You know how when you take a new job, you have a meeting with your employer after 90 days to see how things are working out? Well, I've been having some check-in meetings with myself now that I'm three months into my gig as a contributor to Hopeful Parents. I've stuck to the typical 90-day review agenda - 1) what's going well, 2) what's not going well, and 3) what changes need to be made - and in the process, I've realized a few things.
Lots of things are going well. I love Hopeful Parents and I love being a part of such a wonderful community of parents and writers. I like helping to direct new readers there. I like having a deadline that forces me to write something at least once a month. I've been introduced to some great new parents and I've broadened my perspective on raising a child with special needs.
Some things are not going as well, though. The main issue is this: If you're a writer, you may understand what I mean when I say that sometimes writing feels like parenting. You start with raw material - a blank page - and you breathe life into it. You shape it, assess it, redirect it, and then marvel as it begins to take on a life of its own. Your essays - your stories - your blog posts - begin to feel like your children.
Well, these days, with my Hopeful Parents posting, I feel like I've randomly selected a few of my children and shipped them off to go live with another family. Don't get me wrong - it's a nice family; it's a lovely family. But I miss having my kids at home.
I've also discovered a fascinating trend in readership - or, in readership as evidenced by comments, at any rate. There's a significant subset of people who often comment here, but don't comment there. They contact me by e-mail instead or they make a comment related to my Hopeful Parents post on an unrelated post here. Some, I think, just don't comment at all. I've been wondering why this is and I've developed two theories:
First, there's a lot of coming and going over at Hopeful Parents. A new kid moves in every twelve hours or so. So, you might get introduced to my kid, leave for a while, and then return to continue the conversation, only to find that several new kids are sitting in his place. You could go searching for my kid, but really, time is short, and it's just easier to wait for another opportunity to chat.
That dynamic is less true over here, where life is lived at a much slower pace and my kids may linger at the table, helping themselves to one more piece of pie, for days or weeks before anyone else sits down with them. Here, there's a lot more space - physically and psychologically - for chatting.
My second theory is this: As I've said before, I think (and hope) that when people visit this blog, they feel like they're sitting down in a virtual living room with a steaming cup of coffee and a few good friends. I think the living room environment itself invites conversation. But I think, maybe, that commenting over at Hopeful Parents makes people feel like they're dropping in unannounced at my office. They never know if it's a good time and they're afraid they might be interrupting something - so they make their visits brief and they try to be unobtrusive.
So, that's the overview of my 90-day review. On balance, things are going well, but I've decided to take my cue from Jess at A Diary of a Mom and make one small change. I'll still ship my kids off once a month to the loving family at Hopeful Parents and I'll let them spend some time there on their own. I hope you'll visit them to see how they're doing. And then, after a little time has passed and I start missing them too much, I'll bring them home and reprint them here. They can keep a bag a Hopeful Parents and spend as much time there as they like. But I hope they'll always feel at home here.
I hope you will, too.