Posts Tagged: blogging

crossroads

A lot of people see the onset of autumn as a yearly crossroads.  We feel energized for change and renewal; it’s as if the ripening leaves and drunken migratory birds lure us off tired old paths.  My unanticipated absence from this space probably has something to do with all that.

It’s not good blog form, they say, taking a break without offering some sort of substitution posts.  Or at least some advance notice.  But then again this space has always been more about being true to me than retaining you.  That’s not to say I don’t think the world of you for stopping by and offering support and conversation and encouragement.  I’ve met some really wonderful friends here and for that I’m genuinely grateful. 

image from www.flickr.com

Migratory birds over Toronto's harbour.

After a couple of weeks of not being able to face that Typepad dashboard, I reassessed the future of my blog and what, if anything, I want of it.  It turns out my longstanding goal of writing with more candour and openness has not changed, so I wondered if I was resisting that honesty.  Especially as the desire to spend some time just living, without telling the world about how I was going about doing that, was forceful.  With more certainty I know the photo project gave me license to resist the writing part.  That wasn’t entirely unintentional, but now it was time to stand back and decide if this was what I really wanted. 

I’ve not abandoned the photo a day project, though I will admit the “a day” part has gone amiss. Well before the blog break I’d been giving this whole “living out loud” some serious reconsideration.  Blame it on Facebook. 

Lest you think I’m entirely Facebook-Jaded, I still love social media.  I love that people can express their passions and tell their stories on their blogs. I love that Facebook has put me and my extended family and my old friends in back touch with each other’s lives. 

But I have, as should everybody, reconsidered how I want to use these things.  Just as I feel it is an absurd waste of time reading that a Facebook “friend” – someone I barely knew even when I last saw them thirty years ago – has a headache or is making roast beef for supper, I also feel that my daily journal belongs in a bedside book, not on your computer screen.  Some bloggers journal engagingly and with great success.  I, however, am not comfortable merging the public and private.  And because of that, the blog has become as insipid as an average Facebook status update. 

Maybe it’s because I’m happy.  Reluctant Blogger wrote once that she has no desire or need to write when she’s happy.  It’s been a wonderful year and I will cherish this record of it.  But it occurs to me, I don’t want to share every aspect of my personal life with the world – rather I want to share my perspective on that world.

I remain committed to the photo project for the rest of the year, and I will back-post the pictures I’ve been taking while “away.” Maybe a fresh approach on the project will reinvigorate it and, let’s hope, my writing.

not real good at small talk, me

Last month I signed up for a blog challenge to post something every day.  I should have known better.  My creative self doesn’t manage real well with rules.  It was good for the first little bit – it gave me the impetus to stay in the moment, because in the moment is where I find things to write about.  But it was also December, and for me, December is a month of parties and shopping and preparing and friends and events – it’s a month of distractions.  And this particular December was particularly distracting.

I do approach this blog with the intention of writing every day.  Everyone who engages in this process knows that if you write every day, your readership is more likely to grow.  I enjoy the growing numbers as much as anybody – creating something, and sharing it is a source of enormous personal satisfaction.  I am exceedingly grateful for you, that you show up to read what I have to say, and that you may have shown up to find I haven't written, again, is the primary reason I chastise myself for missing days. 

But I got a little jaded, I suppose, as I explored the many bloggers also participating in this and other challenges, because so many would fill up space with nothing just to get a post up.  Some of the posts would even say “I don’t have anything to say today, but here I am.”  In one respect that’s GREAT – a cardinal rule for any writer or artist is to show up.  Sit down and if all you have to write is “I have nothing to say” write it anyway because it may turn into something else.  At least you’ve kept your office hours, and if a writer didn’t have any discipline, then nothing would ever get written.  But in other respects, you write because you want people to read you, and a sure way to get someone to run the other way fast is to say “I have nothing to say, but listen…”

That kind of stuff belongs in my journal, not on my public space.  My space is about ideas, not clicks; style, not volume.  Experimenting yes, but striving to maintain a standard more so.  I’m certainly not above light and silly – I’m sure you’d dump me quick if I was always long and serious.  But if a post isn’t interesting to me, it sure won’t be interesting to you, and you are here because something I said once resonated with you enough to bring you back. 

And for that, I couldn’t be more grateful.  So this year's posts will be dedicated to you.  I couldn't think of a better reason to try a little harder and dig a little deeper, could you?

in which jennifer gets some holiday

I'm officially on holidays.  I even took (almost) an extra week at the last minute. 

I hope to blog.  I've got a couple of posts in my head I want to get out there before I leave Sunday.  I've got a fancy new phone that should facilitate quicky picture posts at the very least.  After that, who knows?  I've gotten so I don't know how to do anything online without an instant wireless connection.  And where I'm going, it's all "huh? wireless what?"

 

sunshining

Shucks you know I've been handed this sunshine award.  Even better, I've been told I'm welcome at Happy Hour at the Blogland Bar and Grill.  Somebody should have told Tricia that you shouldn't invite me to free drinks at happy hour. She said free right?  Never mind. If there's anyone I'd love to have a chance to belly up to the bar with, its Tricia.

Because Tricia is the kind of writer I aspire to be.  She puts it all out there on the table, whereas I might give you my specialty soup course and hope it fills you up enough that you don't notice that it's all over.

And I love that she, like the Dr. who bestowed the thing on her, doesn't attach any rules to the receiving and the offering of the thing.  It's kind of like the book I'm reading right now, which discusses the idea of a gift, and argues that the "movement" of a gift is its value.  The nature of the gift is changed, sometimes killed, when you apply a quantifiable value to it.  If you give a gift and just expect that it will be moved on down the line or around the circle, you can rest assured it is alive and doing its job. 

And the theory goes with this phenomenon of blogging.  We offer our work and creative efforts out there not knowing if anyone will care or appreciate it, but it doesn't matter.  The reward is in the giving of it.

So it's kind of timely Tricia passed this on today.  My first inclination was to offer the gift to my longest and most faithful blogland friends.  Like Gina and Selma and Susannah and Willow.  These gals have given me real inspiration and motivation because they know the treasure of loyalty.  They are no doubt the force behind the reason I'm moving forward with this thing. 

But the thing is called Sunshine.  Tricia's bestower called her a ray of sunshine.  Which implies something new, like morning.  So in honour of the whole bloggy process, I'm going to hand the award off to some of those blogs which are new (or sort of new) among my daily reads.  Like the beautiful, honest and original "average jo" writer at That's Mrs. Mediocrity to You.  And to my new and very talented friends Marilyn and Carol, both of whom I've got to know through their blogs and through a group blog we participate in, Beautiful World.  Each has a perspective on life that inspires me.  And lastly there is One Girl Trucking.  She'll be surprised – I'm not sure I've ever even commented on her blog.  There's no reason for that - but there's a reason I've followed her for some time – she's got a fresh writing style and a fresh perspective and she journals blogs with a focus we should all try to capture: a unique and personal window on the world.  (Love her Hood Shots!)

Do what you will with the award gals – post the image on your blog – or don't.  Pass it on in the spirit of keeping the gift moving along, or don't.  Just know you give me consistent enjoyment.

Blogging has added much to my world – particularly the people.  Some say sustaining a blog is work.  Maintaining your own creation is one thing, but it's as much about connecting and interacting as it is creating.  I'm so grateful for the friends I've accumulated to now.  And I'm over the moon to discover the writers/photographers/artists/world citizens as often as I do.  If this is work, it's my kind of work.

Sunshine award

you are not a lurker

My friend Willow wrote a charming piece last week about the “peeping tom” nature of the blogging world.  So many of us write stories about our daily experiences and the people and events in our lives, and we let those stories fly into the vast webosphere for anyone who stumbles across them to read.  Most of us WANT strangers to read them.

 

We blog because we want to share our writing or our art. Or we’re photographers or poets or critics, experts, athletes, chefs, parents, farmers, collectors, connoisseurs, teachers, truckers, ministers, healers and business people.   But most of us are offering glimpses into our little corners of the world – and that’s why I think the medium is just wonderful.  I’m mad for peoples’ stories – I like to read personal stories more than anything else. 

 

When I first started journaling online, I’d never heard of blogging platforms – my “blog” was built with Microsoft FrontPage and posting was substantially more cumbersome and complicated than it is now.  But the purpose was the same – I wanted to journal publicly. 

 

Now, with all these great blog platforms, blogging has become part of this “social networking” revolution.  Most bloggers interact with other bloggers and relationships develop.  This is a beautiful benefit I didn’t have with my old website.  But even if platforms like TypePad and Blogger were never invented – I’d still post my stories and I’d still hope that strangers read them.

 

This brings me to something that’s come up a few times in my little blogworld over the past few weeks:  the term “lurker,” referring to people who read blogs and don’t comment on them.  I get where the term came from, and I can see how it fits those people who scour MySpace and Facebook pages for pictures and other bits of personal information without communicating with the owner of the space.  And I realise it's an old word that has been appropriated into a new meaning for new technology.  Nevertheless, it's still got an ugly connotation.  So I am hereby voicing my strong objection to the term being used by bloggers to chide their silent readers. 

 

I have a Facebook page that only my friends and family can see.  If you read this page without being invited, I think you're a lurker.  On the other hand – I put my blog out there for everyone to see.  I am inviting you to read it even if you're a stranger – even if you'll always be a stranger.  If I’ve inspired you to comment – hooray!  If you visit and comment regularly, even better – a new friend!  But you don’t have to comment, and like Willow, I think of you as a marvellous mystery.

 

A number of times I've encountered bloggers berating their silent readers for not commenting and calling them “lurkers.”  In a couple of those instances, I was a relatively new reader and hadn’t found a reason to comment on any of the posts just yet.  But chances are, if I’m reading a blog for more than a week or two, I will eventually be inspired to comment.  I don’t just comment so that you’ll read my blog – I comment because I read something that moved me in some way and I want to tell you so.  And I hope you would do the same.  But if you call me a lurker because I've been silent, it makes me feel that I’m unwelcome, and I probably won’t come back. 

 

So if you’re reading me for the first time or for the twentieth time and don't have anything to say – you’re welcome anyway.  Thanks for visiting, I mean it.