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Pickle Me This

January 28, 2019

Can You Tell I’m Turning 40?

I bought a Brené Brown book a couple of weeks ago, in case it wasn’t totally obvious that I’m turning forty in the next six months and am currently experiencing a mild case of the kind of existential crisis that necessitates some reinvention. Although I must confess that I am not finding the book (Daring Greatly) to be such a revelation. As anyone who has read my blog for five minutes can attest, I don’t have a problem with being vulnerable, and perfectionism has never been a force that I’ve had to go to battle with in any part of my life. Instead, it’s with “imperfectionism” that I’ve found my strength as a creative person during the last decade, as a blogger in particular. Which is mostly the art of being a human—and I excel at that. (We all do.)

But what has prompted my mild crisis is the dawning awareness (which I alluded to in my ambivalent post about your stupid bullet journal) that imperfectionism has its limits too, and that it’s possible to be using it as a kind of a cover, a retreat. An excuse to not to bother to be any more ambitious, because that’s just not my brand, man. Because brands are not my brand, man, which is fine, but what if part of the reason I’m so comfortable being merely good-enough/imperfect and not having to make the effort is not so much because effort is distasteful, but because I’m afraid of trying and failing and having everybody see? Because I’m scared of trying to figure out a new path forward, of stumbling and making mistakes in public view. All those things that I’ve been able to counsel writers through with blogging—I’m comfortable showing my process here—but I’ve been hesitant to apply the same lessons in other areas of my life. Now I’m turning forty, however, and I think it’s finally time.

In the last ten years, without deliberateness and mostly due to persistence, luck and a passion for books that is as organic as gut bacteria, I’ve been able to create a unique place for myself as a writer, as a reader, as a reviewer, and a literary critic. It’s a place that I’m amazed by now, by the opportunities and connections I’ve been able to experience, and I’m grateful for all of it. But this place is also a tricky kind of place as well, because I’m not just a reader, I’m not just a writer, I’m not really an editor, I’m not just a blogger, I’m not simply an impartial critic, and I’m not a proper journalist either. And my failure to fit properly into these pigeonholes (in a newspaper/magazine/publishing industry that has fewer and fewer opportunities to offer all the time) has bothered me, and made me feel like I was doing everything wrong sometimes, made me feel like the space I’ve come to inhabit as a writer and a reader is the problem after all.

But it’s only a problem if I’m sitting around waiting for other people to deliver me opportunities, you see? Which is why I’ve decided on a new approach for a new year and a new decade, why I’ve decided to finally begin work on projects I’ve been wanting to do for years, why I am going to start being more deliberate and entrepreneurial in my professional life—because the unique place I’m in also offers opportunities. And my blog will be the centre of that—it’s been the centre of everything. Part of my distance from my blog last fall was because it felt like undervaluing my thoughts and ideas to be publishing them here rather than on a more legitimate publishing outlet. But then why wasn’t I feeling that way about the thoughts and ideas I was posting to Twitter and Facebook? This question clarified so much to me. What if, instead of composing Twitter threads and having Facebook arguments with your weird cousin, I was posting here instead? The back-to-the-blog movement, as I wrote the other week. It all coalesces here. I still love writing for magazines and newspapers, and the opportunity to work with editors, but what if I stopped looking at blogging as a kind of defeat. What if I worked to build my audience here, to build my newsletter, perhaps to have non-annoying advertising and make some revenue there? To build on something that is mine.

I am so excited about blogging right now. Yesterday I said that to my husband, about how on Sunday I look out at the week ahead and all the things I plan to write about—I wasn’t feeling so inspired a few months ago. But I really am now, with a renewed appreciation for the kind of space a blog can be, and a certainty that we need blogs more than we ever have—which makes it advantageous that I’m finally planning to launch an online blogging course in September. The Pickle Me This Blog School is in the works and I look forward to applying what I’ve learned from nearly twenty years of blogging and eight years of teaching blogging to show people how to create a blog that fits their lives and even makes life richer.

I’m also going to be working to engage people to connect with writing and storytelling in other ways, to inspire them to find and make time/space in their lives for books and reading. Partly through what I’ve always done via my blog and other platforms, but with other projects and initiatives as well, plans I’m hatching now. And I hope that you’ll be excited (and inspired!) too as it all starts to come together.

11 thoughts on “Can You Tell I’m Turning 40?”

  1. Erin says:

    Looking forward to the online course. I’ve wanted to start a blog for some time and felt it was too late. After some major upheavals and stress in life and inspired by today’s and “the back to the blog movement post” I really dont care if I’m too late – thank you for your post!

    1. Kerry says:

      That is so exciting to hear! Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

  2. Beth Kaplan says:

    Hooray for you!

    1. Kerry says:

      Thank you!

  3. Sara says:

    Kerry, 40 is the best. You are coming into your own! That’s a weird sentence when you stop to look at it but it is completely true. Enjoy your year and I can’t wait to see what you do with it.

    1. Kerry says:

      Thank you! I am also pretty pleased about it. I have basically been a middle-aged woman since I was seven, so it feels good to finally fit the part.

      1. melanie says:

        You are hilarious.

  4. melanie says:

    I think part of my ambivalence was thinking I should be doing MORE with my writing instead of putting it online. But I never had a problem putting it online before and I’m going to just go for it. I’m excited about writing again and thinking about all of the things I want to write about and throwing it out there into the ether and hope that something sticks. I kept thinking I needed to write a collection of essays about parenting with cancer but basically that is what my blog is and it’s okay that no one pays me for it – even though it would be nice to once again have an income of my own. It is a tricky thing to navigate with my health issues because I hate being unreliable. And see, right there is a whole blog post I should be writing about.

    1. Sarah says:

      Melanie, I love your idea of just going for it! I tend to worry and overthink things far too much. I have been so inspired this week by you and Kerry and others. So let’s just keep this up and cheer each other on!

      1. Kerry says:

        Overthinking is anathema to blogging…

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