In my four months of medical leave, I did a lot more writing and thinking about writing than I have since Ricardo put an engagement ring on my finger at the first of the year, and we were off running this mad sprint of wedding planning. And all that thinking was beneficial, I hope, except I came away with a lot of lingering questions. Questions that maybe only other writers fully understand, the ones that might bore my readers. So if you can bear with me, and if you have any feedback, please hear me out: I could really use it.
- Like, what makes a blog successful - and for that matter, more successful than another?
- How much of it has to do with good writing, and how much has to do with having enough contacts and visibility, and perhaps most of all, creating a niche for yourself in the big wide expanse of Blogosphere?
- Who are my audience, really? Am I really writing for a wider audience, or am I excluding people, through my language, who I want to draw in?
- Why are so many non-writers writing books and getting published, while I am chomping at the bit to have enough direction for a book project?
- How do I walk this fine line of writing for the sheer joy of the craft, because it's in me and needs to come out, and writing for others - because I want, more than anything, for my words to count for something?
- Do I have what it takes?
To be fair, some answers have emerged over time.
While I may appreciate the overtly Christian blogs and go to them some days for encouragement, the truth is, that's not who I really want to be. My faith and Jesus play a deeply defining role in my writing, for sure, but I yearn to be the kind of writer who can own my faith and at the same time, make an inviting space for those who share differences of faith, politics, worldviews, and opinions. Yes, I have my strong beliefs, but I'm comfortable with them not bleeding out of my writing every chance I get. I don't have all the answers.
I know I'm not a daily-dose-of-inspiration blog. I hope my writing can be inspiring, but I know it's not always in an upbeat way.
While themes like gratitude have been and continue to be foundational to my writing, I don't need or want to be another Ann Voskamp. I can't be. I am indebted to her, and writers like her, for the impact their writing has had in my life, but I am not her or them. I am me. And the world does not need more writers imitating each other.
The blogs I gravitate to most are the ones where writers have distinct, artistic voices. Who are not afraid to be real. Who don't wrap life up in neat little packages. Who inspire, evoke emotion, make me laugh, help me not feel so alone and crazy in my messiness, aren't afraid to be different or rough around the edges, who can be strong in who they are without fitting in a box. I'm not there yet. But this is the kind of writer I aspire to be.
I choose to be a courageous writer, to find my own voice, even while, at times, drawing upon the voices of others who challenge and inspire.
And finally, my niche. I don't have one, in a clearly-defined sense. This is not a mom blog, obviously. It's not a newly-wed blog or a Christian blog or a women's blog. It's not a do-it-yourself blog or artsy-craftsy blog, a food blog or travel blog. So, what is it, then?
The longer I have this blog, the more clearly I see that Beautiful rubbish is an evolving theme. It's about growth and change and healing in the midst of the mundane, seemingly ordinary, painful and dark times of daily living. It's about being real, about learning to see with more than physical eyesight - with eyes of gratitude - to the redemption and beauty that exist even in the messiness. It's about appreciating the simple, everyday joys and gifts of life, whether out in the open or hidden underneath muck and rocks.
And Beautiful rubbish, I can see, is about this sweet intersection between childhood and adulthood; the sacred place where they meet, timeless and ageless and pure. Somehow, I want to focus more on this place, because Lord knows we adults need to remember the child we began as, the one who still lives in us, whether we openly embrace that person or not.
As I wrote the other day, growing up never was meant to grow us away from what first captured our hearts. This is going to be a theme emerging more concretely on this blog.
If this sounds like you, or something that resonates with your heart, then by all means, please hang in with me. I'd love for us to be more of a community.