Let’s just make this clear right off the bat: I’m not stopping this blog train! I’ve noticed that every time I open a blog post by talking about blogging, or life, or anything not explicitly house-related, inevitably a contingent of readers thinks I am trying to signal the end times. Not so! Relax! I am, however, immensely flattered and still amazed that anyone would find such an announcement even mildly consequential or distressing. But that’s not what’s happening so don’t work yourself up! It’s only Tuesday! We have the whole week for that! Pacing is key!
Here’s what is happening: Sunday marked EIGHT YEARS since I published the first post on Manhattan Nest. I think that’s almost a century in Internet-time? What a crazy thing.
Eight years is a long time, I think, for most people to stick with any one thing. Which isn’t to overstate the longevity here—I mean, this morning I fell down an Instagram rabbit-hole and discovered that Heidi and Spencer have now been married for almost NINE years, and that shit knocked me right back down to size. But still, 8 years is something. Can we just IMAGINE for a second if I had applied the same level of long-term commitment to, say, physical fitness? Who even KNOWS the heights of hotness I could have reached! I certainly don’t. But it’s sort of fun to think about.
It feels a little funny/wrong/weird/indulgent (maybe because it isssss!) bringing up this 8-year milestone at all, primarily because of all the things this blog is not. You’d think after this much time, I might have figured a lot of stuff out about blogging, or at least about my own blog, but the truth is…nope, not really. Stuff like…is there a goal here with this thing that I’m doing? Why am I doing this? How does it fit into my life?
You know that feeling that everything we do ought to be undertaken with a specific goal in mind? Yes hello. You get the degree to get the better job. You practice the sport so you can win the game. You stitch this piece of fabric to that piece because all the small efforts will add up to one hawt caftan, or whatever. But what if you don’t know if you’re sewing a caftan or a quilt or a circus tent or a throw pillow? What if you just kind of like the activity of it? That can feel a little aimless, because it is. And not very worthwhile, sometimes.
I’ve been lucky to meet and know a lot of bloggers over the years, and have always felt super out of place when a conversation shifts to posting schedules or strategies to grow follower counts or subscribers or newsletters or video content or sponsorship deals with the kind of budgets that have definitely never come anywhere near my inbox.* In 8 years, I’ve never been successful at sticking to a posting schedule for any significant amount of time. I’ve stepped away from it all for weeks or occasionally months when other stuff took over my life. I’ve never done any of the smart things bloggers do to organically grow traffic and increase shares and gain larger followings. I’ve never pitched myself to a brand. I’ve never created goals for blog-derived income or really any blog-related goals, period. Yet, 8 years. Here we are.
*For the record, pretty much all blog people I’ve ever met IRL are really cool and fun and smart and mostly talk about things other than blogging.
For a long time, I felt like I was doing this whole blog thing very wrong. Actually, not even a long time—I mean pretty much the entire time. Like I accidentally created this thing that had potential to be…something…and I never got my shit together to really figure out what that thing was. I’ve never been able to figure out if this is job, or not a job, or kind of a job but totally different than my actual job, or an extension of my actual job, or what. It’s personal, but how personal? It’s professional, but how professional? Sure, I think I should be entitled to make some money off of it, but how much money? And how? And at what cost? How much time is too much time to spend on something that isn’t how I make a living, but contributes to it? Could I make it a job if I really dove into it with everything I had? Would I even want that if it was an option? Questions like this are shockingly easy to avoid thinking too much about, but I think the consequence is creating an abyss of not-knowing-ness. Without the clarity of a direction, often you don’t really know what to do. I guess you can just stop, but if it feels good…what’s the harm in continuing? For eight years.
I don’t have an answer but maybe that’s because I’ve been considering the wrong question. Maybe it doesn’t have to matter all the time what something should be, because how often in life are we honestly allowed to just not really know? Through what other mechanism can I have fun shooting the shit about stuff in my life and get paid even a little bit for it? And interact with a bunch of awesome people who want to talk about it? And make some legit friends along the way and see some amazing things and learn so goddamn much?
Maybe it kind of already is what it should be, which is a collection of all those things. That doesn’t mean it can’t be more. That doesn’t mean it won’t at times become less. But recently I realized that I was looking back on my 8 years of blogging as story of underachieving, a collection of personal and professional shortcomings, of all the things I somehow never wrote about or didn’t complete, of taking for granted what I know plenty of people work really hard for. We tell ourselves harsh stories, sometimes. But that’s one perspective, and it’s a bad take. My idea of a big project when I started this blog was building my own desk, and now I’ve built a house—maybe what this thing should or shouldn’t be just isn’t all that relevant. The fact that we’re even talking about it at all 8 years in is worth something. The fact that it’s still fun is worth something. It actually feels like it’s worth a lot of somethings, at least to me.
This blog is, and has been, a source of incredible good in my life—this I know. And maybe a consequence of sitting for so long in that abyss of not-knowing-ness was the creation of this space, right here. This kooky little dimple of the internet where people are actually fucking nice to each other, and smart, and knowledgeable, and generous, where we can freely engage big ideas as much as fawn of pretty stuff and adorable raccoons. Sometimes I worry that acknowledging the rarity of that will come off as self-congratulatory, but honestly? I didn’t create it—you guys did. There have been almost 36,000 comments posted on this blog, and I don’t even think I’d need all ten fingers to count the shitty troll-y ones. Where else does that happen? I really don’t know, but it’s a real honor to be part of it here.
I don’t know what the next 8 years or 8 months or 8 weeks looks like with this blog, but I’d like to approach it with less concern about what I should be doing and more about what I want to be doing, since that’s pretty much all I’ve ever been good at anyway. It’s the internet, guys. We can do that kind of thing. And I hope you’ll come along for it, because I really like having you here. We have a nice time together, I think.
So from the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you, thank you for these past 8 years! Year 9—let’s do this thing.