Wednesday, December 26, 2007

What I Write and Blog About and Why

I’ve been writing some heavier stuff in the last two weeks most of which has not ended up being published on my blog.

In this busy holiday season when I’ve had more to do than usual, and when I’ve had to do things that I didn’t always feel like doing (like housecleaning and cleaning the kitchen for the umpteenth time due to extra baking and cooking going on), I have been thinking about my time on the computer.

I’ve been thinking about time spent reading emails, time reading blogs, and time writing emails or time writing blog posts. I’ve been thinking about what I actually do when I’m sitting in front of this screen and the answer is I do a whole lot of different things. Some things I do out of necessity. Other things are more convenient and time-saving on the Internet or computer than by doing them in other ways (i.e. looking up a phone number, finding a recipe). Nearly all of my volunteer work requires a certain amount of prep time which is spent at the computer. I also make homeschooling plans and arrange for outside classes or playdates for my children while sitting here.

When I am feeling passionate about a topic or am thinking about something a lot, I have a need to write about it and to get it out of my brain. Some of those pieces of writing I choose to share by publishing them into blog posts.

I do write much more than I blog about. Sometimes I have rough drafts of some thoughts and I don’t take the time or just don’t have the time to re-work those into finished blog posts. Other times by the time I re-read them I am not as passionate about them and have a feeling that others would not care to read that stuff if I did publish it in a blog post. Or I have lost the passion about the topic and then choose to not spend time editing it yet I realize to be more readable it really needs editing.

Sometimes I publish blog pieces because I’ve learned something new or tried a recipe that is delicious and I want to share it with others who might just be looking to do that same thing. In fact many of my blog readers find me through It is the most popular Internet search engine that drives readers to my blog, it probably is search engine that my blog readers us 99% of the time! (If you want to see this, click on my Site Meter icon then click on “referrals” in the left sidebar and you can see how my blog readers came to find my blog posts.)

I have high hit counts on certain blog posts which have nothing to do with parenting or homeschooling which are the two main focuses of my blog. Go figure. Well if someone found those blog posts helpful then that post served its purpose. Actually seeing that some of these blog posts are so popular reinforces to me that it is good and right to blog what I am passionate about even if my regular blog readers who may be mainly more interested in reading about homeschooling have zero interest in that topic!

When I am busy doing stuff, such as all the holiday prep, I don’t always feel a need to actually write about it even for my own purposes let alone to blog it. This is why this Christmas season I have not really published much about what our family did to prepare for Christmas. For example we had a big outing to go buy a Christmas tree at a Christmas tree farm. I even have some lovely photos of that afternoon. However I was never moved to write about it let alone publish a blog post on it.

Regarding the ordinary events in my life, I also wonder if anyone really cares to hear of it as it was a fun yet ordinary experience. If it had no funny story, no cute story, nothing odd or entertaining happened. It was just a very nice family experience that happens to be our annual tradition and so it happened and we enjoyed it yet my blog readers (until now) were not let in on that experience of mine. And I was too busy to sit and write that out anyway, back when those things happened.

Unlike the ‘passionate topics’ which beg (demand) to be written about, the things like that are conscious decisions to write about on my part, I guess it is right brain vs. left brain. And right brain decisions to write are not always a good way for me to spend my time. Writing that comes from the left brain is better writing, for me.

I also didn’t feel that just because it was the Chrsitmas season that I should spent time blogging on Christmas celebration topics. It seems like so many other bloggers spent the month of December blogging on Christmas prep, I am sure if you needed that fix you could have easily found it elsewhere. And anyway doesn’t everyone feel busy and filled up enough with their own Christmas prep or whatever winter timed holiday you celebrate to want to sit and read about what I did?

In fact my almost total lack of discussing Christmas this year was one thing that got me thinking about what I write, what of that I blog and why.

The last thing I will share about my blogging vs. my writing is that lately I’ve been writing some deeper stuff. What you have not read on my blog has crossed various lines that I then decided I’d not publish into blog entries. I do have certain boundaries and limits on myself and my blogging. They are:

Revealing too much personal information about me, my husband, my children (some things should be kept more private)

Revealing too much about a relative or friend (I’d not want them to read it, they may be mad that I published it or maybe they’d be mad that I thought what I did about that topic, or maybe it would even start a fight or maybe I’d lose some friends!)

Revealing information about other people that is inappropriate (issues with children I work with in my volunteer positions I usually never blog about except in very distant or general terms)

Deeper, personal topics which I have rough drafts on which are too hard to edit into something that is a better piece of writing, sometimes because the topic is too emotional or deep for me to even ponder further in order to be able to write about it better. Sometimes more thinking is required than I am willing to do. Some things are draining enough to live with and I just don’t have it in me to focus and analyze them more in order to be able to edit that blog post to something more readable.

In case you wonder what these big topics could be they are: helping a relative that is dying, emotions regarding watching elderly relatives fade away in the dying process, thoughts about nursing homes, medical ethics, problems with American health care delivery, problems with the health care insurance industry yet the worse stuff that may happen if we have socialized medicine in America. Others are frustrations with relatives on various issues, does true educational neglect really happen in the homeschooling community, inconsistencies or problems with Christianity, long-term unemployment, underemployment, and when The American Dream doesn’t work out even when all the right things are done to make it happen.

Some pieces that might be interesting to readers which really need more work to be better written but I later lose interest in the topic and drop it. Sometimes I don’t have the time to finish editing, or I consciously choose to not spend my time re-writing those pieces. In those cases I am glad I used the writing process to hammer out some of my thoughts yet I just don’t have the time or energy to spend polishing the piece into something that I’d call finished.

Topics which are too controversial which to try to write about clearly and concisely take too much effort are sometimes avoided altogether. I probably should write some of these out as maybe someday my kids would like to hear my thoughts on these topics.

This issue is also affected by being too worried about what my blog reader will think, specificially, I want what I write to be clear and to not be mistaken or misinterpreted. I cannot stand it when I hold a certain opinion and write it and I feel I am very clear but later someone reads it yet they read it quickly or skim it and then they take away from it that I said Y when I said X and then they are angry or thinking I hold some opinion which I most certainly do not hold. (On email this has happened a few times in my life but each time it becomes clear somewhere along the line that the person never read my entire piece or they say I said the opposite of something I very clearly had stated.)

So sometimes it is just easier and time-saving to choose not to blog on a certain topic than to try to write about it well.

Blogging is a hobby not a profession for me so there sometimes comes a point when it is just not worth spending time on finishing and publishing some blog posts. I can only spend so much time blogging and writing. I have a whole life to live here and responsibilities to fulfill which don’t involve me writing or blogging!

Some days I wonder how great it would be if I were all alone and I could be free in my schedule to just write and write. And how fantastic would it be if that writing actually made me income enough to allow me to have the freedom to spend so much time writing? And if my writing was published in something that had a price tag on it (like a book), how great would it be to know (by sales of my writing) that people actually are interested enough to pay to read what I had to say? However I have a feeling that I would not only be lonely or bored with just that as my main way to spend time but I’d lack inspiration. My inspiration to write comes from real things that I do in my life so if I do less the pool of ideas, inspiration and passion would dwindle! The living is the primary thing in my life and the writing is secondary.

And all of this stuff is evidence that life is complex and that I am a busy, whole person who only shares glimpses and slices of my life with my blog readers. It just is not possible through a blog to get a complete and total picture of a person. So those of you who know me personally and read my blog may feel that I’m keeping a lot about me and my family off my blog, and you are right.

And those of you who only know me through my blog may think you know me may not really know much about me to form a full picture. (One blog reader expressed disappointment in my appearance when I finally put my photo on my blog as she imagined I had long flowing, straight dark brown hair. In that photo my hair was shoulder length and she said I had ‘short’ hair. Sorry!)

However those of you who read my blog regularly and read long posts through to the end probably know more about my thoughts and emotions and what I think than many of my relatives know. You may also know me more deeply than even some of my closest friends know. Maybe the very things you like about my writing and me are the things that my relatives and friends don’t know a single thing about.

And how odd is that?

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Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Your last lines hit the nail on the head for me. I like to read other people's blogs not to get superficial information about homeschooling or whatever, but to get the sense of a life different from mine, and how others think about their lives and issues, in that messy, real-life way. For me, that is what makes others real and interesting and thought-provoking. I get excited by new ideas and new ways of looking at life, even if they are not all that well-thought out yet.

Anyway, that's why I read certain blogs and not others.

So, thanks, Christine, for sharing the things you choose to share.

Willa said...

I read all the way to the end! It was interesting to see how you think about how you blog.

I could relate to what you said about not doing too many "holiday" type posts. I did the same thing -- but didn't really understand why until I read what you wrote. I too felt like there were a lot of those already that were better than mine would be, and I was "doing" it already, so why write about it?