I used to blog as The Apostate, at apostate.wordpress.com. The other day, I made my blog “private” but I have effectively deleted the blog. I had a wonderful and sizeable readership for a small and personal blog, and I feel bad about not being able to leave up something like a last post, hence this.
Basically, I wanted to publicly state my reasons to end the blog, both so I don’t have to answer individual emails from concerned readers and so I don’t leave people hanging, without explanation. I hate it when blogs I like suddenly fall off the face of the earth. Blogs are community concerns and some degree of closure is a good thing, for my sake and for the sake of dedicated long-term readers.
I have been thinking about a fundamental change in my blogging persona for some time now. Put simply, I am no longer “The Apostate.” I am primarily a leftist American feminist, in the process of becoming a lawyer, at which point I will hopefully be melding my personal and professional identities to a much greater extent than has been the case in the past. The Apostate identity will forever be a part of me, but for some time now, it hasn’t held that attraction for me that it did when I first started blogging. I am happy that I got to work out those ex-Muslim demons, and perhaps some day I will put all that writing to good use. But it is really another life now.
Mine was an intensely personal blog. There is a benefit and a cost to having so many personal details about you floating out there on the interwebs. On the plus side, it makes for compelling reading if well done. But one also makes oneself vulnerable in unpleasant ways, especially as my blog wasn’t merely personal: it espoused many unpopular political positions, particularly feminism. There are far too many people who want to see you destroyed if you are a feminist. It sounds like hyperbole, but honestly? I didn’t much fear harm from (famously bloodthirsty) Muslims, but right wing assholes made me seriously nervous. Some of them “stalked” me, relentlessly attacking me even if I refused to engage or respond. It’s easy to say “ignore them,” but that sort of right wing hate speech is wearying and takes its toll. The mix of inviting enmity while at the same time writing with such openness (about my opinions and about my personal life) was potentially explosive and of late, with my readership becoming significant, has been causing issues that could spiral out of my control. Of course, silencing me was the purpose of some of the harassment, but since I have other reasons to stop, I can’t continue writing just to spite them.
Still and all, it is a relief to not let assholes into my life via something that I did chiefly for my own pleasure. My writing was meant mostly for myself and increasingly, it was not fulfilling that main objective. The assholes were taking up too much energy, especially as I did let it bother me when they criticized me for not publishing their comment telling me I was a crazy bitch feminist who was PMS’ing all over the internet.
Finally, I’m on the verge of starting law school. I don’t need to go into the professional implications of writing the way I do, especially as I did it so publicly. The law is a conservative profession and I have a big and unconventional mouth. Merely being an atheist could get me into trouble, but also my penchant for trouble-making truth-telling. My blog persona is very different from any professional persona I would wield, and in a fair world, the two would have nothing to do with each other. But employers are increasingly not content with exercising their power over our professional lives; they want to turn us into good corporate citizens even in our private lives. It’s either comply or starve. I don’t want to starve.
This doesn’t mean I’ve been silenced for good, of course. I intend to continue to write and might start another blog under a different name and if I do, I will let my trusted regular readers know (I have your email addresses, for the most part, unless you never commented, in which case you’re shit out of luck).
I do not wish to blog privately, or for “friends only.” Part of the pleasure of blogging is doing it publicly – otherwise, it loses its main charm as a vehicle of real-time communication and discussion between readers and authors. One of the funnest things was gaining new readers for whom things I wrote meant something. Without that influx of new readers, I could see myself losing motivation or becoming stagnant. Even though I wrote for myself, having an intelligent audience was crucial to my writing process. I have a difficult time becoming inspired if I cannot hold an audience in my head.
I am sad. Ending a blog is like ending a relationship. Even if there are good reasons to move on, it is always a difficult transition. I had many good reasons to continue the relationship: I had many wonderful readers whom I felt close to. I loved having my writing appreciated by so many. I liked the process of blogging: thinking out loud, refining my ideas, changing my mind when readers pointed out that I was full of shit, and being a part of the serious-amateur blogging community (which is an inspiring band of people). I wouldn’t have found my best friend if it wasn’t for the blog. “The Apostate” felt like an institution – a minor one, but there was a definite identity there. And lastly, I did strongly feel that I was covering a niche that is otherwise neglected: there aren’t many former Muslim feminists who are on the left of American politics. There aren’t many people criticizing Islam from the left who do not have ulterior racist motivations. And it’s a pity that this niche will lose my voice just as it was gaining prominence. But I must blog for myself and not out of a sense of duty. It’s a thankless task if you do it for any reason other than enjoyment of it.
I will miss it. But realistically, it was time to move on. And realistically, I will likely benefit academically from not having blogular distraction.
Thanks for walking with me in my journey. I will miss you.