July 19, 2014

Search for Meaning:
Is there room for more atheist blogs?

I ran across a blog post on Atheist Revolution this week called "Room For More Atheist Blogs". For what are most likely obvious reasons, I was interested to read whether this author considered the blog big enough for more blogs. Long story short, the piece was a great look at it, and yes, there are room for more blogs. But I'll get to that in a minute.

Let's start today with a history lesson.

For those of you that are blogger-savvy, you may have noticed that this blog was actually started in May of 2013...yet my first post was on May 13, 2014. Why over a year for posts?

Well, if you are even more savvy, you may be able to tap into the first posts, now lon deleted, from over a year ago. And you'd probably be incredibly surprised.

They are not unique. They are not interesting. They are not even really reflective of me.


I'd headed into a crowded genre: Mom blogs by stay-at-home mothers.

It was not a pretty time.
That is a genre that I consider truly over-crowded. If you've read one, you've read a hundred. I'm not saying anyone should stop writing--not in the slightest--but there are instances where the genre is just so over-crowded that you can't find your voice.

At the time, I still considered myself a believer. I was reaching out because my life was in flux as our store was liquidating and I knew that I would be laid off by the end of the month. For the first time in seven years, I would be without a job. It was a time of transition, and I reached out to try to understand my new position as a stay at home parent and spouse.

But I never quite fit in.

I am a good organizer--my family and friends often reach out to me for that purpose. But I had trouble translating that into a voice in my writing. I honestly just wasn't passionate about writing about it. I didn't like photographing it. I didn't enjoy it. I was just writing as an outlet, which was fine, but didn't translate into quality writing.

Fast forward to this spring. The urge to write was back, and it was strong. I had tons of new ideas bubbling over, I was reading things and learning things I'd never imagined. I was simply brimming with voice and perspective (at least in my head). And the biggest transitions were my acknowledgement that I was a feminist (which came first) and an atheist.

So I reached out again (hopefully with a bit more success).

There are many blogs in the area of belief and non-belief. There are many blogs that look at atheism and feminism, or blogs that are anti-fundamentalist. There are blogs that deal with spiritual abuse. It's a strong genre, and growing stronger, but there was most certainly still room for me to grow my own voice, which is something you've probably noticed (I know I have) if you've been a reader from the beginning. The forest wasn't so crowded that it was choking out a sapling.

One of the reasons that I think this genre is easier to write in is that atheism is not an all-consuming part of my identity. Being a mother and spouse were. Atheism and feminism deal with my interactions with people and my view of the world around me. Staying at home...well, it didn't really. Organizing my home was exceedingly personal and not really revolutionary to me.

The Atheist Revolution piece had this to say:
If atheism becomes more socially acceptable, we will likely see plenty of new atheist blogs emerging. Authors will provide fresh perspectives on the issues some of us have grown tired of addressing, but I have little doubt that they will also explore subjects well beyond atheism. I think that's a good thing. None of us should feel confined by atheism/humanism/secularism. Our blogs may focus primarily on these areas, but I don't know of any active blogs today that limit themselves completely to these subjects. No matter how important atheism may be to us, it is just one part of who we are.
I would say that my perspective is that of someone overcoming the damage that faith did to her, personally. This influences every other part of my personality right now, from my parenting to my non-belief to my feminism. For instance, one of the topics I am most passionate about in feminism is our sexuality--owning it, loving it, acknowledging it as a natural and beautiful part of who we are as people. This is because my faith stunted that part of my development, and I want to help other young women either overcome that or avoid it altogether. Thus my feminism (and non-belief) come into play, but are both motivated by that underlying force. And so my voice can come through strong on those issues, because they move me.

Atheist Revolution also says;
For me, the single-most important thing about blogging is the realization that I have to do it first and foremost for myself. If I was doing it for some external incentive (e.g., money, traffic, popularity, fame), I would have quit long ago. Not only are these things hard to come by through blogging, but I have learned that they are not particularly compelling motives for me. I write because it helps me think more clearly and because I have so few opportunities for real-world interaction around many of the topics about which I write. I suppose it would be accurate to say that I write because I find it therapeutic in some way. 
I very much agree. I don't know what exactly I expected out of my first foray in blogging, but it became such a drudgery that I didn't even want to continue it. I don't know whether it was the pressure to find a new way to support my family or what, but I had hopes to grow it, but not the motivation, if that makes sense.

Fast forward to today, and I don't care whether this blog grows or not. It's my voice, it's out there in the world, and I love that. I enjoy that. I look forward to finding new content and writing up what I think about it. I actively set aside time to write--it's not just an afterthought, it's a key part of my day. An important part.

Even on vacation, I had to resist the urge to break out my computer and write. It is that much a part of me.

One last quote from the AR piece:
As the atheist blog niche becomes more crowded, I think it will be important for new bloggers to reflect on why they want to write. The external rewards are hard to come by, and this is unlikely to change anytime soon. Those with a strong internal motivation will probably last longer and enjoy the experience more. 
This is true of most endeavors, but more so writing, I think. It is not a way to make a living, it's a way of living, at least for me. I'd love for it to someday be my way of making a living--but until that day comes, I am perfectly content to etch out the time to peck at my keyboard and share my thoughts and hopefully, somewhere, someone will find them enlightening, entertaining, enjoyable.

Is there room for more atheist blogs?

Most certainly, it is so.

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