Living in the silver lining

standard October 23, 2012 7 responses

“And what’s your blog about?” It’s the question invariably posed at blog events or even by people who have just discovered what I do.

“It’s ah, called ‘It’s my life…’ and it’s ah… a blog about my life.”

Inevitably the person nods knowingly, imagining only dry posts about what I had for lunch or some cutesy story about my kids. Eyes glaze over and shift to look behind me to see if someone more interesting might have magically appeared.

“It’s a lifestyle blog of storts,” I rush in to elaborate, despite never really having understood just what “lifestyle” encompases, but knowing that it sounds good or at least legitimate.

“I tell stories about my life as a writing mom… about… uh… my life.”

It’s weak. I know. This lack of definition has taunted me for years. How is it possible that I can’t define something that is such an essential part of me, that is so central to my existence?

A few months ago, at a blogging conference in Utah, at a conference attended by many women who, on the surface, seemed so secure in their blogging identities, I stumbled on the fact that I’m not the only one who struggles to define my ‘niche.’

These other bloggers and I are a strange faction who never found a niche beyond just telling our personal stories. We are diarists, but we share our stories professionally, not intending to post them just for our families and friends or just for posterity.

Are we stuck in our efforts to claim that as a true niche because it seems somewhat disingenuous to say “I write these intensely personal stories about my life and fully expect to earn money doing so?” Are we turned off by how self-serving that seems?

Finance bloggers, tech bloggers, fashion bloggers, food bloggers, craft bloggers, even coupon bloggers are (arguably) putting inherently valuable content on their blogs. The information they share has value beyond the fact that they are the ones who wrote the words.

My stories have no intrinsic value to anyone other than me. Any value readers derive from the words is purely hapenstance.

You can sell most niche blogs if you’re ready to walk away from your creation. You can’t sell a diarist’s blog. It simply doesn’t retain value without its creator.

Once upon a time, before mass printed books, before radio, before TV, story tellers were revered. They were welcomed into people’s homes, they were embraced and listened to raptly.

So why is it that we modern day storytellers have such trouble proclaiming proudly that we do the same, with slightly different tools?

Back in July, at that conference in Utah, I started toying with the notion that I wasn’t “just a blogger,” that, just maybe, I was a story teller. This week, at another conference, this one in Atlanta (fueled by Coke and put on by the lovely people at Coca-cola*), I took advantage of a branding workshop replete with a vision board exercise, to dig a little deeper into that notion, trying to define what sets my particular brand of storytelling apart from the other writers who use blogs to share their stories with the world.

My stories, they are about me, about the kids, about the cat, about life as a writer, a blogger, a friend, a wife, but they always seem to focus on the joys hidden in the unexpected parts of this life of mine.

And there, in a flash, I finally found the answer to that question that keeps tripping me up.

What’s my blog about, you ask?

Easy, I blog about the mundane, messy, sometimes challenging cloud that is my life, and about how I strive to live in its silver lining.

Lake Tahoe at sunset. Silver linings as far as the eye can see.

(*My trip to Atlanta was sponsored by Coca-cola. I’m grateful to have been invited there to discover more about this iconic brand and the amazing people who keep their particular brand of magic alive and bubbling.)

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7 responses

  • There’s nothing wrong with silver linings, my friend. Absolutely nothing.

  • I struggle with that too. I don’t have a niche and I don’t really want one, but everyone wants you to have one.

  • I feel like a niche will pigeon hole me into only talking about one thing. I am more than one thing (wife, mom, employee, sister, entrepreneur etc etc) so why should I only write about one? It’s been a struggle for sure.

    I’m glad we had a chance to bond over grits and popovers!

  • And this is why I’ve always loved and related to your writing. The silver lining is what makes everything worth while, isn’t it?

  • Sitting in the same Coke session as you last week, listening to the advice to (for the sake of “branding”) come up with one word that describes you…I was stumped. And your epiphany of “silver lining” was so beautiful! Dangit, is that one taken now?! ;-D

    I’m all over the map with my blog. I was all over the map with my Vision Board. But not really. The common thread is it’s all about things I love. I just happen to love a lot of varied things! Storytelling was a new concept to me, but I absolutely love it – and that’s what I’m going to start embracing, too.

    So happy to have found you, Jessica! I truly hope we cross paths again. You are a joy to be around, and to read! 🙂

  • Sounds like you had a fun & fruitful time in Atlanta. I like your description, though I’m not sure I would consider it a niche…and that’s a good thing! 🙂

  • I lurk here a lot and love your stories. The “silver lining” is a perfect niche (and a great tag line, too!).

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