I reject your blogger title and all your blogger baggage

Hi, I’m Dr. V. Veterinarian. Mother. Writer. Amateur chef, aspiring world traveller, insert title here. But don’t call me Blogger.

Many years ago- more than 10, on a site whose name I don’t even recall, I started an online journal. I wrote about planning a wedding, about my senior year of veterinary school, and about the early heady days of my career. About my dogs, my kids, postpartum depression, fat pants, horrible mentors, all sorts of stuff.  I never said I was any good at it, but if nothing else I am persistent, and consistent in my prolificness. Wildly in love with the written word.

Four years ago (has it been that long?) I took the next obvious step and started an official blog, an online place to write about a specific topic. Because I happened to have become a veterinarian, this is what I blogged about. Had I taken a different path you might be reading a dermatologist blog, or a pharmacology blog, or a paleontology blog, because writing is like breathing to me. I can’t help doing it.

And it was great, back then when there were like four people doing it. It was a novelty. I was a freewheeling agent honing my craft and I didn’t care what anyone thought so I recreated exam room scenarios with scantily clad Barbies and made fun of things and was overall wildly inappropriate and it was wonderful. There was no formula. Blogging was the Wild West, and it was fun, and people were intrigued by the concept.

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Respectable person that I now have become, I don’t think I’m supposed to graphically complain about the logistical difficulties presented by Mattel’s Pet Doctor outfit. But hey, do you want to hear about the new flavors of cat food coming out from Kitten Krunch?

But like all great things, the more popular a format becomes, the more corporate attention it draws, the less fun it becomes. Now people blog as a business, or what they hope will be a business. Some of them are terrible writers- you know it’s true- or corporate shills whose posts are nothing more than a neverending series of coupons and advertisements. The blogosphere is glutted, and I’m not exactly sure what’s rising to the top.

And somewhere along the way in the midst of all of this, the word blogger gained a different meaning. It changed from “person who loves to write on topics about which they are tremendously passionate” to “armchair pseudo-expert with an overinflated sense of their importance but lacking the actual communications skills to succeed in a legitimate writing enterprise.”

I’m not saying I agree with that assessment, but that is now the perception when people hear the word. It’s gotten so bad that when people start to introduce me as a blogger, I cut them off with “freelance writer.” I own a website. I write. I create content. The eight years of college and all that entails evaporates in the face of the word “blogger”; suddenly I’ve become an amateur hour mouth breathing one-fingered typist with too much time on my hands and not enough sense to recognize when I’m being insulted, someone requiring the spoon feeding of content from PR agents in order to have anything new to say because I lack any originality on my own.

Ugh, SNL.

I don’t really see myself that way. I reject that description. I also reject the weird little cottage industry blogging has become. I want to be one of those tortured old school writers, marinating in gin, brining in the certainty that the awful truth of the universe is too much to experience all at once so I will create a little pinhole word-camera to present just a little bit of it here and there in tiny prismatic chunks. THAT is what I want to do, not review more dog collars.

And while I’m certain I’m not ever going to reach that level because I lack both the requisite talent and alcoholism, at this point I would accept a simple acknowledgement that I know how to construct thoughts and sentences in an intelligent manner. Because there’s nothing worse than being dismissed with, “Blogger? Oh, that’s cute. Hey, do you know any real journalists who can help me out with something?”*

As you’ve possibly noticed, I’ve cut back from my initial breakneck pace of 5 day a week posting. This is for several reasons:

  • I don’t like to repeat myself, and there’s only so many times one can write about core versus non core vaccines.
  • Now that my kids are halfway to college (gulp), I have to devote more time to enterprises that result in an actual income. Because if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’ll just tell it to you straight: in the pet world at least, ‘professional blogger’ is an oxymoron.
  • I’d rather write here when it seems right to do so, than write for the sake of posting something and put out garbage, or worse yet burn out and walk away entirely.

So there you have it. I’m still here, just evolving in slow-motion. I’ll keep posting about my pets and adventures and things I want to write about, but I’ll be writing because I want to, not out of a sense of obligation to a schedule. The content will be the better for it. Thanks for sticking by me all these years! I’m not going anywhere anytime soon, I promise.

Love, Dr. V, not-a-blogger

*True story from NAVC. I approached a small company because I’ve wanted to write about them for a long time, but after that conversation my enthusiasm for their endeavors dissipated like a randy senior fresh out of Viagra.

Filed: Blog, Musings Tagged: ,
  • Tabitha W

    I will admit. I check you site every day with anticipation that there will be a new, funny, post. I drink my morning coffee with you and have for a few years now. I feel like you are my friend and you are allowing me to look into the peep hole of your life. I appreciate you.

    I was worried reading this post that you were going to either pack up shop, or announce that you were outgrowing your space and bringing in new writers to “help out” because like so many others out there, they get to big for their britches. I am happy to hear that this is something that you are going to keep true to your first intentions. This is why we are all here, because we love what you have to say. The meaningful, well thought out and constructed posts here are what we love to read. And we will still be here, drinking our coffee with you being thankful that you are staying true to you and true to us.

    • http://www.pawcurious.com Dr. V

      Thanks Tabitha. It’s gotten to the point where I had to choose, either bring in other people or just not post as much, so thank you for validating the choice that I thought was most true to my purpose in being here. :)

  • Sue W.

    Yea, what Tabitha said. And I’d rather read a post from the heart every once in a while, than junk every day. So hear, hear! Integrity is honored.

  • Suzanne

    Amen. I like reading your blog because it is a breath of fresh air – it is real, well written, funny, and not corporate speak. I stop reading the blogs that seem to keep up incessant posting just because they “should”. It’s just drivel at that point and I don’t have time for drivel.

    Keep up the scantily clad Barbie posts!

  • http://twitter.com/DebMendez Deborah Mendez

    I’ll always go with quality over quantity. I agree with Tabitha — I always check to see if there is a new Pawcurious post. But on days when there is not, I just wonder to myself what adventure you (or Koa or Brody or Apollo) are up to. If you wrote all day every day when could you experience things to write about??

  • Marilia Bavaresco

    I love your site, blog, anyway!!! Every day I come here to see new stuff! Keep it up! Always!

  • Sherry in MT

    I like it…”freelance writer” is oh so much more appropriate and I agree, there are a heck of a lot of blogs out there that aren’t worth reading or even looking at. Keep writing here because you enjoy it and it is fun and a great way to connect to others. That is what it is about and we’d miss it if you didn’t. Your writing STYLE is why I love reading your stuff.

  • http://twitter.com/VetNewsNetwork Thomas Dock

    Like everyone else commenting here, your blogs (articles?, journals?, well-crafted pieces of real world journalism?) are always a great pick up to my day. Your skills with creating fun, evocative sentences keeps me (and a lot of others) coming back routinely.

    Just a suggestion, don’t forget that when someone wants to call you a “Blogger”, you can officially remind them that you are a Certified Veterinary Journalist (i.e. a “real” journalist)!

    • http://www.pawcurious.com Dr. V

      Oh trust me, I do. Part of the reason that conversation went so poorly.

      • http://twitter.com/VetNewsNetwork Thomas Dock

        Hmmm….I would love to hear more about that when you get the time. Do you need my email address?

  • Elliott Garber

    As someone who is just getting started creating content on a website in the veterinary world, I’m keen to learn from your experience and am glad that you are staying true to your genuine interests and passions. I think it’s clear that you continue to be successful in creating your own niche within the veterinary community, whether that’s here on your site or through videos, conference events, etc. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • http://www.facebook.com/janeak Janea Kelley

    Right on! I’ve been blogging for 10 years, and while I’ve never made any money with my personal blog, I take pride in what I’ve accomplished and the skill with which I write about my passion. On the other hand, blogging (and doing it well) has gotten me some great freelance work, which does pay. I don’t reject the label “blogger,” but I do kind of resent the baggage it brings. I consider this a marketing/education issue, though. Yes, there are plenty of terrible blogs out there, but I do believe from experience that the cream rises to the top.

    I consider myself a professional writer. Although I don’t get paid to write my blog, I write my blog with a professional attitude — maintaining deadlines, maintaining my commitment to writing, finding creative approaches to my work, and so on. I do get paid to write content for other venues, and the contact people for these venues found me THROUGH my blog and saw that I approach it with professionalism.

  • RG

    I see your point and understand where you’re coming from but your post comes off a bit elitist. Writing should not be an exclusive club were only people with 8 years of higher education should only be allowed in. Yes, bloggin has become a gimmick and blogs are a dime a dozen but with an increasing population and technology its just how the world works. Your need to be unique is not going to be fulfilled with a blog. You were not the first nor will you be the last. Get over it and just do what you love, leave the elitism and entitled attitude behind and just write.

  • Amy Sunnergren

    You make me smile, laugh, cry and so totally envious. Please do not stop. Write about what interests you and what you want to share. And if nothing tickles your fancy, a picture is wonderful.

  • http://coleemmett.blogspot.com/ Cole

    I miss pet doctor barbie…

    • Summer

      Seconded.

      • Lisa W

        Thirded!

        • L

          Fourthed!!

  • http://twitter.com/socialvet Bill Schroeder

    Dr. V. Thanks for the great piece…like many others, I follow you, enjoy reading your posts, and feel like we have been friends for many years. In fact…remember the first time we met? (Insert thoughts of being stranded for the famous DC hurricane and all of the resulting tom foolery) I introduced myself as if we had met. You said we hadn’t. But we had…at least I I thought we had…subconsciously, I met you through your posts…by the time I realized that I only THOUGHT we had met and that your very honest, “easy to relate to” works were the culprit, I was too many glasses of wine into the evening to make a shot at explaining. My point is, if you affected me in that manner, think about how many other “friends” you have around the world. Keep being who you are…I am glad to see that the style of the site will not change…and (if like many great things) the frequency drops…well so be it. I’ll jump at the chance to read your work whenever it is available.

    • http://www.pawcurious.com Dr. V

      Of course I remember that insane BlogPaws night! It will live forever in legend and lore. I can’t believe the hotel invited us all back. ;)

  • http://twitter.com/mousebreathZine Mousebreath

    Blgr is a 4-letter word around here.

    My husband wants to know where Vet Barbie works and why we don’t have a hot vet like her.

  • Tamara

    You do a great job of making us think, laugh, cry, and think some more. Thank you! Please don’t change :)

  • Lisa W

    I’ll take any of your stories any time you care to tell them. You are a major highlight of my day every time I see a new post, even if it’s about cats. ;-)

  • ualagirl

    Readers know a dishonest blogger. If you blog from your heart, we will know, and we will trust you. I’d much, much rather have two thoughtful, well-constructed posts a week(or even less!) than five churned-out posts of obligation.

  • Diana

    So glad to here you’re not going anywhere! I’ve been reading you for several years, and I really love your site and what you have to say. Stay true to yourself and the people who love you for who are you are will always been here. I’ve given up reading most all the other blogs I’ve followed because real life demands more attention than I can give it with a Google Reader full of updates, but I always come back here ready to read about your next adventure. Rock on, Dr V!!