I’ve been doing some soul-searching lately. I still haven’t found mine. I think I left it somewhere in Monticello, Indiana. And that has everything to do with this post.
I posted Ice Box and now I’m locked in a battle with Past Jeff. Now I can’t seem to write a thing.
I wrote Ice Box to fulfill a college assignment. Before kids. Before I had my first full-time writing job. Before blogging became the leading cause of thought pollution. When all I cared about was appeasing a prof for an A. I got the A.
After that, Ice Box sat frozen in time on my flash drive. A time capsule full of reflections of a simpler life. Unchanged by the world twirling around it.
While it sat there, we launched my career, tripled our mortgage, and had three kids–and not in that order. We also blindly charged forward and launched two blogs before answering the simple questions: Why are you launching a blog? Or two? It’s the sort of thing you settle before you plop down money for a domain name. Or a hosting service. Or a WordPress theme. But we didn’t. We just figured we’d figure it out.
The earliest notion of this blog was to to document our unschooling family’s journey to independence. I wanted to call it The Terrybles. And Jill was supposed to have complete creative control over it, including doing a majority of the writing.
You can see how that turned out. I got to write everything except for the name.
Actually, there is ONE POST on this site written by Jill. Just one. If you can figure out which one, leave the name of the post in the comments below.The first person to identify it gets an autographed picture from my high school years.
- I spouted nonsense
- it kept me from putting any time or effort toward J+JWUTH. And Jill hates to write. Her thoughts don’t line up nicely. They have a fear of commitment. They don’t respect the authority of the Central Idea. And they’re restless–unable to sit still long enough to get on the same page.
That meant that this blog just sat there.
Then one weekend Jill went away with the kids. I was alone and cleaning our home in the manliest way possible. But the silence. The shadows and laughs the kids weren’t throwing against the walls.
I stopped cleaning long enough to write KIDS LIVE HERE. I put it on J+J even though that was Jill’s turf and she didn’t assign the post to me. I put it on J+J because it was sweet and thoughtful and didn’t fit jeffingoff.
Then I kept going. I began putting all my new words on this blog and I slowly abandoned jeffingoff. I poured out about 70 posts. I made some incredible friends. I joined some groups. I cobbled together a Facebook page. I began getting serious about blogging.
And that meant I had to have a point–a response to the simple question “What’s your blog about?” So I asked myself:
Is this going to be an unschooling blog? No. I don’t really want to preach and evangelize our lifestyle and battle trolls. I’m happy to share my beliefs, but people get real defensive if they think you’re questioning theirs–even when you’re not.
Will it be a daddy blog? No. I LOVE being a dad but I’m not ready to be a crusader for father’s issues. I don’t want to be a Dadtivist in a movement of men rampaging across the internet under a banner that reads “OH YEAH?? I CAN LOVE MY KID JUST AS MUCH AS A WOMAN!”
What about a DIY blog? No, I can’t do anything myself. Travel blog? Nah, I only go to work and then home. Politics? HELL no. Coffee blog? Maybe.
The answer remained elusive. But when I stopped looking for the tidy response, the category that would satisfy someone else’s understanding of what I was writing, when I stopped asking myself what the blog should be and instead asked: what is it? I found all kinds of answers. It’s an outlet. A community. An apology. An absurdity. It’s a braincation. A sounding board. A coping mechanism. A historical family document. It’s a fiction. Some of it, anyway. I hope I don’t need to tell you that At The Petting Zoo never happened. It’s a comedy. Humanity. Life. A series of observations. A distraction. A moment away from whatever you need a moment away from. It’s a search for meaning. It’s a hope. It is whatever it is to whoever is reading it at the time.
Those answers satisfied me. I found my why. I had just accepted who I am as a blogger when I posted Ice Box. People reacted differently to that one. They thought it was better. More intimate. More expressive, emotive, nostalgic. They wanted more like that. And I agreed with them. Positioned next to all my latest writing, the writing shaped by the changes in my life, I could see a clear difference in style with Ice Box. It didn’t feel rushed or self-aware. It felt honest, natural, and good. And it really made me stop what I was doing and recalibrate. I needed to slow down and be more intentional about what I posted.
For me, it defined my mindset–the difference between how I approached my blogging and my writing.
Blogging is real time. Writing is timeless.
Blogging is a conversation. Writing is an immersion.
Blogging is a flash. Writing is a simmer.
Blogging has a set perspective. Writing is open to interpretation.
Blogging is crowded. Writing is intimate.
Blogging is personality-driven. Writing is inspiration-led.
The best bloggers blur that line. They create moments for their readers that last beyond moments. And I don’t aim to be the best blogger–just a better one.
It’s why I’m going to BlogU. It’ll be my first ever blogging conference. It’ll help me better define my why, my what, and most importantly to me–my how.
I’m so glad you’re here. I’m thrilled about what this moment means.
I hope you’ll stay and laugh with me.