To blog is to be hopeful—that words matter, that someone is reading, that small things make a difference.Kerry Clare, Pickle Me This
For the longest time, when I heard the B words, “blog” “blogger” and “blogging,” I seethed defiantly. When I was writing and editing The Lunchbox Season and Summer of Funner, I never wanted to be called a “Mommy Blogger.” As much as my job as a parent was important to me, I felt the word “mommy” was derogatory, not only in relation to the difficult work of mothering, but in terms of my own wild, free-ranging personality. Also, while I was sharing plenty of DIY’s and recipes, I never thought of myself as someone who went about dispensing advice, especially about parenting.
At the time, I identified “blogging” with the delivery of patronizing imperatives, on the one hand, and, on the other, a little too much sharing of one’s personal life. Not that these ideas are mutually exclusive. At their worst, they twine together into that kind of social media crud where an online persona exhibits their so-called perfect life to awe and crush their followers.
But, in blogging, I found my own purpose. My first two websites gave me a reason and a means to incorporate creative challenges and experiences into our family life (I had to schedule something or I’d be done-in) and to keep track of the things that worked (particularly recipes) so we could access them on our phones and tablets with our dirty hands. Those blogs also gave me the ability to share what we were doing with family and friends, some of whom we felt we needed to keep at a safe distance without completely alienating them. I also learned what worked and what didn’t work, for me, in terms of sponsors, ads, and partnerships.
Two-and-a-half years ago, I knew I’d outgrown the structure I’d created, through trial and error, with The Lunchbox Season and Summer of Funner. With Smelling Salts Journal, I reinvented the blog on my own terms. What I wanted was a magazine, if only for an audience of one (me!). First and foremost, with SSJ, I created a bespoke digital collection of recipes. I also generated a forum in which to document my creative projects (aside from my work as a writer of fiction and poetry). And, I gave myself the space to work out my ideas without necessarily having to “pitch” an editor or compose a formal essay. I also decided to publish at a relaxed pace as opposed to working from a fixed schedule.
The point was never to proselytize but to index the good stuff, make time for play, and work out the mess, whether for an audience of one or for whoever wanted to ride along. That audience thing, however, got a little rough.
I took a break from blogging, recently, because my privacy was impinged upon. I won’t divulge more, just now. But, I suddenly felt paralyzed about the public nature of SSJ. First, I considered creating a subscription-only newsletter (I love newsletters), but that would undo the recipe box. Then, I considered password-protecting the entire site or limiting access to specific users. Who knows, perhaps a lockdown will turn out to be what’s right for me. But, not right now. While I was comfortable protecting my social media accounts, I realized I was missing SSJ.
I needed a push. And I got one. After reading Kerry Clare’s imperative to go #backtotheblog and make it what you want it to be, I decided to fuck the anxiety and go back to SSJ. Why not, as Kerry suggests, “blog to make sense of the world” and “write your way to the answers you are seeking.” I’m all for that. That’s me.
So, dear reader, if “dear” you be, expect to read more, here, in the coming months. I’ve still got to post the story of the “Widowmaker” tree whose fall birthed my miracle backyard shed, the sewing machine fire which prompted fashion awesomeness (#wikstenhaori OMG), and how my disillusionment with anti-diet-diet-culture led to serious adventures in cheese. Who knows, maybe I’ll even come here to work out all that boundary-setting trauma and privacy infringement stuff.
In the meantime, how about a little advice-giving, after all, from an experienced blogger?
If you’re looking for a way to begin a blog of your own (and it’s a happy place to be), check out Kerry Clare’s new MyBlogSchool. For what seems to be the steal of the century, MyBlogSchool offers 8 self-directed modules to help you forge your path:
My job is to help you resist the tiny/tidy boxes and find your own way toward a sustainable blog that not only showcases your business or creative work, but where you can find the confidence to use your voice and explore new ideas while challenging the toxic tone of online discourse with nuance, thoughtfulness and curiosity.Kerry Clare, MyBlogSchool
Rather than taking the long way around, consider building something that fits and responds to your needs from the start. Let Kerry show you how to start a blog! Though, call it an online magazine or journal if it pleases you.
[This is definitely not a sponsored post. It’s a freaking cheering section! But here’s a promo code: enter “earlybird” at MyBlogSchool before September 16 to receive a 15% discount.]