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I’m Sierra. I live in the Boston area with my family.

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Touring the Blog Graveyard, Wondering What To Read Now

by Sierra on July 4, 2012 · 12 comments

in Uncategorized

So anyone who has been with me for awhile has noticed that I blog a lot less than I used to. My kids are just as awesome as ever, full of funny quips and heart-string-tugging insights (remind me to tell you about the ‘peas in a pod’ incident). My life didn’t suddenly become dull; if anything it’s more interesting than ever: the kids are growing and changing all the time, and so am I. As an inveterate diarist, I have a lot to write about.

But I’ve hit this wall of resistance that stops me from writing. I’ve posted about it some, but it’s worth saying a little more about it. I sit down to write and it’s almost like it’s physical painful to put words to the page. Like I’m pushing through a tangible wall of don’t-wannas. It’s a wall that’s made up of several factors. Partly it’s just burnout. I wrote something like 20+ blog posts a week for a couple of years and eventually I ran out of things to say about the topics I write about most.

Partly it’s a divided sense of audience. Who am I writing this for? Myself? My extended family who want to know how the kids are doing? My friends? An imagined Reader who wants to laugh and cry and think about my words? My kids’ Future Selves, seeking to revisit their childhoods?

This blog is fine art and scrapbook and a letter home all at once. I get gummed up worrying that I’ll offend the kids’ grandmothers if I tell the whole story about how I’m feeling as a mom, or let down my Readers if I share the mundane tidbits of everyday milestones. It’s a tough balance to strike.

A third part is that my blogging community changed. People got more interested in product placements and SEO and traffic generation than in writing. I went through a bunch of ways of relating to this, trying my hand at doing some book reviews and using SEO tools and then becoming so resistant to all the commercialization that I stopped even posting photos on my blog. Childwild has become the lazy refuge of my first thoughts, not a professional project at all anymore.

And I’ve felt sort of guilty about all this, grappled with some shame about letting myself and my career and my readers down by getting so quiet and stuck. My therapist is probably bored to tears with hearing about my writer’s block. It’s been a rough 8 months.

In addition to having trouble writing, I started having trouble reading blogs. I gradually abandoned my RSS reader. I stopped following links on social media (except the ones my friend Rowan posts, which are so consistently good I can’t resist them).

Lately I’ve been missing blogging, both reading and writing. I’m starting to post more for Strollerderby again. I have a bigger writing project in the works that I’m finding really energizing. And a few days ago I converted my RSS feeds into feedly, a cool magazine-style reader for both RSS and social media streams. It’s pretty great, and has got me reading again.

In setting it up though, I found myself wandering through a graveyard of blogs that have gone dark over the past year. Several of my favorite bloggers have left the scene. Dozens of small blogs I was reading have vanished, or linger with their most recent post more than six months old. What happened to them all? The same thing that happened to me? Did a huge swath of my blogging cohort come down with terminal writer’s block all at once?

Reading half a dozen or so good-bye letters on various blogs, it sure looks that way.

Well. I’m not signing off, though I’ve considered it several times this winter and spring. This might not be an active enough blog to really rate anyone’s professional cred anymore, but it’s still my digital home and the best record my kids will ever have of their childhoods. I’m not a scrapbooker. If they want to know when they learned to walk or lost their first tooth, they’re going to have to wade through all my introspective, funny, emo, boring, magical  writing to find that trivia. That’s just how it is around here: they get my journal entries, so I’d better keep writing ‘em.

I’d like to keep reading too. What am I missing, in the blogosphere? I’m hesitant to say what topics I’m looking for, because what I really want is to be reading great writing on just about any topic. But let’s say I’m more interested in parenting, spirituality, lifehacking, news, feminism, sexuality and humor than I am in cars, tech gossip, music, or home improvements. If you know what I mean.

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  • Brookstar

    I was linked to your blog when you wrote that piece about polyamory. I kept reading because I found your voice so fresh and genuine. I’m thinking of starting a family, and the way you think and the small truths you divulge really resonated with me. While most writing on being a parent almost makes me dread it, you have inspired me and made me smile and also made me realise that I’m in for an adventure that offers great joy and frustration, but is totally worth it. Thank you for continuing. I look forward to it.


    Sierra Reply:

    oh wow, thank you. This totally lifted me up today.


  • http://www.rooteddeeply.com/ Zay

    Sorry to hear you’ve got the blogging blues, Sierra.  You’ve always been my blogging hero, someone who could do it professionally.   I’m not the most dedicated blog reader but when I’ve seen new posts from you on facebook I (clearly) always read them.  It’s been a fun and entertaining way to keep up with you and quietly spy on what being a pagan mama in the modern world looks like.  Someday I may get there myself.

    I took a long hiatus (oh goodness, now that I count the years, it’s been a decade!!) between my days of blogging my travels around the world on LiveJournal and now, when I recently launched a blog of my own at http://www.rooteddeeply.com, largely about life from my pagan point of view as a Reclaiming teacher (I’m teaching at VWC this year!) and professional environmental activist.

    Not sure how well it’s going to do, I’m lacking the magnetic draw of  cute kids.  ;-)  

    I have some hope of it possibly providing a small stream of income for when I’m off at law school in a year’s time, but for right now I’m just getting the writing going and will work on figuring out monetizing it as I go.  Right now I would just like to have readers.  I’d love any feedback and advice you would have to offer!   


    Sierra Reply:

    Thanks for the vote of confidence.

    I think the best way to monetize a blog is to use it as a platform to sell something else. You’re unlikely to make a lot of income off the ad revenue directly on the blog, but you might get a decent side income if you’re selling a book or consulting services or something.
    In terms of boosting readership, you’re doing exactly the right thing: leave thoughtful comments on blogs you read, linking (tastefully) back to your own blog. Participating in the conversation is a great way to get noticed.
    I’m looking forward to reading your work! Good luck with the new blog, and with teaching at VWC.


  • http://www.mutantsupermodel.com/ Mutant Supermodel

    Blogging and personal finance and blogging about personal finance got really trendy, really fast. And why not? With the economy collapsing, many people found themselves with way more free time and with their accounts shriveling up and dying they found themselves looking at finances in a different way.
    That whole thing is dying out now and I think we’re seeing the side effects of that. Social media, I think, is dying too. At least, it’s switching to more visual stories than written ones as evidenced by the ridiculously overwhelming popularity of services like Instagram and Pinterest. 
    I like your blog and it’s sort of not about anything in particular mood lately. But maybe because that’s how mine is. I should do a round up of the blogs I read and why. That’d be fun.


    Sierra Reply:

    It’s a good point. I’ve certainly noticed the shift to visual stuff like Pinterest and Instagram and video blogging: there’s a ton of pressure on me to do that for work. My editors are all about slideshows and pins and I don’t even know what.
    I’m just not that into all that stuff. I like making things with words. Thanks for reading them!


  • http://www.simplysaneparent.com/ Thekla Richter

    I’ve been struggling with my own blogging, too. I had sensed but not fully coalesced the shift you are talking about – thanks for thinking that through and writing about it. I hope to make both my parenting and time management blogs more current soon :)

    I love how genuine and open your writing is and just the way your words flow. I love reading about your daily life, especially the parenting stories. Since my child is younger than yours, I find it inspiring and humbling to ponder how I will someday face these same challenges and think ahead of time about how I might possibly handle them myself. 


    Sierra Reply:

    Thank you! I’m looking forward to reading about your path as it unfolds too. :)


  • Kamela Dolinova

    Not to toot my own horn, but…are you reading my blog?  :)

    Still reading, here, even though infrequent.  *hugs*


  • http://twitter.com/blackgirlinmain Blackgirlinmaine

    I found your blog after the piece on 20/20 and as someone who misses the days when bloggers were writers or aspiring writers, its refreshing to see someone else who just writes. I feel like the last of a dying breed of blogger, so its good to see that I am not alone. I can relate though to the block. 


  • Mel

    Thank you for this not being a goodbye letter. I would thoroughly miss you! I have been reading off-and-on since the flying incident (I can’t remember the airline) and have enjoyed everything you’ve written here – mundane, funny, sweet, thought-provoking, whatever. It’s just a pleasure to read. I love the way you write and perhaps more importantly the way you deal with problems I will probably eventually face with my now 6-month old. I am happy to take you as a good example of parenting, even if our life situations are very different.


    Sierra Reply:

    Thank you!


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