is there a category for you?



Back in late September I went to Portland. By myself. To a conference put on my Donald Miller. I was going to go to a writing/blogging conference in the Spring but instead put my money and limited days off into Portland. The conference was about creating a better story. The kind you live, not necessarily the kind you  write down.

And I wrote about it. Kind of. I wrote about traveling alone. And someone I met there. But have yet to really tackle the content. Because to be honest, I never really did my homework. Just this week some friends asked me about it. Again. And I figured it was time. So last night,  I pulled out my binder and my notebook filled with 23 pages of notes and 5 blank reflective assignments. And am finally going to start processing a little. In my usual way. By typing it out.

And to be honest I think people expected a little too much of me when I got home.  Or maybe I expected a little too much from being there. Actually I did try and write about it back then. I just never got very far, never hit publish and this is what I found rotting in my drafts folder:
So I feel like I might be a little bit of a let down. I went to this amazing conference a few weeks ago, that my husband sacrificed money and frequent flier miles for me to attend. He bought me the ticket. Booked the flight and hotel and pushed me to go. Some of my friends gave me buckets of encouragement. Promised to take head shots and be first in line to buy my book.
And I came home just the same girl.
I’m afraid some of you were expecting me to come home with an, “I’m going to become this big writer action plan”. But my plan is just to keep writing. To keep getting better. And more importantly to try and live better. Because I can’t write good stories if I don’t experience them. I don’t have any new special connections. I don’t have any book deals or query letters or 5 year plans. Every day I’m just going to wake up and “keep putting something on the plot.” (And no, I’m not suddenly writing fiction. That is just Donald Miller talk for the work that goes into creating.) I had hoped that this conference would be a big giant push or spark to move me to the next step. But I still don’t know what the next step is. If I’m honest, I am pretty sure there is a book in me. But right now, I just don’t know what it is about.

And that is all still pretty true.
But people kept bugging me and asking. So last night when I opened my notebook.
The first thing I had written down was this.

“Is there a category for you? I doubt it.”

And this was probably only about 10 minutes into my weekend. And that sometimes who we are and what we are good at isn’t always something you can major in. Or a box you can check on career options. But that shouldn’t deter you from pursuing or becoming even if you can’t get a degree in it or usually see it printed on a business card or fit it into a genre.

And I guess I like that thought. Because often I feel like I don’t fit neatly into any category. When people ask what I write. I get all flustered. I tell them I ramble. Which doesn't really get you very far in the literary world I assure you.

And in the blogging world. I don’t really follow those rules either. And there are very specific rules.
Comment. Follow. Link up. Lots of pictures. Ask questions. Talk about things like last nights episode of Glee or potty training or especially breast feeding. That people like light and funny and kitchy. And learn to take really  good pictures. Post every day. More pictures. Throw in some recipes. Write lists. Chose your labels and categories carefully to maximize  searches. More comments. More linkys. And if you talk about Jesus. Fine. Use lots of verses. Don’t ask questions and especially don’t cuss. Be sure to mention Ann’s newest book (ok, I really can’t wait to read it…and yes Tina that is a direct hint to bring me my copy).

 And most importantly. Pick your category. And stick to it. 
And there are plenty to choose from: food blogs, mommy blogs, photography blogs, devotional style blogs, school blogs, book blogs and funny sarcastic blogs.

And I am not making fun. I read them all. My google reader is completely out of control.

But I’m not really sure where I fit. Because mostly I don’t. And I don’t have an impressive amount of followers. Although it always surprises me that anyone besides me and my husband actually read this at all. Sometimes I go weeks without checking my stats. Sometimes I do it a dozen times a day. Sometimes, even though it is painful, I have to hit "mark all as read" on my google reader. I rarely link up. I don’t comment nearly as often as I should on other people’s blogs. Mostly because I never know what to say. And I absolutely will not follow someone just so they will follow me. And I have kids, and love them the best, but I only occasionally write about them. This isn’t exactly a mommy blog. I am a teacher and often talk about work, but you will never finding me posting lesson plans here.  I use too many four letter words for this to be categorized as an inspirational blog.  In person I am funny and ridiculous (at least I think I am). But here, not so much…so it isn’t really a funny sarcastic blog either.  I have one of those fancy cameras but hardly know how to use it. I like to cook, but never write down recipes and rarely follow them.  I am not a fan of breast feeding or homeschooling (and am pretty sure that sentence will have my blog black listed…and yes I did the first one with both kids and do the other for a living so don’t hate). Which scraps some of the other categories too. 

In other words. I don’t think there is a category for me.  Don’t ask me what kind of stuff I write. I don’t know. Pretty much just whatever comes out. Which is sometimes about relationships. Sometimes about poverty. Sometimes about Jesus. Sometimes about my kids. Sometimes about music. Sometimes it is a funny rant. Sometimes it is about books I've read or conversations I've had. And I'm sure I'm leaving some topics out.

And guess what. That is ok. Maybe even better.
There doesn’t have to be a category for everything.
Because it turns out, we don’t have to fit ourselves into genres or labels or business cards. 
That sometimes all fitting in does is limit you.

8 comments:

Pete the Brit said...

Thank you...you have written words that I needed to hear today.

Kier's Serendipity said...

All I can say is that there should be more blogs like your's.:)

RaeAnn said...

This is exactly how I feel about my writing, my blog and my life. Thanks for having an honest blog. Those other blogs usually bore me.

Alyssa said...

Maybe you have your very own category, kinda like when Rowling did that with Harry Potter. You're in the "must read" category as far as I'm concerned.

katy said...

Hi Michelle,
I've been reading your blog ever since we connected on Facebook a few weeks back. I have loved every post, but this is hands-down my favorite. Don't try and file yourself away in some tidy category. I love your blog for it's very honest "journal" style.

I don't have a ton of time for reading blogs -- I really only keep up with a handful of friends this way. But I can tell you I'd rather read their honest, rambling thoughts any day over the typical Mommy/Recipe/Photo blog.

samskat said...

I just stumbled across dooce.com, which is very funny, and she reminds me of you. a little (ok, kind of a lot, except for the inspirational parts of yours). i'm always a little disappointed when i open blogger and there isn't a new post from you...

Christine said...

You took the words out of my mouth! Thank you!

Jen said...

Well, I thank you for commenting on my blog today... especially knowing now you don't really do a lot of comments. ;)

I can so relate... I struggle with the "blog rules" too! When I first started blogging in 2002 (on LiveJournal!), people didn't worry about categories. I learned the blogging way from folks who just posted whatever they felt like, and had a blast doing it. Now, when I try to conform or find a niche, I just get bored with it. There is no harm in defying categories, and it's always encouraging to me to find other writers who do that.

So thanks. I'm glad you stopped by. Nice to meet you. =)