10-years is a long time for any relationship - whether with a human or a blog.
A couple years ago I thought about hanging it up. Letting it go. I’d been writing Ask Dr. Darcy for 8 years, was busy with other projects, had covered every topic - many repeatedly - and felt like I was a blog post away from being redundant.
I shared my feelings with my team expecting to hear that my time would be better spent elsewhere.
What I got was a unanimous veto.
The blog isn't redundant. And even though I may have written on every topic multiple times, it’s new information to the person asking the question. And maybe to the reader, who’s unlikely to dig through almost a decade of blog posts to find the answer she’s looking for.
The idea to start Ask Dr. Darcy came randomly. No discernable inspiration. It was just an idea that found its way into my head and try as I did to punch holes in it, I couldn’t think of any reason to not give it a go.
Like any new relationship, I turned to my tribe for advice before committing: Do you know any bloggers? Can you connect me?
They put me in contact with some ladies - bloggers who became New York Times bestselling authors. These women carved out time, told me what they did, how often they posted, and which online course to take to launch a blog. Turns out it takes a village to get a blog off the ground.
I was all fired up those first few years. I didn’t have to muscle my way out of bed when the alarm went off. I’d peacefully stumble down the hall, make my coffee, then sit in front of my laptop and bang on the keyboard, churning out answers to every conceivable question, then post each day like it was my religion.
The questions changed over the years reflecting the changes in society. Early on I received some homophobic comments. As gay marriage entered mainstream dialogue, I got pushback from the LGBTQ community, first for my support of same sex marriage - then for participating in it. There’s a sect of my community that thinks gay people who marry are buying into a heteronormative paradigm. I say straight people don’t have a monopoly on marriage and fuck you for daring to tell me how to live my life.
That attitude right there? That’s my voice. What I’m known for. It’s who I am professionally, personally, everywhere. Especially in this blog.
And even though my relatives know who I am - helped to shape me - sometimes the tone of my voice crossed an invisible line which I’d learn about when I noticed they’d unsubscribed from my blog. Their decisions stung and caused me to question myself. Eventually, I developed a Litmus Test that goes like this: If someone asked me this question IRL, would this be how I’d answer them?
As long as the answer was YES and I wasn’t writing about something for shock value or clickbait, I didn’t edit the original copy. Because another inescapable part of my personality and tenant of Ask Dr. Darcy is steadfast authenticity and honesty and I’ll be dipped in shit if I’m going to deny my true self to make people like me. Even if they’re related to me and their absence leaves behind a little hole.
Over the years I became more comfortable with using examples from my own life as cautionary tales in my answers, prompting well-meaning members of my tribe to share concerns: Are people going to want to see a shrink who admits to being a mess? Being a human is messy business. None of us are poster children for mental health. There’d be a lot less shame around therapy if more of us would come clean. Or dirty.
Someone recently asked what’s the hardest part of Ask Dr. Darcy?
The consistency. Showing up. Week after week, month after month, year after year - regardless of how I feel.
Writing blog posts isn’t as exciting as it was in the beginning. I try not to focus on my momentary feelings to decide how I’ll show up. I mostly focus on my commitment: Both to the blog, and to you, my loyal reader.
I guess my journey with Ask Dr. Darcy has been similar to my journey in all my long-term relationships. Sometimes I just have to muscle through. And in the final analysis, I’m always glad I did.
Of course every now and then I find that I can’t rely on grit alone. I’ll admit that in those moments I engage in some retail therapy. There’s nothing like a new lipstick or outfit to get me excited again.
So this month, for Ask Dr. Darcy’s 10th Blogiversary, I gave her a makeover. You can check it out here.