just hasn’t found it yet. Perhaps there is some happy medium between the big names and book deals and the little bloggers-that-could, chugging contentedly up the hills of obscurity. Perhaps not. Perhaps she’ll remember how wonderful blogging anonymously can feel, with just a few dear friends who join the conversation. Or perhaps she’ll move on from this chapter in her life. Either way it won’t be a tragedy, even if it’s missing that perfect happily-ever-after ending.
Have your reasons for blogging changed over the years? Do you expect they might change in the future? Do you think goals of recognition and renown can exist symbiotically with the intent to foster community? Is a writer who seeks to build her following forsaking her original readership for the sake of her aspirations?