I know which forest, but which tree?

Posted: January 7, 2012 in The Sidebar Review
Tags: , , , ,

Is this the right tree? And how do I know?

Eureka! I had it, definitely. I knew in August 2010 that my purpose was magazines. Writing, reading, designing, critiquing, photographing, circling, buying, reviewing — I just knew this was my thing.

I started this darling blog that I was super proud of. I littered my dining room table with tons of magazines: Jet, Baltimore, Redbook, Playboy, Yoga Journal, Esquire, Bitch. I spent an hour or two every night reading and reviewing these masterpiece periodicals. I was proud as a peacock when I was chosen to be a judge for Folio’s annual competition. I was happy to call myself a blogger, make blogger friends and comment on other people’s blogs.

But my life started changing in a way I had not expected.

A couple of days after my last review (Outlook Magazine in May 2011), the new owners of the company my husband and I work for announced that the company was Alabama-bound, and we were welcome to follow it or find the end of Florida’s long unemployment lines. I spent weeks in denial, then months in preparation for our move. All the while, The Sidebar Review was on my brain, but I dared not spend the last drops of time I had in beautiful Florida tucked away in a dining room, hunched over a computer.

And the longer the time went from my last post, the harder it became to go back to it. How was this blog actually helping my life? Was it enhancing my career? Was I performing better at work? At home? Besides, my job has changed from magazines to social media and digital publishing — it’s still in the same forest but not barking up the right tree.

So I am now at a crossroads: Do I stick with magazines? Do I change over to something else? And if I do, do I change the blog name? And do I keep the old posts?

The answer must be buried inside me somewhere, but it has yet to surface. So by putting the question out there, I’m hoping the answer will feel more compelled to pop out! (It’s like going on a diet — if you don’t tell anyone you’re on a diet, you can eat cupcakes unabated, but if you’re accountable to someone, you have to switch to broccoli.)

Now I am accountable to you, the people who once read my posts, interacted with me and befriended me back when I was a dedicated blogger. How did you decide what to write about? How do you know whether you should stick with something or if it’s time to move on? How do you know that the tree you’re standing under is the right one?

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Comments
  1. I wondered what happened to you! Hope the move has turned out great.

    I think the questions you are asking in the 5th paragraph are the right ones and honest answers will lead you to the right tree. I think we need to be asking those questions constantly to make sure we are not letting our lives go off on a tangent. For what it’s worth, you might find it valuable to blog about your new area of expertise (digital publishing and social media) but if your passion is magazines you might find a space where the two intersect (or should or shouldn’t intersect) and talk about that–is social media and digital publishing the end of magazines? Will magazines evolve into a boutique industry with a different purpose, etc.

    As far as what you keep or changing the look, that probably is best decided when you figure out what you want to be doing with it. But I think what you already have gives you a lot of credibility so don’t just throw it away.

    Best of luck and I look forward to seeing what comes out of your deliberations.

    • Thank you, Thomas! I’ve missed hearing from and about you! You’re right about digital publishing and social media, and working that into this blog has crossed my mind. I’m hoping I can incorporate that!

  2. joe says:

    That’s a hard question to ask yourself. It comes down, in a way, to what is is that you want to blog about. I think Thomas has a good suggestion.

  3. It’s good to see you’re back in action. You went silent right about the time I slipped a plug for your blog into a Publishing Executive article. The Sidebar Review has been enlightening and enjoyable because you wrote about what you knew and were passionate about and because your content is unique. Stick with that formula, even if if means the subject matter starts drifting more toward digital publishing and social media. Heck, if you can figure out how to make social media pay off for publishers, you could be doing all of us a favor. It’s only natural that a blog about publishing written by an insider will evolve and take on new subjects because our industry and our jobs are changing so rapidly.

    • I know! Wasn’t my timing awful?! I appreciated your plug and I hung the article proudly in my office at work for everyone to see. Thanks for your support, and I think I’ll do exactly as you suggest — just move where the blog and the industry take me.

  4. Sheryl Hayes says:

    A change in career direction doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to give up something that you enjoy, such as writing a blog about magazine publishing. Lots of people work a day job to support their avocational habits. (Mine is music). You might even find that you enjoy it more, and have better perspective, when you’re not eating, breathing, and sleeping it every minute of the day. I like Thomas’ suggestion that you explore the place the intersection of digital and print publishing, in addition to your more traditional analysis. I’ll look forward to seeing where your blog goes.

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