Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Writing Something Again

I’ve been really bad at updating my blog in recent months. I could blame this absence on a litany of excuses - 
  • Long work hours
  • Weekend travel plans
  • Non-profit commitments
  • Actually loving my job
  • Spending more time with people rather than my laptop keyboard…

But the truth is that I’ve had a hard time defining what my blog is about. I’ve had this URL for over two years now, and while it seems to focus primarily on career, I find it more challenging to motivate myself to write when I feel so pigeonholed. 

When I first reinvigorated my blog at the beginning of this year, I was steadfast in streamlining my content to one topic. I came to this conclusion after reading scores of industry leaders in PR, journalism, Internet marketing, etc. reiterate the value in consistency in order to gain readership.

In addition to the top-down advice, I also work with a ton of successful bloggers and am endlessly impressed with how frequent they post relevant content for a niche audience: Mommy bloggers share heartwarming stories and lessons learned about raising children; food bloggers set your taste buds aflame with gooey recipes and savory images; travel bloggers make me fiercely jealous and add 5-10 new cities to my wish list; fashion bloggers give me false hope that I can pull off those trendy looks and actually learn how to braid my hair into a fishtail; and so on, and so on.

So I gave it a whirl. I decided that my niche audience would be the hopeless young professional seeking solace in the similar experiences of another Gen Y/Millennial/Gen Always-On/Gen Whatever-we-are-called-these-days. I kept trying to tie everything back to some great meaning, doing my due-diligence, weaving in current events and always attempting to sound like an authority on being young.

But there were a couple of kinks in my tactics: I got bored always trying to write about my professional life and mostly, I am no expert on career or the "right" way to be young.

I love writing and blogging, but I was starting to get stressed about my self-imposed deadlines, and I felt the quality of my content was slipping. I write my favorite posts when I share what irks, inspires, enthuses or compels me - not what drives SEO.

In some ways, I’ve surrendered the hope that one day my blog will surpass 500 unique views per month. But then again, books like Wendy McClure’s memoir, The Wilder Life -- a book about her personal obsession and exploration of the history behind The Little House of the Prairie series (of which I know nothing) -- give me hope that good writing can conceal even the most simple of stories. (Only to say that I have little knowledge or interest in the book series, but McClure’s writing is addicting.)

I think the most challenging part of blogging for me is that I am practitioner of much; expert of none. I know that the key to a successful blog is to publish useful, evergreen topics, but I have to be honest: I started blogging because I love writing, and not because I expected to turn profits. 

And so, perhaps this will be just another sporadic post on my page, and I'll return in future months with additional "insight" on why I didn't post more. But, at least for today, it feels so good to just write something again.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

In the Mood for the Era of Today

A friend of mine has upon several occasions posed the question, "If you could live it any other era, which would you choose?" At first, I thought I'd love to have lived during the 1930s-1940s, drawn to the feeling of sacrifice and unity endemic to the 'greatest generation,' the feminine and classic fashion, plus the ubiquitous swing music.

But despite the draws of music, fashion, and attitudes from yesteryear, women of that era were hardly encouraged or empowered the way women of today are. I'm far too opinionated and outspoken to have fit in with previous generations, and the thought of constantly discussing menus for parties or design ideas for place settings sounds drab and stale.

I do love cooking, baking and putting together a good spread for friends to enjoy, but it's only a small piece of me. And in fact, I'd much prefer eating a bland meal over an engaging conversation of world history or political debate than a delicious meal where conversation focuses solely on how tasty the food is and remarking over the beautiful place settings.

I don't have just one calling, and my self worth certainly isn't tied only to my recipe book. I find more joy in a Saturday morning batting practice with my boyfriend, than in friends complimenting my dinner; I feel more pride in recognition of my work or my blog, than being told my apartment looks like a page torn from a magazine; and I feel most fulfilled in securing sponsorship for a fundraiser than in scouring Pinterest for a new tablecloth to match a painting. 

There certainly is time in my life for the latter named activities, but I'm so glad that today that is not how my merit is judged - even if that means I find few opportunities for swing dancing.

In The Mood by The Glenn Miller Orchestra on Grooveshark