Thursday, 26 May 2011

Identity Crisis

Ok, I admit it. I'm going through something of an identity crisis. A blogging identity crisis. I'm not entirely sure what I 'am' anymore. Parent-blogger? Product-reviewer? Badly-paid author? (My last PLR payment - that's the small sum you get for people borrowing your books from public libraries - was a mere £2.10 in case you think I'm exaggerating.)

I know I'm not alone in this. Ever since the Royal Wedding, Charlie's been labouring under the misapprehension that throwing a muslin square over his head transforms him into Kate Middleton, mid-ceremony. I then have to stand in for Prince William - vows, rings and balcony kissing - while we re-enact the occasion. (Incidentally, sir, if you're reading this and ever find you do need somebody to stand in for you, I'd be happy to add 'consort to Her Royal Loveliness the Duchess of Cambridge' to the list of my identities.)

But I digress. This blog has evolved over time from an on-line diary of doing something different (giving up work, bringing up Charlie) to a rag-bag of all sorts of things from book reviews, political rants, psychology lessons, musical interludes, Mr Maker moments and many a cri de coeur as well as the ubiquitous reflections on children and childcare.

But does what you do define who you are? Because if it does, I'm no longer sure who I am. Or what this blog is about. I need help.

But where do you turn in a moment of existential blogging crisis?


You, dear reader.

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading. And if you do it often, may I ask you a simple question - why? What do you expect to find here? And does it meet with your expectations? And if you're new here, is this what you're looking for? Will you be back?

I hope so, of course. Because ultimately, whatever blogging pigeon-hole we might find ourselves in, it's all about engagement, isn't it? Being a parent is probably the most important thing many of us will ever do. But is it who we are?

Should a so-called parent blog be exclusively about parenting, the parent, or both?


  1. I read your blog because I enjoy your writing, regardless of whether the posts are parent-related or not. In fact, as I don't have a small child anymore, I find I'm drawn to posts across the blogosphere that aren't solidly fixed in the mummy/daddy blogging category.
    There are more reviews on your blog than in the past but if I'm not interested, I'll move on and pop back when something catches my eye.

    It's hard to try and pigeon-hole one's blog. Mine is meant to be travel-related but most of my posts are about other random topics and I'm often more likely to get a response from chit-chat about getting a new kitchen than I am from a post about a holiday.
    You're right, it's all about connection and engagement.

  2. That's good to know Trish, thanks! I suppose it's a case of specialisation v generalisation, and I'm firmly in the latter camp - temperamentally - both as a blog writer and blog reader.

  3. I like the variety, Tim. If you felt that you needed direction, or a niche, I'd still read your blog (unless that niche was motor racing).

  4. This is a really, really interesting post. I've been feeling the same way myself for some time now. Starting off as a "blogger", becoming a bit "mummy-blogger" stroke "farming" stroke "writing" stroke anything that takes my fancy, it is often difficult to define my actual blog. A bit of everything, except naughty stuff, could probably sum me up.

    When I come here, I expect to read about Charlie. That's what your blog title says and that's what, I suspect, people will expect to see. But you want my humble opinion? I like to read a variety of subjects on a blog. If the blog is just about one aspect of life, it makes the blogger look a bit uninterestng, and I say that with the utmost respect. Blogging is very individual and we have to take the rough with the smooth. At the end of the day, if we don't like a blog, or we do think a particular post is something we'd prefer not to read, then the best thing to do is click onto the next one. As many people have told me recently, you should blog about what you want to blog about.

    It's your blog and the definition of who you are should be in the general blog, not in what people expect to read.

    For the record, you have a great blog and I'll always come back, no matter what you blog about!

    CJ xx

  5. I don't necessarily think a blog defines you, perhaps it's more of a reflection of the writer. The writer defines the blog.

    What happens in every day life; having an opinion on something; enjoying a specific genre of music, film or book – is not determined by the fact that you choose to write about it.

    That we choose to write about things gives an insight into the type of person we are, what we choose to write about gives insight on a deeper level.

    Blogging for me is much like any other pastime or hobby – it's something I enjoy purely for self-gratification. I very much enjoy your blog and the variety of subjects you write about, and I get that sense of enjoyment because it comes across in your writing. What your blog emanates most (whatever your subject matter) is interest, genuineness, intelligence and humour, and I believe that to be an honest reflection of the author.

    I hope this in some small way is a step toward solving your identity crisis.

  6. Rest assured Sandy, that is very unlikely to happen - in spite of the fact that my brother-in-law works in motor racing!

    What lovely, kind words Kathryn - thanks for taking the time to give me such detailed feedback. And I'm sure you're right - it's an individual enterprise and variety is certainly the spice of life.

  7. Yes - it's a difficult one isn't it? like the others I read your blog because I enjoy reading your writing. But I'm having similar dilemmas myself - my blog started as a kind of therapy/parenting/place to rant, and now life is busy and I haven't always the time to spend on it. But if I don't spend time writing posts, reading other's posts and commenting, naturally interests wanes in my blog and it's hard to write into a black hole...... Actually, I'm sorry - I've just realised that you were talking about a different issue, and I've launched into a selfish piece about me. Anyhow - keep writing whatever you want. It's all good to read.

  8. I like that whenever I stop by it's always different! I like the range of subjects and the type of posts you write!! I say keep it up! :D

  9. To quote Kierkegaard - ok, ok, to quote Wayne quoting Kierkegaard in Wayne's World - once you label me you negate me.

    There's much more to all of us than individual labels can describe and the random thoughts we have contribute to defining who we are - so keep 'em coming.

    I keep coming back because I like your writing style and know that the subject matter isn't going to become formulaic - viva variety!

    For my part, I've only been blogging since September but am finding now that I've got more things I want to waffle on about that don't necessarily fit my blog's original stated purpose. I will therefore soon be endeavouring to join you in the wonderful world of miscellaneous musings.

    See you on the other side!

  10. Altho' there are quite a few blog topics I click away from (too many photos, potty-training discussions, recipes) I enjoy the variety of your posts and the quality of your writing. It's not really about the label but the ability to connect with readers, which you always do.

  11. Absolutely, Paul! And thanks - especially for the ego massage. May I quote you on the 'intelligence, genuineness, humour' bit?

    Seriously though, a lot stems from my own assessment of myself as 'parent blogger', only to find - when looking through posts - that an awful lot aren't about parenting! And as for the writer defining the blog - spot on! I think that's 'problem solved'!

  12. No Kate, I think the two things are connected. And as for the 'black hole' it's surprising just how many people out there read but never comment. But I recognise the time pressures and no I don't spend anything like as long as I used to blogging. But then, there are many more excellent blogs out there now than there were three years ago - including yours. Keep writing!

  13. Thanks Emma! I will... (oh no, that line gets everywhere)

    Maybe we should have a misc bloggers meet-up Tom. And that Kierkegaard fellow - do you think he'd be our patron. (I'm sure overcoming death will be but a trifle to an intellectual of his standing).

  14. Thanks EM! I'll try to keep the potty training photo-recipes to a minimum from now on!

  15. Trish hit the nail on the head; I like reading your blog because I enjoy your writing! I do particularly like the psychology oriented posts (I used to be a psychiatric nurse in the UK) but I generally enjoy reading anything you write.

    I guess that as long as you are writing about things that interest you, this will show in your writing; making it enjoyable to read!

  16. I quite like blogs that are written well have good stories that are heartfelt or informing or amusing. I think your blog does this pretty often so keep it up

  17. You had me at Charlie pretending to be Kate Middleton...:)
    I remember my nanny friend having to play the Captain Von Trapp to her charge's Maria over and over again.
    As for blogging, I suppose it is a sort of assignment we give ourselves, for fun, for connection, but also for growth. I suppose what I am saying is that we have to allow ourselves some growing pains along the way. For myself, I like the tone of your blog. It is a gentle, friendly, warm and inviting place to visit. And the kids are darn cute!

  18. I like your blog precisely because it is so random and why oh daddy oh, have I clicked on you today for example? Because I'm going through an identity crisis too!! Can't articulate it like you!!! Thank you!!! So, if it's ok with you, i shall take your post and link it on mine because it fits with what I've been writing (abit too much of lately). Like others have said, connection. I connect with you as a writer, who happens to be a parent (or are you a parent who happens to be a writer ho ho!) Keep them posts coming whoever you are!

  19. Blog post love is fickle.....I tend not to read the young family ones as there are no toddlers in my life at the moment and I avoid the heavily sponsored advertising stuff blog posts....Your blog is in my favourites but I don't read everypost.....I skim over and either stay or move on...prhaps driven by curiosity or mood or both...don't we all do that though? or am I just a bad blog reader?

  20. Me again.......I've just realised that I don't like reading a post that makes me feel as if I'm taking part in a focus group......used to do those for cash when the kids were younger so feel a bit aggrieved if I'm not getting a reward now..........but do like the tales of ordinary life type posts.....I'll shut up now shall I?

  21. I think a good blog is quite simply about the blogger. Their take on things. Their life. It doesn't have to be - shouldn't be - constrained by subject matter or manifesto. Whatever touches you and make you want to write should be blogged about!

  22. A good blog (for me) is about the writer, the writing, and his/her/my connection to the reader - The folk on the other end... I've never fallen into any niche myself (tant pis!), and I personally feel there are enough 'Mommy Bloggers' with littlies in the world to sink another Titanic. There is also some poor writing out there.

    Yours is just fab, whatever you write, whether its tales of Charlie and your family, product reviews (it's good to hear from someone I trust), to other reviews (again, I trust you), Dotterel! Onwards and upwards! x

  23. Well there are no rules, but intuitively we know some forms are better than others depending on the writing and the content. So for example you have written books and presumably thought that a better form than say, a website, given the content. Much the same is true of poetry and prose - writers often chose to present their thoughts the former because it seems appropriate even though in some cases the line between prose is a fine one.

    Something I did a while ago was to go through all my old posts and say one of either 'good; mm...maybe; absolute rubbish; not on the blog.' It was a way of self filtering that worked for me and helped me understand the areas I most want to write about.

    Typical of me to give an analytical answer - there's blokes for you, eh. As a personal preference I don't like product reviews on blogs; they almost invariably don't fit with the rest of the content and are a diversion unless (and very rarely) you just happen to be interested in the product. But then nobody has yet offered me anything much for free.

  24. Thanks everyone for some really interesting, encouraging and thought-provoking comments - and sorry I haven't been around to respond to them all individually. But rest-assured you have - collectively - confirmed what I always knew, deep down, was my motivation for blogging.

    Whatever I am, I'm going to keep going!

  25. I think its very easy to want to define ourselves by a precise set of parameters, trouble is that most of us don't really fit into a neat little box like that.

    Whilst you enjoy it, carry on doing what you enjoy doing and keep up the good work!

  26. Thanks Hannah... I guess I just don't feel comfortable in my box!


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