As a foster care provider for the past 8 years, and a person who has done some basic family genealogy research, I understand the importance of good documentation, and I consider my blog to be another form of it.
Some of my friends have concerns about the nature of blogging, such as: Don’t you feel vulnerable, putting yourself out there so personally? And aren’t you just giving your writing away? I have asked myself those same questions. But I also have an answer.
Part of the answer is that it’s not as personal as one might think. I have a spiral bound paper journal for that. Whereas my physical journal is off the record, I understand that my blog writing is not. The nature of documentation is that you try to get it right before you officially enter it into the record, of which you are accountable.
The other part of the answer has to do with “readership.” I’m a writer (so, I’ve finally convinced myself), and writers need readers. What difference does it make to a reader whether they pick up The Roanoke Times, a We’moon Journal, or a Mothering Magazine and read something I’ve written there, or if they read it here? And why would I feel more vulnerable about having my writing online than I would about having it in printed publications?
I like the informal atmosphere of blog writing and keeping my own hours. I don’t plan to stop submitting to the above mentioned venues and others. In fact, I suspect I’ll be submitting more than I have in the past because writing leads to more writing, and blogging keeps me at my desk doing just that.
For me, it’s like playing scrabble. I don’t hold on to my Q for the whole game waiting for the play of my life. I play with what I have…for the highest score…every time. Here’s how Annie Dillard, the Pulitzer Prize winning author, puts it…
"One of the few things I know about writing is this: Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book, give it, give it all, give it now ... Some more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes."
Back in the days before the internet, I was a prolific letter writer, which turned out to be an important aspect of my writing self-education, just as blogging is today. One of my favorite authors, home schooling pioneer John Holt, revealed that the bulk of material in his books was taken from his personal correspondences. Sometimes blog entries are simply daily posts, other times they have other applications and could end up in a printed publication, a future book, or read as a radio essay.
And who’s to say that blogging isn’t a modern version of going to Paris, the way Hemingway and others did in the 1920s to mingle with other writers (mostly unpublished at the time) and immerse themselves in their craft? The Beat Poets of the 50s started a new “movement” by hanging out together and writing outside the traditional system.
Because of blogging, I believe that the small press just got smaller. My own blog is a one-man-band, writer’s reality show. Not only do I get to write what I want, but I have some diverse and witty readers (many of whom are also writers) that inspire me…and sometimes leave comments!
Blogging isn’t for everyone, but for many of us it’s an invitation to start from where we are and do what we’re compelled to do. Just write.
By the way: We have 3 bloggers in our small town (that I know of) and one en route who plans to move here. Did I mention that we were holding a Blogging Convention here in Floyd?
...No, not really, that’s an April Fools joke. But we could do that someday…couldn’t we?