On writing, blogging and validation

For the past couple of months I have been running hard and running fast, so much so that for a moment I lost my way and allowed the outside chatter of others to drive my internal dialogue. This past week the situation came to a head as I allowed myself to start wallowing in the type of negative self-talk that is frankly harmful, I started comparing myself to others and of course when I found myself coming up short because I am not like so and so, I failed to see my own self-worth and power.

Last night I went to bed and for the first time in at least a month, I allowed myself the luxury of a solid eight plus hours of sleep, and sleep didn’t let me down. Upon waking this morning and taking time for a slow and deliberate meditation session instead of the rushed sessions of the past few months, I was rewarded with the clarity that I so desperately needed to claw my way up and out of this funk.

The desire for more is not always a bad thing, it keeps us going, and it gives us goals but sometimes that more is not the more that we need. Sometimes in life we are the architects of our journey but sometimes the journey lays itself at our feet and the universe directs our feet. That would be the best way to describe my professional life. I didn’t choose my path so much as it chose me and for some reason I can’t even describe, I am very good at what I do. I enjoy my work, it fills me with joy despite the challenges and this week was one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced professionally as I found myself embroiled with local bureaucrats fighting for the life of my agency. Yet passion and unnamed forces corrected a wrong and simply used me as that vehicle to affect change. Instead of being proud though I have been anxious, anxious because I want so much more and today I found myself asking why?

When I started writing professionally and later blogging, I initially did it because it filled me with joy, then somewhere along the way as the very nature of blogging changed from being about the writing to being about the business, I wanted in on that too. The thing is and I have shared in this space before, I am not a commercial blogger. The tales I share in this blog simply do not lend themselves to ever becoming part of the BGIM brand. How do we commercialize a woman growing up and finding herself on the cusp of middle age? I know this yet I still want to be like the cool kids, funny thing is I have never been one of the cool kids. In many ways my blogging career reminds me of the 3 years I spent in high school before I decided high school sucked. I never had a clique, a true place of belonging; instead I wandered from group to group, getting along with the popular kids, occasionally being allowed to participate in their parties, yet never being one of them. I could hang with the stoners, the geeks and all groups. In high school that trait made me feel lonely yet as an adult I have found the ability to get along with many different people to be an asset. In my current position it’s the key to the growth my organization has experienced and I say that as a statement of fact, not to toot my own horn because my horn is just a horn.

Yet when I stopped thinking of myself as a writer telling my story, living in my truth and decided I was a blogger, that’s when shit started getting funky. As a writer I did  not compare myself to others but as a blogger I do, recently I found myself fretting because a PR person wanted to know how many hits do I have a month. My stats are low, they fluctuate between 3500-5000 a month, compared to bloggers I know who are only 6 months into the game yet pros at using SEO and thus far average 100,000+ a month, my stats for someone who has been slogging away for years are a disgrace. Yet why am I allowing that to define me? Because I stopped listening to me and trusting in my journey.

I only speak for myself in this space but the truth is good writing and good blogging are two different things. Some can do both equally well but the truth is many of us don’t, I am not a bad writer but I am a bad blogger. I don’t have the energy or inclination to control my words to become something softer and lighter that will result in financial growth and in today’s blogging world, the bottom line is all about building your brand. To build my brand would mean stuffing me down and I am too old for that shit.

For the past few weeks I had been planning to attend the BlogHer conference; however the universe decided that what I was planning was not to be. Despite buying my ticket for both the conference and the transportation to get there, almost all my plans for lodging have fallen through; sometimes paying attention to the signs is a good thing. Sometimes you see what you think is the perfect pair of shoes but they are a half size too small, they are so cute you have to have them. Yet when you wear them out the first time instead of looking cute and getting the compliments, you are in excruciating pain and you ask yourself why the hell did you buy those shoes? Instead of the joy you thought they would bring you, they bring nothing but pain.

I have no idea where my writing is leading me, but it’s clear where it’s not leading me and as hard as that is to accept at times, truth and reality are what they are. In the end this may be nothing more than a joyful hobby and that’s okay too. Not all things need to be more, sometimes less is okay. I know though that at this point rather than seeking outside validation, I need to let the joy I get in simply putting these words down be my reward. Not many people have a career they love and a hobby they enjoy, and sometimes greed really is bad.  If extra money is what I need then a second job may be the answer rather than destroying myself and what I love.  For now I love this quiet space and while I am happy for all my readers, if no one read this I would still write it…hell I blogged/wrote for a good year and never reached 50 readers, so why start now letting the numbers change me?

On that note, too bad I wasted almost $200 for a conference I won’t be attending but the lesson learned was worth the waste.

 

 

Blogher 12 or Homeher12…that is the question

 

It’s the first of June and in the blogosphere that means many are starting to get excited about the annual BlogHer conference that will be going down this August. For bloggers of a certain ilk, attending the annual BlogHer conference is a must or so I am told. Since I started blogging back in 2008, I have heard fellow bloggers rave about this conference and insist that if possible one should attend. For many years the idea of attending this conference wasn’t even a possibility for me since trying to keep my head above water financially was the priority…after all you can’t tell the light company “Yo, I spent your money on BlogHer, but keep my lights on!

Ever since I heard last year that the 2012 conference was being held in New York City, I tentatively started making plans to attend, since New York isn’t that far from me. I took the advice of a few fellow bloggers and even put out the word that I was seeking a pimp, oops I meant a sponsor but clearly with my lackluster attitude towards such unions, brands aren’t exactly beating down the door. Hell, I don’t blame em! I even decided to put up a tip jar and while I am thankful for those who have chipped in, clearly the tips (little over $100 to date) aren’t going to get me to Blogher. So I went the old fashioned way and have been saving my shekels and I am getting there, I can definitely attend for one night…not bad? Or is it?

It dawned on me this afternoon, why do I want to attend this conference? Yeah, I have heard good things, how it’s a fabulous networking opportunity and I admit there are a couple of women I am dying to meet. But now that it’s time to part with the cash, I am asking myself what are my goals?

I am a writer who wants to write. I started writing professionally in 2003, or let me rephrase that, I have been writing for as long as I can remember, just that in 2003, people started paying me for it. My first piece for a local paper earned me $25 and despite being a rather paltry sum, I still remember how good it felt to earn real money for my words. I have been writing for local publications since and I love it! I have even started working on full length manuscript, not sure if it will ever leave my computer but it’s my passion.

So that brings me back to the question, why do I want to go to this conference? Networking is great but for all I have read and heard and if anyone knows anything please let me know, but for a writer dreaming of a book deal, is BlogHer the place to go? Sitting back looking at where I am professionally, while the idea of working with brands sounds good the truth is I have very little time to give. Hell, just updating this blog into something a little jazzier is taking more time than I planned and I am about ready to throw up my hands and say screw it, let’s stick with this premade ho-hum template.

Professionally as in my day gig, mid-summer is my busiest time, my center runs a free 8 week program for low income kids that includes lunch and trust me, it’s a hectic time. Throw in the fact that the person who is my back up in the event I am ran over by a Mack truck will be off on her honeymoon the week of the Blogher conference. Sure, I can leave town but let’s just say if anything goes wrong while I am gone, that’s my ass.

I think sometimes it’s easy to want something because it sounds good but lately I find in all areas of my life I need to dig deeper and really examine do I want this, do I need this or am I just momentarily caught up. I am a writer regardless of if I don’t ever attend a conference and while BlogHer most certainly sounds far more fun than any of the many social service related conferences I have attended over the years, is it really a need or a want? (besides social worker types don’t get cool swag!)

So the question I must ask myself is do I Blogher12 or Homeher12? Feel free to share any thoughts especially if you have attended the Blogher conferences in the past or any blogging related conference. Do they live up to the hype and frankly are they worth the price?