Well, I’ve had nearly a month’s hiatus from blogging, after only starting up for just as long prior. Not exactly a stellar beginning, is it?
I’d like to say I’ve been off doing something really useful and exciting; contributing to my community, running marathons, fundraising and spinning class and the like, but obviously that would be utter bullshit. What I’ve actually been doing is this: working like a dog all day, getting home and scrambling to cook a meal and then wrestling a half feral pre-schooler in to bed over a period of several hours. And then collapsing in front of the telly.
This is obviously the trap I was trying to escape when I started up this blog. I was tired of wasting my life in a dull job that doesn’t appreciate me and spending every waking hour cooking, cleaning, working, mummy-ing or lapsing in and out of a coma on the sofa. I didn’t think that was any way to live, and I needed to get my shit together (I still think that) but had gotten so out of touch with who I was and what I enjoy that I didn’t know where to begin. I felt a hobby was in order, but one that fit within the confines of parenthood and work slavery (read: something that doesn’t require you to leave the house, make too much mess, or take up too much space) Writing seemed like a natural step, even though I had no idea what I wanted to write about and who I wanted to write to. And so, Lizzie’s Room was born.
This blog has been a gargantuan learning curve for me. I can use a Word program to type, and that’s about it. Starting up self hosted absolutely scrambled my brain and made me want to sack it off all together. I tried to reason with myself that I would learn and things would get easier, and mostly I’ve found that to be true. It’s tricky though; there’s plenty of ‘blogging for dummies’ type articles out there, but these guides generally assume you’ve got some sort of working knowledge about the bare bones of blogging. What if you don’t even know what a Plugin or a Widget is? Or, you don’t even know what SEO is, let alone understand why it’s bollocking you all the time for various indiscretions and sending you emails telling you how shitty your blog is. I found this sort of thing incredibly frustrating, as probably 10% of blogging actually seems to involve writing. The rest is faffing around with internet stuff and programs and all sorts of other stuff that started to feel a little bit like hard work. This was Strike One.
Strike Two came when I realised that blogging is not as free and easy as I imagined. I envisioned a platform for epic rants, hilarious (scathing, most likely) diatribes about work, spilling the beans about all sorts of crazy stuff that’s happened to me over the past couple of years (honestly. Get me drunk and I’ll tell you about it. You’ll burst in to flames immediately) and linking up to all sorts of websites and things that I love. However, (and I do realise this is probably for my own good) it turns out there can be consequences for the things you throw out in to the big bad web (who knew?!). I was advised that under no circumstances should you blog about your work. Ever. I was really gutted about this, because my job is insane and for all its shortcomings, could probably provide me with a lifetime of material. Not allowed. Even though I write under a pseudonym? Even though I wouldn’t directly name my employer? Nope. It’s just not cricket, apparently. People have lost their jobs over this sort of thing.
Okay, what about my marriage? We’ve been through a hell of a lot, and motherhood did sort of turn it on its head and pretty much everything that could go wrong in a marriage did go wrong; I feel I’ve rather a lot to say on the subject. But is it worth it? My blog isn’t a filthy secret I want to hide from my spouse, who would probably not appreciate me airing our dirty laundry in the public domain. I’ve then also set myself up for never wanting any actual real live human beings that know me finding out about this blog either, never mind the imminent risk of divorce. So relationship blogging is out.
Right then, I thought, I’ll keep this really wholesome and just write about mummy stuff, and cooking and the like. Except I can’t post a great new recipe I have found without either changing it and passing it off as my own, or, if I’m being really good, crediting the author (this is sometimes easier said than done-I remember spending many hours googling the process Jamie Oliver would want you to go through should you wish to publish his recipes before giving up and posting a link-probably also not allowed). There’s a whole lot of copyright shit you’ve got to think about, and this extends to pictures, which you’ll need to get hold of somehow if you’re relying on a crappy iPhone for your images. It’s hard work sorting it all out. Speaking of crappy shit, I’ve also been advised not to swear in my writing: it hasn’t worked out well.
The Final Strike was this: The Hustle.
Obviously, I do want people to read my blog, otherwise I feel a little like I’m talking to myself. I love to write, I want to keep doing it, and it feels great when people enjoy what you’ve written. But what I don’t love is The Hustle. By this I mean endlessly reposting your links on twitter, agonising over which hashtags will draw you the most punters, obsessing over followers. Spending ages analysing data about who is clicking on your links, where you are on Google, how to get more hits. Talk about chasing the dragon. You have to work your arse off to get your blog noticed, and I have nothing but respect for those who have made a success out of doing so, but I just can’t be arsed with this sort of pressure. It stresses me out, and getting stressed out is not why I started doing this. I’m not in it to make money (however, if you wish to give me money, that would be just tremendous). I did find myself getting a little caught up in this, researching plug-ins to repost my stuff at all hours of the night, that little rush when you get a new follower. It feels good. The truth is, I will never measure up in this regard because I just haven’t got the commitment, and so if I keep up with this I will always come up short and wind up with some sort of complex.
And so, that’s why I took a break. It was just starting to feel like hard work, and I work bloody hard enough as it is.
So, where do I go now? Turns out this hasn’t been a waste of time, because I have discovered I actually do like writing and it feels good to have produced something I did all on my own. I missed keeping up with Lizzie’s Room, and that alone has shown me that it’s worth sticking out. I’ll be removing the pressure though. I’d be a crap mummy blogger, and I’m not witty enough to be pure comedy gold and I’m not dedicated enough to turn this into a commercial venture. I’m just going to write about whatever I like, whenever I can. I’m still in search of creativity (I’ve actually done quite a few cool crafty things lately that I’ll blog about another time), I still want to work out who I am and what I like. I’ll do reviews of things I love and tell you about great recipes I’ve discovered and cool things to try, and I’ll do my very best not to break any laws in the process.
No promises, though.