Guest Post: Deanna Brown on Blogging

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:


10246307_10152336478428190_944043745655855663_nMy 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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Guest Posts

I have had the great honor of being featured on several different blogs of late. Please check out my article and the blogger who hosted my guest post!1098420_501757326565034_1650809252_n

Long standing FB, Twitter, and Blogger Friend, Darke Conteur set up an author interview with me. She asked great questions and I learned a lot about the interviewing process which I hope to apply down the road. This interview served as a good transition interview from where I used to be and where I am now. Thanks again for including me in this Darke.

Interview

 

20392_285577954896351_1129104847_nA new writer friend, soon to be published, asked me to tackle a darker subject on her blog. I was more than happy to help her. I found that while I don’t write about such dark subject matters any more, I can still hold to the lessons I learned at the time. Heather has become a value member of my writing group and one of my alpha readers. It’s nice having someone just a few steps ahead in the publishing process. Or, I should say several, cause she’s finished and submitted her book, something I have yet to tackle. Check out the Tethered Together blog by Heather FitzGerald.

Blog Post: Read No Evil, Write no Evil

10339770_10202856272620250_1135803542079547182_nOnce a month, I write an editorial for the Josh Magill and The Magill Review. Most of my articles center around writing and reading. They are posted the last Tuesday of every month. I met Josh through a unique short story writing opportunity. He gathered about 10 to 12 writers and limited us to 100 words each that had to be added to the previous 100 words. It was a fun challenge. After that Josh offered to share a blog post I wrote about pantsers and outliners. With a good bit of positive feedback on that article, Josh invited me to write once a month for him. I’m blessed and honored to be a part of his crew.

Latest Article: To Finish or not to Finish Reading

10246307_10152336478428190_944043745655855663_nAnd, lest we forget, earlier this year, I wrote a blog post for my dear friend Deanna Brown. This article was featured on Tim Challies’ blog and Deanna and I both enjoyed our time in the virtual limelight. 🙂 Deanna’s blog is filled with heart-felt thoughts that both encourage and challenge me. On her blog she walks you and herself through her husband’s stroke and life afterwards. Deanna has made her way through just about everything I’ve ever wrote, even the darkest parts, and has still loved me on the other side. I am so thankful to count her as a dear friend, sister in Christ, and go to person for all my writing angst.

Humility

Many thanks to all of you for helping me grow as a writer and blogger!