Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Almost Quit My Blog

Almost quit my blog*
It happened just the other day
I was getting kind of bored
I had nothing left to say

But I didn't and I wonder why 
I feel like letting my wine freak flag fly
And I feel like I owe it to someone

But I'm not giving in an inch to fear 
Cos I promised myself this year 
I feel like I owe it to someone 

(Sung to the tune of Almost Cut My Hair with apologies to David Crosby for minor lyric changes)

When I started this blog five years ago my purpose was to explore the region in which I live, the vineyards and wineries of my backyard, the Russian River Valley. My blog was a catalyst for my own exploration of wine and wine travel. I never expected it to become more than that. But things changed.

Largely due in part to my blog, I was invited to speak at wine conferences around the world about marketing, social media, writing, and wine tourism. I went from being a newbie at the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference to a featured speaker on Creating Compelling Content at the 2013 Conference. I even won the Rhone Rangers Wine Blog contest two years in a row see here and here.

Because of my blog I got the opportunity to explore well beyond my backyard including the wine regions of Portugal, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Canada {especially B.C.} and much of Washington and Oregon. I received assignments to write about wine and travel for several publications and was chosen to become a corespondent for Forbes Travel Guide covering Napa and Sonoma.

But in the midst of all this activity, my blog got left behind.

It was no longer a touchstone of exploration, but a tool to support my other writing activities. It became less spontaneous and more predictable. I no longer wrote posts for the sheer impulsive fun of it all. And slowly, without even realizing it, I squeezed the life out of my blog.

In short, my blog had become a burden.

Many past posts (all of which are fully disclosed) were the result of sponsored or comped access to events at wineries and tastings. I have never compromised my own thoughts and impressions to please anyone regardless of the circumstances, yet the pressure to maintain a high standard of quality posts, under non-implied but always hovering expectations, is exhausting.

Then last year I founded and launched a writing retreat program called Writing Between the Vines that hosts writers on vineyard properties for personal writing retreats of up to one week in length. This program was a direct result of all my travels and the people I’ve met along the way. Now that Writing Between the Vines is up and running I’m re-establishing my commitment to my own personal writing projects.

I will continue to cultivate relationships directly with wineries, wine regions, and destinations that I have an interest in writing about for this blog and other outlets. But for the time being, I'm stepping away from the majority of media invites that come barreling into my inbox while I get back to basics.

So I’m not quitting my blog after all, and like the song says, I feel like I owe it to someone--to me I guess, and especially to my sister, to keep going. I’m going to get reacquainted with it--unfiltered and unsponsored. I hope you will too. Whomever the heck you are.

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