2012 was my first full year of blogging and I thought I should take a moment to reflect on the ebb and flow of this blog.
Although I’m officially listed in Blogger in January 2011, I never actually blogged until months later. Instead, I wasted a lot of 2011 playing around in Adobe Photoshop with my header and avoiding the intimidating act of clicking on the “publish” button because on some level, I simply wasn’t ready.
Even now when I read most of my early posts… I cringe. I see lots of words, but there’s no Me there. Not really. Do you know that feeling? When you show up someplace new with your tight, pleasant smile, but you’re not fully there? Not because you’re intentionally holding back. But sometimes you simply have to gaze over the crowd, meet a few like-minded folks. And figure out if you going to stay awhile.
Outwardly my early posts resemble ordinary-looking blurbs with lovely photos and helpful information but it all was delivered in that safe, neutral, Stepford Wives tone that tells me I was floundering.
I don’t consider myself a safe, neutral kind-of-gal, and inside I was struggling to find my own writing voice.
I was grappling with that mysterious, unquantifiable quality in writing that simply can’t be faked. It’s the je ne sais quo of one’s writing voice, the essence of authenticity. It’s like hearing the unique tone and inflections of your voice on paper. And I’m learning that it happens when you let your guard down and take a few risks.
When you peek out from behind the grammatical correctness.
It’s not a question of HOW personal you get on your blog. I’m not talking about getting drunk on one’s words and busting beyond one’s healthy boundaries, so after you publish a post you’re left feeling raw and remorseful.
I’m talking about writing in a voice that expresses your distinctness. I’m talking about embracing our imperfections as part of our brand and writing from that place. Because I believe the beauty of our writing is found in our striking uniqueness; in the lines of our face, the turns and twists of our lives, and from the real-life characters we’ve met.
Anne Lamott says that the truth of your experience can only come through in your own voice. And trying to write in someone else’s style is like wearing somebody else’s bright and pretty clothing. It might initially feel safe and comforting but it’s not you. And getting a crush on another blogger’s style and trying to capture the truth of your experience in her language and rhythm “will remove you one step farther away from what you know and what you have seen.” (bird by bird, Lamott 1994)
Which would be so sad. Because our truth and our own life experience is what we have to offer the world.
It’s our own brand of authenticity.
It’s the difference between the beauty of a random Miss America or the beauty of a Scarlet Johansson.
I’ve discovered that blogging is a lot like real life. It’s easy to look around and make comparisons. To stumble on a blog and to be immediately smitten. To get a crush on somebody based on their popularity and the zillion followers that they have. I’ve even seen comments left on a post that are actually about the blogger’s prettiness.
And I’m not judging. I’m just observing the ways that we get distracted from our own worth.
I guess in the end, my blog is a work in progress just like me. Against the conventional wisdom of blogging I don’t have a niche. I'm in love with creating things, and what I call the Zen of home decorating. So I blog about things like my newly painted office. Beautiful tablescapes. And lighter things.
But I also blog about Life. Mothering. Happiness and Letting go. I do this enough to guarantee that I don’t actually fit into any delineated category; I’m not strictly a home design blog, nor do I fit into the real writer’s circles, so I’ve recently stopped wringing my hands and worrying about fitting into any particular niche. And I seem to be happier that way.
I do want to hold myself to one standard however. Whatever I blog about, I want to be myself. I’m too old to pretend I’m somebody else.
I want to write with my own voice. This one.
Because it’s the only one I’ve got.
And in the meantime, I’ll just enjoy myself right here, in this crowded room of talented bloggers and I’ll sip my cocktail and if someone comes up and we hit it off.
Well, that’s a wonderful thing.
2012 Gwen Moss blog posts that were kindly mentioned by other bloggers
I’m linking at these special places:
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