|Photo by Sherry Santino|
Lately, quite a few of my friends and family members, concerned about the slow progression of my writing career, have asked me the same question: "Why don't you write more like The Matt Walsh Blog?"
By that, I assume they mean, "Why don't you blog about popular issues like politics and human rights instead of slightly less-relevant topics like historical boyfriends and toilets?"
It's a fair question, and I'll admit up front that when it comes to making a blog really take off, I'm doing lots of things wrong.
I thought I'd take a few minutes today to briefly outline my response, but please bear in mind that this post is in no way intended to be disrespectful to Matt Walsh or to other bloggers of his stamp. This isn't a "Why He's Bad and Why I'm Better" post. Instead, it's intended to assuage the concerns of dedicated readers who have asked why my blog gets very little attention and wondered why I'm not doing anything to fix it.
Why I Will Never Be The Matt Walsh Blog:
First, I don't specialize.
Matt Walsh writes at the intersection of politics, social issues, and religion. His readers subscribe because they like to keep current with those conversations, and they share his posts to spark debate among friends and frenemies.
This blog, however, doesn't fit into any popular blog genres. It's not a lifestyle blog, a fitness blog, a teacher blog, a foodie blog, a singleness blog, or a devotional. Instead, it's an eclectic collection of essays centering on nothing in particular.
Because of my failure to specialize, I lack the potential of drawing one particular crowd. A few of my posts here and there will gain traction with a particular group (my singleness posts especially), but because I don't address those topics regularly, not many new readers stick around.
I know that when it comes to building an audience, this style is a weakness, but it's the type of versatility that I'm trying to develop.
So it's okay.
Second, I don't engage in sociopolitical debate online.
Part of being a good citizen and a good Christian is engaging the culture. When I teach at my church, meet in small groups, or talk one-on-one, I'm open to discussing how we can bring truth to bear on the issues of racism, gay marriage, health care, immigration, climate change, women's rights, and so forth. While I believe that there's a place for engaging with strangers online about social, political, and religious issues, I'm not the one to fill that place.
When I do write serious essays, I'd rather address simple core truths and allow the Spirit to bring application to readers wherever applicable.
Naturally, this makes my blog much less of a talking point.
But that's okay.
Third, I don't calculate to shock.
Matt Walsh has a special genius for headlines that hit right between the eyes, daring both his supporters and his dissenters to click. (Witness "If You Go Black Friday Shopping on Thanksgiving, You Should Be Deported" and "Climate Change Deniers Are Completely Insane", among others). He also favors an inflammatory style of rhetoric that sometimes offends even the people who agree with him. While that style might be great for making posts memorable, generating attention, and creating talking points, it's not good for the blood pressure.
I'm also not sure that it's entirely Christlike. Yes, Christ spoke truth boldly. When confronting the opposition, he spoke directly and allowed no wiggle room. He did not, however, belittle people. In fact, he often demonstrated remarkable grace and restraint to his detractors, even while making mincemeat of their flawed arguments.
As my dad told me approximately 1,000 times during my teen years, "Learn to disagree without being disagreeable."
In the end, I just can't square a pugilistic tone with the biblical admonition to speak the truth in love. Again, I know that this is a weakness when it comes to making my blog noticeable, but I firmly believe that not all attention is good attention.
So I err on the side of caution.
And that's okay.
* * * * *
Love or hate his style, dig his point of view or loathe it, there's one fact we can't deny: Matt Walsh is doing blogging right. And by "doing it right," I mean that he posts frequently, reaches a large audience, and has made a career out of sharing his thoughts with the world.
But blogging is not a source of income for me, nor is it my main creative outflow. It's just a way to develop my voice by practicing different styles, while simultaneously providing some entertainment for whoever wants to read along.
And you know what?