Blogging is such a funny business.
Two years ago this month, I was mulling over the idea of starting a blog. I’m a bit of a muller. I’m not particularly impulsive, unless I’ve been drinking more coffee than I probably should be allowed to drink. 🙂
“Get that coffee away from Mom!!” (cue maniacal laughter from the next room) “Really! She has had enough!”
My head and heart were full of ideas and stories and recipes and cool things and whatnot that I wanted to write about, to share with somebody. I had this feeling that a blog would be a really great thing to create. But I kept putting it off . . . I kept mulling it over . . . and here’s why: I felt so vulnerable when I imagined how many people might someday read what I wrote. What they might think. How I would feel when I discovered what they thought. What if they hated what I wrote? Could I handle that?
It was so much . . . safer just to leave the ideas in my head and in my worn old Comp notebook that I scribbled all my ideas in. Because the more I thought of it, the more the ideas came. Faster than I could write them down. Ideas that woke me up early, and kept me up late. Things that would be great to learn, myself, and then to write about. Then one evening, my son Timothy looked at me over the supper table and said “Want me to help you get your blog started this evening?” Timothy’s not a muller. He’s a doer. I admire doers. (pout) I’m a doer who mulls for months, first, sometimes in the process forgetting to do at all. A . . . a mooer? A duller? Hmm.
My brow furrowed. I wasn’t sure I wanted to take the time this evening, I muttered. Timothy smiled in that calm and sweet way he has. “It won’t take long,” he coaxed me.
So. I sighed and sat down next to my smarty-pants son, the doer, the climber, the laugher-at-danger, at the kitchen table and watched him set up my blog. A bit glum, I was thinking “I don’t know about this . . . “ I had been looking at blogs that I really admired, and I wasn’t sure that I was up to producing the quality of a blog that I really liked to read. I have fairly high standards. I would hope–for pete’s sake–that my future readers would, too. 🙂
I kept scribbling ideas into the notebook which I carried everywhere with me. I sat down and made an outline of ideas. I drew little pictures. I took photos. I imagined a great deal of blog posts. But I didn’t write, not for awhile, anyway. My blog sat quiet and empty. It was a secret project that I wasn’t sure I would be able to complete. Would Timothy ever mention it if I just never wrote a thing on it? He was a good, polite lad. He wouldn’t embarrass me if I didn’t follow through on this, would he? I thought not. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time I hadn’t followed through on a creative project. 🙁
Bryan hinted that I was overthinking it. “Just write,” he said to me. “Write something down and post it.” I blanched. I couldn’t. I still wasn’t sure if I had the guts to put my heart out there into cyberspace. For just anybody to examine, for good or ill.
Finally I sat down and wrote a story about an experience with some chickens. It made me laugh. A little. I asked Amalia (who would never, ever say something that would hurt my feelings, even if it was true, bless her) to read it, and she chuckled, too. I read it over many times, cutting, editing, adding, cutting.
And then Timothy, one day in passing, asked why I wasn’t working on that blog that he had set up for me. Guilt. Finally, feeling pretty silly about it all, I figured out how to load a few photos and I prayed over the whole shebang, and I pushed the “Publish” button. I kinda hoped nobody would read it. It probably wasn’t very good. I was a hack. Right? Not a real writer.
And then, after a worried day or two, it began to dawn on me how charming is the art of blogging. I could post a blog and within hours (some days, minutes) get feedback from somebody. And feedback, you know, is something many writers yearn for but seldom get. Overnight I fell in love with the process of blogging. I loved jotting down ideas, taking photos, doing research, making contacts with others, making blog posts, sharing on social media and hearing what people thought (well, most of the time) about what I had written.
In my before-blogging days, I always had a writing project (or several) on the back burner, always feeling a bit guilty for not putting the time in to write every day. But after I started my blog, I’d wake up very early, a couple of hours before the family was awake, consumed with a desire to write. The difference did seem to be in the interactive nature of blogging. I could post a blog and within hours (some days, minutes) get feedback from somebody.
I can see now that my childhood memoir that I started a couple of years ago that I’ve got written down in a very rough form, isn’t finished because it is a long, long work and nobody sees it but me. Day after day after day, I sat and wrote it all down. Writing is a lonesome process. I’ve got great stuff in there, about growing up the daughter of a pharmacist in a small town in Nebraska. About quirky small town events and interesting characters and about Dad falling through the attic ceiling one evening while our little neighbor lady across the street sat on her front porch and watched it all, coming over to our house afterwards to beg Mom not to put curtains up on the north side of our house, so she wouldn’t miss a thing.
And yes, Dad, I’m sorry, but that bit stays in there.
I didn’t even have to make anything up, it just came out of my memories and my mom and dad’s memories and it’s all written down. It just needs editing. But it’s sitting waiting my work, and it’s very hard to get back to it because there’s no feedback. Good feedback for writers, I’ve discovered, is underrated.
Good feedback is a shot of espresso, a vitamin pill, a bit of applause, a timely pat on the back. Writing a blog is an excellent way to hone your writing, to get used to putting your heart out there, and to get feedback. And the more you write . . . guess what . . . the more feedback you receive. I met with a small writing group a few weeks ago, and I was the only one writing a blog in the group. I felt just a bit of sadness for these other writers who, like me, loved the writing process but who, unlike me, didn’t receive the feedback that blog-writing gives you.
And strange, yet cool, things happen every day, when you share yourself on your blog. Just in the last few days, here are some things that have happened to me because of my blog-writing:
- A reader from Africa sent me a picture of his mother and their 500 hens, to thank me for helping him figure out which hens are laying eggs, and which are not.
- Another reader sent me a great idea about how she fights that summer menace, the cabbage moth, and it was an awesome idea.
- Yesterday I chatted with two neighbors that I didn’t know very well, about something that they had read on my blog, getting to know them better and delighting in it.
- A farmer-writer sent me an e-book about something very interesting, that he had written, asking me for feedback.
My world is opening up, as I open up my world to others. I’m waking up very early and writing about new things that I’m learning every day. I pay attention to ideas that used to just flit through my mind, and I examine them and study them and wonder about them more now, now that somebody else cares about what I might think. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and I realize that I look very tired. It’s all this writing and posting and picture-taking and getting up very early indeed every day, that is tiring me out.
There are days when I start to wonder if it is all worthwhile. Wouldn’t my life be simpler without the blog? I’d probably have a cleaner house, that much is sure. I’d be able to go out and pitch baseballs with little Mack without one eye on my watch . . . or would I?
But I don’t really want to think about writing again with no feedback, no exchange of ideas and constructive criticism. I am sitting alone at the computer in the early morning hours, but I don’t feel alone. I’ve made friends with other bloggers who are figuring out the blogging thing, too. . . . who are figuring out the life thing, too, day by day. I read their blogs and give them feedback, too. We exchange prayer requests and we share our lives with each other. We encourage and lift up and teach and commiserate. We are a community. My blog has become the backyard picket fence. I know that Alana–and Dad–and Bethany–will read nearly every post I write, and will have something kind to say about it. And also William, and Monte, and Mari, and Rose, and Susie, and Sophie, and Rita, and Roy, and Anita-Clare. And others.
Now my readers are giving me so much: A reason for writing. A reason for developing that new recipe that I’ve been thinking about. A reason for figuring out exactly what crops to plant when, for the best fall garden ever. A reason to figure out what the heck to do with all the cherry tomatoes. I’m not, after all, the only doofus who plants too many tomato plants year after year after blessed year. This blog is not just for me, any longer.
And then, to cap it all, one day a box came to our house, and it’s from far away, and it has two absolutely perfect aprons that a Gentle Reader made for Amalia and me.
I just get a lump in my throat at it all. I make myself vulnerable, by writing and giving and giving up what I can, by emptying myself, and then my readers give back to me.
It’s pretty awesome.
So this is a thank-you post. Thank you, Rita, for the absolutely perfect aprons (gorgeous detailing and finishing, oh my, I’m so impressed!). Thank you, Gentle Readers, for reading and sharing and commenting and for your feedback, and for being interested in what I write. It really is quite a gift you are giving to me.
I love you all, I really do. *hugs*
- Hoop house Overwhelm
- I’m in love with pistou