That’s the general consensus on bloggers who share about their personal lives, right? We don’t “owe” our readers anything? It’s what I’ve heard countless times over the years, anyway: Whenever a reader asks me about a topic I don’t feel comfortable touching – the specifics of my finances, for example, or the precise reasons behind my divorce – other readers will jump in, reminding me that what I choose to share (and not share) is…well, my choice. I don’t owe anyone my story.
Except that’s never how I’ve really felt. I do owe you. So very much. And so what I owe you, right now, is an explanation.
A few weeks ago, I wrote the latest iteration of my “Good-bye, Cruel [Blogging] World” post (and oh, there have been many unpublished versions of this post over the years). It was just as melodramatic as you’d expect, complete with self-indulgent retrospectives and grand declarations and such.
I cried the entire time I wrote it. It felt like I was saying good-bye to a family member. I called Kendrick and cried about it. I called my parents and cried about it. Then I called Erin to cry about it (what can I say? I was in a mood, and apparently that mood was “exhaust your friends and family members via extreme neediness”), and she said, “Stop it. Do not put up that post.”
(Have you noticed how many of my posts involve a friend/relative/therapist telling me to stop it?)
I explained that I was absolutely positive I had to quit RG, because I literally could not homeschool my kids and keep the house together and write my books and do my marketing work and also continue to write for the site every day, or even every few days. If the site was still the bulk of my income, it’d be another story, but as is…I just have to put my time where it’s most needed. (That said, if we’re being completely honest, I think I was arguing the case for publishing that post for the simple reason that it was written, and I was too tired to write anything else.)
“Jordan,” she said, “If you can’t write right now, don’t write right now. Nobody needs an explanation.”
She was right, of course: We’re all working at approximately 1/one zillionth capacity, and I’m aware that nobody is sitting around thinking, “Ugh, that work-from-home mother currently homeschooling her two children is being such a SLACKER.” Not to mention the fact that I highly doubt that there is anyone out there frantically refreshing their browser, desperately awaiting the next Ramshackle Glam post; we all have slightly more important matters on our minds right now than Jordan’s Thoughts On Things. (Except for maybe my mom. Sorry, Mom.)
And besides, as Erin also reminded me, a pandemic is not an especially good time to make life-changing decisions of the sort that have the potential to derail a business you’ve spent the last decade of your life building. So although I may have to publish the flounce post I wrote someday – if only because the level of histrionics is pretty entertaining – on that day I didn’t. I didn’t publish anything else, either.
Guess what? The sky didn’t fall.
So. It’s clear that I’ve had to reallocate how I spend my days due to changes in both my industry and my living situation; that much I’ve said. But there’s one more reason I’ve dialed it so far back lately.
For a few months now, I haven’t wanted to write. It’s felt like a chore. Writing has almost never felt like a chore to me; it’s felt almost as necessary as breathing. I remember, in my early days of blogging, literally shooting up out of bed in the middle of the night and running to the little desk that stood in the hallway next to our front door, because I couldn’t wait one more second to get the words out. I haven’t gone shooting out of bed like that in a long, long time.
Maybe it’s just because I’ve already said so much. Maybe there’s just nothing left for me to say.
Except there’s this.
I’ve been struggling with insomnia lately: Wandering around the house until all hours of the night, listening to podcasts and eating ice cream in a desperate bid to find The Thing That Will Knock Me Out. The last couple of nights it’s happened again – the not-sleeping – but both times there was something different about it. I didn’t feel anxious, or depleted. Suddenly I realized what had changed: My brain wasn’t restless, like it usually is when I can’t sleep. It was active.
I have this idea, you see. For a book.
And now I am awake at 3AM for the first time in years, notebook in hand, writing furiously because I’m suddenly – once again – filled to bursting. I feel like a writer. I feel like me.
So, here it is: I am taking…let’s call it a “semi-sabbatical.” I’m going to write about things on RG when I want to – if I read some cool books I think you’ll enjoy hearing about, or come up with a fun new decor trick. But my heart – that heart that I’ve laid open for the inspection of whomever cares to explore it for over a decade – is going to turn inwards. Towards my writing, and my children, and myself. And the words that I write during this time: I’m going to keep them to myself for awhile, too.
I’m also going to try my hand at a heretofore unexplored concept called “simply living my life.” I hope I can do it; I’m pretty out of practice. But I think I can.
Don’t worry, though, I’ll be back; I never have been able to stay away from this place for long. And when I do return…I mean, you never know.
I might just find I have something brand-new to say.