Feb. 28, Feast of St. Hilary, pope from 461 to 468, and guardian of the Church against the heresy of Monophysitism.
I started blogging back in 2008, on Xanga, because some of my college friends were doing it. After a while, I outstripped them in commitment, and when their accounts had long gone dead, I was still pounding away at the keyboard every day, detailing unnecessarily the ins-and-outs of my daily life. It started as an answer to Ray Bradbury's challenge to write at least 2,000 words a day, but it became a chronicle of my life at the time and a means to shape the person I am today through discussion with and formation by like-minded people and the igniting of lifelong friendships. It also got me in trouble on more than one occasion, for I was eager and honest and loud-mouthed, an idealist who tended to want to pin down "the right answer" to every riddle life presented; that's a fault I'm still struggling with, I'm afraid.
I fell out of Xanga after I graduated college, and gave it up altogether when I went to grad school. Then in 2012, I attended the Catholic Writers Conference online and started to learn about all these things people were expected to do if they wanted to become published authors. One of those things was to start a blog. At the time, I didn't realize that it was meant for the blog to tailor to the exact topic of the would-be published novel, so I started a general lifestyle blog, under the loose genre of "mommy blog," with heavy Catholic and literary tendencies. I read up on how to run a successful blog and how to gain a following. I became an avid reader of other lifestyle/mommy/Catholic/literary blogs.
It wasn't difficult to get back into blogging. I like to write; writing is how I think and how I make connections. Hence why the ideal academic pursuit for this girl is to write long, rambling theses on the hows and wherefores of things other people have already written. I love it. This time, however, because I was not limited to Xanga, I found an even more like-minded community to socialize with on the net. Enter a period of booming internet activity.
Now, writing is my first love, and it's also, I believe, with the unquestionable belief of one who has questioned it for too long, what I was made for. Think of Jonah in the whale, and that's a slightly less troublesome experience than what I've been through to get to this point of acceptance. But just because it's my vocation (other than motherhood, obviously) doesn't mean that it's going to be easy. Our circumstances were such that I didn't have the luxury of pursuing writing as a full-time career because I had to have a way to support myself and my family. All Jonah had to do was agree to be God's messenger, and the whale spit him out. Me, I couldn't live to obey God's will in the first place if I didn't attempt an income.
So, think I, wouldn't it be nice if somehow the two things could be combined? I look around and notice that businesses have spontaneously emerged from successful, casual blogs. There are even those who have gone on to publish books, when publishing a book was never their goal in blogging to begin with. And thus my dilemma: why do I blog? I know I blog because I love it; I love writing, I love sharing, and I love the growth and learning that comes from it. But I can't really blog like I want to (or get on with that first novel, for that matter), if I have financial needs to consider.
It puts me in a weird position: I'd like to make money blogging, even a little, and then eventually have that filter out into publication. But I can't shake the residual feeling that I'm somehow prostituting myself and my talents if I ask for money for it; even if I was going to be doing it anyway, maybe especially if.
The good thing about our upcoming move is that I don't need to work to get by; I've gone back and forth with myself and others about the wholesomeness of depending on the UK welfare state, but the fact of the matter is that nothing can be done about it, so why torment myself? In the meantime, I have a good year or so that I will legally not be allowed to work and still won't have to worry about feeding my family or keeping a roof over our heads. And things have come together in such a way around here that, even if I hadn't been leaving, the jobs I was working would have come to an end pretty soon.
I think the final moment of decision for me was, when looking up an author about a six months back, I came upon a bit of biography that told how, during a time of extreme trial in her life, she resolved to live off of government benefits for a time so that she could write her story; a story that had been wanting to be born for a while, and which, she felt, would never get the chance to live if she didn't write it now.
That author was J.K. Rowling. That story was Harry Potter.
Ultimately, the reason why I blog is this: I have stories to tell. Whether they are stories of daily events, the beauty of the Faith, experiences I want to share in hopes of helping others, or the more sacramental stories, the fairy tales--the ones that take form in the deepest part of my psyche, the imagination, that is most like God.
Readers, thank you for sharing this journey with me. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you to those (you know who you are) who have given financially to ease my earthly burdens. It occurs to me that prayers are certainly no less essential than money; and if I'm not ashamed to ask for prayers, why should I be ashamed to offer a service or skill in exchange for a fair income? I'm still working it out as to how exactly I want to go about doing this, if indeed I still do--since, like I said, at least for a period of time, I'll not have to worry about making a living. But I can't rely on that lasting forever, nor should I.
Still, if it were up to me, I would write and write and never ask for anything in return; because being able to write is itself such a privilege, and a gift I'll never stop thanking God for.
Why do you blog? What keeps you blogging? If you're a blogger who makes money with your blog, how did you come to the decision to monetize it? Do you have any advice for the rest of us?
If you liked reading this, try these posts as well:
Conscientious Blogging // The More Things Change. . . // 10 Tips to Getting Noticed in a Link-Up // Blogging as Community // Getting Back into Rhythm