My Blog-sistential Crisis

Blog-o-versary cupcakes from last year.
Blog-o-versary cupcakes from last year.

I like celebrating anniversaries.

Wait. Scratch that. I like celebrating. I like making special food, drinking a little extra wine, and enjoying a festive glow.

Last year, on my one-year blog anniversary, I wrote a big blog post. I made red velvet cupcakes, onto which I piped cream cheese frosting. I walked those cupcakes down to my neighbor’s house and shared with everyone. In short, I celebrated.

This year, on my two-year blog anniversary, I went out to lunch with my wife. I went shopping at used bookstores and antique shops. I had dinner and generally lounged around.

Why? Because I forgot that it was my blog anniversary. In fact, I didn’t realize that my anniversary had passed without my noticing until days later. The fact that I forgot speaks volumes to me. I’ll distill those volumes into a blog post.

I started this blog a little over two years ago with the premise that it was a blog about a writer who cooks. I knew I wanted a place to develop my passion for both cooking and writing. It has been the perfect place to share recipes, stories, experiences, photos, and thoughts. That’s writing a blog, which I’ve found is not the same thing as being a blogger.

When one undertakes blogging in the food world, one becomes a food blogger, which is a different entity all to itself. The writing is only part of the challenge. The rest is a game of hustle, hustle, hustle. A food blogger cooks constantly. A food blogger takes great photos, graduating from an iPhone to a fancy camera with accessories to help them manage light. A food blogger is hip to the latest trends – first it was vegan, then it was paleo, and now we’re putting quinoa in everything. Everything. A food blogger is aggressive, posting daily, new recipes all the time, and keeping an active, growing social media presence. A food blogger tests and re-tests recipes, tweaking and personalizing and getting them exactly right.

They have to. There’s about a million food bloggers (exaggeration, but still), and all of them are trying to be heard. If you don’t hustle, you get trampled and flattened into the flour-dusted kitchen floor of the food blogging world.

I wrote a blog about food and writing. The food took the front seat, and I spent a lot of time trying to be a food blogger. Not writing a food blog. Being a food blogger. There’s a difference.

And the trouble with it is that I failed at being a food blogger. I’m not looking for sympathy or an “Awww, honey…” on this one. I’m not a food blogger. Not in the traditional sense. Not in keeping with the standards set by the dozens of food bloggers filling my Facebook news feed right now.

Once I forgot my blogging anniversary, I began to think, okay, what is my blog these days? Since starting the blog, I’ve gotten a couple years of teaching experience under my belt. I’ve made it into my late-twenties, which are far superior to my early-twenties. I fell in love and got married. I moved across the country. I have learned a bit more about my own strength. I began writing a book; I have made progress with writing a book.

Since starting the blog, I’ve grown a lot. But has my blog?

When I’m honest, I have to say no, not really.

Identity is funny. Writing a food blog is something you do; being a food blogger is something you are.Β It took me forever to be able to tell people that I’m a writer. Even now, when I introduce myself to people and they ask me what I do, I get nervous when I answer, “I’m a writer.” How do you explain it? How do you tell them what your typical day looks like? Food blogger was actually an easier label to wear. It’s familiar. It’s easy to explain – I cook, I photograph, I eat, I write, I repeat.

But the thing is, my little blog here doesn’t operate like a food blog. It doesn’t operate like a blog strictly about writing either. That was intentional, to mirror my split focus between food and writing, and to watch the ways these two passions fuse together in surprising and not-so-surprising ways.

I’ve grown. My blog hasn’t. My blog is still trying to be a food blog. I’m still trying to be a food blogger. But that’s not organic to me. It’s not organic for the blog.

The Pacific Ocean.
The Pacific Ocean.

So what do I do now? I keep blogging. I keep cooking. But I back out of this parking spot I’ve been sitting in, I drive down the road a bit, and I pull off in a less crowded place. I park at a new angle. I’m a short drive from the Pacific Coast Highway, and believe me when I say that there’s a vast difference between pulling into a parking lot, paying $10 to park there, and lining up in little rows with all the other cars adjacent to a Port-a-potty; and pulling off to the side of the road along the shoreline, pointing the nose of the car towards the horizon, and enjoying the view in solitude, the quiet that comes with a few less people, the crash of waves, the spray of water hitting the rocks below.

I forgot my anniversary, and it sent me off into a blog-sistential crisis. We always want to think that a crisis has to be a bad thing. When I told a few people my feelings of crisis over the blog, they tried to reassure me; they encouraged me not to give up; to give it time. They didn’t understand that when I say crisis, I mean it as a good thing. I mean it as the impetus for reflection and adjustment and newness.

Whisks & Words is a blog about a writer who cooks. Not a cook who writes. Not a food blogger writing a novel. It’s a blog about a writer who cooks. It’s a blog about a writer. I’m the writer. That’s the spot I’m choosing to park in. That’s the horizon I’m pointing towards. That’s my view.

17 thoughts on “My Blog-sistential Crisis

  1. Beautifully said, thanks. I think it was only in the last year or so that I realized I’m first and foremost a writer. And it feels really good to admit it.

  2. I rarely refer to myself as a food blogger, as my blog is more about my nerdiness than food. But there is food. And photos. So most of the time I’m confused about what my blog IS, and think about how I’d never go to a food blogging conference because I refuse to post photos of myself with other food bloggers having “the time of my life.” I’ve decided to embrace the fact that my blog is… different.

    Your blog is different.

    That’s why I like it.

    1. Thanks, movita. And I agree. I almost began a list in the post of bloggers I admire, the food bloggers who defy food blogger-isms, like you and Shannon and Katherine, as well as a few others. But then I was like, no, just let it be. I like the distinction of different. It creates a special place to stand, and I like the company there. πŸ™‚

  3. I think it’s important not to let the blogs define us. Instead, we need to define our blogs. We don’t really need to care so much what the “industry” is doing. If we do, we’ll get lost in all of the noise. Better either to redefine the industry or, better yet, just carve out your own territory, puff your chest, and say, “Yeah. This is the reason I write.”

    1. Such good advice, Becky! Very true. I’ve heard Tayari Jones say so many times not to pay attention to publishing business because it will defeat writing before you even start. The same goes here for blogging.

  4. I love this post, Dana, mostly because I’ve gone through a similar situation.

    At first, I was all about the cooking but, after a while, I realized that I was no longer cooking because I wanted to cook; I was cooking because I felt that I needed to post someting on my blog. Eventually, I realized that this whole thing started as a fun hobby but it wasn’t so fun anymore. I needed to get back to the fun part. So, I still cook but now I also tell stories, post about things that are not food related at all and sort of just do whatever I feel like. And, it seems that people enjoy it!

    Keep writing! And cooking! And eating cupcakes and drinking wine!

    1. Shari, you’re such a wise woman! I’m happy to get advice to write and cook and eat cupcakes and drink wine! πŸ™‚

      But also what you say is true – when your passions start to feel like obligation, or when you stop really tasting food because you’re trying to stay current, something gets lost. I’m excited to try again from that standpoint of tasting and experiencing and telling stories.

  5. The writing part of this blog is great and keeps me coming back even though my interest in cooking is minimal.

    It’s sort of like a medical drama – I have no interest in medicine but might end up watching anyway because it’s done so well…

    I go through a crisis with my blog every few months. The number of comments or page views will drop a little and I will start top consider whether I need to quit or whether I need to come at things from a slightly different angle.

    So long as you remember what the core to the blog is, I think you can reimagine everything UP to that at will.

    1. Thank you, Katy! You put that so well – I love the metaphor of the medical drama.
      I’m also perpetually glad to know I’m not the only one who goes through this sort of crisis every once in awhile. I always tell myself not to watch my blog traffic, but I do, and it will send me into an insecurity spiral.
      But at the end of the day, we are at the heart of our blogs. I think if we can find a way not to squash that, but to live it up and have fun and be passionate, then we’re doing good.

  6. you know, i love this post. i love it because i think it encapsulates what a lot of bloggers feel like when they’re trying to figure out what they are, really. There’s probably a lot of gray area to be had, but i don’t actually think deep down that i’m a “food blogger,” and i’ve thought that for awhile. at least i’m not a food blogger like what people think: i don’t hustle. i don’t promote. i’m not all up in the latest food trend’s business, and that’s okay.
    because i’m a writer. who likes to write about food, but i think there’s something to be said for writing about food and not being a “food blogger” per se. I tried at the very beginning – obsessed over – what people would want to see in a food blog, and i soon realized it was exhausting. be yourself: although i don’t have to tell you that, because you ARE yourself, and i love that about you. happy (sort of?) blogiversary, and here’s to you finding your direction, and making it what you want it to be.

    1. Thanks for this comment, Shannon, and for the kind encouragement! I think it’s an interesting thing, blogging, because the identity we create around it is dynamic, ever-changing. As we grow and change, our blog grows and changes. I’ve spent a lot of time this past month or two thinking about my blog identity, my writer identity, my food identity – the ways they’re linked, the ways they’re not. Ultimately, at the end of the day, the blog is an extension of us, perhaps the most accurate portrayal of us on a day-to-day, complicated, messy, fun, adventurous, creative basis. Which is why I like it. When I stopped trying to be a certain kind of blogger, I found I could just be me, which is more fun. πŸ™‚

      1. that is an excellent way to put that: our blogs truly ARE an extension of ourselves. i like that about it too. I would say there’s no other way to truly do it than by just being yourself, because yes, WAY more fun. πŸ™‚ We could never be “certain kinds of bloggers” anyway; i feel like we’d both feel a little stifled.

      2. It’s so true – I like the freedom of being a little random, of experimenting and just having fun and not worrying about perfection. That’s one of my goals these days – let go of the need for perfection. Embrace the chaos.

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