I started this blog almost three years ago. When I first started it I needed an outlet. I needed a way to get some things out of my head. I suppose that it started as a hobby some could say.
But I sat down with The Guy at dinner one night while we were still living in Hawai’i. I was facing my medical discharge, and my life was in limbo. I had to figure out what was going to happen with the rest of it. I had a lot of options, but I had to figure out what I wanted to do. I had my military training and education background. I had my civilian education… I needed to find a way to make a living with that. I also had developed a secure relationship that needed to be taken into consideration, and no matter what anyone thinks about that, for the first time since I was a messed up teenager fawning over a younger high school guy, I was in a relationship with someone who actually loved me unconditionally. I needed to give that consideration. We discussed my options, and one of those options — one that The Guy was surprisingly supportive of — was that I could stay with him and focus on writing.
So I poured my energy into this blog.
random babble… became my primary job. A thankless, and unpaid job that I have fallen in love with. It has been a labour of love that has driven me forward. Sometimes I just plopped whatever I wanted into the pages, but mostly, I have painstakingly crafted my thoughts and, yes, babbling out here. It drew a network of fellow bloggers across the world that have become friends, and that eventually lead to the project that has been the remarkably successful FWD/Forward. Another labour of love that I haven’t been able to contribute to as much as I have wanted, but it is also something that I give my limited time and energy to, because it is something that my family decided to support me in doing.
But this isn’t a hobby. When I sit down to get to work I am not just messing around on the computer all day. I am working, even if my work is not valued by people who think they get to place judgment and value on my work.
If I may borrow words from my dear friend and FWD co-blogger, s.e. smith:
This isn’t fun for me.
And I think that’s a common impression that people have of social justice bloggers; people refer to our ‘little’ sites and the work we do in a sort of snide, sneering way which suggests that it’s is a hobby. Something we do in our spare time. Something we do to entertain ourselves. What we do is not valued as work, at all. And that allows people to continue devaluing us and the work that we do, over and over.
Activism has always involved uncompensated work. The payoff, the goal, is to change minds. To shape ideas. To be involved in changing the world around us and to make a difference. Both for ourselves now, and for future generations. The work of people engaged in activism for centuries has allowed me to reach this point and I hope that my work in turn allows people in the future to reach an even more advanced point, to live in a better world, a place where basic human rights are universally acknowledged and accepted.
One thing this is not, though, is fun. If I wanted to have fun, there are a lot of other things I could write about. I could maintain a fiction blog, for example, and work on serialised fiction. That would be fun. It would allow me to develop as a writer and to share ideas and to network with people and, yes, to have fun. I could write about hobbies, and network with people who also enjoy those hobbies. That would be fun. I could maintain, say, a knitting website. But I don’t. Because I am not writing for fun. I am writing to survive.
I could do about a dozen other things. I could probably go get a DoD job. I still have the active background check to get the last job I had in the Navy (though that would be equally draining on my silverware drawer). I could have a website about paper crafts or the fiction I secretly write (then I’d have to share!).
This work is important. So I put my energy into this social justice work that I do that isn’t seen as work, even as I spend countless hours pounding out pieces of my mind into blog posts that go up all over the internet, though I never see the change they make, as s.e. points out.
Even as it has finally and indirectly had the desired result — admittedly not yet the livable result that I am aiming for — of being a job that I can point to and say “See, someone has finally paid me for this work I have done!” it will still be my “little blog posts”.
1,000 blog posts and this is where I am. 1,000 blog posts (and then some), and it means something, no matter what anyone says.
This is my work.
It means something to me.
This is what I have done.
But this space is mine, and 1,000 blog posts later I am proud of it. All of it, the good and the bad. It’s come a long way since the little self published iWeb blog it used to be.
Because it has been a learning curve for me, both in this social just sphere and as an introspective lesson.
To diminish the work that has gone into it is to diminish me, and I don’t accept that.