How many ways do I blog thee?

Friko, over at Friko’s Musings, has written about possible problems that we bloggers face in connection with family, friends, confidentiality and suitability of topics. It set me a-wondering what is in my mind when I write a post. If I am absolutely honest, I want to say something worthwhile, and much of the time I don’t. This blog is a mix-match of daily trivia, thoughts, a record of books read and films watched, all leavened with a dose of the spirituality which just is. It is a place for sharing things that have intrigued or made me laugh.

Many of my family and friends don’t read it – they see little point, after all I’m there on the end of a phone to chip in with where I’m at. Perhaps that says more about my family and friends than me. It’s easy to accept praise from friends and acquaintances but more of a challenge to listen to criticism – harder still to learn from it.

Then there are the would-be bloggers amongst my circle, those who quite fancy the idea of joining in the blogging world themselves. Beware if you are reading this, you know who you are. You could get hooked and then there is the daily or weekly problem of a readership to please or challenge or tickle or whimsify. The most important way to learn about blogging is to search out and read blogs…… lots of them …… of all genres. If you find someone you like, go back and learn techniques, join in conversations and help to expand the boundaries of the cyber-verse.

There are some who like to be mentioned in the blog. Friends who tell me stories and say “you could write about that.” Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t. Here I have to confess that I keep a list of ideas to blog about so that I can pull something out of the page if I am having a bleak week. I confessed to Friko that I tend not to write when I am feeling down. Maybe that is not such a good idea, perchance it might help someone who wanders across this blog to discover that we all have bad days as well as good days.

The big question then is Why Blog?  It was relatively easy when I worked as a Parish Minister, there was a ready-made potential audience. It had its own pitfalls – writing for a congregation – and sadly, I suspect I may have caused offence to some and disappointed a few. However, now I am retired I am free to say what I think and be who I am. The problem with this is that no-one likes to reveal the darker parts of their soul, that is unless they want to make a bid to emulate some of the spiritual classics. So that leaves me back where I began all those years ago – striving to have a place in blogland as one of the Growing-older-graciously-and-wiser brigade. Oh – and I enjoy a good chuckle too.

Why do you blog? And what problems have you encountered? (I almost wanted to say – Why are you reading this? But I am scared of chasing people away!)

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17 Responses to How many ways do I blog thee?

  1. This is the best blog you have written in a while. It is difficult to write these blogs. I have received feedback from my daughter who warned me to not mention too much information about her daughters (she is afraid of stalkers). She tells me she and her daughters, and my DIL all read the blog, so I picture them when I write and try hard not to offend. Of couse this flies in the face of being honest. I am pretty honest in my everyday life, however, so they know what I think. (Too honest, some might say.)

    I find my politics and attitude toward religion have shifted this way and that way over the years (my blog today), and both are such sensitive subjects, but like the weather we cannot help but talk about them. (fools rush in)

    I like the saying, “you can please some of the people some of the time, etc. Maybe we should just try to please ourselves. You know “damn the torpedos…” After all, if we don’t do it now, when will we? (I will still read your blog.)

    PS I knew you were “down” when you didn’t write. So write…lots.

  2. friko says:

    you are clearly not an anonymous blogger. which means you have to be careful about what you say.

    I saw my blog primarily as a means of delving into my and my family’s past. If my children want to read it, that’s fine. The blog then became far more a place where I explored myself, my motives, shining a bright light into my dark corners. Writing things down has always helped me, blogging is a kind of discipline which makes this an ‘ongoing work’; if something moves me, disturbs me, touches me, pleasantly or unpleasantly, it finds a place in my blog. Not so good, as far as children reading it is concerned; luckily, my blog has hardly caused a ripple in their consciousness. Besides, they are adults, their wayward mother would tell them to ‘deal with it’ in their own language, if they complained.

    Now the blog has become a place to make friends. Amazingly, that is true. I am ‘meeting’ people I would otherwise never have met, I have discussions I would not have had, I see viewpoints and opinions new to me; I learn about simple things like where people live and what weather they have.

    If you recommend to your friends to start blogging, I think staying anonymous is a good thing. Even if they plan never to hurt anyone at all in their blog, people take things the wrong way. I for one wouldn’t like to weigh every word before I write it.

    But then, I’m not a minister, ministers HAVE to be kind, don’t they? Isn’t it wonderful, I can talk to you like can’t talk to the many ministers living in Valley’s End.

  3. Tabor says:

    I blog anonymously so that I do not have to bite my tongue. But, now that I have become close to many of my readers, I am starting to censor what I say…that put me in an odd quandary. Do I write for them, do I write only for those who understand me or do I write for myself…which is what I started out doing on my blog.

    I am on FB and most of my friends and relatives could care less what I post. A few bloggers that I have included (because health or family prevented them from blogging anymore) are the ones who comment!

  4. freda says:

    Sorry for not checking earlier, each of your comments warrants a proper answer, so I’ll do my best.

    Dianne, thanks for noticing that I have not been up to par. Writing and sharing online and in emails often helps, mainly because when I think of others somehow things start to get better. (There is a gospel reading about that somewhere!) I probably am more aware of the need to be careful online when writing about the grandchildren, for instance, than their parents are. My offspring seem to think nobody much will read what I write anyway. I’ve looked at your post on religion and found it fascinating. (Other readers go to:
    Sorry, I don’t know how to imbed a link in this answer.

  5. freda says:

    My last response was getting too long, so now I’m thinking about what you say, friko. It’s a bit scary to think about not having anonymity online, but I did get more or less used to that in my job. The same is true for most clergy, though some do make an attempt to be anonymous. The trouble then is, that it becomes a game to try and guess who they are. I would certainly recommend to my friends to be discrete online about who they are, it’s too late for me. Btw you are right about it being a minister’s job to be kind – you might have read me saying that I found it hard sometimes!

    Tabor, facebook makes the whole online question even more fraught. I use it too, but only for people I know personally, though I suppose if a blogging “friend” asked me to be a friend I might be tempted. It’s about social networking after all. In fact it is a very complicated world. So – I think I am at the stage of wanting to write for myself and hoping that other people will be interested. At that rate, maybe one blog post out of a hundred might hit the spot. How do you experts keep the standards so high?

  6. Marcia Mayo says:

    I just love an audience, especially, as Anne LaMott says, when I don’t have to be in attendance.

  7. freda says:

    And you do get it, Marcia, deservedly so.

  8. Barb says:

    It’s a funny old (blogging) life. I have been reading you for years; I started off in a solidarity with another woman in ministry sort of way, and you have led me to close friends via the blogosphere, as well as continuing to walk a path I understand. A gift of grace.

    I’ve got to a point where I just say what I want, when I want on my blog. Appreciative words that you and others offer are gratefully received because they have some depth – but the fact that my stats are pretty low no longer bothers me.

    For me, it is a case of living blogging like I try to live the rest of life – being myself, with questions, smiles, hopes and quirks that I believe God dances around. And that is the reason I keep coming back to your blog too.

  9. Anne Gibert says:

    If I wrote all that I am thinking on the subject of blogging I would be writing more than several long posts. I do not blog anonymously. Some (not all — some are not interested) of my children read my blog. Some of my grandchildren read it. So I have to be careful of what I say. But I learned the hard way. I think that you, Freda, were not a reader of my blog when I got into real trouble because I wrote a tongue in cheek little satire on village life in Alaska. Such major offense was taken by people I never expected to read what I had written that I am now partly ostracized form some circles in that little town. You never know who will read what you have written. I have recently learned that far more people read my blog (and I’m sure yours as well) than I ever dreamed.

    I have thought about starting another blog, completely anonymous, so that I could write without restraint about subjects that I think are important. Specifically about tensions within families and about sex. But I probably will not do this. When I think about it I think I would have to be so careful not to reveal who I am that it would be more difficult than just avoiding those subjects in the blog I now write.

  10. LC says:

    Thought-provoking post and comments. Freda, your experience parallels mine. I, too, tend to not post when I am down, although my recent absences have been from being in “no connection” land or “no-time” territory during my mother’s hospitalization and continuing recuperation. I blog so that I won’t forget moments little and big of this stage of my life. I have tried journaling several times and never stick with it. I guess the IDEA of an audience keeps me accountable in the blogosphere, even though my audience is small.

    I am concerned about the consequences of putting my grandchildren’s and children’s names out there and wished I had given them other names, maybe Things 1 through 6 for the grands? Too late now.

    The “virtual” friends I have made has surprised and delighted me. And the reason I keep coming back to your blog is whether you write about weighty “important” issues or some daily drop of life that may seem significant only to you, you always add something to my life: a moment of beauty, joy in a canine friend, smiles over tinies, or a poke in the conscience to reexamine how I approach something.

  11. Your comments are making me realise that I want to spend more time reading archives of blogger-friends. For instance, I don’t recall your being in trouble over a satire on Alaska, Anne, I hope you have been able to cope with the trauma. It sounds like the situation Lilian Beckwith found herself in after writing a series of books about the Hebrides in Scotland. I wish I felt less conscious over what I write, Barb, I’m sure it is that kind of honesty which brings readers back; however, knowing some of my readers personally is bound to bring about a kind of self-editing.

    Thanks so much to everyone for joining in with the discussion. I’ve learnt a lot and have been encouraged to keep on blogging. LC – maybe we both need to post about the experience of being a bit down and finding it necessary to hide away; thanks for your kind words.

  12. Sheila says:

    I am in a whole different league than you. I blog our travels. I started mostly to have a record of where we have been, what we have done and to provide an easier way of sharing this crazy path with friends and family. I re-visit older posts when thinking of travelling there again and it jogs my memory. It has it’s practical side.

    However, the more I blog the more I think about it. I realize now that I also blog because I enjoy writing and it is a venue where you actually get feed back. I get very few comments on line but I have been encouraged by friends, especially fellow travellers. I think it has become a hobby and a challenge.

    Freda, other than travel blogs, yours is the one I follow. At first it was because you are the only relative I have ever known other than immediate family and that is wonderful for me. I love knowing about you and getting to know you. Many side benefits have emerged. I enjoy your perspective and as mentioned in another comment, whether you are talking about the minute details of life or larger issues, I am moved by it. Your writing is thought provoking and often gets my brain engaged. This has to be good for me! Being a young retiree I have got to keep that organ in good working order. You are an excellent writer and I like the way you turn a phrase. The variety of topics amazes me as well. I love the book reviews…all of it. So, “why-ever” you do it, I hope you keep it up.

  13. freda says:

    Thanks, Sheila, it means a lot to be part of your journey, and thanks for the encouragement. Being online is a wonderful way to get to know journeys of the spirit and soul as well as journeys to beautiful places. You give me a reason to blog. I, too enjoy getting to know you and other members of my Canadian family through you. Your energy and curiosity keep me engaged too.

  14. Tamarika says:

    I blog for connection.
    To hone my writing skills.
    Share ideas,
    Memories …
    To understand my Self …
    and … to meet people like you!

    Over the years I have pondered the “why blog?” question quite a few times – here is one such time:
    and there have been many others:

    It’s one of those: “what is the meaning of life?” type questions in the bloggers’ universe! Perfect for us soul searchers out there!
    Happy New Year and happy blogging!

  15. freda says:

    Thanks, Tamarika, the links are a good way to find out all sorts of things. When one comes across a new blog it takes a long time to catch up with what has been important. I like your list of why you blog; they more or less match my own.

  16. Finally responding to this post of yours on a subject close to my own concerns. Being reflective on the practice of blogging has been on my mind since I began almost five years ago. Early on I marked a number of pages in Rebecca Blood’s 2002 small book, “The Weblog Handbook.” Returning to it, reminds me of the importance of issues you’ve raised– – “finding your voice” and weblog community and etiquette. She has what a quirky blog, “What’s in Rebecca’s pocket,”

    Have you seen Scott Rosenberg’s “Say Everything” [2009] on the history of blogging? Again, knowing more about how this idea emerged and reflecting on how each of us relates is useful to “the practice.” Thanks so much for initiating this important conversation.

  17. freda says:

    Thanks, Naomi, I’ve traced the link to Rebecca Blood and see what you mean. I’ve added “Say Everything” to my book list.

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