Saturday, May 14, 2011

Calling a Time Out

"Slow down, ya move too fast. You've got to make the mornin' last" - Simon & Garfunkel

The internet is an amazing place. I always assumed that. Deep down, I always knew that.

But now... I've experienced it. As a result, I've become consumed by it. And now, I need to take a step back. Deep breath. Relax.

And get back to basics.

I started this blog more than four years ago. Two months before my daughter was born. I had all of these emotions churning inside of me. Emotions I had no idea what to do with. I'm the kind of guy who keeps his emotions - the real emotions - inside until they burst out like a volcano.

Then I started to blog. I blogged about my self-doubt, my frustration, my triumphs, my failures, my fears, my father not being here. I blogged about my beautiful baby girl, my amazing wife. I made people laugh, cry, and think. And I felt a lot better.

But those people I shared this with were mostly my family and friends, my co-workers. People I knew. That was my primary intention. To share her growth, her stories, pictures... with them. I wasn't seeking publicity... at first. If it happened... bonus.

Then everything changed in late March. I stumbled upon a top 25 daddy blog contest and saw some of the blogs that were entered and thought, meaning no offense to my fellow daddy bloggers, "Mine is just as good if not better than a lot of these." I saw an opportunity. Time to see where this could go. I finished in the top 25. That was my ultimate goal. To place. With my humble following of family and friends... to place, I thought, was enough.

But it wasn't.

Now I had new eyeballs. New followers. People were commenting. Good comments. Another dad, himself an aspiring blogger, called me an inspiration for crying out loud. I then realized what I as an insecure, narcissistic, self-absorbed writer always hoped and sort of knew all along: my stuff was good, and if I publicized it, I could become big. Or at least bigger.

So I dove right in... starting a Facebook page, opening a Twitter account, posting more in a six week period than I ever have before. It was working. It felt good. I set up a meeting with a social media coordinator because I really have no idea what I'm doing.

And then... it happened...

What I'm calling my "Lord of the Flies" moment... a popular mommy blogger posted one of my stories (one of my shmaltzier stories) to her Facebook page. She had roughly 150,000 Facebook followers at the time. And it just exploded. I had thousands of page hits over the next few days. Clearly, more than ever. Comments pouring in like never before. My Facebook following more than tripled.

Some of the comments weren't kind. One woman said I needed a feminine hygiene product for my whiny female reproductive organ. Funny now... but there were dozens like that. I was excited and terrified at the same time.

This was it... it was happening.

My first concern: Am I exposing my daughter and my wife to any danger? I can take negative press. I work in television. You develop thick skin. I'm used to it. But if I think for one minute that I was jeopardizing the safety or well-being of my family in any way, I would shut this site down immediately.

I was terrified again. Just like before I started to blog, before I became a dad. Because I wasn't ready. Wasn't ready... for prime time. There was so much I had intended to do before this happened.

For example, last night I finally started using Twitter. Reaching out to other daddy bloggers who've been in the spotlight longer than I have. These are all guys like me: dads who love their kids, are so passionate about them that it comes out of their fingertips into beautiful, funny, heart-warming stories. They're good guys and I look forward to continued interaction and new friendships with them.

But I need their help.

I feel like everything happened so quickly and all I'm doing is hounding my friends and family... the people who have loved and admired and enjoyed my blog for more than four years... to follow me when all they've been doing is following me from the beginning.

My wife says I should just let them come... she uses the word "organically." And she's not talking about going to Whole Foods and dropping $6 bucks a pound on broccoli. As always, she's my biggest supporter. She says I have to let this happen naturally. And she's right.

A popular mommy blogger reading my stuff and sharing it with her massive following... that's natural.

A lot of what I've been doing is not.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly... I don't want to be glued to my blackberry or my iPad or my laptop all day. I don't want to be tweeting from my daughter's dance class, birthday party, or day care covered dish dinner. Not passing judgment on those who do... but that's just not me. I don't want the blogger to overshadow the daddy. I don't want to be hitting refresh every ten minutes to see how many page views I've gotten. I want to sit down with my daughter and do a puzzle, color, pretend.

I want to write something only when it comes to me... only when it's good enough... because that's what you expect.

Not to mention, my demanding, stressful, full-time job. It's also something I am passionate about, something I'm good at... and it pays the bills.

Eventually, I do want to be a writer full-time. But it's not going to happen overnight, in the next month, or the next year for that matter. And I haven't really written much in the past couple of weeks... which is frustrating... because I'm consumed with this other stuff.

I just wanted to call a time out... let you know that I'm thinking the same things many of you loyal-from-the-beginning followers may be thinking. I'm doing too much too fast. I might be getting in over my head. I'm a very good swimmer... but one can only tread water for so long.

To ALL of my followers: by no means am I going away. I am going to be writing just as much as I have in the past. And I promise it will be filled with the same heart, humor, and insight you've come to expect. But I have to be me. And I have to do it only as much as my daughter, my wife, my job, my life allows.

They all come first. The daddy comes first... way before the blogger.

6 comments:

  1. You are a Daddy Blogger not a blogger daddy. What comes first is always going to be that beautiful daughter and wife if yours. They have always been the inspiration and ghat shouldn't change. You got to where you are because of them. If you change the way you are operating you are going to take away from what makes your blog special, the reason why people read it in the first place. You are a hell of a writer, and your posts are something I look forward to because I can tell the effort you put into it. I would rather read something a couple if times a week that was great than something more often that was ho hum, something I find myself doing. I agree with your wife, do not change and let people come naturally. It's worked so far. Your blog will be better for it, and your family will be better for it

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  2. THANKS, John. This post was much needed catharsis. I know everything you wrote... this was just my way of telling everyone that from now on, I'm gonna be me. Still present on Facebook, Twitter, and the blog... but I need to disconnect more often before I miss something,

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  3. I found you through Nikki, but I'm still new to the daddy blog thing. I like to think that I would have come across this blog at some point anyway. Just do what you do, brother. It's good to know there are dads with priorities out there. We'll read when you find the time to write.

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  4. I appreciate that Chris. I have three good ones in the hopper right now. They're marinationg as we speak.

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  5. Hey man. It's all a bunch of BS and stats and numbers and a big popularity contest. Twitter is like a high school dance. Or its married dudes flirting with married women saying it's "safe" cause it's twitter. Others are buying followers Do what you want to do. No one is going to get rich doing it. You can blog all day about wipes and get some free wipes or live your life and get some wipes at target. :). It already sounds like you've figured out you don't need to neglect your family and hire a nanny for a free stroller. Peace brother.

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  6. If the spotlight is ruining the fun for you, try to ignore the spotlight. Make commenters register or stop approving comments by new people.

    Expanding to Facebook and Twitter is certainly going to increase your work load, but what is your goal? That's what you need to sort out.

    And if a hobby isn't fun, it is no longer a hobby. Then kill it. If it is a business, is it making money? If not, then kill it, or turn it back into a hobby.

    I have started a blog and a forum. It is a lot of work, but it is still fun. I hope it stays that way.

    I vote for having fun.

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