on blogging (part two of three)
This post, the second of three about blogging, is about the drawbacks of and concerns I have with blogging. Photos here are from my yard over this past week.
For me, the biggest drawback to blogging is that quality blogging consumes an enormous amount of time. I can't stand to post "just text", I need pictures to go with that text. Which means, among other things, that I take lots of pictures all the time.
And my standards have gotten higher over time - I want not just ordinary pictures, but real beauty. I want to not just write about the past week, but have the whole blog entry well-composed and meaningful, poignant, beautiful. And the amount of time involved in that effort has run smack into the amount of time needed to simply maintain life as mentioned before: dishes, laundry, bills and so on.
I have a friend who used to be a missionary; he often said that he had time to either live the life God had called him to live, or to write about it, but not both. The older I've gotten the more I've empathized with his words. I've let several things slide (more or less, depending on the day) as a result of blogging, including writing our own prayer letters, writing emails, and simply taking the time to listen to and play with my children.
Recently my photo-hosting company, buzznet, changed how you access photos remotely. It makes my old photo links obsolete, though the photos are still there. I started to go back through my old blog entries and change the photo links, but found the process of changing about 150 blog entries (each with 2-5 photos!) quite daunting. Which brings me to my second concern:
Blogging (like everything else) is a temporary thing. I know that sounds self-evident, but I sometimes forget. Sometimes I fool myself into believing that the pictures and words I post in my blog will be preserved for all time - that I have actually accomplished something eternal by writing the words I write. Part of what prompted me to move my photos and text of most of my craft projects onto a free blog site was that a series of other free websites either went under or mysteriously lost all the pages I'd written. And now my photos are unavailable for many of my entries, which I could remedy with a few days' work... but with no guarantees that it won't be lost again in another year or two. I'm reminded of the photo a virtual friend of mine posted of a graveyard in Finland, where your remains would be removed if the rent wasn't paid. Nothing, ultimately, is eternal except what God chooses to preserve.
Blogging has also dumbed down my writing. I don't write in compound complex sentences anymore, and my paragraphs are generally only one or two sentences (these three installments notwithstanding!) This in itself is not bad- it has meant I have learned to write in true 'blog style' which is more like newspaper or magazine writing than novel-writing or poetry.
But I've discovered that a steady diet of writing blogs and nothing else is like Edmund's "Turkish Delight" in the Narnia books - it doesn't, ultimately, meet my need for writing. It's a temporary thing which I enjoy doing but leaves me unfulfilled, with a craving to write more and more and more. I have a thousand ideas for blog entries tucked away in the back of my head, most of which, if I write them, will emerge half-baked and less than I originally intended, even after a huge time investment. There's no putting it on the shelf and pondering it for a few days or weeks or months. There's no time spent in the chrysalis getting wings.
Blogging is, in many ways, too easy to be a real art form for me - my thoughts are published before I have really finished mulling them over, and I'm on to other projects. I treat it in some ways like a private journal, except that it isn't private. And I'm well aware of that fact. There are times I live for the comments my blog entry may or may not get. Instant feedback, praise and honor - more of Edmund's "Turkish Delight" which fills me up momentarily, but leaves me hungry for more.
Even my self-imposed goal of "writing [only] about the things that bring me joy" has its drawbacks. While it's been good for me, it sometimes gives me a sense of artificiality. I feel like I portray my life as more colorful and wonderful than it actually is. The trials and tribulations don't get recorded, unless of course they are over with. Sometimes I have an air of forced cheerfulness, where everything seems too good to be true. And I've realized that even when I only write about the joys, there are even joys too personal or heartfelt to write meaningfully about in public - at least for me. So it's strange, then, to limit myself not only to things that bring me joy, but things that bring me joy which also wouldn't embarrass myself or a close friend, and also wouldn't reveal too much about myself, and also wouldn't make me look like a hopeless case.
Part of my original goal, too, was to move my craft files over to a new ad-free website. Disappearing pictures notwithstanding, I've done that. And I haven't done any "quality" crafts in a long time, just the fun quick kids' crafts as befits this stage of my life.
And now, after a year of blogging, the same flowers are blooming in my garden that I blogged about (and posted pictures of) last year. I am enjoying them again this year, but are my loyal readers?
Often I feel that I've run out of content and am only blogging to buy compliments or to fulfill some sort of strange contract with my readers, whoever and wherever they may be. So that they (if they are as undisciplined as I am) can waste more time online looking at my blog along with the others, hoping to find something of value or interest...?
Reading blogs can be a bit like a casino at times, can't it? You pay your ten or twenty minutes every day, and sometimes you hit the big time with some really insightful thought, or a great craft that you would truly enjoy doing, or a deep belly-laugh that really lifts your spirits...
...but more often than not, you wake up in a daze realizing that you've just wasted two good hours of your day, and really should have gotten the dishes washed and the laundry folded, or the email written to your friend.
Which makes me think that perhaps the online "community" that I thought I was joining is not truly a community in any fulfilling sense of the word, at least not for me - but rather an addictive sort of entertainment that dulls my loneliness. At least that seems to be true much of the time.
So... to blog or not to blog? Is blogging a joyful reminder of all the good things God has poured on me, or is it an ego sop and a waste of time? Is it a "witnessing tool" or a distraction from my real ministry? Is there a scale on which I can weigh the good and the bad of my blogging, and should I decide whether or not to blog based on the outcome?
...well, tune in sometime soon, whenever I finish getting all my scattered thoughts together.