I had a freakout yesterday. A “their oranges and my apples” kind of moment not dissimilar to the one I had the day I went to the library looking for permission to become a writer. Then, overwhelmed by the walls surrounding me filled with books and magazines written by a multitude of published people, I wanted to give up. Stop and not try. But I stood there and said,”You’re going to write something too.” And I still am years later.

breaking bread on shalavee.com

Yesterday, I opened an email from an organization that is the penultimate of bloggers training and incubation. Alt Summit was looking for guest posters. And the list of subject topics proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am a certified know nothing when it comes to the actual practice of blogging. I deemed myself inadequate and that was that.

I’ve been blogging for just about three years. In fact today is that anniversary. And still, I am more than clueless about this process. Like learning a foreign language and simultaneously cruising around in a wheelchair for the first time, I’m dangerously listing to one side about to topple over because my brain can’t handle all the input.

watching the bird butts on the roof from shalavee.com

My learning curve keeps expanding out in front of me. Like that pull focus Hitchcock trick in the movies where the hall suddenly gets 30 feet longer and you feel like you’ve been running in place, I’m not getting anywhere and the end of the hall is further than when I started.

I have thought of the bloggers who started ahead of me as the Producers. They’ve been given the magic spells to unlock the secret blog success formula. They progress with capabilities and rate sheets. They have sponsors, followers, methods, platforms. And they’re super nice which makes it better and worse.

Seagull butt on the roof on shalavee.com

As I move from my closet woodwork and befriend my big sisters, I can not help but still feel that my trick bag is empty. The only certainty I have is that I write compelling well written content. This I know. Which is a big something. The rest, the deserving and the wherefores of branding, I’m working on these as I speak. There’s no tidy little package to offer or pill to take to suddenly know it all. Sorry, Charlie.

I’m messy and long winded. But I’m inspired every day to share what interests me with a faceless audience. Weird, huh? I may have to act like a buffoon but move on I must. So I puzzle out my place, my worth, my path one day, one post, and one communication at a time.

I am nothing if not ever hopeful. Do I wish my learning curve was less steep? Yes. Do I believe I have less to bring than everyone else? Nope. I just need to do a lot of hard work, see me for me, and ask to receive a little help from the producers.


  1. It’s all about intent really and content…what is the purpose of your blog and who is the audience. some people just nail it- clear focus, clear topics. I guess everyone wants to be read, we all want community, but if you want bigger and better…crack the glass blog ceiling, then it’s a combination of simple streamlined style and interesting content that seem to win out. I have tried really hard this year to refine the blog to three things, art/photography , world issues that stir me up and a very little about family and the everyday and I changed blog hosts . Whilst my readership shifting to squarespace dropped (a lot) I feel happier and more focussed. The blog looks more professional.
    ..I think….

    My feedback to you, and joining the sisterhood..(I’d say I’m on the far fringe of sisterhood but have blogged for 10years) .you write a lot about personal growth and writing. And motherhood. But they are not clearly defined topics. Maybe think about picking/defining your focus for yourself and do some real research for content that expand on your personal experience – posts with real statistics about the psychology of getting out of bad relationships, or about writing as a form of therapy…Do you know the blog Edenland? I can imagine that would be a good blog in your style of blog for you to look at.

    As Cari would say onwards and upwards mes amis.x

    • I think blogging is a very personal process. Each of us has a story and this is my story. I had never read a blog when I started. So these three years have really been about understanding what blogging is and why I need it and who I am and what stories I need to tell. I gradually began to see myself during this process. And my next step is to clarify that in the formatting. But I couldn’t do that without doing my branding homework to understand me and what I stand for. And what I don’t want to stand for. I love those article types Andrea, but I dread having to role statistics and news and factoids up into my pieces but would do it if people paid me. I will absolutely check out Edenland. Thanks always for your support. It is a tough choice to put your heart on your sleeve. If I was writing about terriers or vintage necklaces, I wouldn’t be so vulnerable. And I know you know exactly what I mean.
      I didn’t know you changes hosts but I wondered why your posts stopped being delivered to me. I hope it evens out. Change is stressful.

      • Well, there you go. 🙂 Being clear about what you don’t want in a blog (or in life) is half the battle.You’ve obviously been doing a lot of thinking/homework about this. I think your voice is getting stronger and clearer. Having read your response, I’d be tempted to rename your blog something like Shalavee: the stories I need to tell. Only more punchy of course. I say this because that statement right there about deciding what stories you need to tell, tells me so much more about your blog than the art of housewifery.

        I hope you don’t mind my frankness. I find the whole direction/identity convo interesting after the decor8 course.

        I also think you are particularly brave putting yourself put there in such a raw an honest way (with this and every post) and don’t want to reward that with platitudes but with real feedback.


        • I tend to be a little too frank Andrea. So no offense at all. And yes I have been working hard at trying to find clarity about what I am and what I stand for. The course helped and I’ve taken a Braid Branding course too which was immensely helpful. I knew I’d waste my money on overhauling the site until I knew who I wanted to distill down to. And I’m closer still. It is very interesting. I feel rewarded by your showing up. And PS I still have your photo up near my chair.

  2. I think the most important place to start from is asking yourself (and being unabashedly honest with yourself) what you really want from blogging, ultimately where you’d like to go. Once you know that, you can direct your energy and your posts toward that goal. Now, as someone who hasn’t exactly followed the blogging rules, you can take my advice with a grain of salt. But for myself, I decided at the outset that what I truly wanted and needed was a place to express myself, free of input from clients. Seeing as I’m a creative professional and do a lot of projects that reflect the client’s desire rather than my own, it was a healthy exercise in recovering creative freedom. Fiver years later, that’s exactly what I’ve gotten. But if my ultimate goal had been to turn blogging into yet another business for myself, then I would have needed to fine-tune my focus to make that happen. In the end, I think it simply begins with articulating your truest desires. Say it out loud and just keep going. Happy anniversary!

    • Suzonne,
      I always appreciate your thoughtfulness as I try to give the same to everyone I like and read. Your blog’s purpose makes complete sense as you’ve described it. And I could always tell it was your creativity that drove you. You are the attention to thoughtful detail that I lack. I am the abandon and short cut recklessness that you aren’t. The blog format allows us to share but also make promises we become accountable for. It has also cleverly allowed me a vehicle to make wonderful talented friends all over the world. And that is super cool. I would have never imagined that. And it has proven that I can stick to and maintain a creative life. Definitely with my writing and my art side is vying to be seen and heard again. So yes, it is what you make it and you need to make it what it is. Easier said than done when you got no clue. I am glad I’ve finally got a partial one.
      Again, thank you so much. I think you now what it means to me.

  3. Well, Shalagh – my comments won’t be from a professional blogging stance. I have been blogging a bit, for my own sake, and it’s been a huge learning curve as well. I don’t even know about statistics or trackings. I just know I enjoy and appreciate how you “put yourself in the arena” and talk about the experience of that – whether it be family centric or art based struggles. The focus to me is your voice. I don’t know about the bigger blog-o-sphere, but I was excited to think of you presenting at a conference – you have tons to offer, in both experience and idea making. And your photos are wonderful story elements too. You are walking the talk, no trickery needed. Happy Anniversary, and may the hallway pull forward this year for you!

    • You are always such a delight darlin’. As I said to Andrea, if I chose to blog about vintage lockets or Westhighland terriers, I wouldn’t have worry about vulnerability. Back after I had the baby, my Dad said I sound a bit unhinged at times. I told him you try having a baby and having your hormones crash and see how you feel. For not knowing who I wanted to be when I grew up and never having read a blog ever when I started, I think I’m doing pretty damn good. And yes, it’s about the voice. That was apparent after every blog class I took. I knew what holes I didn’t want to fall down. And that this needs to be fun. And it’s become that. And an excuse to live a better life. Thanks so much for your enthusiasm about my future speaking career. The trick is to listen intensely to my voice and see whaen it sings.
      Love to you and yours,

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