10 Years of Blogging

Ten years ago, I started my first blog.

As far as blogging origin stories go, mine isn’t that exciting.  A friend from a Harry Potter fan forum recommended the hobby and I followed her advice.  Clearly, this girl was onto something because while she and I lost touch years ago, I’m still here.

I don’t know if I’m very good at blogging.  Frankly, I’m not really interested in being good at blogging.  I couldn’t care less about statistics, follower counts, and publishing content on any kind of schedule.  Blogging, for me, isn’t about performance.  It’s something I do for myself.  I write because I love it and don’t want to stop.

Over the years, blogging has taken on a variety of forms and functions.  Keep Your Feet has been whatever I needed it to be at any given time.  During my final years of college, I talked a lot about transitioning from one stage of life to another and figuring out where to go next.  When I was solo-trekking across Europe, I wrote about my travels.  These days, you’re likely to find me gushing about whatever book I have recently fallen in love with.  I’ve written for a variety of reasons over the years: to process, to clarify, to share, to remember, and to grow.

I didn’t start my blogging journey on Keep Your Feet.  I’ve actually bounced around quite a bit.  When preparing to write this post, I did some sleuthing and can confirm that my original blog from 2008 still exists on the Internet.  As I read those initial posts penned by my fifteen-year-old self, I was a bit shocked to see how much I’ve grown.  My writing has shifted and changed as I have.

Since ten years feels like a significant milestone, I thought I’d share some nuggets of blogging wisdom I have acquired over the years.  This is by no means a conclusive list, nor do I claim special expertise.  However, the act of writing this post has helped me reflect on how and why I blog the way I do, which has been a fruitful line of inquiry.  Enjoy!

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Meeting Leigh Bardugo

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Last night, I had the chance to meet Leigh Bardugo, author of the Grisha Trilogy and Six of Crows duology.  While I’ve only discovered her work this year, she’s quickly become one of my favorite authors.

Bardugo has been busy this fall, with two books released in September.  At the beginning of the month, Wonder Woman: Warbringer (the first of the D.C. Icons series) came out.  I just finished listening to it on audiobook and it was really fun.  This week, A Language of Thorns was released, which is a beautifully illustrated collection of folktales set in the Grishaverse world.

As part of my job as a librarian, I frequently host author talks, but this was my first time attending one that is part of a national tour.  I’m the kind of girl who gets nervous around people I admire and frequently feel like I make a total fool of myself.  (Seriously, it’s the worst when talking to attractive guys… I get sooo awkward.)  Thus, coming face to face with an author whose work I love was really intimidating.  But this was too good a chance to pass up. Continue reading

Thoughts on Blogging, Social Media, and Finding the Right Balance

I’ve been giving my social media habits a great deal of thought lately.

I won’t go into the messy details, but over the past few months my habits have changed a great deal.  In January, I made the decision to scale back my consumption and deleted Facebook from my phone.  This may not be a huge change, but it’s deeply impacted the way I experience the social media world.

For one thing, I have more time on my hands.  Instead of wiling away the hours scrolling through status updates and baby photos and engagement announcements, I spend my time doing things that I love.  I go for long walks.  I read more.  I hang out with family.

Another consequence is that I’ve shifted more time to Instagram.  With only photos and stories, Instagram is more curated and eats up far less time.  The more time I spend on Instagram, the more I fall in love with it.  I love putting together photos that I find beautiful and coming up with captions and quotes.  This summer, I started using the story feature and am able to share quirky, more casual bits of my life.

And then there’s my blog.  At the beginning of this year, I set out to be more of an official blogger… and quickly fizzled out.  I attempted to do a series of posts of literary places I’ve visited.  That lasted for two weeks.  Here and there, I’ve done several one-off posts that I’ve been pleased with.

I’ve been blogging for nearly ten years now on a variety of sites and, over the years, I’ve tried a number of different techniques.  (And, before you ask, no I will not share a link to my blog from high school.)

I think that part of my inconsistency is that I lack a central focus and vision.  While I adore my title, Keep Your Feet, and all that it implies, I definitely don’t have a theme.  Sometimes, I’m a book blogger.  Other times I write about travel and adventures.  Other times, I write about more personal things.  And, sometimes, I hardly post at all. Continue reading

300 & Counting

I’ve hit a landmark.  Recently, I reached 300 followers.  For many blogs, this number may seem small, tiny, inconsequential.  For me, though, it means the world.

When blogging, it’s always a challenge to straddle the line between creating quality content for the sake of your readers and quality content for sake of pleasing yourself.  I do my best to write posts that readers will enjoy.  I love you guys and want you to stick around.  At the end of the day, though, my ultimate goal is to remain true to myself.

I’m a selfish writer.  I really am.  I do this because it brings me life and I can’t imagine ever stopping.  I know that everyone who follows Keep Your Feet isn’t necessarily a reader.  That’s okay.  Although I try to follow only sites I will actually read, there is a tendency to follow others just for the follow-back.  I get that.

But for those of you who DO read, thank you.  For those of you who have not just hit “Follow”,  but take time to come along side me and spend time with my words, thank you.  By reading, liking, and commenting, you inspire me to keep going.  I’ve got a universe of words within me and there are days when I just want to throw them in a bucket and let them rot.  When this happens, the thought of you is what motivates me cherish my words and lovingly string them into coherent thoughts.  I’ve learned a great deal about myself and my identity as a writer over the past few months, and that would not have been possible without you.  Your words and encouragement mean the world to me.

I don’t know where Keep Your Feet is going.  I don’t know if it’ll stay at is it is or grow or shrink into obscurity.  Frankly, I don’t care.  I’m just thankful to be where I am today.

Apples & Writing

Lately, I’ve been embracing my identity as a writer.  I currently live at home and work on my family’s farm, so writing and agriculture have been on my mind.  I’ve been learning that writing and farming are more similar than one would think.

My family’s business is apples.  In the spring, apple trees bud and blossom.  Alone, these flowers are beautiful and fragrant, but fleeting.  It takes external forces, namely bees, to preserve their beauty.  Once the flowers are pollinated, fruit sets in.  But that’s not the end.  It takes months and months of growing and care for the fruit to grow.  Even then, it’s not always ready when you think.

This process reminds me of writing.  As a writer, I have universes in my mind.  Thoughts, feelings, ideas, entire novel length stories exist between my ears.  Sometimes when I sit down to put these sentiments to words, I find myself unable to speak.  Like apple blossoms, bursts of inspiration alone aren’t enough.  It takes external forces–life experiences–to give the inspiration the depth and meaning it needs to bear fruit.  Even then, sometimes the words aren’t ready.  It takes months and months of bouncing around in the back of my mind to grow and take shape.

We have field trips at our orchard and one of the things my mom tells the kids is actually really important: Just because an apple is red doesn’t mean it’s ripe.

It’s the same with words.  Recently, I’ve found the need to write bubbling up in my spirit and bursting forth at unexpected moments.  But just because words are building at the tip of my toungue does not mean they are ready yet.  It doesn’t mean they’re ripe.  I’ve got an ever-growing list of post ideas, but not all of them feel quite right yet.

So I wait.  I mull over the words and scribble drafts.  I put down my pen and let the world around me pollinate my ideas.  I wake up in the morning, go to work, read books, spend time with friends, and wait.

When the time comes for the words to burst forth, I’ll be ready.

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Blogger Recognition Award

After Writing 101 ended, I kind of crashed and spent my free time binge-watching Netflix for a solid week, leaving me a bit behind on the blog.  I’m slowly catching up on awards.

A couple of weeks ago, Shannon from If You Captured Your Life in Snapshots, What Would It Look Like? nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award!  It’s designed to spread love among the blogosphere and recognize sites we love.  Part of the award includes sharing

BloggerRecognitionAwardI don’t know if sharing your blogging story is part of the award, but Shannon did in her post, so I’ll continue the trend.

When I was fifteen, I was deep into the Harry Potter fandom.  This was before Tumblr was a thing and, in order to engage with my fellow nerds, I entered discussions on fan forums.  I ended up becoming a core member of a forum dedicated to a particular podcast and, in the process, made my first online friends.  Anna lived in Chicago and liked to knit.  Cathy, who is a fantastic poet, lived in California.  We were all roughly the same age and would spend hours on the forum talking about life, love, and Harry Potter.

One day, Cathy brought up the subject of blogging.  I was an aspiring fan-fiction novelist at the time, so writing was always on my mind.  Being a fan of my work, Cathy suggested I start a blog.  I thought about it for a while and thought, “… why not?”  Having a corner of the internet to myself sounded like fun.

After doing a bit of research, I ended up getting an account on Blogger.  I stayed there for five years, recording the woes of high school and occasionally posting snippets of my writing.  The only people who read my site were fellow writer friends.  Thank GOODNESS.  Blogging back then was a messy affair.  I used my site as a spewing place for all my thoughts and emotions.  Looking back, I’m thankful to not have a wider readership.

When I studied abroad two years ago, I knew that I wanted to start fresh and make a travel blog.  I also knew that I wanted to switch over to WordPress.  So I did!  In the Bellow and the Uproar was born.  Named for a Virginia Woolf quote, it was home to my travels and adventures in England for three and a half months.

When I came home, I knew I didn’t want to go back to the old Blogger site.  It reminded me too much of my high school self and didn’t reflect where I wanted to go from here.  But I still wanted to write.  So, a year and a half ago, Keep Your Feet was born.  I’ve been here ever since.

That, friends, my blogging story!  Starting young has allowed me to grow into myself as a blogger.  I’ve been told I have a distinctive voice in my writing.  Friends say that, when they read my blog, it’s so me that they hear my voice in their head.  There are a lot of things I wish I could go back and un-say, especially on my first blog, but I’m still thankful for the chance to always learn and grow.

Now for Shannon’s bonus question: If you could go anywhere, would you go to a Where or a Who?

My first impression is to say Where.  There are so many dots on my “To-Visit” map.  But I’ve done a great deal of traveling in the past and, although solo adventures are exhilarating in their own way, they’re also a bit lonely.  Seeing the world isn’t as fun if you don’t have someone to share it with.  So I think my answer is Who.  I don’t have many super close friends–only a few people in the world truly know and appreciate all the corners of me, messy bits and all.  The older I get, these few souls seem to move farther and farther away.  One of my dearest friends lives in Japan, others live in Austria, and I’ve got people all over the United States that I miss so much my heart aches.  Seeing them again would make my month.  We’d drink tea and talk for hours.

Feel like this post is missing something?  Check out my personal rules regarding awards on my Award Policies page.

I Write Because I Refuse to Stop (Writing 101, Day 20)

Four weeks ago, I was asked an important question: Why do you write?  Unsure of how to respond, I gave it some thought and came to the conclusion that I write because I always have and cannot seem to stop.

I’ve learned a few things about myself in the past few weeks.  I now realize that, at some point during college, I lost sight of my identity as a writer. It always seemed like my classmates were so much better than I was.  Compared to their eloquent prose and poetry, my words felt feeble, hollow, and lifeless.  But maybe that is because, all along, I wasn’t doing the right kind of writing.  I took creative writing classes, but I’m not a creative writer.  I’ve won essay contests, but I’m not an academic.  That’s not me.

This place, this blog, these posts… this is me.

So much time has been spent comparing myself with other writers that I’ve forgotten who I am.  Participating in Writing 101 has brought everything back.  My identity, ultimately, does not stream from my classmates, friends, and fellow bloggers.  It comes from myself.  It comes from the fact that there are words bubbling from deep within me, waiting to be released.  The words pester me.  They nag, pulling at the back of my mind.  I cannot keep silent.

At the beginning of Writing 101, I stated that I write because I cannot stop.  At the end, I find my answer has changed.

I write because I cannot stop; I write because I refuse to stop;  I write because this is who I am.

I Don’t Know How to Stop (Writing 101, Day 1)

Today’s assignment is to answer a question that isn’t actually as simple as it sounds: Why do you write?

My gut reaction: It’s complicated.

I could say I write for a lot of reasons. I write to lose myself; I write to find myself. I write to know; I write to forget. I write because it’s akin to breathing. I write to make my thoughts clear. I write because I am. I write because I write.

Those reasons sound beautiful and poetic… they’re the kind of thing you’d imagine a writer to say. But are any of them actually true?

As long as I can remember, I have been writing. When I was eight years old, I decided that my greatest ambition was to see my name on the cover of a book. This dream persisted most of my early years.

Growing up, I wrote because I was good at it. At least, that’s what everyone told me. I remember in fifth grade I wrote a little essay on the importance/value of reading and, during my parent-teacher conference, Mrs. Klinke told my mom that it was phenomenal. In eighth grade, we had to craft our own stories based on Greek Mythology. Mine was fifteen pages long and my teacher gave me a special award because, in his forty years of teaching, it was the best he had ever received. In high school, I was on the Speech Team in the category of Creative Expression, enabling me to perform my own work. Once I had two years of competition under my belt, not a meet passed where I didn’t make the final round. I even went to state. As long as I’ve been writing, I’ve been told that I’m good.

Many years, fairy stories, embarrassing Harry Potter fan fics, and creative writing classes later, I realized that although I love to write, I don’t want to write books.

College quickly dissolved any notions that I was a great writer. Sure, I had a natural knack for words, but I was constantly blown away by the work of my peers. Among such storytellers and poets, I realized that I lack the drive, dedication, and attention to detail to make a career of the craft.

Still, I continued to write. I was the weird kid who loved essays. When I sat down to work on an essay analyzing spirituality in Dracula or artists in Biographical Novels or constructing allegories about Courtly Love, I would enter zen-mode. It felt like being underwater. Everything in the world faded away and nothing existed but the text I was grappling with. I would bury myself in the library for hours on end, emerging rumpled and triumphant. It was so satisfying.

I loved my time as an English major, but the farther in I got, the more I realized that many of the standard careers were not for me. Teaching? No thanks. Copy editing? Too much detail. Creative writing? WAY too much detail. Research? I’d suffocate.

During school, I wrote because I had to and I loved it. But now that I’m out… why do I write?

I’m still not sure I know how to answer that question.

I suppose I’ve been writing for so long it so long that I don’t know how to stop. It’s habit—something that has been part of my life since I was eight years old. I can’t imagine my life without it.

That’s why I blog.

This post is inspired by an assignment for the Blogging University class Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration.

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