Pet Bloggers ChallengeEdie Jarolim of Will My Dog Hate Me and Amy Burkert of GoPetFriendly.com are co-hosting the 2nd Annual Pet Blogger Challenge today, inviting all pet bloggers to answer eight questions about their blogs.

I’ve anxiously awaited this day, planning to use the PBC’s questions as a tool to redefine why I blog and what I’d like to either accomplish or abandon here. Please pardon my taking a few liberties in prose form to better explain 2011’s situation.

GOALS: THEN AND NOW

The 2011 Pet Blogger Challenge (my previous post) aimed to explore “how and why” I blog about animals and how that’s working for us as a group. I quote myself as saying then, in reference to goals from my start in 2009, “This One Wild Life still celebrates relationships with all things animal, vegetable and mineral.” I go on to say, “I wanted a way to record and remember favorite moments with these magnificent beings, exploring and sharing the human emotion attached to my animal relationships.” That goal of keeping the human/animal connection at the forefront has held fast, but I feel the execution – or my vision of it – has essentially failed.

SPIRALING OUT OF CONTROL

In August, just as my health slammed me through a series of hairpin turns, my blog garnered the attention of an inordinate number of brands. I’d wake up, rub my eyes, ask “Who have I scheduled for review today?” and hammer out some unique and quirky perspective. I convinced myself it was creative and fun, but really, it was easier to promote products than to find some clever way to continue blogging while avoiding my personal drivel and drama (unless you know me on Facebook). And those products [read Bandaids] just kept coming.

I cut my posting schedule down to Mondays and Fridays, tossing an easy Wordless Wednesday in the middle. By September, with few exceptions, there was hardly room for personal reflection, even when I wanted to write. The brands had taken over. And I had let it happen.

A HACK ATTACK

Like sweepstakes? So did the hacker who pointed every one of my posts to a series of them. My hands were in so much pain and I was so deeply rooted in overall fatigue, I was beyond overwhelmed by the issues. A friend of mine and I tag-teamed a patch repair, but I had to design a new theme from scratch. Every post and picture needed reimporting. Then, when I left New York for radiation therapy in November, I was hit with a pingback spam attack. The physical pain of deleting 4000 comments snapped my spirit in two, threw it to the floor, and buried me deep in the pile-on of misfortune.

Nothing exciting or original sprang forth after that. I was reviewing the same products every other blogger did, still adhering to my promise of honesty and integrity, but any unique perspective had been snuffed out. Giveaways stopped drawing entrants. People stopped caring enough to comment, and who could blame them. Even I was bored with what this space had become.

THIS ONE WILD LIFE OR DEATH?

I declared it time to euthanize the blog and put everybody out of their misery. The kind encouragement of Edie Jarolim and Kim Thomas convinced me otherwise, bolstering my will to breathe all the rich color of life back into what became a pathetic and grey PR machine. It was slow and steady work, which I began and abandoned several times since September, but on January 6th, I finally, fully and rather quietly took my blog back.

Now it’s time to rethink it.

MOVED BY SPIRIT OR SCHEDULE?

Amy and Edie ask, in question 4, “Has your opinion of blogging on a schedule or as the spirit moves you changed? Which are you doing now? Do you still worry about lost traffic, momentum, etc?”

In 2009, I blogged as the spirit moved me. I was a nobody. It didn’t matter. In 2010, I followed the experts’ rallying cry for daily posting. “Content and consistency are KING!” they cried. Funny thing, that. There sure was a lot of crap suddenly floating around. But, hey, it was consistent. And I should mention that reading all that production was exhausting.

Then, Scott Stratten delivered the 2010 BlogWorld keynote in Vegas preaching “Don’t spread Meh. Spread AWESOME!” The Hallaluja Chorus and trumpets echoed between my ears. That’s it! Blog only when you’re brilliant! That really worked for me… Until the 2011 take-over, when I blogged myself into a creative and intellectual ditch.

Oddly, through it all, traffic kept coming. FatCow web hosting and Amazon affiliate income continued to rise. It seems I have an audience no matter what or when I write. The problem isn’t them. It’s me. I no longer care for my content. I’m going back to awesome whenever it springs forth.

MAY I HAVE YOUR HAND IN … ???

Engagement. This is my more pressing goal for 2012. Comment. More. Share. More. I could love my blog deeply and monogamously again, but I think we should start seeing other people. I’m ready for an open relationship. I spent hours last week stocking Google Reader with blogs I love but rarely read. I’ve followed some of you to the ends of Google Earth. You’ll be seeing me.

That’s right. What I love most about blogging is you. I could do the writing alone, but only you make it a conversation. I look forward to talking with you. Much, much more. I’m so committed, I spent 3 hours typing this with one finger on an iPad.