I’ve been trying to write this post for at least three months. First I started talking about it with people. Then in fits and stops I started putting down words, but I could never bring myself to publish it or even get very far in the writing because I didn’t like what I had to say.
To put it bluntly: The blog community feels different to me. And not in a great way. To any of us who have also been feeling this dis-ease, I really do think we’ll find our way out of it and into something that feels welcoming. So this isn’t a goodbye at all, but it is a plea of sorts: I’m not the only one who feels this way am I?
Let me back up: Since 2006, Pink of Perfection has given me a reason to write and an audience of women who care about the tiny details of everyday life, just life I do, and want to make them resonate with art, friendship, and meaning. That alone has been more amazing than I ever thought having a blog could be.
Plus, it was fun. I liked seeing what people were cooking for dinner, what they were reading, what clothes they were thinking about buying. Even when we were striving for something more, our blogs felt rooted in reality, in something true.
And then Pinterest came along and the line between the real life and art directed-photo shoots got blurred. The number of images we were consuming multiplied by a billion. The internet, which had once seemed to me like a cozy, welcoming home of real voices, turned into a hall of mirrors. Everywhere we look, it seems, is something to aspire to: a better wardrobe, a better dinner, better snapshots of that dinner, better blog design, a better home. And the effect isn’t inspiring to me, it’s exhausting. My life does not look like that, even at its best, we think. And more than once it has made me stop and look at the photo I snapped of a simple steak dinner on Saturday night and think twice about posting it to this blog. It rained that night and we stayed home and sat at the dining room table and listened to B.B. King and laughed about something I can’t remember. I felt that I was home, that I was in love, and that the moment, despite a blemish on my cheek or a leak in the bathroom or a kitchen made messy from the cooking, was right. But my photo was kind of crappy, didn’t have fresh flowers in the frame or a burlap sack on the table, and definitely wasn’t anointed with clear, white sunlight. And so I didn’t even bother.
When Ez of Creature Comforts wrote about this very thing on her blog months ago, a chorus of voices rose up to agree. I nodded my head silently, but only to myself. I didn’t want to bring it up here. I didn’t know how to say that the world that once made me feel creative, supported, and inspired now made me feel sad and stunted. Moreover, I didn’t want to say it, because I didn’t want it to be true. I kept waiting for the feeling to pass. That feeling created weeks of quiet here that I felt guilty about, and now that I feel I’m getting my voice back, that I’m ready to start talking again, I feel strangely tentative and self-conscious. Who of my tribe is still out there?
Which maybe brings up a bigger question: Do we want the same thing from blogs we used to? What do we want from blogs? I find myself more than ever drawn to personal blogs that I want to read, not just scan for pictures: Remedial Eating, Elise Blaha, Fresh Basil, Amy Estes, Abby Try Again, Cake, Tea, and Dreams. I want beautiful, honest writing, a moment of connection, a great idea, a good suggestion, a pretty experience. It doesn’t have to be Real Simple-pretty. Just pleasing. As the blogging space has turned more pro (which, by the way, I think is a wonderful, wonderful thing. Talented people should make money doing what they love; we should all be so lucky.), I find myself especially drawn to these authentic voices.
So here’s what I’ve come up with as my way out of the yucky feeling. My homework online is the same as my homework in the world at large. Ironically, it’s something I learned on Pinterest. And that site, filled with beautiful images and quotes with often dubious attribution, is not the bad guy, nor are beautifully aspirational, slick, hugely popular pro blogs. But there are more of us than ever at this party, and the volume level is rising to a din. My job is to listen for my own voice, to connect with all of you, who I feel so honored and excited to have as readers, and to keep looking for the bits of magic in the everyday––not on someone else’s blog, not on Pinterest, and not in my imagined version of their life–– but in my very own life.
And so I’ll try.