Mar
31

Why I Blog

By

When I first heard of the idea of blogging some years ago, I remember thinking An online diary? For all the world to see? Who would do that? Obviously, I didn’t really get it. But then my friend started one. I became a devoted reader and I slowly started to discover other “mommy blogs.” I began to understand what the whole blogging thing was about and was fascinated to learn there was this whole other world online — this HUGE blogger community. The blogoshpere.

People start blogs for many reasons. People who write mommy blogs, for example, write about the struggles and joys of motherhood to share ideas and trials and triumphs to know they are not alone. There are blogs specific to just about any interest from movies to history and politics to music. Besides sharing information and thoughts with friends and family, it’s also a way for people to build a community of like-minded folks and dialogue with those they normally would not otherwise get a chance to know.

Like any new trend, blogging has mushroomed into a booming business. Advertisers saw it as a possibility for promoting products and making money, and some writers saw it as a platform for getting noticed and getting paid. Many mommy bloggers bemoan this transformation of what were once thought of as more “pure” or “authentic” blogs that have turned commercial. Blogs that used to be good writing have turned into nothing but links to advertising sites or product reviews — the bloggers‘ version of “selling out.”

Of course, some bloggers are more skilled and have managed to combine the best of both worlds. They keep their writing “real” while also cultivating a large and devoted readership and manage to parlay their writing skills and popularity into sponsorships and paid writing gigs.

So the more blog posts I read, the more this whole blogging picture came into focus for me. I began to understand that while a blog can be an online diary, it can also be so much more. It’s up to me what I share and what I don’t. I decide the topics I write about, personal or global. I realized I could write about the simplest things: from what new tricks my daughter was up to, to political or social commentary. My writing could be formal and well-thought out pieces, or snippets of conversations, or just some venting when I need advice from friends and family.

Personally, I started my blog for a number of reasons. First, I wanted to push myself to write on a regular basis in order to hone my writing skills. I teach writing because I love to write, so I thought it a good idea to practice what I teach. It also seemed a terrific venue for sharing photos and updates of my daughter since the rest of our family lives across the country. And finally, I started my blog as a means of venting and self-discovery. Each year I tell my students that among the many powers of writing is that being forced to articulate something in words really helps writers to discover how they feel or what they think about something.

I will confess that when I first started writing, one of the things I wondered and worried about was my audience. Naturally, I wanted readers, but should I restrict that audience? Would knowing that certain people were reading force me to censor myself and defeat some of the purpose of blogging — namely that last purpose of venting and self-discovery (which necessitates honesty and not always painting oneself in the best light)? The answer was yes, of course. (As I remembered that the other main thing about writing that I try to impress upon my students is how audience and purpose play an important role in the decisions writers make.) So I told my friends and my family and a select group of coworkers (because they are also my friends), and I went on my merry blogging way.

I have enjoyed writing my blog. It’s given me a much needed outlet for all of the things mentioned above. I love knowing I have people who care enough about me to take the time to read what I write. I even started thinking about and researching how I could get more traffic to my blog and parlay that into other writing, maybe a new career, because it would be the coolest thing in the world to me to actually get paid to write. I would love to have one of those blogs where every post has 100+ comments because that’s how many people are reading. I have lots more work to do first; I’m not ready yet, but thinking about the possibilities of where I could take my writing began to excite me. It was almost enough to make me forget my original concerns about audience and my writing. Almost.

Recently, I discovered that I have a group of quite unintended readers. How many or how frequently they visit my blog, I have no idea. But I do know that it’s given me great pause and filled me with an overwhelming sadness for which I can’t quite find the words. So much so, that I seriously considered shutting down the blog. In fact, I still may. But here’s the thing: I don’t want to. I have worked hard on some of my writing, and I am proud that this is something I’ve managed to keep up and follow through on. And, looking though all of my posts, I realize that, yes, I certainly would have preferred certain people not to have been privy to some of these personal thoughts of mine. But, in the end, I’m not embarrassed by anything I have written. For better or worse, it’s all me. And it’s honest.

However, this got me to thinking about what it means to have a larger audience. What if my blog really did get a following of all sorts of people, including those who don’t even know me? Be careful what you wish for, right?

It’s a mixed blessing to have a larger audience, especially when some of that audience is not for whom this blog was intended. But I don’t have control over who finds my blog and who reads. I put myself out there, so it’s the chance I take. I reap the rewards, but also suffer the consequences. I want to be honest and I want to be authentic. I want to stay true to the purpose of my blog. That means opening myself up to all sorts of readers, all sorts of criticism, and maybe even rubbing some people the wrong way. I will eventually be okay with that, but it may take me some time to get there.

For now, I am going to keep on doing what I’m doing. I’m going to pray for strength through what has become a particularly sad and trying time for me. And I’m going to write. Of course, I will have to add more to my list of ‘things I can’t blog about’ — which, quite frankly, pisses me off a little. (And see, I’m even now stopping to question whether I should write “pisses me off.”) But I’ve grown quite attached to this little blog of mine, and I’d like to keep it around. I know why I blog. I blog to write. I blog to share. I blog to discover. So I just hope all who visit and read do so because they like my writing, or they want to share in the tidbits of my life’s journey that I offer. I can’t really speak to my readers’ motivations; I can only speak to mine. I can only say that I really write with the best of intentions, so I hope my readers can at least afford me the same courtesy.

Comments

  1. Minimeltdown says:

    I like you and your writing and will continue to visit your blog for those reasons. Don’t give up on this baby just yet! We of the blogosphere would miss you immensely.

  2. LeeAnn says:

    I think this blog alone contains serious self-discovery. It is also the same challenge that we all deal with every day.
    And until you move to New Jersey you best keep this blog thing going. :)
    Love you and miss you tons.

  3. Irene says:

    You, my child, are very talented, very insightful, and I think those things make you a good writer. I, for one, am very proud of you. You can only control so many things in life. You can’t control who your readers are, but by giving up something you enjoy because of that you are letting them control you. Love, as always, mom

  4. Helene88 says:

    A wise person once told me that “what other people think about me is none of my business.”

    Hard to accept to be sure. But your mom is RIGHT (Moms are always RIGHT) that you will give who ever it is that upset you so much power over you, it won’t be measurable. Don’t let them take one more second of space in your head–they don’t pay rent!!!!!
    xoxoxo
    Helenie
    PS… you may want to rethink coming this weekend, there’s a flu in my house and I’m reasonably certain you are NOT going to want Charlie exposed to cooties unnecessarily.