And how pretty is my sister-in-law's house? Every time we stay with them I come back to my own house feeling refreshed and energised to get my DIY on and make our house prettier.
We have really beautiful beaches in WA too, but man the NSW coast is also stunning. I went swimming every day that I could. There is something about a dip in saltwater that makes you feel like a new person.
I’ve been talking with my web people about doing a big House Nerd redesign and migrating over to Wordpress, which is a lot of work, but so exciting and will mean some fun improvements to the blog. Work has been busy. Lots of inquiries, some freelance writing bits and pieces, but all good stuff.
And we’ve been busy with not-so-good stuff. We’ve had a few ups and down with various house things (too boring to talk about) and like most of Perth the past month we’ve also been sick (also boring! I don’t know about you guys, but when people go, “Oh, I have a cold,” I’m sympathetic but then when they start going into details, I can just FEEL my eyes glazing over. But then when I’M sick I want to tell everyone about every symptom. Kind of like when you have a weird dream. Everyone thinks their own dreams are so cool and worthy of telling, especially when they’re not. But no-one really wants to hear anyone else’s, unless they’re in it, or it’s a sex dream (or both).
These days, coming up to his bedtime, I’m like, “Ok, sweet! When he’s in bed, I’m going to cook dinner, clear my inbox, finish that blog post and then maybe I’ll have time to watch an episode of Call the Midwife,” but then the moment I leave his bedroom, I usually just feel sapped. I don't want to sit down at my desk to answer 400 emails.
When he's down, tackling my growing wqrk to-do list sometimes feels like an insurmountable task and I actually just WANT to go to sleep. And I neeever want to go to bed. Childhood habit that hasn’t died. I’d rather stay up, exhausted, my eyes like dry, giant orbs, snapping at my husband and picking fights for no reason, especially when he tells me I’m grumpy because I’m overtired and to go to bed. Don’t tell me to go to bed. You’re not my mum.
Anyway, on the whole, life just seemed to get very busy, very quickly. One of those stages where something just has to give for a while. And it’s been the blog that suffered my neglect (and the vegie garden, now taken over by a triumphant fennel that I had tried to kill off).
This comic above by Mari Andrews, who is incredible and does the most relatable comics I’ve seen in ages, I find myself reading her comics and going, “This woman is myself” regularly (you can see her drawings on Instagram @bymariandrew)
Then on top of being busy I got a little dose of something, and I don’t know if there is a proper name for it, so I’m going to call it blogger shyness. It’s not writer’s block, because I never run out of story ideas. (Kudos to all that journalism training... I could spit out 10 story ideas for you in the next 10 minutes).
It’s more like… maybe blogging overwhelm, but more blogger’s stage fright, perhaps. You start a blog and you go from, “I want people to read my stuff” to, “Cool, people are reading my stuff! I feel amazing!” and your blog is doing well and then suddenly, for no reason at all, you feel sort of shy about it.
I think I am an open person, but not an extroverted one, and I think blogging is being extroverted in some way. Other bloggers might understand. You’re writing something and sometimes you think, thousands of people might read this… my uncle… my old boss… my dad… my mum’s tennis ladies… old love interests… a former teacher who seemed to find the mere sight of me distasteful. And when you have a blog, reader comments on posts and post likes on FB only represent a TINY portion of the number of people who have read something. A quick check on Diji and you can see there is always this much larger proportion of people who read a post or see something on social media but don’t ‘mark it’ as such.
The quiet blog readers! I do it myself a lot, read without commenting, even though I try to leave comments or likes when I can, to show a little bit of support for the person who put the content together, but it’s not always possible. You just don’t always have the time, or energy, to leave a comment; you might not like something because you don’t want your employer to catch on that you’ve been reading interior design blogs instead of filing that report by COB, etc.
But it’s quite easy to forget the quiet blog readers and then every so often you get a reminder in some way of just how many people have actually checked out something you read. Maybe you look at how many people read a post, or you get recognised in public and it slightly off-balances you, or maybe it’s your dog that gets recognised (this happened).
It’s ego-boosting (well for me, the dog remains indifferent) while at the same time for more introverted people like me, it makes me feel a bit tongue-tied. Like when I am at a party or an event and my friend is like, “Oh! I have to introduce you to my friend, she loves your blog,” and at first there is a small wave of pleasure (Someone likes my blog!) and two seconds later, I’m like a nervous fearful primary schooler (But what if she doesn’t LIKE me after she meets me? I am definitely not as funny in real life). Anyway... basically, I sometimes feel a little shy. How weird is that, right? Has this happened to any other blogger or writer out there? I know I probably sound like a dope. It’s ironic because that’s what any blogger wants, right? You’re not putting your words on the internet so no-one reads them.
I don’t mean to sound ridiculous, or ungrateful. I have been so lucky to have so many people check House Nerd out. (Well both lucky and admittedly I put in a lot of hard work and Saturday nights at my desk. Because no matter how effortless a blog may look on the surface, there’s probably been a lot of work and many long hours behind it! Unless you’re some natural modern-day Emerson).
I do wonder if maybe a little bit of this ‘blogger shyness’ comes from having a kid now. A kid who’s now getting close to two, old enough to have developed a strong personality and sense of self. A real little man. (And ‘a man’ he calls himself, regularly. Like this morning when he noticed a pretty little girl at the playground. “A girl!” he exclaimed in delight. Then he patted himself lovingly on his chest. “A man.” Lock up your daughters).
With a kid (sorry, a man) added to our clan – I find myself thinking much more about privacy and security than I did before. I am not even a famous blogger and I find myself thinking about it (maybe even overthinking it); and I seesaw, going from many a proud parent, wanting to share what they think is sweet and funny (“Look how CUTE my son’s smile is! He should be on a billboard”) to thinking about the possible ramifications of kids having even a small online presence, and whether something I post today could affect or embarrass him down the line. Mia Freedman’s son recently spoke out in this Daily Telegraph story (and in her soon-to-be-released new book) about what it was like growing up having a mother who had a no-holds-barred approach to what she wrote about and frequently used his personal life as writing fodder. He has clearly become a well-adjusted young man who loves his mother, but it makes you think about how you do need to be careful about how much you reveal of your kids.
My blog and IG feed is a small snapshot of my life, the things we get up to. And sometimes when I’m feeling romantic or nostalgic I muse that they might be a nice thing, a kind of diary, to show Little Nerd one day.
As superficial as I sound, I want to show him that he's an important and cherished part of my life and our family. And if it's the kind of Instagram/blog I have, what do you say to your kid when he gets older and he’s not on it? ("Mum, why are there so many more photos on Instagram of the dog IG than of me?" "I don't know, honey, I guess I just don't love you as much.")
Even after years of blogging, I still feel like I haven’t fully sussed things out when it comes to balancing privacy for my family. I guess it’s something that will always be a work-in-progress, and constantly re-evaluated and reassessed. Because the one thing I have always been sure of is that writing makes me very happy.
Anyway… a lot of rambling today after a lot of online quiet! Blogger shyness, people… a real thing! And in case any other bloggers are reading this, I’ve come up with four quick tips for beating it.
1. Think small.
When you write a post, have just one or two particular/very specific readers in mind, rather than addressing some big, demographically diverse group. If I am struggling or don’t know where to start with a post, I actually picture really specific readers (different people for different styles of posts, too) and pretend I’m writing something just for them to enjoy. It’s a great way to get a strong voice in your post, too.
2. Get a dash of inspiration from other people who do what you do.
A blog that I discovered not too long ago but that has very quickly become one of my favourites is Blogging 4 Keeps, written by two U.S bloggers Jess Keys and Blair Starkey who very freely give all their blogging advice. They’re smart, funny, entertaining and endearing and I find it impossible to leave their site without feeling more motivated and upbeat.
3. Go offline.
Take a little break from your blog and don’t beat yourself up over it. Even big-name bloggers need some offline time; look at Daniel Kantz of Manhattan Nest (one of my all-time fave bloggers, he is just SO jealousy-inducing funny, once you discover him you’ll never read me again) who recently had a short break, and John and Sherry Petesik of Young House Love, who built up an insane cult following before, disillusioned, calling it quits on the blogosphere permanently – then starting up again recently. If you’re interested in their story, which highlights how crazy life for some bloggers can get, this article is worth a read). When life got busy and there was too much on my plate, my response was to retreat from the blog, just for a bit.
4. Every day, count your wins.
And this one totally applies to non-bloggers too, but anyone who is busy, a tired parent, or who often feels like they’re just not achieving ‘enough’. I do this when I feel like a failure! Or when a day didn’t go quite as productively as I’d planned. I just mentally list the things that went right. Maybe today you didn’t finish that blog post or that work project, but you cooked a healthy dinner, you squeezed in time to take the kid and the dog to the river, you had a nice lunch with your husband, you fit in a decent run. I count all my small wins! Maya x