I’ve never considered myself a writer. Either in passion or practice, I’ve never felt like I could lay claim to that title.
Maybe it’s because I have such high regard for the work of a writer. I’ve spent my life surrounded by words–first as a reader, then as a student, and now in my adult profession, the work of writers have created my safe havens throughout my years. I have utmost respect for the art and the craft, the dedication and effort that writers put into their work.
Me? I play fast and loose with the ellipses and dashes. I overuse commas. My grammar leaves a LOT to be desired. I rarely edit my most personal work–in fact, if I leave things to be edited and revised, I rarely hit publish. I prefer the method of letting my brain leak out of my fingers and hoping for the best. In fact, some of my favorite posts have come from twenty minute writing sessions and hitting publish before my lunch hour is up. There is no craft, there is no discipline–but there are words.
For a long time, I made certain to make the distinction between what I do and what writers do. I BLOG. They WRITE. You know, capital W write. There are bloggers who are capital W writers, of course, but I…I am not one of them. Yes, I blog about my life. Yes, I tell stories. Yes I try to connect with people. Yes, I use words to do that. But that’s just what blogging IS to me, you know? That’s not WRITING.
But I’ve realized lately that that’s NOT what it is to everyone. More and more, I feel like that’s a very small part of what blogging is in this brave new world of ours. It seems like the pool of bloggers is getting exponentially bigger, but the percentage of bloggers who talk and story tell isn’t growing at the same rate. The growth seems to be in the areas that allow for money making and less in the areas that pay dividends in connections, lighter loads, and “I’m not the only one” moments.
That’s not to say no one’s writing. There are lots of fabulous, wonderful, amazing writers who are blogging out there. I read a LOT of those amazing folks. But I don’t feel like it’s always as easy to find NEW story-tellers. And why would it? Back in the day (when I just read blogs, but didn’t write them), you could become a “popular” blogger by being a damn fine writer, and telling damn fine stories. You could make money just by being yourself. You could actually make something of the idea that “if you write it, they will come.”
Now, though, that’s a rarity. We know too much about stats and SEO and analytics. We know too much about personal branding and media kits. We know too much about how much money is out there–and what it takes to get it. And while it used to take putting some ads in your sidebar, now it takes more. More of you. More of your voice. More of your online space. More of your precious time and energy. So how do you tell stories if you’re busy with all the rest?
My time at BlogHer solidified something for me though. None of that is why I blog. It’s not why I’ve spent almost three years at this little piece of the internet. Oh sure, I write informational posts (about blogging, or publishing, or marketing). I may write the (very) occasional sponsored post. And I do actually have some plans to put up ads at some point. But BlogHer made it clear to me that I’m not able to do what a lot of people do (well!) to make significant money at this, or to garner significant popularity. I don’t begrudge their success, but it’s not what brings me joy about blogging. My joy comes not from promises of a payday or stardom but from sharing.
I read blogs to hear your story, and I blog to tell my story.
So I’m definitely a reader. And, at least some of the time, maybe I am a writer after all.