Friday, February 12, 2010

Why DO I blog?

A lovely young woman in my Twin Cities Friends Meeting is putting together an article for our monthly newsletter on the bloggers in our Quaker community, and sent some questions for us to ponder and reply to. I found myself writing a bit more than she really asked for (which was an answer to at least one of her questions), so thought I'd post the whole thing here. Why DO I blog?

- When did you start blogging & why did you start blogging?

I started blogging a little over a year ago, with a blog that was so well hidden that nobody ever found it. A couple of months later, I started a new one, and later merged in the entries from the first one.

My purpose was two-fold: to get writing again, and (with the first blog) to reflect on my spiritual process/discoveries/concerns. The second blog was less focused in topic, so includes descriptions of what’s going on in my life, with my family, etc. I also bought a small camera so I could take pictures on the fly and post them, as that seemed to be an attractive feature of blogs I liked.

- How often do you post & what keeps you blogging?

I post at least every month, sometimes closer to every week – usually not any oftener than that. I keep posting because it satisfies that initial urge to express what’s important in my experience. Increasingly, I also feel myself to be in dialogue with others, as I get readers who comment on my posts. (I also do a fair amount of commenting on the blogs that I particularly like, when I have time.)

- What is it you like about blogging?

It’s becoming a community. Actually, it’s two communities for me, as I have a group of Quaker blogs I follow and comment on, and a group of “other” blogs – many interested in some of the same life-issues and political issues as my Quaker bloggers.

- How has blogging affected your life?

I feel guilty when I get too busy to blog, partly because I want to be a participating part of the blogging community, and partly because I miss out on that reflection and expression that are important to me.

- What is your advice for people who are thinking about blogging?

What I told myself as I plunged in: don’t think, just write. Don’t stop to wonder who will read it, what they will think of you, whether you are worthy, etc. etc. – just write. Take pictures or find them on the Web, if that makes it more fun, but don’t feel you have to. Dress up your blog or not – it doesn’t matter. It’s also really a plus if you take time to read others’ blogs and respond to those that speak to you, as it increases the likelihood that you will have interested readers responding to your ideas.

And don’t start measuring your worth by the number of comments you get, or anything – there may be readers who don’t have time to comment, but are really appreciating your writing. In the final analysis, though, you are Writing in the Light – finding words to connect, share, celebrate what is important to you, and may be life-giving (or at least thought-provoking) for others.


Laoch of Chicago said...

Nicely expressed.

Leone said...

Blogging really is an interesting way of expressing yourself. For me, it is a secret place. No one I know knows about my blog and I like it that way, it is completely separate from my 'real' life as opposed to my 'cyber' life. I don't know why I want it to be secret, I think I feel like I can be myself in my blog and I won't be judged whereas I don't feel that in my 'real' life. Interesting and thought provoking questions.

Minka said...

Don't you still find yourself (every now and then) measuring the worth of your blog by comments and stuff? Just a little?

Bye the way, I think your blog is great!

Madame DeFarge said...

Worthy sentiments, although I suspect many of us are rather more narcissistic in our desire to blog.

Cam said...

I love the community I've found through blogging! I've read many posts in this past year, and I am so thankful for the writers that took time to share them with me!

Blogging is a wonderful medium, I think!

Mary Ellen said...

Leone, I understand the need to be private, but I've played a bit with making my blog known more to people in my actual life - now my Quaker community. I've mentioned it on Facebook, but I don't think much came of that (my kids, for example, haven't read it, to my knowledge).

Yes, Minka, I do notice the number of comments - especially when I've really "put myself out there." But I haven't noticed myself aiming my writing primarily toward getting more hits. It's certainly gratifying when it happens! I agree with Cam - it's a special extra plus to get responses, especially when they are supportive and when they make me think.

Hystery said...

What a great post. Of course, it led me to think about why I blog as well. I'm not sure I have the answer. For me, there is a sense of compulsion. I write because I am a writer. I don't mean that I have skill or talent but just that writing is the easiest way for me to untwist the tangles. Journal writing would help but it usually just reinforces my own initial reactions, fears, and assumptions. In presenting my thoughts in a public setting, I find that others' words and thoughts modify, illuminate, and challenge my own. Blogging provides space for deeper communication between people who might not otherwise ever exchange a meaningful word. In real life, people don't just walk up to strangers and say, "I was thinking of (mortality, religion, committees, art, dogs, technology) today and I wonder what you think." We have become adept at saying a bunch of nothing to each other. Blogging challenges the shallow nature of contemporary communication.

San said...

Lovely post, Mary Ellen. Your reasons for blogging echo my own. And your advice is good.

RantWoman said...

Really fun questions! Fun to read answers too

Aimee said...

I knew I was in trouble when I asked a bunch of bloggers to answer just one question! Of course most of you answered all of them. =)
Perhaps that gets at another reason some people blog - we like to write, we need to process in writing. And it's a whole different dynamic when you write in a blog for others to interact with you, versus just writing in a private journal.
Thanks for sharing Mary Ellen. =)