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Pickle Me This

September 24, 2019

Preoccupations

In my blogging life, I’ve made a point of trying not to apologize for the focus of my posts. I think that a sustainable blog should be about what one’s life is about, or even that it has to be about that in order to be sustainable. So we shouldn’t worry about our blogs being all about our new babies, or our illnesses, or vacations, at least not if these are what our lives are all about. Whatever our preoccupations: we get to blog them. And for me, lately, those preoccupations have been all the things that I’m making—Blog School, Briny Books, and working on revising my novel, which is due partway through October. The novel in particular, which I’m focussing on for 90 minutes every weekday by blocking social media apps on my phone and my laptop and getting down to business. I spent most of last week making notes on my manuscript, adding my editor’s with them, asking questions, and suggesting possibilities. Kind of like marking out the space in a field where the work must be done, where to get digging, and this week that work has begun in earnest, and I love it. This might be my favourite part of the entire novel writing process (but then I think I say that about every part of the novel writing process). Still discovery, just as the first draft is, but instead of discovering plot points and twists, I’m discovering patterns and connections that I might not have seen the first time around. Adding depth and texture to the story I’m telling, and so much it seems like it’s beyond my control. As though I’m merely a conduit. Such as the part I figured out yesterday, the familiar and yet archaic word that my character ponders the meaning of. I don’t actually know the meaning either, so I looked it up, and the definition of the word turned out to be precisely one of the central images of the entire book, as revealed in the final third. I had no idea, but the book knew. And my job at the this point is just to let all these connection happen and allow the light to come through.

September 12, 2019

What Kind of Blogger Are You?

I made a quiz: What Kind of Blogger Are You?

And okay, to say there are but five kinds of bloggers is definitely reductive, but I give you these five different kinds of bloggers just to demonstrate how divergent people’s different approaches to blogging can be. And to emphasize that these five categories aren’t meant to be the end of the question of “how should I blog?” but instead the beginning of a process of the blogger gaining a broader understanding of their approach to and vision for their blog and then daring to venture forth to make/design/shape a blog that suits one’s own creative purposes and even makes one’s experiences richer.

Project-Adjacent Blogger: Your ideal blog is part of another project that you’re working on—this is great for artists, writers, or entrepreneurs. You use your blog to keep track of your progress, to share interesting ideas and revelations about your work, and to incite interest in your project. (You can also do this kind of blogging on your social media platforms.) Your blog can be easy to maintain because—ideally—your central project delivers you content all the time and it can fit nicely into your schedule. Your blog can also help you maintain your passion, connect with a like-minded audience, and think through problems with whatever it is you’re working on.

A Long-Form Blogger: Brevity is not for you, and Twitter is stupid and exhausting. No, your blog is all about depth and connections and who says that a blog can’t have footnotes! You’re driven to write your posts by genuine passion and curiosity, though you must be careful to pace yourself and not become too overwhelmed by the labour of your blog. You love that the work you’re doing on your blog (deep and thoughtful) runs counter to everything that’s so terrible about the internet. You do remember to break up your posts with images, however, with makes them much more reader-friendly. You might want to think about offering readers the alternative of receiving your posts via email as well, so check out some newsletter platforms.

A News-and-Updates Blogger: Truth: you’re just not that keen on blogging. And that’s okay! But it’s great to have an easily-updatable part of your website and having a blog helps your website’s search engine rankings too. You update your blog when you have news to share or an event to publicize. For you, the blog is a very practical tool.

A Dispatches Bloggers: Your blog is where you report back from the front, whether that front is an exotic locale (maybe you’re a travel blogger!) or from amidst a pile of dirty laundry (maybe you’re a mommy blogger!). Your blog is a way for you to stay connected with people in other places, and deliver the news of how it is where you are. Your posts are usually brief but frequent, and some readers might find them mundane, but those readers are not your readers then. One day you will look back and be very grateful for the record you’ve kept of this time in your life (instead of just posting your story as a Facebook update and sending it out into the ether…).

A Kitchen Sink Blogger: And by “kitchen sink,” of course, we mean “everything but the…” Your blog is an array of your fascinations and your preoccupations—it’s all a bit random, but YOU are the through-line. It’s a bit self-indulgent, but shouldn’t any unpaid labour be just that? This kind of blog is especially interesting (and radical) in a moment where online identifies are supposed to be tidy and streamlined. But not you—you’re keeping the internet interesting. And what an excellent public service that is!

Okay, LESS than one week away now—but there is still time to register for BLOG SCHOOL before the official launch and receive a 15% discount with code *earlybird*.

August 23, 2019

The Opposite of Scrolling

True confession: I don’t have that experience that so many people describe of social media, how scrolling through your feed just makes you feel like your own experience is inadequate, because you don’t go on fancy vacations and have never had the means to hire a decorator, and have never once had your photo taken in a field of sunflowers.

And yes indeed, part of the reason I don’t feel those feelings of inadequacy is because I have a pretty nice life, with health and happiness—I am also RIDICULOUSLY good looking, but that’s another story*—even if I’ve never had the means to hire a decorator and while we once did indeed visit a lavender field, all the plants had been stunted by a late season frost.

(I suspect it also helps that I tend to follow real humans whose photos were not all professionally shot on a mountain top during golden hour. #SponsoredPost #Partnership #SoBlessed)

But that’s only part of it. A huge reason why I tend to have a positive experience on social media is because, like many others, I don’t use these platforms passively, but instead I engage with them in an active way. I post photos, tell stories, reach out to friends, solicit feedback, share jokes, and heartaches, frustrations, insights and ideas. Each of my posts, no matter the platform, a kind of message in a bottle—except that it’s different from a bottle for the likelihood I’m going to get some kind of response.

And it’s that response I’m looking for, actually, every time I log in to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram—the first thing I do is check my notifications. (Not unrelated: turning OFF all notification alerts, so that I ACTIVELY have to seek them out, has improved my quality of life. So does not having Twitter or Facebook on my phone.)

So that what I get from social media (when I seek it out. Being deliberate is important) is actually community, genuine connections, friendship and support. And yes, I also want to see photos of your vacation, but it’s easier to not feel depressed when you’re in Hawaii and I’m in Toronto and it’s February when I don’t feel like I’m utterly alone in the world and also when I can scroll back and see a photo of the pretty mug of hot chocolate I posted yesterday. (Instagram is also about the beauty of small things and quiet moments. This matters to me a lot.)

I first started thinking about this the other week while I was listening to this radio interview with Mark Kingwell (“Canadian philosopher Mark Kingwell examines the idea of boredom and our digital devices”) about the dangers of passive scrolling. Kingwell says, “We’re not participants; we’re lab rats and the advertisers are gathering our data, and they’re feeding it back to us in forms like triangulation of desire. They are treating us as resources and they don’t care about you as an individual. They care about your data and about your preferences. So yes I do think that all kind of feeds back.”

But when you do participate, you complicate things with your humanness. (When you participate by blogging on your own website, you complicate things even more, and challenge the idea that the web is a corporate space wholly navigable by algorithm, and this is no small thing!) The opposite of passive is active, and the opposite of scrolling is creation. Yes, for some the answer might be to disconnect from social media and online life altogether, but for most of us something more nuanced is required. (Jenny Odell writes about this splendidly in How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy.) The answer is first to be more conscious of how we use our attention online. The second answer to aspire to have a rich and engaged life off the internet. And the third is to be an active participant in online culture. Stop scrolling, and make stuff.

Because you’re Somebody. In fact, we all are.

And even better? I really believe that being an active participant in online culture can improve other parts of your experience IRL. (This is what I mean when, in my blogging course, I talk about how having a blog can make your life richer.) Yes, much of online experience is aspirational, but I think it’s weird that we wholly dismiss aspiration as a bad thing. How can it be, really, if these aspirations are ones it’s possible to realize?

There are so many books I’ve read, and places I’ve visited, cakes I’ve baked, and things I have seen that have been so incredible to experience—things I never would have known about if I hadn’t seen them on Instagram first.

I also remember in the months after my first child was born, when I was (though this was only evident to me in retrospect) deeply unhappy and the online images I was presented with of “perfect motherhood” didn’t actually make me feel less-than, but made me better, that a life beyond “lying on the floor half-naked and weeping” was actually possible. It was important for me to believe that it was, that one day I’d get dressed again.

So many times, the things I’ve seen online have kicked my ass (in the best way) and forced me to get out there in the world.

Because the world is interesting, but also because, otherwise I’d have nothing to blog about, to write about, to post about. And yes, there was that vastly overpriced soft-serve place near my house whose ice cream cones looked fabulous in my Insta-feed, but didn’t taste any better than an ice cream a quarter of the price that came off a truck—but that place actually went out of business. And it’s really not all as superficial as that.

What would happen if you went out of your way to find a flower to photograph tomorrow?


“*I am also RIDICULOUSLY good looking, but that’s another story” is my favourite joke, by the way. Because being the opposite of self-deprecating when you’re a perfectly normal looking middle-aged woman is as subversive as it gets, actually. Every time I utter this sentence, the world shifts a little bit. ESPECIALLY since I really do like the way I look, and remember why I do? Because of selfies, of course. Posting online: it really can be good for you.

August 15, 2019

Immediacy

I’m really terrible at Instagram. Or rather, I’m totally amazing at Instagram, were Instagram a blog circa 2004. I share too much; cannot hold back; it’s sometimes poorly lit and totally unfiltered—well, except the photos of me in the yellow locker room first thing in the morning, which are what filters were made for, aesthetics are not central to the experience, the colours clash, and my face is everywhere. You either like it, or you don’t.

But I love it. For me, my Instagram is an extension of my blog for sure, the place where my most mundane and curious content has migrated. It’s a scrapbook of my days, my moments, and it’s also got the community component that blogs had circa 2004, people I’ve never met who feel like my friends. And there are certainly things I’ve posted on Instagram that have turned into actual blog posts, but just extended. Sometimes Instagram is where the thought begins.

It’s the immediacy of Instagram (and blogging) that I love, the Insta-ness. It’s the insta that makes the whole project worthwhile. Although there is actually very little that’s insta about Instagram anymore, now that the feed is algorithmic instead of chronological, and we’re all supposed to schedule our posts for optimum brand engagement. But I refuse to be a brand, and keep on insisting on being an actual, real live and moderately-flawed human being. Not for everyone—and that’s okay.

How can you even schedule a blog post, or an instagram post? For me, blogging has always been about the moment, capturing the atoms as they fall (to paraphrase Virginia Woolf). Right now as I’m scrambling to write this down with twenty minutes to spare before we tumble out the door and onto the subway to meet friends for a picnic. Context is everything, and so is (I suppose) exuberance, which is what leads me to post nine photos in a row in a single afternoon, an effort to (impossibly) capture every single angle.

This green, this light. How it was exactly. (And now it’s gone. But not entirely.)

August 7, 2019

Get Excited and Make Things

Once upon a time, we had a sign on our fridge that said, “Get Excited and Make Things,” and I have no idea where it came from, but apparently the meme originated in a 2009 Will Wheaton blog post, and the sign was stuck on our fridge with a magnet for years. Coming down at some point, but the sentiment lives on, and I think it might have become our family motto, if the enormous piles of stuff on my children’s crafting table are any indication.

But it’s a sentiment I believe in, and one I clung to as I entered 2019 feeling somewhat dispirited, mostly because I didn’t have much to feel excited about. Excitement is my driving force, and I didn’t know what to do with the year that lay ahead, in which no plans and schemes were being hatched, so I decided to make some. I went back to the blog, remember? And I made Briny Books and Blog School (with the help of my husband who built the websites for both—it’s a family motto, remember?), and now my little world is overflowing with things to be excited about, and I’ve got butterflies in my stomach perpetually.

And this is what blogging is all about, right? It’s about making something out of your stories, experiences and ideas, a DIY aesthetic, making the whole thing up as you’re going along and learning as you go. It’s being a blogger that has given me the mindset to take on these new projects this year, figuring it all out as I go along, to not know the outcomes, but to have some faith in the path forward. Let’s see how it all turns out, is the blogger’s approach, which requires attention, curiosity, and a capacity for growing, learning, and—ideally—being excited all the time.

August 5, 2019

Keeping Blogging Weird

In the spring, @hkpmcgregor recorded an episode of Secret Feminist Agenda about “Keep Podcasting Weird,” and I’ve thought about the episode a lot in relation to blogging and book blogging. I had been blogging about books for awhile when publishers started sending me review copies in 2007ish, and while I was grateful for their attention and consideration, I lament now what it did to my blog. Because it turned my blog into a blog that looked like everyone else’s, and at the time I even thought that meant I was finally doing it right. But what gets lost—attention to obscure novels, my own unique perspective, the indulgence of my own curious avenues. It’s also just not as interesting to be blogging about exactly the same books that everyone else is, and what exactly is the point of this pursuit, beyond contributing to online homogenization. 

I’d started blogging about books while I was a graduate student, so I’d been writing about Virginia Woolf and Victorian entomologists, and I was obsessed with the works of Margaret Drabble and Laurie Colwin…and then all of sudden here I was reviewing the new Ian McEwan. Yawn.

From my new online blogging course, Find Your Blogging Spark

More than ten years on, I’ve learned the virtues of keeping it weird, who wins when we do (hint: it’s everyone), and what a more interesting place is the blogosphere and #bookstagram when we make space for novels purchased for a dime at a provincial park camp store.  Books you decide to spend that dime on because of a description that begins with, “Only the pub and the pet shop are still inhabited in the boarded-up wasteland of Crow Street Southwest London…”

I spent much of this long weekend reading Miss Gomez and the Brethren, an early novel by William Trevor, whom I’ve never read before, and the novel reminded me of Muriel Spark, that curious midcentury mix of slightly old fashioned and shockingly sly and subversive at once, with an outsider’s view of Englishness.

I absolutely loved it, and have been thinking a lot about serendipity, partly because the book is about just that (although in a darker and less whimsical sense) and also because of the odds of this book and I finding each other, the most perfect literary match. Whoever left this book—which I’d never even heard of—in the camp store so that I would find it because we’d ducked in to get out of a thunderstorm, lingering over ice cream cones to avoid going out into the rain. Someone left it and I happened to find it, picking it up because William Trevor’s on my long list of authors I’ve been meaning to get around to reading, and here was one of his books in my hands, the kind of summer reading magic that is impossible to manufacture, but I’ve been grateful to be a beneficiary, and have this book be part of a wonderful long weekend.

July 31, 2019

Stop Waffling, and Write

I finally read Brigid Schulte’s essay in The Guardian, “What is women’s greatest enemy? Lack of time for themselves,” an essay I’d seen many people sharing online last week. And to be honest, once I got to it, I found the piece a bit…slight? Understanding why it had resonated with so many women for sure, but it also frustrated me, and made me impatient. I wanted more. I wanted something less waffley (no offence to waffles) and less cribbed from A Room of One’s Own, because it’s been 90 years, and surely we can do better than, “What would happen if…” and thought experiments about Shakespeare’s sister.

(What might you have written had you not sat down to write the piece about how women don’t take enough time to sit down and write?)

I’ve spent the last few weeks completing the modules of my blogging course, whose goal is to deliver women the confidence (the nerve?) to carve out their own little space online, to emphasize to them that their voices matter and so do their stories, and that the world needs both these things. I’ve written 25,000 words that I’m proud of and excited to share very soon that I hope will inspire and motivate people who are blog-curious or at least need a little jolt to get their blogging spark back…but at the heart of it all there really is just one point, and it’s this one: You just have to do it.

And you know what? We can blame the patriarchy. (We definitely SHOULD blame the patriarchy. See Toi Smith: ‘Let’s stop calling it “mom guilt” because that’s bullshit and not actually a thing. Let’s start calling it what it really is: internalized patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy which has conditioned women to believe that once we become a mother our pleasure isn’t ours, that our joy isn’t ours, that our creative force isn’t ours, and that our time isn’t ours.”)

But all this means is that when you finally do sit down to write, what you’re doing is more radical, awesome and profound than you might initially understand it to be—which only makes it all the more important that you actually sit down and write. Telling yourself that you’re not writing because you don’t take time for yourself is a decision you have made, and it’s kind of boring. It’s also like telling yourself that don’t write because you’re a perfectionist, or that you don’t write because you have a job, or because you have kids. (To be fair, if you’re not writing because you have kids AND a job, I get it. Though there comes a point when “having kids” stops being an occupation that takes up every ounce of your soul and your life.)

Because there are so many people who face these hurdles, but leap over them and write anyway. There are so many women who do make time for themselves and for their art, even if we live in a society that conspires to make them feel guilty about those choices. So to stare wistfully into our teacups and lament the choices we’ve made to limit our creative experiences (honestly, you could let that call from your mechanic go to voicemail) because that’s just how it for women, it’s what we do, is essentialist and very annoying.

It’s also just another excuse to avoid doing the thing, and Brigid Schulte gets it exactly right when she writes, “I wonder if that searing middle-of-the-night pain that, at times, settles like dread around my solar plexus may not only be because there’s so little unbroken time to tell my own untold stories, but because I’m afraid that what may be coiled inside may not be worth paying attention to anyway. Perhaps that’s what I don’t want to face in that dusky room I dream of.”

The biggest challenge lies in not finding the time to write, but in staring such fear in the face. But it’s possible. With the knowledge that even if you fail, you’ll be so much further along than you would have been if you hadn’t tried, and also that you will never ever be better than you’ll be if you start practicing right now.

March 11, 2019

Why I’m waiting for your next blog post

(I sent the following message to writers signed up for Blog School: Pickle Me This mailing list last week, but I think you deserve to read it too. And if you want to sign up for Blog School updates, you can do so here AND receive a copy of my free download, “5 Prompts to Bring Back Your Blogging Spark.”)

For many bloggers, the biggest impediment to actually getting to PUBLISH is the idea that maybe no one’s reading, so what even is the point? And my smart answer to this has always been that you should be blogging like no one is reading anyway—so if no one actually is reading, doesn’t that just mean you’re doing it right? 

My non-glib take on this is different, however, because I’ve never been more hungry for good things to read online, in blog posts in particular. It’s why I’ve started “Gleanings”, a weekly series (also available as a newsletter) where I collect links to all the fascinating pieces I’ve come across on the internet—articles, essays and blog posts that made me think and/or delighted me. I’m so grateful to writers who continue to craft smart posts, make thoughtful arguments, and introduce us to excellent people, places and things, all of this countering the toxic discourse we so often encounter online that’s lately rearing its ugly head in the real world. I continue to believe—because I’ve seen the evidence—that with our own small corners of the internet, we really can make the world a better place

And because I know that crafting meaningful blog posts is important to you—you were curious enough to download my “5 Prompts to Bring Back Your Blogging Spark” after all—I wanted to check in and encourage you to keep going. If you haven’t updated your blog in awhile, now is the time to do it. If you’ve written something lately that you’re proud of, I hope you’ll leave a link below in the comments so I can read it, and so my readers can read it too—because I’m not the only one who’s craving great posts to read.

So many of us are looking for goodness these days, but blogs are an opportunity to get proactive and actually make some. I’m really not kidding when I tell you that I’m waiting for your next blog post, and I promise I’m not the only one. 

March 7, 2019

Why Your Own Small Corner of the Internet is Going to Make the World a Better Place

I spent last week gathering signatures for a petition among parents at my children’s school calling on our government not to increase class sizes—which is a call that everyone was happy to get on board with. It was the “duh” of petitions, but even still. “You’re awfully optimistic,” one person remarked as he signed it, but I’m really not. I understand that a majority government with short-sight and an ideological agenda is probably not going to be moved by a bunch of signatures in a riding that didn’t even vote for them not to make cuts to our already under-invested education system. But this still doesn’t seem to me like a good enough reason to sit back and just let it happen, to do nothing. Even if the outcome is the same, the outcome won’t be the same, because there will have been resistance. The fight always matters, even in the rounds you don’t win.

It was probably twenty years ago when I had a revelation about my ambition to become a writer, which was that even if I never succeeded in my goals, merely striving for them would end up taking me on a different and further trajectory than if I hadn’t bothered. And maybe what I’m trying to say here is that I’m comfortable with the notion of futility, or perhaps that there is no such thing. I believe in small things, and how they lead to possibilities, and I’m going to keep on tending my own garden, because it’s a thing that I can do.

Although by tending my own garden, I don’t mean retreating from the world, planting a row of tulips behind a barbed wire fence while the world falls apart outside. I don’t mean walls, because walls aren’t real. If someone’s not okay, then no one is okay, because there is indeed such a thing as society. And there has never been a more important time to be connected with society, with community—which is why I spent last week gathering signatures for a petition (on paper, with pencils, and everything). Sometimes social media can give us the illusion that we’re being political, making a difference, but I’m starting to think that it doesn’t count. I’ve been making an effort this year to replace to my Twitter engagement with real things—blog posts instead of tweet threads, sharing links to things I love in a newsletter, walking around the school yard and talking to people in my community instead of writing obscenity-laden tweets to idiot politicians who are never going to read them which is really only an exercise in screaming at the sky.

What I mean is that I continue to insist that my voice matters, however in a small way, and so do the choices I make and the causes I show up for, the principles I instil in my children, and my decision to live with integrity and stay true to the things I believe in even as integrity and truth don’t seem so fashionable these days.

And lately I’ve been tending my own garden especially by going back to the blog, planting thoughts and ideas and watching them grow, and even watching them spread as other people read and respond and write posts of their own. I continue to insist that blogs matter too, and that the internet needs blogs more than it ever did—a place where there is thoughts instead of noise, where the people aren’t bots, where there is room to expand and explain and even change your mind. Blogs are important in 2019 because they aren’t underlined by corporate interests, because what parts of them we read aren’t determined by algorithms, because of their focus on language at a moment when politicians are making meaninglessness into an art form, because of their obscurity even and how they give us the freedom to explore off our own beaten track, because they’re not part of an industry that’s flailing, dying, desperate. There’s nothing desperate about a blog.

To blog is to be hopeful—that words matter, that someone is reading, that small things make a difference.

“You’re awfully optimistic,” one might suggest in response to this post, but again, I’m really not. I just believe that doing what little you can is always better than doing nothing. I don’t think that people understand enough about their own power—drop off a loaf of a banana bread at your neighbour’s, or shovel their driveway, and you’ve transformed your community into a place where such things can happen. How we spend our days becomes how we spend our lives, and who and what we are (online and off) becomes the world.

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.

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