This post is overdue. If only in my own mind. It’s been percolating since I wrote my post Thoughts on the Blog as I approach my three year anniversary (part one?) back in March this year. As I said then, and I say to myself often, this is not a job, my blog is not a job. Yet….I have a sense of obligation to it that I can’t shake. Or I don’t want to shake. It may not be a job (there’s no pay, no set schedule, no deadlines, no people “counting on” me) but the blog is an important part of my life. There is no denying that.
My postings this summer have been skimpy. It wasn’t for lack of ideas; I had a number of them in mind that I never posted. When other things in my life need to take priority, the blog has to drop down the list. The irony is that in not posting, I saw how much posting means to me. It isn’t that I didn’t know exactly, so much as NOT doing it made very clear how important blogging here on WordPress is to me, even after three plus years.
One of the things I sometimes think about WordPress is that line from the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy says, “People come and go so quickly here!” When you get attached to a blog or a blogger and they disappear, with or without warning, it can be quite disconcerting.
I didn’t follow Doobster religiously, but I did read his blog Mindful Digressions a number of times as did many others. He got tons of comments on his analytical, thought-provoking posts. He seemed like somebody that would be blogging indefinitely. Then, in 2015, he was gone. Just gone. The boiler-plate WordPress message said the blog was now private and you could “request” access. I requested. Nothing. I requested again. Nothing. Gone. (As someone who didn’t read regularly, the most I could find via someone else’s blog is that he quit for personal reasons.)
Some of you followed John of Get Off My Lawn Please. Over a year ago he had substantial changes in his personal life, promised to return shortly and never did. When you know people only online, it can be tricky to gauge how far to push your interaction. Saying,”Where the hell are you?! Come back!!” to anyone you don’t know well or only know online doesn’t really seem appropriate. (I told John not to let anyone pressure him into returning prematurely, including me. I take it back.) Still, in the end I realize you have to respect what other people do or don’t do with their blog. (Note to self: Repeat as necessary.)
I spend quite a bit of time online. I am attracted to social media. I follow community groups closely on Facebook. Email is a significant part of my life. Other than this blog, though, I don’t share a lot of my personal life. The blog is definitely the place I talk about myself; my life, my interests, my thoughts, my past.( It’s also the primary place I post photos.) What really appeals to me, both in writing and in reading other blogs, is the DEPTH that is available in blogging. I like to write – as well as read – long, thoughtful posts. I’m not on twitter. Most people do not have brilliant, witty, insightful 140-character thoughts. I don’t think in 140 characters, I don’t talk in 140 characters, nor am I particularly interested in reading the same.
On WordPress, especially when you stick around awhile, you can get to know how someone thinks. I won’t say you can intimately get to know them, but in many – or some – cases, there is an approximation. There may be a tendency – both on my part and others’ – to extrapolate, to read a bunch of posts and fill in or assume the rest of the person’s personality. I try to guard against that as I’ve learned (not on WordPress but elsewhere online) that what people write on the internet can be quite different than the reality of the person. Over time and hundreds of posts and comments though, bloggers do reveal themselves or significant aspects of themselves.
I mentioned this in my March post but I won’t argue online. Never have, won’t do it. It’s a rule (when I’ve broken it in private emails, I have usually been sorry). I will, however, argue with you – people I know – in real life. Debate what is being said. Challenge someone. Which is a part of me I largely leave out – or soften – here. Arguing with strangers, that is people I’ve never met, doesn’t seem wise or profitable. It’s like arguing with phantoms. (I also think words online are so easily misconstrued; arguing is just asking for trouble. We are more empathetic in person and maybe less reactive.)
The little corner of WordPress I’ve carved for myself strives to be decent and if not profound at all times, at least worthwhile. And when I refer to my little corner, I mean what I am putting out in my own blog, but also the kind of people who are drawn to my blog and vice versa. I have no doubt there are nasty, mean-spirited corners of WordPress, same as everywhere else online. I just don’t see the point. Not that my blog is any kind of Pollyanish zone – NEVER! – but I want decency to prevail. I think the people who read my blog would agree, both those I know of (by name or blog name), and I imagine, those I don’t.
A word on Stats. For readers who are not also bloggers, “stats” are numbers available to bloggers to show how many readers have read your blog each day. These stats do not reveal WHO is reading, but simply show figures. It can show which posts have been popular and which not so much. Stats may show where the readers came from; that is if they came to your blog by way of Google, for instance. (One of my favorites showed that someone arrived at my blog by typing the search term “potatoes that look like rocks.” You wouldn’t think that anybody would search such a thing, but there they are! When I see something like that I hope that the person isn’t disappointed by arriving here as a result of their search. Yes, I feel beholden to strangers doing searches on rocks. Such is my life.)
At times I’ve felt quite frustrated with my blog, wanting to “grow” my readership and seeing well, not a whole lot. It’s times like that, somehow or some way – so far – that I get just enough encouragement to keep going. Someone will write a lovely, thoughtful comment, or I’ll see a surge in my stats, or the mood will pass. To be quite honest, I can see that my thoughts on the blog are not much different from some other areas of my life where I get frustrated or disappointed at times (and question why I’m doing something or feel a sense of impotence, that I’m stalled so far as “making things happen”).
Expectations and I have a long, muddied history together. I am no Buddhist. I HAVE EXPECTATIONS. WANTS. DESIRES. With the blog, as life, finding the Happy Middle Ground (the place that allows you to keep getting out of bed and putting one foot down in front of the other every day year in year out) is my challenge, balancing my expectations against what is or can be.
I have such philosophical internal meanderings about the blog and sometimes the way out is I think of something funny or see or hear something that makes me laugh and I’ll post it and it kind of saves me and moves me past inertia or waffling. When something is funny to me, I must share it! And here’s the blog, waiting patiently, always, for just that.
Something that’s been kind of nice in this Summer of Scant Postings in the Year of WordPress 2017, is that as I’ve continued to check in (if not post), I’ve seen that people are still reading my blog, reading old posts. That is very gratifying. It’s like the time I’ve put into the blog over the past three years still pays dividends. Emotional ones, if you will. I think it’s great that people have come around even when the blog doesn’t have fresh (and in blogging, “fresh” is pretty much that last 24-48 hours) posts. It gives my heart a little lift.
I didn’t plan to be so absent this past summer. I am not leaving WordPress or my blog. Or the other bloggers I’ve found and cherish here. I didn’t forget people (other bloggers might be surprised how often I think about them, people I’ve never met or even spoken to). I don’t know exactly how the future continues for WriterInSoul, just that I want to continue to blog – infrequently or not – and hope that in three years, I’m still sticking around. I can’t imagine anything taking WordPress’s place in my life (well, unless they start charging those of us with freebie blogs or get bought by Jeff Bezos or something). I’m hooked.