Continuing with my short series on blogging, I invited Deanna Brown, blogger on Strokeman’s Woman, to share why she blogs. Her story is very different from Heather’s, who I featured last week. Where Heather’s rose up from a need to build a platform for her YA series, Deanna’s rose up from a need to share her story about her husband’s stroke. This is just a small example of how diverse blogging can be. I strongly recommend reading Deanna’s story from the beginning. While it is trying to the heart, it is encouraging to the soul.
Join me again next Tuesday for yet another perspective on blogging.
And now, Deanna Brown:
My husband had a fairly massive stroke about 3 years ago. In my efforts to help him in his quest for recovery, I began to read books that had been written by stroke survivors who had regained some semblance of their lives through hard work and determination. The problem was that my husband didn’t have determination, and he wasn’t willing to do the hard work. No amount of encouraging, nagging, cajoling, begging, bargaining or screaming (yes, sometimes I screamed) was going to make him do what he didn’t want to do.
As I read those books, I began to read between the lines at what was not being said. I began to wonder if their spouses had a different take on how things went. And I began to yearn for someone who had a similar experience to mine to write a book about how they managed to navigate through difficult decisions. I’m not saying that book isn’t out there, but I didn’t find it.
So I began to write a blog “under the radar.” If I was going to be honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted anyone I knew to be reading it. And I sure didn’t want my identity easily found out. I told my sisters, and my very inner circle of friends. My goal was to speak the truth about all the many struggles I was having. I also wanted to give whatever wisdom I gained along the way that might help someone else in the same situation. I hoped to be able to do this with a fair smattering of humor. As I received encouragement and assurances from my inner circle, I began to share with more people, until I finally had the nerve to put my name on my “about me” page, and to begin sharing my posts on Facebook.
When I started blogging, my husband was still cognitively impaired enough to have no interest in what I was doing with the time between his calls for help. But I knew there might come a day when he would want to know. Besides that, I knew that I had a responsibility as a Christian to do my best to speak God’s Truth in the midst of my frank accounting. I realized that anonymity, did not give me license to be disrespectful or a poor representative of the Kingdom. As with any other endeavor, blogging must be approached with a tremendous amount of self-government. If I was careful to keep these parameters in mind, I didn’t have to fear people “finding me out.” Having said that, I must also confess to sharing things that would be beyond the comfort of my very private husband. This has been the fine line on which I have balanced.
The experts in the blogging world talk about a process called, “finding your voice.” This process is accomplished primarily through consistent and regular writing, and a personal assessment of what it is you want to say to the world, and how it is you want to say it. In a way, I have developed two voices on my blog. On the one hand, my story as a caregiver has developed into a spiritual journey in which I find biblical application to the struggles I have experienced. Early on, when I was writing about the most difficult days, I found that it was too hard to stay there in the pain and grief for long. As a result I started taking a break from “The Story” to spend some time remembering better days under the category “Moments to Remember.” While both my “voices” would be considered memoir, one of them is of a more serious bent, while the other is an outlet for recalling times and places that make me smile, or laugh out loud.
I have sometimes approached blogging as a possible moneymaker. I have also approached it as a place to build an audience for a future book. I have detoured into writing competitions, and following bloggers who make a living teaching others how to have a successful blog. I have found that for me these things take the joy out of blogging. If I spend too much time worrying about what my audience wants to read, or what I can do to bring more people to my site, it starts to feel like homework and deadlines. Consequently, I have concluded that I do not want to make blogging a means to a writing career. My goal is twofold. First, writing about my experiences as a caregiver helps me to cope with the difficulties I face. It is a way for my brain to process the events, and to apply what I have been taught in terms of biblical application. In conjunction with that, it is my desire to help others as they struggle with the difficult providences of this life. I want to encourage other caregivers, but if what I write is biblically sound, then there should be elements of it that apply to people whose struggles are not the same as mine.
If I were to give advice to someone wanting to start a blog, I would tell her to just start writing. Even a few minutes a day is better than trying to write all day once in a while (and here is where I should say, “Do as I say, not as I do”). The daily exercise of writing awakens that creative part of the brain that will help you to have a better product in the long run. I would tell him to write what he knows and loves, instead of trying to write about things that are not a part of his experience. In the blogosphere, a pretender is recognized a mile away. I would remind her that blogging is a public forum, and anything published in cyberspace, no matter how tight the security, is subject to be exposed to the world. I would encourage him to exercise biblical self-discipline to all aspects of the blog; the writing, the stats, the comments, etc. As with every other occupation we pursue, there is opportunity for much good, and opportunity for idolatry and abuse. Finally, I would encourage her not to sweat the haters. I feared that I would have commenters who would criticize me for making the choices I made, sharing things I shouldn’t, or believing the things I believe. Instead, I found that people appreciate my honesty, and sympathize with my difficult journey. That’s not to say you can’t find an argument if you go looking for one.
This is my story. What is yours? I have found that there are as many reasons for starting a blog as there are bloggers. There is a world full of possibilities. It’s a simple thing, really. Just start.
Writers write. Deanna’s reasons for writing are very different than Heather’s reasons, yet they both blog. I appreciated her encouragement to just get started writing, to be honest, and to practice the same self-control online that we attempt in ‘real life’. There is no point in our Christian walk were we get to stop walking. I’ve been encouraged by Deanna’s blog for a long time now, and hope you will read, comment, and follow her.
You can also check out my Guest Post for Deanna where I talk about humility.