Blogging is outdated, so don’t even bother to start a blog in 2017.
That is the gist of a popular article recently posted on a high-traffic writers’ site. I was a little disappointed when I read it and I almost followed the author’s advice, which suggested that if I wanted to write blog posts, I should stick with publishing on sites that already have a captive audience, with large numbers of readers.
I choose to ignore that article. I’m not here for large reading traffic, not primarily. If readership increases over time, great, but that is not the reason why I am starting this new blog.
I need to be here. This is one of the final legs of my writing journey as a blogger, and when I say final, I mean this is the end of a season and the beginning of a new one. This is where I capture the unfolding, new life of a full fledged writer.
I first began blogging in 2008. Before becoming defunct, these blogs had morphed a few times over the past nine years, going from online journals about family life to political and social commentary to alcoholism recovery, back to politics, and then back to online journaling again. Often the content of those blogs were inspired by what was happening around me at the time and my reactions to said happenings.
Too often my feelings were edited to generate a particular response from the reader. Some days I wanted readers to get pissed off, on other days I was looking for sympathy, sometimes I sought allegiance on a particular stance and sometimes I was merely going for a good laugh. Usually my target results were hit and miss, but the blogging angle which fell flat repeatedly were my attempts to elicit understanding from readers. It was an angle that distracted me as a writer because it placed too much emphasis on the behavior of an imagined reading audience and too little emphasis on better developed content.
After nine years of writing on blogs and after learning to live life on my own terms, I am finally writing for myself, first and readers, second. It takes practice and I expect there will be days when I don’t always get it right, but I am going to give it my best shot.
I am fifty years old and I am still becoming the person I want to be. I have unpacked the baggage that I was carrying around for the last few decades and inspected them all. I discovered each wrapped in Shame like rice paper covers a spring roll. I removed the shame layers, tossing them to trash and I’ve embraced all my messy parts— the girl who suffered childhood neglect and abuse, she who was repeatedly molested and raped; the alcoholic woman, she who was full of rage and self-loathing; the sell-out woman, she who hated being black; the crazy woman, she who hid from genetically proned mental illness; and the broken woman, she who chased perfection, pretending to be whole.
This blog bears my name and images of me because Shame made me hide for too long. Sure I had published a smattering of selfies in recent years, but I did it for whichever online crowd I was following at the time— bloggers, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Every single time I posted a self picture, I held my breath and pressed beyond rapid, hammering heartbeats, the flush of my skin and sweaty palms. All the while I was thinking, Who do you think you are? You look ridiculous. You don’t belong. You are nothing but a big phony. You’re too old. You’re too unloved. You’re too broken.
This blog is a love letter to my self. This blog is also a record of my journey back to the girl I used to be before life beat her up so badly, she shrunk from becoming the woman she was born to be. I am becoming my truest self here, I become the Maria of my origin, with every written word. Whether anyone is reading or not, I am sharing this journey — the middle-aged discovery of self — with the world, especially for anyone who knows what it’s like to despair of the cards dealt to them by a life they didn’t choose.
Today, as a writer I get to enjoy life through writing eyes. The art of the capture, for me, puts it all in lovely perspective.