A little while ago, I stumbled onto this post from Stirrup Queens about why she prefers blogs to tweets, and it got me thinking about why I blog. I'm not trying to get a book deal, or make enough money at my blog to allow me to quit my day job, or do anything obviously measurable with my blog. There are plenty of other things I could do with my limited kid-free time, and there is a good case to be made that many of them- tackling that pile of papers on my desk, for instance- would be more useful. So why do I carve time out to write blog posts and read the blogs of others?
When I first started this blog, I thought I'd write stories about traveling- and I still do that, from time to time, but that didn't turn out to be a compelling enough reason to write for me.
The blog didn't really take off until my first child was born. Pumpkin was- and is- an intense little thing. Delightful, wonderful, and, along with Petunia, one of the biggest sources of joy in my life. But her arrival tore my life apart, and I turned to this blog as a way to figure out how I wanted to put the pieces back together. It was my touchstone, a place where I could work out who I was now that I'd added "mother" to my identity. A place where I could admit that reworking my identity was hard- one of the hardest things about adjusting to motherhood for me, harder in some ways even than the sleep deprivation.
I don't need that so much anymore. I'm now comfortable in my reconfigured life, and usually feel well-connected to who I am, although I do occasionally still need to work things out in that regard.
I also used to write a lot more about the mechanics of motherhood- sleep, breastfeeding, and the like. These topics do still pop up from time to time, but if that was all I used my blog for, this site would probably have gone dark a long time ago.
Now I write because it gives me a way to explore issues that are on my mind- from working motherhood to food to my thoughts on work-life balance- and pretty much anywhere else my fancy takes me. The blog probably spares my husband from having to listen to at least one rant a week. I do love to rant.....
The blog also retains one of the roles it has had since the very early days of motherhood: it is the proverbial room of my own, a place that is all mine, paradoxically untouched by the needs and wants of my kids and husband while also often being about them.
Over the years, I've gained valuable insights from the comments left on posts, and found friends whom I will probably never meet. I have felt less alone, able to pull away the perfectionist veneer that often covers real life conversations with other parents, to expose my parenting reality and find others who understand it. I think the blog has probably made me a better parent, both by giving me new ideas and by boosting the confidence and patience I need to follow my own parenting instincts.
I don't really have any goals for this blog. I've dabbled in money-making ideas, but realize that I do not take this anywhere seriously enough to truly monetize my blog. I have more ideas, but pursuing them is not a priority for me right now, because I am realistic enough to know that they are unlikely to provide a sound return on the time I'd have to invest in them.
(This, incidentally, is why you won't find me at BlogHer this weekend, even though it is in my hometown and I would have enjoyed meeting some of the people whose blogs I read. Just looking at the agenda gave me unrealistic ideas about what I would do with my blog if I were to devote much, much more time to it. It seemed silly to spend money to go somewhere that would probably leave me feeling unhappy. But I hope everyone who comes has a great time, and enjoys both the conference and my city.)
My hit statistics have gone steadily but slowly up, but I am not really trying to get them to any particular level. It is gratifying to know that people out there like to read what I write, but I don't know what I'd do if my readership suddenly skyrocketed. Probably freak out a bit, and then keep writing the same things I write now.
If I have an agenda at all, it is in my hope that I can serve as an example to ambitious young women who are afraid they can't have a satisfying career and a family- but I am not egotistical enough to think that many of those young women are reading my blog. I suspect they hang out in far cooler corners of the internet.
Given all of that, the only conclusion I can draw is that I truly am writing for myself, as a slightly (or maybe hugely) narcissistic hobby. Most of the benefits I derive could probably also be gained from an old-fashioned journal, but the publishing aspect has made me keep the habit going far longer than any previous journaling attempt. And I've learned a lot and gained interesting perspectives from the other blogs I've found via comments sections (both mine and others) and blog rolls. That is enough for me- at least right now.
What about you? Why do you write a blog, if you have one? Why do you read blogs?