Within a few weeks, after a succession of events, my identity as a writer disappeared. It was that fast. And it was that definitive. For the first time since I was a child, and the first time in my professional writing life, I had no compass as a creative person, who’d always found putting words on paper easier than anything else in life. It started in September, in the most common of ways. I got fired. More specifically, I got fired from a job writing for a site that I’d long dreamed of writing for. I’d contacted different editors through the years, every winter, to see if there was an opening or any interest. I couldn’t believe that I’d finally gotten my foot in the door with the site, Baseball Prospectus. I thought the opportunity was the start of something that I could build on. I was eager to prove myself. At the end of the baseball season, I noticed several people resigning. I got nervous. I analyzed my communication with the editors, keenly aware something was under foot. Sure enough, I got the email many of us heard was coming. After six months, my time with BP was over. In response, my mind started to shift. I started wondering, not only, “What now?” But “What do I even want?” It was a humiliating, intense blow, and it took the wind out of my writing spirit. My certainty as a writer, with an eye on the future I’d been trying to cultivate, was gone. In the age of online media, no job is secure. In the midst of this, I was trying to moderate a private baseball chat and networking group for women in baseball. Issues had arisen, but nothing I couldn’t handle with relative ease. The group was created by me and four other women in the business. We’d expanded it outside of our circle with the intention and hope of giving other professional women in baseball a safe space to vent, talk baseball without “mansplaining,” and swap advice and support. I’d also hoped it gave women a place to report sexual harassment or sexist treatment from the team or personnel, so that we could point them in the right direction on how to handle it. I had such high hopes and was incredibly proud of this thing we’d created, something I’d thought about for a long time. And for a time, it was a success, bursting with vital energy and camaraderie. That too would change. Private conversations led me to question whether the group was serving the higher purpose we’d intended. We decided to shift the group to Linkedin, to grow the community as a larger network for women in baseball. When the announcement was made in the group, some of the members weren’t on Linkedin so that didn’t work for them. That was understandable. But the majority simply didn’t seem interested. I took it as a personal failure that I wasn’t able to develop that into what I’d hoped. But I also understand not everything works out the way we envision. The problem was that I had no other vision of that venture, and it had been in my mind for so long. It was hard to believe things went so wrong. Also, in the age of social media, no connection is quite what it seems. And the emphasis on social is sometimes lost on me. I was reminded that day. Then came another reminder about the power of social media on the creative, professional life. The name of the group, “Pitchslapped,” coined by one of the founders was beloved by many, particularly women who, like me, hated the word it derives from and liked turning it on its head. It was also, obviously, a baseball reference. It’s been used by an accapella group as well, though I didn’t know that at the time. As the group was disintegrating, suddenly, a bunch of Twitter users who didn’t like the name began to tweet really rough, personal stuff to and about me. I did my best to deflect, but the mob got louder and more joined in, including a member whom I'd welcomed into the group with open arms when she requested an invite. She was quick to publicly shame me, despite talking often about online bullying of women. All the while, knowing my history. A few years ago, I came forward as a survivor of domestic violence and devoted myself to advocacy, which included writing about DV in baseball. To be suddenly mocked and verbally attacked for hours, felt quite a lot like abuse, so that was interesting. But it tore me to my core. Domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy part of my purpose in life, and a major focus of my personal and professional life. People say that’s the price you pay for being in a public forum, for being a creative person that shares what they create with the masses. I don’t know that I agree with that. Is that our only way of viewing the public forum? As a free for all to express the worst in us? If it is, maybe I’m not meant to be on that public of a stage. I don’t relate to ripping apart others for personal gain by joining in an angry mob. If that’s social media, if that’s how we relate to each other as human beings, and if that’s being a writer, I am not in the right place. Something shifted in my spirit after the group fell apart and readers attacked me on Twitter. I started questioning how I’d prioritized and connected. I began realizing what I’d been devoting so much energy to, social media, had basically consumed my writing life. It became identity. When my sense of myself as a writer fell apart, I realized that social media had been an enormous part of it. I’m private in a careful, deliberate, at times relentless way. I don’t give easily. And yet, I’d given many more inches than I’d wanted to, in order to function as a writer. And, admittedly, to compete with the rest of the writing world, particularly for those in sports, where it’s hard to stand out and information is constant. Standing outside of the pack is difficult. I hadn’t seen how I’d allowed that to become too important. My energy was invested in a way that utterly exhausted me and left me feeling empty. I’m not “Social Media Girl.” I don’t believe in the Facebook era, where we call people friends who aren’t. I hate it. When I gave in (pattern alert) and joined Facebook, it was to manage a social media account for another company. I’d never meant to become part of the culture. But that brings me to my next and final “incident of note.” As I was going through a complete upheaval within, my existential crisis was joined with a worldlier breakdown: the presidential election. Similar to the personal, I’d been painstakingly careful about revealing anything political. I’d walked the line, and kept it all very fair and at a distance. I spotlighted others thoughts, with a focus on minor leaguers, as always. My connection to the political was more of a way of reporting what others thought. At times, my attitude and beliefs emerged, but, again, not in a way that I thought would alienate anyone. I’m not interested in being highly or consistently political, but I don’t want to hide in the shadows, afraid to stand up with a more distinct point of view; because this is different. A spark was lit in a way that made me wonder what more I could do, and how I could be more of service. My focus will continue to be on violence against women and children, and those who are particularly vulnerable. I’m not sure how a role takes shape, but I’m doing things that feel right and important. I liked Republican and CNN analyst Ana Navarro’s quip about taking off the stilettos and protesting if she can. Since there’s been some confusion this past year about peaceful protest, it’s actually allowed. You can look it up. Because this is a baseball website, and a minor league-focused one, I don’t see the need to explain further than that, maybe elsewhere. For now, it’s important that everything I touched on, though highly personal, gets me to my point. I’ve changed. My focus has shifted, my energy has shifted. And I know it’s for the better. Am I still a writer? Yes.Always. But I don’t know where I fit in as a writer, and I’m unsure if I fit into today’s definition, in a social media saturated environment, where “friends” aren’t friends by definition, colleagues are handles with avatars, and how we communicate with each other is fast, often impulsive, and often lacks meaning. This blog will continue, but I’ll search for minor league stories that dig deeper. I announced before that I’d be devoting much of the blog’s space to long form journalism, and I plan to continue on that road. What I want to say to writers, whether you’re in baseball or not, is that our art still has meaning if we decide to pursue that. Yes, we’re in an era of five second videos and hot takes that grab attention; but we’re also in the position to reach many more people, and expand our possibilities if we search for them. Don’t give that up. I almost did. And losing my direction as a writer is both the scariest and best thing that could’ve happened.