On Sabbaticals, Perspective & Shouting Into the Void

Dear Darling Ones,

On Monday, Jason Kottke announced he was taking a sabbatical from his 24-year-old blog.

This threw me for a loop. Kottke was one of the first blogs I ever read in my entire life. I’ve been reading him for as long as I’ve known blogs were a thing. I have long admired his work.

What Kottke and I do are very different things. He writes about “art, technology, science, visual culture, design, music, cities, food, architecture, sports, endless nonsense, and carefully curated current events, all of it lightly contextualized.” He built a large community who pay for a membership and with that money he supports himself and his family.

I write about being lonesome, how music makes me feel, and cookies. None of it is carefully curated nor is it contextualized. I have amassed a fistful of weirdos who seem to find me amusing enough to return continuously and occasionally tip me.*

He writes about art. My blog is art.

That’s not even a joke. This blog is art. It’s the ongoing journal of an oddly-shaped woman who has been writing about her life on the Internet for 22 years. You see her grow from hopeful young professional to befuddled thirtysomething to the Spinster Goddess of the Midwest. Because I am a woman people, specifically men, would probably deny my work the label of art. They are wrong.

Argh. I got sidetracked.

The post Kottke wrote about his sabbatical is both brave and vulnerable. He writes about struggling, being burnt out, and the need for space to gain perspective.

In the post he asked himself a bunch of questions about his work, his life, and his blog. The questions were good and thinky, so I swiped them because Jason Kottke is a smart man and answering them helps me with my perspective on what I’m doing here.

Does what I do here make a difference in other people’s lives?
A little. People have responded to posts about feeling seen after something I’ve written. People read the books I recommend and hopefully listen to the records. It’s not a huge big deal, but sometimes a record can save your life (more on that on another day).

In my life?
Most definitely. I struggle a lot with loneliness, with being a single woman, with living in a body that is frequently othered. I worry tremendously about being forgotten or having little impact on any one. I fear I’m the kind of person who can slip away into the ether unnoticed. I Will Dare dot com proves that I exist.

Is this still scratching the creative itch that it used to?
Yes, yes it does. My writing gets stronger with every year that passes.

Where does [iwilldare.com] end and [Jodi] begin?
I don’t know. This is a tough one. Since the inception of this blog I’ve tried to be as genuine and true to myself as possible. I have not always been successful. In the early days of this blog there are was a sort of coyness or affectation that makes me want to barf. Maybe that was my writing voice at that time, but damn was I annoying. But then, maybe we’re all annoyed with the past versions of ourselves?

Sometime in the recentish past I read a book that talked about how we have ourselves, our private selves, and our secret selves (if you too read this book let me know the name or author, because I cannot remember).

I Will Dare dot com is a blend of myself and my private self. I’m actually much less reserved and candid on the web than I am in my actual life. I loathe talking about my feelings with people. I prefer to write them. As Nichole Perkins said, “I like to be able to communicate without people looking at me.”

Who am I without my work?
I don’t struggle with this one as much because of the differences in how Kottke and I approach our blogs. My work here is me. I am it. Writing is how I make sense of the world, and myself. If I did it here or in a paper journal (which I still do on occasion) I’d still be me.

Is the validation I get from the site healthy?
I dunno, man. Is any external validation healthy? This site does validate me to a certain degree. I’m validated not by whether or not anyone reads it (not many people do), but by doing the work that marks my existence in some sort of context that is bigger than me and my cat.

Is having to be active on social media healthy? Is having to read the horrible news every day healthy?
No and no. Again, I don’t have a following and I don’t blog about the daily news so this doesn’t apply to me, really. I participate in social media because I love to argue about pop culture and share my very many opinions on all the things. It’s more of a social outlet than anything.

What else could I be doing here?
n00ds, recipes, vlogging, I dunno Cookie Influencer. I’m sure there are a million other things that I could do with this time and this space, but I don’t wanna.

What could I be doing somewhere else?
Finishing and revising all the books I started writing.

What good is a blog without a thriving community of other blogs?
This is the one that really truly slays me. the other day I tried to post something as an Instagram story and I messed it up. It was about how I wanted a beautiful writing journal for my birthday in 24 days (hint, hint). I posted again about Instagram is needlessly difficult and I am old. My friend, Wendy an OG blogger from back in the day, responded about how much she hated Instagram stories because they are stupid hard and that she wished everyone would just blog again. I too am a fan of everyone having a blog again.

It’s strange how I started this blog because I was lonely and bored. For awhile there I found a lot of solace and like-minded souls in the blogging community of the early-to-mid aughts. Then social media came and wiped out the blogs, and as much as I enjoy the socialness of social media it’s not the same.

In the beginning writing I Will Dare dot was a shout into the void and so it continues to be. I guess that’s ok.

Bloggingly yours,

* Wanna know what I did with me some tips I received recently?. I bought the Record Store Day exclusive sexxy red version of “Still Jealous” by Tegan & Sara. When you give money to I Will Dare dot com, this is what it goes to, helping me buy records that mean a lot to me that I will write about some day.

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  1. Hotrod! 13.May.22 at 3:54 pm

    I miss blogs too. Keeping up with social media is so much less satisfying. And though I don’t comment as much as I did on other platforms (that’s probably a good thing) I appreciate the shouts. It’s not a void.

    1. Jodi Chromey 13.May.22 at 5:13 pm

      As long as you always remember where to come when you need to be set right about all your wrong-headed ideas about Rock & Roll.

      Vox really was a unique and special kind of community. i miss the hell out of it sometimes.

  2. Kevin Lawver 13.May.22 at 5:07 pm

    Jason’s post got to me too, and made me finally decide to deactivate my twitter account. I’m also going to attempt to rekindle my love of blogging… we’ll see how it goes.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, you are one of my all time favorite writers. You open a window into a world and life I didn’t know anything about and helped me understand what it’s like to be you, and I have loved following your blog for…. AUGH…. Twenty years now.

    Thank you for writing and letting us read it!

    1. Jodi Chromey 13.May.22 at 5:15 pm

      I never truly understood how social media could impact my mental health until TikTok. I have (and have had) zero problems with Insta, FB, or Twitter. I enjoy the hell out of Twitter still (probably because I only follow 200 people). But TikTok made me so sad and feel bad, so I had to stop.

      I look forward to your blogging renaissance. I can’t wait!

    2. Jodi Chromey 13.May.22 at 5:16 pm

      p.s. TWENTY YEARS! Augh is right. We have been doing this for a long, long time.


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