Things hadn’t been easy for a while. Burn out, I think they call it. I had just lost all semblance of motivation for extracurricular activities, including things that made me happy. Every task took supreme effort. If it didn’t have to be done, I didn’t do it. Sleeping, eating, and working were the only things I could manage. Barely. Those items were suffering as well. Truly, all I wanted to do was sleep until the world wasn’t so hard.
I was defeated. That’s really the only excuse I can offer. It is hollow, I know, but it’s all I have.
I had this job. An important job. An awesome job. The best one I have ever had and one I miss every single day. It was challenging and effective and exhausting. I loved it. I wish I was still there. At the time, this job was hinged to my identity. I was so proud to be a member of this fantastic organization that was making a strong, positive difference in my community. When I went to work every day, I contributed to something larger than myself. People noticed if I wasn’t there. I mattered.
The pressure became too much, I guess. Every day I needed to impress; I strove to be better. I wanted to do it all on my own. It was draining. When one lives in a constant state of overwhelmed for so long, things will eventually topple. There are only so many piles one can balance. I was at the point where it was either sacrifice a few stacks or let the whole thing come tumbling down.
The book review was a catalyst. It was due at the end of the week and I had yet to finish reading. I couldn’t pull together the desire to pick up the thing, let alone digest the written words. Quite honestly, I wasn’t enjoying it. I’ve done many reviews of many books and this one I just couldn’t get behind. I was in the minority. I’d read other reviews by other bloggers of this same book and every one else appeared to love it. No matter how much I read, I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the author and I didn’t like the purpose behind the book. If I was going to write a semi-decent review, I was going to have to work some serious magic. It weighed on me and instead of plowing through like I had in the past, I retreated. I turned off.
At first, I gave myself a week. It was just going to be a small break. Seven days where I could relax, focus on my life, and wake up in the morning without panicking that I hadn’t written a blog post yet.
I gotta say, it was a pretty fabulous week.
So I gave myself another. And then another. Before I knew it, a whole month had gone by and my motivation to blog had not increased. If anything, I felt even less interested in writing than I ever had before. So I kept my laptop closed.
Then I started getting emails. Heartfelt emails. Gutting emails. Amazing emails. Emails that made me realize what I was missing. I was reminded of the community I had left behind when I chose not to blog. It was humbling and incredible and it made me cry. These people were my friends. Heck, they probably knew me better than my friends. By not writing, I was ignoring them. I felt like I had let them down. So I tried to start over. I wrote a few lackluster posts, told myself I would be better. I wanted to deserve the kindness I had been shown.
My attempts failed. The feeling wasn’t there. I kept thinking of that dang book review I had never written along with all of the other commitments I had made and then broken. I felt like a jerk. I was a jerk. It was easier to keep silent than to try to make amends.
There have been many changes in my life since then. I have learned more about myself and what is important. Blogging, for me, was never about making money or turning it into a job. It was intrinsically personal. I wrote because I liked writing and because it was a way of connecting with like-minded people. What killed it for me, I think, was the silly idea that I needed to keep up with others. When companies contacted me with products and ads and fun things to review I felt I needed to accept. That’s what bloggers do. I was lucky they had deigned to send me an email. Who was I to turn them down? Other bloggers were doing it all and keeping their style and wit intact. Shouldn’t I do the same? Isn’t that the point of all this?
The obvious answer is no. I don’t need to do any of that to justify the practice and expense of blogging. It’s a hobby, and a cheap one at that. What’s a few hosting and design fees when compared to the cost of ski lift tickets or green fees? There is nothing wrong with writing for the sake of writing, even if nobody reads it.
It took me some time to learn this. In fact, I am not wholly sure I have learned it yet. But it is my new goal for this space, to find the joy I once had. That’s why I am making a commitment to myself only. Not to companies or people I think I should impress and not even to you, kind, lovely reader who is somehow still paying attention. I am grateful to you, everlastingly so, but I cannot owe you any more.
I recently read a quote by a celebrity and I wish I could remember the entire thing. I can’t even remember who said it. After spending the last thirty minutes trying to find it, I am giving up. It would have been an easy way to end this ramble and I feel less than perfect for not being able to share it with you but sometimes that happens. There are better things to do on a snowy Sunday than fight with Google.
Anyway, the quote was given in the context of providing career advice. It was given by a person, a woman, who had found her direction later in life. In essence, she came to realize that the thing she was best at was the thing she had loved doing when she was ten. That was the advice, to do the thing you loved doing when you were ten. It was a bit of an over-simplification as these things always are, but it knocked a bit of sense into my addled brain.
When I was ten, I loved to write. I didn’t produce anything of note and I almost never completed a story. The genre was never the same. I wrote mysteries, I wrote plays, I wrote research papers, and I wrote fictional journal entries for no one to read. I wrote because it was fun. The practice was its own reward.
I still have a need to tell stories. The bonus of not having written for so long means I have a backlog. This is what I want to do with this space I have been given. I don’t want to write reviews or talk about the politics of dog training or try to convince anyone of anything. I want to share my story. In return, I hope I will get to hear yours.