This Saturday will mark 14 years of blogging. Here’s some of what I’ve learned …
Technically-speaking? Put the word “diabetes” in your blog title. Invest in a full-throated URL (instead of a .blogger or .wordpress site). Spellcheck and grammar check every single post. Use images, as they are nice and help flesh out your content.
Back your content up.
I’ll repeat that one: back your content up. Like right now. Go do it right now. Over the years I’ve had blog implosions and server crashes and webhost issues … back your content up.
Hey, hang on for a second … I keep calling my writing “content.” And I think that’s part of the problem. It’s not content. This blog has not been fourteen years of content. It’s been fourteen years of my life, my experiences, my words. What our community gives to one another sounds hollow when you call it all “content.” These posts have been a path to my peers, showing me that I’m not alone with these fears and triumphs and instead that I’m part of a community far greater than I’ll ever fully realize.
It’s not just content. It’s heart. It’s soul. It’s silly and goofy on some days and these vulnerable corners of my soul given digital flesh on others.
People are supportive and good. Sometimes living with diabetes can feel isolating, especially if you don’t have local PWD friends or meet-ups. Or if you are not into in-person meetings. Online, the diabetes community on the whole has been very supportive and kind to one another, sharing everything from advice to supplies to a shoulder. People have become real friends. (More on that later this week, because just thinking about writing up those moments makes me really emotional.)
Diabetes has some intrusive moments. I am reminded of them because I’ve written about a lot of them over the years. Some of my worst low blood sugars have their own pages on this blog. My diagnosis of eye complications has a category. Stuff that has happened, health-wise, that sucks is archived here and it’s a complicated ledger of diabetes’ influence.
It’s hard to write every day. For a dozen different reasons, but I’m glad I started this blogging journey when time allowed me to invest a lot of myself. I started writing before I was fully committed to a career, before I was part of a marriage, before I had kids to love. I had the time and the headspace to sit and write, and I am better for it. For years, I wrote every week day. I had time to get to know my fellow writers. I’m really grateful for that early community, and I remain wholly invested in their lives.
That schedule has loosened over time because of other demands on my day, but also because it’s hard to write sometimes. And it’s not just a matter of finding time to sit down and scrounge for words; sometimes writing about diabetes itself is hard. Doing this puts a spotlight on both pleasure and pain and the combination is confusing.
But it’s therapeutic to write every day. I believe in the reunification of head and body, keeping my mental health and my physical health on the same levels of importance, and writing about diabetes has helped me exorcise some diabetes demons. I’ve written over 2,500 pieces these last fourteen years, and I firmly believe that daily journaling, plus community, has made my experience with diabetes better. Even after I stop blogging, I plan to write weekly, if not daily, for myself. I know my headspace is better for it.
You don’t have to share everything. There’s not a contract in place that forces you to share every picture of your kid or your home address or your A1C or your weight or your biggest fear or yours fights with your family or that picture your kid took of you while you were Facetiming that makes you look like a velociraptor. (I’m looking at you, little Guy.) Share what you want to share. Share what makes you feel comfortable. Share what moves you. But you don’t have to think every thought out loud, online.
Diabetes truly doesn’t define me, but it definitely defined this blog. I wrote about this last week a bit, but diabetes doesn’t weigh heavy on my mental narrative outside of this blog. Yes, it comes up at home when I’m low or high, or have a specific concern, or need to see a clinician, but we talk more about kids and traveling and books and movies at home than we do blood sugars. My friends and I don’t really talk about diabetes that much, outside of “where is your diabetes speaking schedule bringing you this week?” But here, on this blog, diabetes is THE THING. And that’s okay. This is the place where I’ve processed my endocrine emotions for a decade and a half. It’s good to get it out here. Keeps it from bleeding over into other discussions.
My voice at 25 was very different than my voice at 40. I look at the posts I wrote when I was 25 and it’s strange to scroll through and watch my voice “grow up” over time. In the beginning, I shared a lot more about my personal life (outside of diabetes) and a lot of the posts were almost talking to other folks in the diabetes community. The bridges of my relationships were being built, but they’ve kind of morphed into boats now, floating along independently of my blog. Now, my writing seems to be less attached to a timeline. You can jump into the last few years of my site and you don’t need a lot of background to understand what’s going on. (If my blog were a TV show, it used to be serialized but now it’s gone episodic.) I sometimes wonder if this is because I have a little less time to chronicle the small things, or is it a privacy measure. Still working through that thought process.
Write for YOU. If you’re writing or thinking about writing, write for you. Sponsors and advertisers and pageviews and comments … no. Those moments are perks but not purpose. Share your health story to build community, to build camaraderie, to build a safety net that can catch someone who is falling apart with diabetes but you and your words are there for them because you first wrote them for you.
A last bit of advice? Your story matters. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t let the joy in your journey be muted by self-doubt. Your story matters. You matter. At the end of the day, your work and your words and your experiences with diabetes truly are unique. One thing I’ve truly learned about this community is that it is filled with people whose honesty and vulnerability inspires and renews our collective spirit.
Every life is a life worth writing down.