Warning: This post gets a little sappy. And a little excuse-makey.
One of the most awesome experiences I've had this year was hanging out with some of the lovelies I met at GFAF Expo in April. And not just the bloggers - the companies. With my "blogger" name tag around my neck, I was treated differently, and companies were HAPPY to send me samples, sometimes full-size products for review. I felt like a rock star. It was very heady, and it gave me an undeserved sense of self-importance. Until, about mid-May, when the e-mail follow-ups came flooding in, and instead of fueling my desire to write, the stacks of products completely stifled me. I didn't WANT to hock product after product, just because someone gave it to me for free.Yeah, it is an incredibly awesome feeling for companies to approach YOU, because they think you have some sort of sway. But it felt cheap. And it made me feel a little dirty. Because I had just become one of those swag-pirates I'd always made fun of. I left newspaper reporting because I was tired of writing for someone else. When I started this blog, it was on my terms, and yet, for a couple of bags of GF food, most of which I had no desire to eat, I sold out.
So, about the beginning of June, I started having an identity crisis of sorts. I know, poor Alissa has the sads about eating free gluten-free products, boo-hoo. But it wasn't just that. At a year and a half out from a diagnosis, with a virtually clean bill of health, living gluten-free has become sort of less cumbersome. After more than 18 months of firsts, some of the things I wrote about have gotten old hat for me. So if I have nothing new to write about, and I don't want to be a slave to product reviews, what's the point of blogging? For a while, I toyed with ending the site. Everything that I had to say has pretty much been said, either by me or one of the gazillion other gluten-free bloggers out there. So, I quietly went off the grid, waiting to see if anyone would notice. No one did. Nothing brings you back down to earth faster than realizing you can go Interwebs AWOL, and not a soul would try to hunt you down. It made me question if I was contributing anything, really, to the celiac world.
It didn't help that as I was going through this identity crisis, my REAL life got incredibly busy, and in a very good way. Work was flourishing. I was spending time with friends and family, and enjoying my summer. I learned to golf. I read books. I realized there is more to life than just "gluten free." And it was awesome. I became more and more convinced that the breakup had been finalized - I was ready to move on from both Cap'n Crunch and Captain Crunch.
Until, in the span of about a week, three things happened. They are all unrelated, but all three involve people seeking me out to help with a friend, relative, co-worker who had just received a celiac diagnosis. Amid the "thank yous" and the "does it get easiers?", I felt a familiar stirring, and it wasn't the result of a glutening. My job? It's not quite done yet.
So while I will continue to write, there is going to be a lot more life and a lot less product. I'm still going to do reviews, but for the most part, it's going to be things I purchase, because I refuse to feel obligated to have the sun shining out of my behind for any company who woos me with free stuff. If I do get something for free, and choose to write about it, it will be something I would - and will - willingly PURCHASE. I'm also going to be working with another site to do regular columns (more on that later).
There are a lot of great gluten-free bloggers out there. They have huge followings, book deals, swag. That is not now, nor has it ever been, my focus. My goal is simply to navigate the celiac waters as best I can, with humor, because that's all I know how to do.
I hope you guys will stay with me for the journey.