“Click here to start your blog,” it says on the home page. As if to say, “Hey, it’s easy! Anyone can do it.”
During the journey of setting up l’Esprit de la Côte, my own blog identity, I was struck by similarities with childbirth. “With what?!” you say incredulously. Yes, with childbirth. And the idea gradually hatched into this, beginning with….
Family Planning – Many of us skip this step, in our eagerness to progress to step 2 ( 🙂 ), but there are a few meticulous souls who consider whether they have the constitution and commitment to bring a child into the world. After all, there’s more to it than the fun of conception or the satisfaction of holding that newborn in your arms. The care and feeding of this new little being is no small matter – are there enough ideas to produce posts for more than a month, do I want to deal with the occasional discord that seems to arise among “family members”? (That in itself was almost enough to discourage me.) And, am I willing to go through what I now recognize as the excruciating process of birthing a blog? On the plus side, there is the encouragement of friends and relatives – “Hey, you’ve really got something to say,” and “You’re not getting any younger, you know.”
What kind of family do you want to have? From the How to Blog guidelines: “Pick one area in which you’re proficient and make your blog about that single topic.” Ha! I want to talk about three different areas, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to go through this process three times. No, this will be an only child – with multiple personalities.
Conception – So you’ve given yourself the go-ahead to move forward with a life-changing undertaking. Conception seems like it should be the most enjoyable step of all, right? But I went blank on this. No recollection of that act. Maybe it’s just asexual reproduction. You know, like liverworts and slime mold. But surely this consummate creative act involves, well, consummation. So who is the partner, the co-creator? Those of you more experienced writers are already answering this with a gleam in your eye, but my “light bulb” moment took a while. ……….Aha! Just one word – muse. This raises all sorts of delicious possibilities, doesn’t it? So who is my muse, when did this delectable act of creation take place, and why the hell don’t I remember anything about it?!
Gestation – Next comes the 9 month process when cells divide, organs develop, and the little being takes shape. In the warmth of the creative womb, post ideas begin to evolve, clever turns of phrase pop into your head, and the framework of the whole thing begins to materialize. These begin more and more to occupy your thoughts throughout the day and to inhabit those increasing sleepless nights. They kick the breath out of you, roll around in your gut, and even hiccup as a particularly pungent idea begins to percolate. I don’t remember the exact timing, but I think my blog gestation period was somewhere on the order of 5-6 months. At least. Yes, really.
Naming is also requisite during this time. You want your offspring to reflect you, your expectations, etc., but not be too pretentious, too random, or too obvious – still hanging on to some degree of anonymity (in the case of the blog, anyway). So l’Esprit de la Côte – how pretentious, random, and obvious (at least to those who know me) can you get? Well, I like it.
And the passwords! I hate coming up with passwords. I takes me forever to think of one, and then the password troll tells me it’s not strong enough. I have to start all over or, worse yet, try to retrofit my original offering. I’m convinced that if passwords had been required for the delivery of my three children, the poor dears would never have seen the light of day.
Labor and Delivery – There comes a time when nature sets off the birthing process, and you’re at its mercy. OK, not really true with blog birthing, but once you’ve made it past names, passwords, and design, you’re kind of committed. So those months of gestation and creation will finally pay off.
Using notes – yes, I actually wrote a lot of my structure, subject areas, etc., in a journal – I start to set up pages. One for each of the three major topics I want to include, plus one About page, and one page explaining why I don’t want anyone to know who I am. OK, that’ll work. Then I can post to each of the three areas. If someone wants to only read about Richard Armitage (and who could blame them?), they’d only need to go to that page. But wait! What do you mean the pages are static, and you only post on the home page? Dang! All that planning for naught? Or I have to retrofit all of this to make it work? I’m not sure what the parallel is to real labor here, except maybe the pain, or at least mental anguish.
Let’s see, my longest actual childbirth labor was 21 hours, and my little Esprit took about 5 days from the first twinge of contractions to finally holding the little one in my arms. (OK, overdramatization here!)
Post-Partum – Even after such a trying delivery, there is some sense of euphoria once it’s all over, and you look into your newborn’s eyes. You gaze lovingly at your muse and say, “See what a beautiful Esprit we’ve created?” (More melodrama, sorry!)
Once you return home and attempt to return to some semblance of real life, you’re constantly walking by the nursery door to make sure the little one is still breathing. Let’s see, how many times did you check the stats today? 2 visitors; 6 views. The little chest still rises and falls.
For a while you delight in your newborn, finally learning how to post and add photos (you hope) legally. I remember those first few weeks with a newborn child: The three of you in your own idyllic private world. Then someone comes to visit – or in this case submits a comment. Yikes! People are actually reading and responding to this? I’m exposing to the rest of the world parts of me that have never been expressed, and they’re taking it in. This vulnerable little thing is subject to the scrutiny of the blogosphere? What have I done? So begins the real work of parenting.
What next? Luckily, more experienced “parents” are understanding and supportive as you bumble your way through the first few days (or weeks). They smile with amusement, perhaps recalling their own days as a young parent, and patiently point you in the right direction. (Thanks to all of you who helped and are still helping.)
Even now I like to peek into the crib at her sometimes, looking through her pages. As a new mama, I’m allowed that, aren’t I? After all, she’s barely a month old. I know she’s a very simple little thing – not a lot of graphics, no gifs, not many widgets, but I think she’s pretty. And my muse, whoever he is, must be very fine indeed, and, I’m sure, as proud as I am to have accomplished this profound act of creation.
So, what’s next? Potty training?