Where Logic Meets Love

Taking a Break to Figure Things Out

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

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Hi all,

I've had this blog for almost four and a half years now, and it's changed a lot over that time. It was originally launched as a way to track my goals the summer I finished my master's degree and was looking for a job, looking for an apartment, trying to solve a health problem, and planning my wedding, all in the span of about two months.

After all those pieces were in place, I started blogging about marriage, life as an adult, and, of course, how my faith fit into all that.

In 2011, I did a happiness project and used this blog to track my monthly goals, and starting reflecting more about my life purpose. I also committed to a regular blogging schedule, which has changed over time but has meant blogging 2-3 times a week for more than two and a half years.

In August 2011, I attended the 20SB Summit and got more serious about blogging. I bought a domain name, hired a web designer, and set up a Facebook page.

I starting writing more regularly about LGBTQ issues and their intersections with Christianity. I branched out my reading of other blogs from reading about the lives of other 20-somethings and other married couples to learn more about privilege, feminism, and other big topics. I had more conversations with people about these topics, which changed what I wrote about.

I developed the Three Books on Thursday and Blog Comment Carnival linkups, neither of which ever really got off the ground. I started tracking my stats two years ago and watched them go slowly up and then plateau. I guest blogged. My stats went up a little, then down, then plateau, plateau, plateau.

This blog has always been a place for conversations and learning, and I've continued to have wonderful, loyal readers and commenters. But I've wanted -- and tried -- to start conversations I just don't have the audience for. I've struggled with how to build the audience while continuing to have quality posts that will sustain them until we can have those bigger conversations. I've wondered who, exactly, I even want to have those conversations with. And what it means when people continue to say they love my writing but then never share it with anyone.

And then I've gotten fed up with watching bloggers I respect oversimplify and mock each other's arguments, and I've wondered if this is even the realm I want to fight for a place in. And I've gotten frustrated with commenters who misunderstand and attack me. And I've been hurt when out of 400 Christian blogs not one person thought to nominate this one. Or when I put questions out on Twitter and, only occasionally, one person out of 188 followers responds. Who am I talking to? Who am I writing for, after four and a half years?

So I'm taking a break. I need to take some time, where I don't feel pressured to put out content, to figure out what I want this blog to be. What do I what to write about and who am I writing for? What, exactly, am I trying to accomplish here? Or is it maybe time to put this project to rest once and for all, and focus on the many others on my plate? Make an impact in some different ways?

I don't know what this break will look like -- I may pop back in and write something when I have something I want to say, or thoughts I need to work out. I just know that right now I need to take off the pressure to write that is paired with ambiguity about why and for whom I'm writing.

Thanks to those of you who have taken the time to join in the conversations I've started here. I've learned so much from those conversations, and that more than anything is why I hope I don't end up putting this blog to bed permanently. But then maybe it's time to learn only by listening for a while, and not by talking first. Even if I don't come back to it, I'm proud of what's here.

Much love,
Jessica

13 comments:

  1. Awwww. This makes me sad. I may not have always commented, but I've loved reading your posts over the past couple of years - you've had some really interesting insights into things I haven't spent much time thinking about.

    I totally understand the need to take a break from time to time, but I hope it's not a permanent one! <3

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  2. :-( I'm going to miss you too! But I also totally understand. I know I'm awful at commenting on blogs... I'm trying to get better, but I read but then I don't comment for some reason. There are also times I've wondered about my own blog, what I write about, why I'm writing, who I'm writing too... etc. So while I'll miss your blog, I also get that sometimes you just need a break to figure it out.

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  3. I think taking off the pressure to post regularly is a great idea. I hope you'll continue to post when you have something you really feel like writing, though--I would miss you a lot if you quit!

    On a side note...the bottom line of your tag cloud currently says, "menstruation tithing". I know those are two separate tags, but because they're in the same size font I read them together, and now I'm wondering what menstruation tithing is.... I picture a very drippy collection basket. :-p

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  4. If you want to talk to someone about it or just need a sounding board, give me a call! I might not be the audience you are looking for with your blog, but I'm happy to give feedback or just listen. :)
    -Missy

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  5. Oh Jessica! I respect your reasons for taking a break, but I will miss your writing. On a personal level, I'm so sad to hear you don't feel fulfilled by your readership and aren't seeing enough growth to make things worthwhile even after all this time. In the short time I've known you, you've given me a lot of hope that I could someday make it to where you are as a blogger - saying things that are sometimes uncomfortable or hard to categorize and engaging with a small, but pretty diverse and thoughtful, community of readers. To hear that it's not feeling like enough for you makes me feel sad for you and sad for myself.

    For what it's worth, although I'm not as good about sharing and commenting as I should be for sure, I think you are saying some incredibly important things, particularly in the area of privilege and how it intersects with Christianity. You've written things that have challenged me and that I myself wouldn't have had the guts to write, or couldn't have written about as clearly as you did. I hope this break will recharge you and you'll come back even stronger, with a clearer idea of who you're writing for and why you'll continue to go forward even when it doesn't seem to be paying off in the moment.

    Blessings to you, and I hope you'll stay in touch.

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  6. I enjoy your blog and I will be excited to see you if you come back. Everyone has their own reasons for blogging. For myself, I blog because otherwise words sit in my head and keep me awake at night. It wouldn't matter if no one else ever read it. But that's just me and my insomnia. ;-)

    Personally, I prefer reading smaller blogs. The big traffic blogs all seem to wind up hashing around the same kinds of things, and pretty much all internet discussions are the same past the 15th post, and the endless promotional stuff is tiresome. Your blog has given me much food for thought.

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  7. I just want to say that your blog is the only one I read on a regular basis. I always appreciate (and often agree with) your approach to issues. I feel you are always grounded in the messy, real world rather than preaching heavy-handed dictates from a lofty soapbox.

    Do what is best for you and your priorities. I'm glad that you closed saying you are "proud of what's here." There is great value in the thought-provoking work you've done with this blog, and I thank you for it.

    -Greg

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  8. Hi Jessica. I wanted to let you know that I've appreciated how you share your opinions in a respectful and open-minded way. Your writing is always interesting and thought-provoking.

    I'm glad you're proud of your blog, because you should be. I hope you enjoy your break, but eventually come back!

    Lauren :)

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  9. Jessica,
    Just wanted to say thank you so much for your blog over the past year or so that I've been a reader. Thanks to your blog/twitter, I've been exposed to the LBD and The Fault in Our Stars. As a teacher, I've used resources you've linked to to teach about privilege. TORN is now in my (former) school's library. I've used some of your blog posts in class. As a Catholic woman, your blog has been a great resource for sane, balanced info about what a Catholic marriage can look like. You've given me a relatable picture of what practicing NFP can look like. For all of this: THANK YOU. I hope that your blog break is not forever - but if it is, know that you've helped me think through quite a bit of stuff both personally and professionally (and also, Lizzie Bennet Diaries, 'nuff said). Prayers and best wishes for you.

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  10. We've had our disagreements, but I will say that you're blog has always made me think. I also respect that you have always been willing to dialog and discuss and much more patiently than most. I know I have been one of those frustrating commentators, but these conversations really have helped to expand my views.

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  11. I am, as I often have been in recent months, very late to the comments. I'm sorry to see that you're this frustrated with things; that's never fun. I think a break is often warranted during a tough time. And that's the beauty of blogging--you don't HAVE to do anything you don't want to! You don't owe anyone anything. :)

    Thank you for all the writing you've done and for all the deep thinking you've caused many of us. I used to get frustrated at myself for not knowing as much as you do about certain issues, or beat myself for not caring as much about certain things the way that you do (and other bloggers and friends do too). That is something that I admire in all of you; it's not a character flaw on my part, it's just not who I am, I guess. Thank you also for your friendship, interview help, and getting to know you via blogging. :)

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  12. Another sporadic commenter here, but I wanted to say that I both wholeheartedly support you doing what you need to do around this, and that I'm going to keep an eye on your blog's feed, and will be very happy if it turns out that you come back.

    As someone who's killed a number of individual blogs, I really respect the dedication and work that go into maintaining one. I think one common thread I've realized in people who come back after a hiatus, or who keep a blog going for a long while, is that they have a personal itch that gets scratched in the act of sharing, since readership can be fickle.

    Thank you for so many thought-provoking posts, and for bringing such a new, nuanced and calm perspective to a lot of these issues. I hope that your time away is rejuvenating!

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  13. Blog writing is tough...here are some reasons I think you probably touch more people than you realize and why I think your impact has been greater than you can measure with traditional blog statistics. That said, now that you’ve voiced it, I can understand your frustration.

    I've been working a retail job for the past year and change. As a result, I don't sit down to my computer on a regular schedule, and I often find myself reading a lot of blog posts in one sitting. Since I read blog posts long after they are written, I tend to think that my comments are no longer timely or of interest.

    Of the handful of blogs I do follow semi-regularly, yours is the smallest (which I like for the same reasons some other people have mentioned). However, I have formed the habit of not wanting to jump in with a comment on one of these large blogs because I rarely have the time to read all of the comments that precede mine, and because I worry about wasting the time of someone inundated with a ton of comments already. In a way I’ve become a consumer of blogs and forgotten that some bloggers are sustained by thought-provoking conversation rather than ad-revenue.

    Even when I do remember that you are not inundated by repetitive comments, your blog is so thoughtful I am disinclined to jump in without ample consideration. I too rarely think about the perspective of a blogger with a smaller readership and what engaging and affirming comments might mean to such a writer. I'll be better about that.

    As for sharing your blog with others...I think you probably attract an audience that comes to your blog precisely because they don't feel like they have a similar community of thinkers around. While I've shared your blog with some college friends, I never seriously considered recommending your blog to friends in my local community. This is probably because I see them as either conservative Christians or progressive atheists, both of whom aren’t likely to give your blog a chance, and might condemn me for agreeing with much of what you write. None of this means I shouldn't try to share your blog and that I wouldn’t be enriched by great conversation if I did tried. It simply doesn’t often occur to me.

    I can see how my perspective on reading blogs would be very frustrating for someone investing a lot of time in creating an online community where people can engage in tough and meaningful questions. If your audience contains other readers like myself, one solution might be to openly and often state how you would like to interact with your audience. To remind people what the community is that you are striving for. I’m a people pleaser, and if reminded how welcome my comments and recommendations are, I would almost certainly be more proactive about interacting with and sharing your blog. Unfortunately, open-ended questions at the end of a post aren’t quite enough to get me to comment since my thoughts tend to run in a different direction, and I don't always notice your statement at the bottom of the page about appreciating comments because I tend to read your blog in feedly.

    As for voting for your blog in a poll of great blogs, I definitely would if I were to encounter an appropriate poll…but the only ones I ever come across are about interior design and decorating. Would your readers have been likely to have seen the poll on Patheos? If not, does having an audience that isn’t as informed as you are about progressive Christian thought sadden you?

    P.S. I like your adoption questions post and I'm glad that taking a break from the blog is working out for you.

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