Next month will mark four years of writing on the Internet. Four years since I sat down at the computer and tried to write something worth reading online. At first it was awkward and unpleasant for everyone, like having sex for the first time. No one knows where to put their hands or when to stop pretending to be someone they’re not. Then, as time went on, I fell into a rhythm and tried to create a space where we can share our parenting and human struggles while also laughing at Jimmy Fallon videos on YouTube.
Blogging has changed a lot over these four years. Personal narrative blogs have been replaced with niche blogs, affiliate links, Instagram, Buzzfeed, and what I call “worldview pieces.” Readers, including myself, skirt to and from blogs so quickly that it’s hard to continue any sort of story, making it necessary to compose essays that can stand alone.
None of these changes are inherently positive or negative, the landscape of the internet will always change. The difficulty lies in recognizing when it’s time to change.
Popular blogger Sarah Bessey touches on this in a post about changes to her site. She writes, The hard thing is trying to figure out when to “change with the times” and when to stand your ground in the place you’ve established. For instance, I still love to tell stories about the daily life and simple joys, even though those don’t get the page views or comments or shares of other posts. I won’t stop telling those stories or writing the way I love to write because it’s not popular. But there are other aspects that I need to embrace – running ads to pay for the upkeep of this site which has become prohibitive, being aware of the power of social media, creating regular content that is relevant, and so on.
A few weeks ago I submitted a pilot for HBO via a fellowship for diverse writers. Along with the actual pilot, the application also required a personal statement. The writing prompt was simple, “What influences your writing?”
As I fumbled around trying to come up with an answer, all I could think about was you. The community of women I’ve found through writing for an audience. When my post about being tightly wound went viral last year and recently again this month, so many of you wrote to me about the struggles of parenting young children. If you read through the comments on that post, what sticks out to me the most is the overwhelming desire to be heard. For someone to acknowledge that while this is all so very wonderful, it’s also really, really hard.
No matter how blogging changes, I hope we can continue to create a space to be honest. To be heard. To laugh over our three-year-olds talking about sperm with the grocery cashier and cry over our complicated relationship with thighs. A place to stand together and say, “I want more,” even if wanting more is simply time to eat a sandwich alone.
Our best chance for motherhood, for being human, is to lift each other up. To walk beside each other and say, “This is my truth, what’s yours?” My writing is influenced by you. The relationships I’ve formed with women who walk beside me and share their truth, no matter how dark the valleys. Our most important work.
Thanks for walking with me.