I wondered when I took this new job two months ago if I’d be able to maintain my blog. After all, instead of just subbing, I now have to dedicate my time and attention to grading, lesson planning, and you know, teaching. I wondered if the added responsibilities would prevent me from taking the time to write.
It hasn’t. I’m still cranking out at least one post a week. Teaching full-time has given me new avenues of inspiration and a wealth of stories to share, and I still enjoy the mental process of putting my thoughts down in writing. It gives me a chance to reflect and focus, instead of getting caught up in the daily grind.
Something else has fallen by the wayside, though. I have noticed a definite shift in how I experience the blogging world. I have far less time for reading blogs, and I feel a little bad about that.
One of the things I love about WordPress is the focus they place on building a blogging community. It isn’t just about cranking out material and hoping others will find you. WordPress is designed to encourage active participation with other bloggers. It’s about finding other people in the world and connecting with them, mutually reading and commenting on each other’s work instead living within our own blogging bubbles. The first step in becoming a good blogger is reading other blogs.
I latched on to this sense of community quickly when I joined. I browsed the Freshly Pressed page daily. I participated in the Community Pool on Sundays when I could and responded to the Weekly Writing Challenges on Mondays. I searched tag terms in the Reader and found other blogs relating to my interests. I found a lot of teen bloggers that way, and they were the most prolific early supporters for my blog in turn. I connected strongly with a handful of other writers, always excited and waiting for each new post from them even as I was writing my own.
I had a lot of time for that then. I was living in a constant state of transition, moving every three months, unable to put down roots or throw myself into any long-term work. We made friends and lived full lives, but we did so knowing that in mere months, we’d be packing up and moving away again. It’s hard to emotionally attach yourself to anything when you know you’ll be walking away from it soon. I subbed (and subbed well), but I wasn’t invested in any individual school. When your main responsibility is just classroom management, it leaves you with a lot of time to think about other things. I’d lug my laptop to work with me, and while students read silently or took quizzes, I would read blogs. When I came home and my husband had to work on other things, I’d spend more time in the blogging world. When I couldn’t invest in much else in my life, I could invest in blogging. So I did.
But recently I’ve had to turn some of that investment somewhere else. We’ve reached a point where we’re almost settled, so we’re working on putting down some roots. I’ve poured myself into local friendships and time with family, and now, this new job that I absolutely love. And at that same time, I was Freshly Pressed twice and posted as a “Staff Pick” blog on the recommended blogs page of WordPress. My audience has grown exponentially. The “Likes” and “Follows” that used to excite me so much are now a daily occurrence (still exciting, but no longer a novelty). My stats say I have somewhere around 3,100 followers (almost all of them are fellow WordPress users), though I have no way of know how many of those are real and how many are spam. But I do know that my current posts are receiving more attention, more interaction, than when I first started blogging. I’ve connected with so many people, it’s incredible.
I can’t keep up. I can’t follow everyone, and the blogs I used to follow closely on a regular basis are now slipping past my notice. Even the teen bloggers that I love so much have posted many things that I haven’t been able to read. I feel bad about that, but not when I think of the alternative. I have a limited amount of time and attention to give out, and friends, family, and my actual job do take precedence over the blogging world.
Is that harsh? It’s the truth, but maybe it’s mean to say it here…
I still value the community here. I’m so appreciative of all the people participating, commenting, and validating my work, so I am sorry that I haven’t been good at doing the same for others. I still check my reader on a regular basis and try to click through a few blogs, even if I can’t get to them all. I still get excited when certain names come up, and I make sure I keep up with them. I scan my reader for titles that interest me, and I try to read at least a few posts on a regular basis. I understand what this community gave me in the last year and half, and I’m so thankful for it.
And it does give me something to look forward to this summer, because maybe then I’ll be able to catch up on all that reading!