Here But Not Here

So, you may not have noticed — I’ve hardly posted here this year — but I’ve made into an archive.

There are a number of reasons for this. But mainly, I’ve needed a more private space to write. I’ve enjoyed having a readership here over the years, but always facing outward — imagining a mass of people on the other side of my screen — continues to paralyze me. It’s not that I’m done with blogging, as I’m still very much publishing posts in other places, like here and here. But I need to write for myself again, to write without thinking, to write and not have to answer to anyone. Sometimes it’s hard to do this when you have all these followers who say they read you because you have something to say. Or because they look up to you as some sort of model for blogging.

Believe me, I love likes and comments. I love all the interactions I have with people, mainly strangers and those I’ve not met in person. This month, I’m running a Writing 101 course, and this first week has reminded me why I started blogging in the first place, many years ago. I’ve received some of the loveliest, kindest comments from people who simply want to express themselves.

I know that feeling. I miss that feeling.

I’d created a new blog several months ago, Notebook, for free-writes and fragments. A blank slate to experiment and say whatever I want. Nothing fancy. Intentionally simple. I can’t preoccupy myself there with theme switches and widget pruning — it’s a blog with text and a vague About page. That’s it.

And it’s so fucking freeing.

I feel odd saying that I need a private space to write, but am now giving you the link, which might bite me in the end. And it might all be in my head, but when I see that this blog has nearly 30,000 followers, I freak out. That’s ultimately just a number, but it bothers me: it’s been the source of my writer’s block for quite some time.

So, I’ve hit the reset button.

And no, this site isn’t going away — it’s still my online home, and all of my past posts are accessible and searchable. I’ll keep it updated with links and occasional posts, when needed.

So swing by my online notebook, if you’d like. (And don’t forget to visit my tiny house blog; I’ve posted recent updates there about adjusting to life on wheels.)

Published by Cheri Lucas Rowlands

I am an editor at Longreads. For over a decade, I've worked on curation, editing, and storytelling projects across Automattic, including

33 thoughts on “Here But Not Here

  1. I completely understand the need to have your own little space where you can express yourself without fear of judgement; I guess, in a way, it’s akin to fame. I imagine your notebook blog as a quaint little pub filled with just a few chattering guests, while this blog (with over 40,000 followers) an epic concert stadium which, although impressive, might not feel so personal.

    Although my travel blog only has around 40 followers (I only started it a few months ago), when the link to it was shared amongst my family without my knowing it, I immediately felt under pressure to write more responsible content. I was being watched now (and not just by people I didn’t know), and that was terrifying. If I felt like that with just a few extra readers, I dread to think what I’d be like with tens of thousands of them! Anyhow, keep writing! You’ve just gained one more follower (sorry! ha).

  2. Lovely site you have here. I hopped on to your notebook (blog) and I adore how candid and true your posts are! Have a great year, Cheri Lucas Rowlands! 🙂

  3. I do have sympathy, but I can’t help looking at your total of 30,000 followers and sighing. I spent five months blogging before I even had my first follower. I’m doing a little bit better than that now, but only through monumental effort and very little sleep. It’s a struggle even to get a reply to a comment sometimes, let alone a visit and a new follower. It was so hard to get even the small readership I have now, I’d be terrified at the prospect of giving it up and starting from scratch.

  4. Every writer should write for their own needs first and for the viewer second. It is nice to hear you’ve found that. I understand the reservation you feel to posting for a large audience as I would feel the same. It is hard to share personal feelings publicly.

  5. Will hop right on over.

    Blogging has got to be the weirdest social activity ever, coming directly from minds, going into other people’s minds. No touching, no eye contact. The more we do it, the more we get in sync with each other, in a limited way, but also in an incredibly expansive kind of way. We’re all different, and at the same time, we’re all pretty similar. It’s a don’t-look-down practice, a high wire walk that is both mundane and scary. Looking forward to your freed musings.

    Will check out Tiny House Travelers — our son, a product designer, is very keen on the concept and will be interested to see it too.

    Here’s to your soon-to-be new 30,000 followers. Cheers —

  6. Thanks for all your support and encouragement Cheri ever since I started blogging two and a half years ago. I would like you to know how much it has been appreciated. Sending you very best wishes and have a wonderful time on your trip to Antelope Canyon.

  7. I’m grateful that I read this post after having had the opportunity to see how supportive you have been to those enrolled in Writing 101. And I’m glad to hear that others in the course have let you know how much they appreciate your help and support. I have appreciated it as well. You have a special gift for mentoring and encouraging others while also providing suggestions for improvements. Your assignments and comments have encouraged me to take risks and try new topics and styles of writing, to reach deeper into my emotions and broader in terms of the topics I address. I just want to say thank you, Cheri.

    1. I appreciate the note, Carol — thanks so much. Glad to hear that the course has been encouraging — on my end, it’s been refreshing to interact with everyone, as your collective enthusiasm has reminded me why I started blogging in the first place.

  8. It was nice to read this – and to see your writing running free in a new home. Reminds me that this can be fun, and makes me want to start treating my own abandoned blog more like a playground and less like an office (if you’ll forgive the really labored analogy). Hope things are well in the tiny house!

  9. Cheri, I know this could not have been an easy post to write. I can’t really imagine the challenges you have faced with so many followers and the need to keep at it because you are ‘expected to.’ I recently had a bit of a crisis. I hit a personal blog milestone. I have but a fraction of your followers, and likes and all of that, but all the same, I felt a pressure once I hit the particular milestone of 50 blogs. When I started blogging almost two years ago I never thought that milestone was possible. Until recently, I wrote very long, and once a month on average blogs, and hitting 50 had seemed impossible. Once I hit it, I thought very long and hard about whether I should continue. I felt a little burned out. My readership has dwindled, and with the particular types of blogs I write, I hadn’t had a good interaction with the groups and singers I write about in quite some time, which left me dejected. I decided to refocus a month ago, with a new layout and a new more frequent and shorter focus. All of which I am sure is old hack for you, but I suppose my point is, when it is good, don’t stop. You are a great blogger. When I had my doubts about continuing, I went into this blogging community more. I read lots of blogs, ones that were very different from my own. I left a lot of comments for new bloggers on Community Pool. I then realized that blogging was where I belonged, and I wanted to continue. Which is why I decided to change it up a little, which it seems like you have done. Take a deep breath, don’t worry about us. You could write 25 well spoken words or 2500 and we will continue to read your blogs because you are good at what you do. Not saying that to pressure you, but there is clearly a reason you have had the success you do. Take a breath, and do what you do so well. We will be happy with whatever you come up with.

    1. Wow, these are kind, encouraging words — thanks! I like that you decided to change it up a little when you felt you needed to refocus. Our blogs and profiles/accounts online are reflections of us, and of course we’re ever-evolving creatures, so it’s natural that our online spaces change along with us. Sometimes it’s daunting to make those changes in public, with your followers watching. I like your general approach: just keep going if it’s going well, and don’t be afraid to make adjustments when you feel its time.

      1. You are very welcome! I like the way you put that. It is difficult to change but feels so satisfying when you do. I am about to take my first blogging course (201) and am suddenly very re-energized about what I do. I hope you will be too with what you decide to do. There is an odd kind of pressure with social media these days and I found it healthy to shut down completely, if even only for a day.

  10. Thank you for your support in the past. To be honest, I rarely think about my readers, only when I’m editing my drafts before posting to WordPress. I think people want you to be comfortable talking as if to yourself, so they can see themselves in what you write. I don’t know. I do know that worrying about what others think is not worth the time. Again, thanks for being such a positive force in the WordPress community! Best, Mike

  11. This is such a big thing for so many bloggers – we all start blogging because we love writing, but sometimes, somehow that gets lost… So much respect for what you’re doing and thank you for giving me something to think and reflect on, too 🙂

  12. OK, since the laptop counter is so narrow, I’m assuming THAT is your tiny house…right? Or some coffee house in some backwater town?
    But you know, the funny thing about this post is this: for years, well decades really, I’ve been “meaning” to write, but just couldn’t discipline myself to sit and do it, and sustain doing it to write that book I was always going to write (I have like four books in the process, can’t finish one). But with blogging, and the constant marvelous comments, I feel like writing and sustaining the writing. I actually feel obligated to write because my followers expect it. It has been way better than some vague idea that one day something I write will form itself into a book. AND…I would love to have as many followers as you; I do not think they would inhibit me, I think they would push me even harder. However, when would I ever have time to reply to all their comments is what worries me about that! Because those guys will turn on you, and then, you are in big trouble–tomatoes and cabbages flying your way!

    1. OK, since the laptop counter is so narrow, I’m assuming THAT is your tiny house…right?

      Ha, no — that’s a local coffee shop in town, where we work when we need to escape the tiny house.

      I would love to have as many followers as you; I do not think they would inhibit me, I think they would push me even harder.

      Yes, I’ve thought that regular readers and a stream of constant comments would motivate me to keep writing on a personal level. For me, that doesn’t seem to be the case. I’m certainly motivated and engaged across the blogs I contribute to for work — in the role of editor, moderator, and general WordPress support person — but can’t seem to take my own advice.

      1. Cheri, Got it. And now that I think of it, maybe all those reader WOULD inhibit me! I do get stage fright. But that is real life. But so is a blog. I won’t have to worry about it for a while, it seems! And my readers are very nice, and generous, and forgiving!
        And right…sometimes following our own best advice is the most difficult thing to do. I know I should not procrastinate, and still…

  13. It’s funny and revealing, and very human you shared this – I relate, as part of me didn’t want more followers as I didn’t feel ‘ready,’ and felt I needed to figure things out without the distraction of a large audience. A really small tribe, sometimes just one or two people, can be just what you need to focus your writing. But you know all this. It’s just ironic a large following can block you up. I immediately think of REM’s “Losing My Religion” – or the line by The Smiths, “Fame, fame, fatal fame / it can play hideous tricks on the brain…(but still I’d rather be famous than righteous or holy, any day, any day, any day….)” Peace to you, and your writing Cheri —

  14. I have missed you Cherie but I do ‘see’ you working in other areas. And I understand the need for a space to write. Wishing you happy and productive times in your new blogging home. 🙂 Linda

  15. Thank you for being vulnerable in your post. It helped solidify a decision I made today.

    I’m having the same and similar issues with my blogging. Do I spend time creating a blog to show my art or do I paint? And, when I paint, am I thinking of that outward facing audience or am I painting from my heart and my vision? Today, I made all my attempts at web sites private. I’m going to leave it that way until I’m sure of what the next right choice is. In the meantime, I’m cleaning up my studio space to begin creating and painting art again. I finally realized that I might be getting the cart before the horse.

  16. Not trying to be philosophical here but I dare say you’re completing your circle whereas I’m just starting mine. I’m taking the W101 and feeling the exhilaration: someone’s actually reading (and liking! Gasp) what I wrote, and I’m picking up new followers, making new friends and learning much more. 30,000 followers? How I wish I had that many. But I understand your need to be in a private space. (Although I’m sure your followers will follow you in the other blogs too.) All the best 🙂

    1. Thanks, Annie!

      I realize that this post reminds me of something I’d read not too long ago — from a writer who abandoned their social media following on Twitter and FB:

      I don’t have a presence that big, of course, but I think I’ve experienced something similar on a smaller scale. Might be interesting related reading. Thanks for visiting!

  17. I think many of us share the same feeling to some extent…where all of a sudden we are not writing freely as we did when we first started blogging. For me, it was when friends and family started reading and I noticed my weekly or twice-weekly posts became once-a-month (my blog changed and I changed). I like your thinking here and will take a similar route (a blog/area where I can just ramble freely). Your post made me feel better 🙂 Cheers to a great weekend ~

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