Sunday, March 8, 2009

Why blog?

Throughout this blogging sabbatical I’ve been thinking about why blogging attracts me. In so doing, I’ve been reading a lot of other blogs, like this one and that one, thinking about what makes a great blog and what makes one less than satisfactory.

I’ve come up with this highly subjective set of criteria for a good blog:
  • It’s well written
  • The writer has integrity to themselves and their topics
  • A blog doesn’t need to have an over-arching theme, but it helps if the blogger is clueful about their given topic and has put some thought into what they’re saying
  • The links are relevant and current
  • The blog is updated regularly
  • The writer is aware of their audience and isn’t just writing for their own entertainment.
With that set of criteria in mind, I’ve been thinking about what I need to do to make this blog better.
  • I’m not a bad writer and will become a better writer the more I write
  • I’m not interested in writing without integrity; I won’t lie to you
  • I’m not interested in devoting this blog to any one theme, though I often touch upon story and language
  • I check all links before I include them, so they are current at the time of posting
  • I’ve utterly failed to update this blog regularly, for many reasons, some related to the last point
  • While I don’t know much of my audience, I write with audience in mind and I know some of you. And that sometimes makes honest writing hard.
One of the things I love about blogging is the possible dialogue between writer and reader. In traditional publishing it’s rare that a writer can have immediate feedback from their readers. In blogging all a reader needs to do is type a comment and the writer knows if they’ve been effective. It’s great. I’ve become a better writer for it.

A few of my readers have my phone number, so can call me if they have comments about something I’ve written. That’s fine too, though it sometimes leads to conversations about me, rather than conversations about what I’ve written. And again, this is fine, these are loving conversations, but it can have a dampening effect on my writing. If I write about a troubling experience and my reaction to it – if I tell the story – and the response is always anxiety and concern it becomes hard to tell those stories for the sake of the story. I become more concerned about worrying my reader than I do about telling the story. And I end up not writing. This isn’t good for anyone. It’s not good for me, as a writer; it’s not good for those of you who enjoy this blog. It’s not good for the stories themselves which have an independent life when they are told.

I wasn’t sure what to do about this quandary of worrying some of my readers by the stories I tell, until I talked with my friend Elsa. She suggested I blog about it, so I wrote this entry. I hope that in writing this I can move past my hesitation to tell other stories, write other entries and begin to write regularly again.

In answer to the question, “Why blog?” I’ve come to this: I blog because I love to write and I write better for an audience. I blog because I think some of what I have to say is worth sharing. And I blog because stories need to be told and read, because we understand ourselves by telling stories, because we are made of stories, those moments in our lives that are repeated and retold until they become myth and legend and dream.

See you soon.

(c) 2009 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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