Why I blog?

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I’ve been asked several times in my life why I write and why I blog? To give back to a community that has given so much to me while also answering that question, I decided to ask several of my favorite bloggers (sorry Josh, it’s never going to leave my vocabulary) the same question and collect their thoughts as guest posts. There are links at the bottom to each of the articles and there you will find links to these five wonderful blogs. Now it’s my turn:


 

Well, to be honest, I’m one of those strange people born with a need for self-expression. And not so much self-expression, as a need to share the beauty of what I see with the world around me. I see trees, clouds, sky, grass, birds, a magnificent horse, the heart-breaking death of a warrior, a child’s laugh and I feel the need to capture it, package it, and share it with the world. I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. What does this mean? Before I’m a writer, at my most inner core, I’m a story-teller. I love stories. I always have.

I tried painting. Oh, how I wanted to be an artist with a canvas and a world of colors. But, paintings never flowed from my fingers. I tried drawing and got an A for coming to class every day, not for any great piece of art—although my doodling improved. I tried music. How I longed to capture what I felt and saw in the stringing of notes together. Is there anything more powerful than music for expressing the human condition? I did okay. But when I reached the crossroads of more practice or dropping my lessons, I dropped my lessons. More practice just didn’t seem worth it. I tried photography. And while I can shoot a pretty picture, I fail to see the story in my own shot. It’s just not there.

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Somewhere along the way, much inspired by Tolkien, and encouraged by my husband, I picked up the one art form I hadn’t tried. I picked up a pen and started writing. It was like coming home. Writing allowed all that I saw in my head to flow out of me. It gave me a means to share the magic of the world that I constantly saw around me.

I couldn’t capture the dust floating like so much fairy-powder in a golden sunbeam in music, paint, shutter lens, or graphite, but I could capture it in words. I could show you how they dust glitters and sparkles. I could let you see the magic through my eyes that would change how you look at the common sun shining through the window. I can turn common into a glowing soldier locking tiny sparkles in an incandescent prison. I can drive common away with mention of Peter Pan, happy thoughts, and fairy dust. I can sit you in a sunbeam and sail you away to Never Neverland. With words, I can paint. With words I can weave together a song all people can cling to. With words I can capture a moment and freeze it forever. With words I can smug just a little gray to make a powerful shadow.

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Words, writing, storytelling. This is why I blog. I blog because blogging is the easiest way in our modern-day and age to share what I’ve always wanted to share. Blogging lets me interact with readers in a way in which I couldn’t if I had to wait until my novel was finished. Blogging lets me encourage, inspire, challenge, and build up in a way that would be impossible in any other time. I could submit articles to magazines, but why not let you just read what pours out of my fingers?

This way, you the reader can sort and find the authors you want to read. You can find people who are like-minded, or very different in their mindsets and beliefs. You can read my blog, or Heather’s, Deanna’s, Raelea’s, Josh’s, or Rob’s and find articles that make you ponder, that help you as you tend to those in your life, that inspire you, inform you, and share a little of each of us with…well…you.

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That, my friends, is why I blog. I blog because I’m a writer, and I’m a writer because I’m a storyteller. So jump in the deep end of blogging. Read, comment, and start one yourself, if you’re so inclined. Take the advice and thoughts from this month’s guest posts and put them to good use. Ask questions. Get advice. Network with other bloggers.

And if you’re not a writer, thank goodness. Cause there’s one thing us writers need: Readers. We need readers to cheer us on, offer a counterpoint and advice, share our musing with others, suggest article ideas, and connect us with the world. We need you! This is why I blog!

 


 

I hope you’ve grown to understand why we bloggers do what we do. I hope you’ve seen that our takes on blogging are as diverse as we are. Maybe you’ve even a little inspired. The blogging world is a pretty friendly place, ready to offer advice and support. Feel free to comment on any of our blogs and ask questions! Thanks again for reading!

Guest Posts:

Heather FitzGerald

Deanna Brown

Raelea Hiller

Josh Magill

Rob Akers

Guest Post: Rob Akers on Blogging

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Rob, with only mild kicking and screaming, agreed to be the last guest blogger talking about why they blog. I can understand the fear of being the last one in a row of excellent writers, but I trusted Rob and that trust wasn’t unfounded. On his blog, Rob shares personal thoughts, which are always amusing, and he also shares the story of his time in the Middle East. I found Rob through a mutual respect for our men and women in uniform and have enjoyed reading his posts. Now he’s asked me to do the first Alpha Reading on his novel. I have his permission to bleed all over it. I took him at his word.  He may regret it later, but it’s too late for that!

Rob is a husband and father residing in Culloden, West Virginia. An airline pilot by trade, he served twelve years in the West Virginia Air National Guard at the rank of Major. He deployed to Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan among other foreign nations and earned multiple medals including three Air Medals, four Aerial Achievement Medals and two Meritorious Service Medals. He is a freelance writer for the Putnam Herald-Dispatch and the online magazine The Magill Review. He hosts his own blog and has been published in a collection of works including the Words for Warriors Project. He is working to complete his first fictional novel.

Check his work out!

Next week will be the last installment of this series where I will talk about why I blog. But for now, enjoy Rob’s thoughts.


 

Hey Y’all,

If you are thinking that the usual link to Abby’s Gentle and Quiet World took you to a strange place, don’t be alarmed. This is only a temporary phenomenon that will soon be replaced again by the quiet and wonderful musings of the beautiful soul that is Abby. Unfortunately, Abby made a poor decision; she invited me to take control of the airwaves for the day. Let the record state that she approached me, offering me a seat at the motherboard of one of the most wonderfully peaceful places on the internet. Initially, I declined the invitation. But she persisted and we all know how a persistent woman can get what she wants. Is that called preaching to the choir or saying it like it is?

Abby told me that she wanted a man’s perspective on blogging. I always welcome comments from a professional and Josh is the walking embodiment of a professional writer. But Josh likes to wear those little biker shorts while pedaling his mountain bike in the hills of Colorado. I know from experience that it is really tough to be a man while wearing spandex. That is what my friends said when they caught me walking down Bourbon Street, dressed in a fishnet shirt and biker shorts. My friend, Mercedes kept calling me “En Fuego.” I still don’t know what that means and this is a story that I probably should cut short.

My point is that I refused Abby’s request to write this article because I didn’t want to be responsible for leaving man smell in the boutique. She said that potpourri and candles work wonders. Then I asked what does an audience of respectable women want to hear? She said just to be myself and we all see where that took us. I asked what could possibly go wrong. She said that y’all would immediately know that my wife is a lady of honor, full of the Spirit, compassion, integrity and that you would bless her soul. Out of excuses and ideas, I took a double dose of testosterone, a cycle of steroids and a shot of Five Hour Energy before I summoned up the courage to say yes. Ladies, strap in tight and hold on because we are going behind the curtain.

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The topic is why do I blog? The easy answer would be because I have something to say. But that isn’t true. I don’t feel like I have to express myself to be happy and complete. In fact, I prefer to sit out of the spotlight and throw verbal rocks at those in the public eye. In times past, I served as an Air Force pilot. Returning from the Middle East, my wife and another lady were interviewed by the local news station while they waited for us to land. They agreed to allow the cameraman to follow them, record the reunion and then interview my friend and myself for the nightly news. When I stepped off the airplane, my wife ran up and gave me a huge hug and kiss. I didn’t mind that by the way. Out of the corner of my closed eyes, I felt the presence of a stranger.

I came unglued yelling at the cameraman and reporter. I told them that they were not allowed to film me and if they didn’t turn off the camera immediately I would break it. As I remember it, the words came out a in a hostile tone smothered with inappropriate language. I have embarrassed my wife before and since but the possibility of being filmed never entered my mind as the ideal start to the reunion. They did stop filming us and walked away. My friend and his wife had center stage for the one minute segment on the local news station. It turned out to be very cheesy, we all laughed later. The moral of this story is that I really don’t want to be on TV. I really don’t want to write for the local newspaper, I don’t want to be a blogger and I don’t want to be famous. I could be perfectly happy living a quiet life, staying in my little cocoon, raising my kids, working nights for my airline, watching TV during the day, doing fantasy football and never venturing out into the public arena.

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Why would anyone do something they don’t want to do? I am a seasoned veteran of life having lived out all seven of the deadly sins to their fullest extent. All I learned after twenty years of excess is that the allure of sin nearly turned me into a dead beat, ex-husband. Fortunately, my wife is a lady of extreme forgiveness and understanding. In the last ten years, I have tried to replace hate with love. It is a hard way to live and I am by no means a finished product. But I began to recognize that love is the path to true happiness. It is the path to forgiveness and to healing. When my life came crashing down, someone told me the secret. The Bible verse Matthew 22:37-40 held the key behind my future life and to my blogging/writing career. I urge you to read it for yourself, I interpret it to say; Love God with all you got and love every human on the planet the way you would like to be loved.

I don’t write for me, I write for others. If you read my blog you might think the main goal of my writing is to write stories about my life in the Middle East. But those stories are for my kids. They are too young to understand today but they should know about the guy that would become their dad. I occasionally write about the novel that I am working on. But the purpose of that novel is to honor the men and women who keep us safe and to serve as a fictional example of how we should deal with evil. That answer is with Love, by the way. I write for the local newspaper. But the articles I write tell the story of the local community in a way that honors and encourages us all. I write for The Magill Review but I write to bring a different perspective that goes much deeper than what we would find in any mainstream news publication. I accept invitations to do guest articles on friend’s sites. But that Abby invited me in and gave me the run of the place. Sometimes smart people do dumb things. Ha Ha!

I am still the same fun loving guy that is documented in the stories above. But now the lenses that I view the world are colored by love. Yes, I still like my music loud and inappropriate. Yes, I am prone to an off color comment in the wrong company. I do get a kick out of the look I get when I say the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong people. I don’t enjoy the elbow from my wife and her reminder that I am out of control. But I can’t help if people don’t get my extremely sarcastic, gallows worthy humor. I built a reputation and an aviation career on the fact that if you give me an inch, I will take a mile.

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I will leave you with this. When you come across the guy or gal who doesn’t quite fit in with what is going on in your world. Don’t be surprised if they throw out an unsuitable comment that hangs in the air like a floater in the punch bowl. Just redirect them like you would your five year old. But sometimes you can’t stop a guy like me because his mission to bring a shot of reality to your life. There is a chance that he is doing it because he likes rattling the cage or maybe he is doing it because he wants you to have a greater appreciation of your husband. In either case, never let him know he is irritating you because that is the best form of encouragement. Sometimes all you can do is accept him because even a knucklehead needs love and acceptance. And sometimes, your example can teach that knucklehead to love and accept others. We are all works in progress and when given a chance, that scoundrel might turn into someone that you can trust when life veers off the tracks and will surprise you with a wonderfully positive outlook when times are tough.

I want to thank Abby for the invite and access to all you wonderful folks. Once again she proves that she is a lady that walks the walk. At my heart, I am a writer of fiction. One of the stories I told is 100% true and the other is complete fiction created at 01:30 AM. Choose wisely.

On my site, I always sign off with this phrase: Until next time, keep on rockin. I truly hope there is a next time because I have enjoyed the trip behind the curtain. I hope you did too. Faith, Hope and Love to all.


I think Rob’s article was the most interesting of all my guest posts…if that’s the right word. 😉 Actually, I really enjoyed the fact that he took the more humorous point of view. Again, we see another take on blogging, and we get some good advice: Write for others. Josh said this same thing in his article. Notice the beauty of writing? Josh said it one way while Rob said it another, both made a good point. We are here to love and serve one another. Your blog should be no different even if the themes are as diverse as the guest posters I’ve featured this month. Thank you for reading. Next week I’ll answer the question as our last article on the issue.

Check out the other Guest Posts here:

Heather FitzGerald

Deanna Brown

Raelea Hiller

Josh Magill

 

 

 

Guest Post: Josh Magill on Blogging

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This month’s Guest Posts have taken us from one end of the spectrum to the other. We’ve seen bloggers who blog to prepare the world for their novel, to share the lessons they’ve learned as a caretaker, and to just get their work out to readers. We’ve learned about building platforms, carrying our Christianity out into the blogging world, and been reminded that writers need to write – get that faucet turned on. Today, we hear from a professional blogger: Josh Magill.

Josh manages and juggles the Magill Review. He let’s me throw articles at him once a month about writing. Josh has been my first experience working with deadlines, an editor, and having my articles included in a monthly rotation. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to writing for a paper or magazine. The experience has been great and Josh is super easy to please. I first met Josh through the monthly Atom and Eve article which takes a less holy and more sarcastic look at science. I then joined the Tim Higgelmottham story project. After getting  positive feedback on an article I wrote about outlining, which Josh shared on the Magill Review, he invited me to do a monthly article for him. The rest is history. 🙂

Next Tuesday, I’ll feature my last Guest Blogger: Rob Akers.

And now, Josh Magill:

 


Writing Blogs Need a Point (They aren’t Journals)

I hate the word ‘blog.’

I shudder when I hear it—an ick that quakes my body from the inside, deep-down where my soul hides from the ugly parts of life—because the word takes me to a time I once thought I knew what I was doing on the internet. It takes me to a time when I thought I understood writing. I thought writing was about me.

Don’t misunderstand, writing is about the writer and their thoughts, but by the time it bumbles out into the world the writing becomes more about the reader and what they will feel as the words encroach upon their lives. In the movie Finding Forrester, there is a question posed which always helped me consider the reader when writing: “Why is it that the words that we write for ourselves are always so much better than the words that we write for others?”

It’s a great question and one I never understood until my first attempt at blogging back in 2002. I prefer to use the term ‘website’ because it seems so much more professional. Ironically, when writers treat their online writing locations as websites versus a blog, the reader sees a tremendous difference in the level of writing and respect for the reader. Both are much more positive and it is definitely much more tolerable to read because hopefully there is a point to the writing. When a writer wastes my time (the reader) by not having a point, they lose me. Though many will tell you they read to relax or get lost in another world, the fact is that most readers want to learn or feel something from what they read. They don’t want that final word to pass without feeling edified and enlightened, feeling as though they are changed in some way, feeling refreshed or exhausted.

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Allow me explain. As a boy, I would tell funny anecdotes to family and friends. They were simple stories that often made my aunts and uncles laugh. I thought I was a good comedian, but it was the way I told the story—the inflection in my voice, the motions I made with my face, hands, and body. It was the pauses at the right times or the lift in my voice during the climax of the story. In truth, I was a storyteller, but it wasn’t about me. It was about them—the listeners. I watched their reactions as I spoke and tailored my delivery. If the reaction wasn’t enough or what I had hoped for, then I gave a little more of the story, the intimate or embarrassing parts. I found that is what the listener wanted—the “juicy” parts, the parts they could relate to but were too ashamed to share themselves.

When I starting writing essays in college, I shared the uncomfortable and painful episodes in my life, and people loved them. Readers guffawed and gasped at my life because they had been there, too. I took to the University newspaper as a columnist, sharing the strangeness of being a newlywed and an older college student, and in 2002 (while still in college) I launched my first blog. I must say that not only did it fail; it seemed to turn away some long-time friends because it came off know-it-all and preachy. I bashed the poor fans of the football team, the girl down at the convenience store, the unpatriotic and lazy students. It wasn’t long before life got in the way of my writing and I shut down the blog because it wasn’t successful (in my opinion).

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So what made me start up The Magill Review (my website) in late 2012? It goes back to that question from Finding Forrester: Why is it that the words that we write for ourselves are always so much better than the words we write for others?

It’s because we care about ourselves, but do we care about our readers—their lives, their families, their marriages, their feelings? Simply … No! We write for ourselves and if the reader doesn’t get it or is bored with our daily “journal” entries on our blog, then it’s because they just don’t understand writing and writers, right? Wrong! Our job as writers is to help them understand by “showing, not telling,” by infusing the story with life.

Again, indulge me. I grew up in the Deep South, specifically the hills of North Georgia. This is a place where old-timers enjoy cornering a young person to tell them the real stories of the Civil War (what they call the War of Northern Aggression), stories that have interesting twists, stories that end differently than history books, but then you see the sly grin creep across the old-timers face like a well-worn wrinkle and you realize where fiction began and why so many great storytellers came from The South. You understand that trying to debate the authenticity of the tale will only allow the old man to embellish more, allowing him to drag you into a world where the South triumphs or an account of the medal bestowed upon his grandfather by General Robert E. Lee that you dare not dispute.

The understanding and the legend of southern heritage is theirs to keep, and anyone that tries to change that is a “damned Yankee” that has been indoctrinated with lies about history. Yet, one thing both Yankees and Southerners usually agree on is that a good story comes from the soul. To tell the real story, to entangle the reader in a world where they want to take another step forward, the writer must give of their soul. It cannot hide from the ugly incidents of life because in doing so it never learns and will lose out on the wonderful chapters and friends around them.

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And so it was with my second attempt at a blog (blech, I mean website). If I was to make this not about me, but about the readers, then I could not make the site all my writing. It had to include more writers, some professional and polished, some new and learning. I invited others and they came. The Magill Review blossomed and continues to do so, and most of the writing is not mine. I did not allow rants (that is for Facebook) or humdrum writing about a writer’s day that did not have a point (again, for Facebook or your mother).

Instead, I worked with writers like Melissa Fry Beasley and Mike Linaweaver to post beautiful poems, or best-selling author Jennifer Youngblood to add a touch of The South with her “Confessions of a Southerner” column. Richard Eaker gave me the idea to start a collaborative story (100 words at a time) with 15 other writers, and it was his idea for the beginning that made the character Tim Higgelmottham come alive. I was lucky enough to have Rob Akers, Mark Rossi and Abby Jones all decide to write ongoing columns for the website, as well as others that write occasionally. And when I wrote the series I affectionately call “The Fat Chronicles,” my cousin Jacob Finch helped by sharing his successes and struggles during our Fluff to Buff Challenge.

All these writers are passionate and soulful. They share everything with the reader because they care about them. We want to write for the reader as if we are writing for ourselves, holding nothing back, sharing even the embarrassing and painful moments of our lives. Do this at your blog and it will be a success no matter how many visitors come each day.


 

This is a refreshing take on blogging. I think many valuable blogs are more journalistic, but if it’s out in public it needs to be professional. We often forget this with the growing ease of publishing ourselves. I also found Josh’s thoughts to be helpful because we live in a very ‘me’ centered society where we often hear only about how important we are as the writer. The writer must never forget the reader, ever. If you want to be read, you must remember to include the reader. They’re part of the story as well. I hope you enjoyed Josh’s thoughts on blogging…website-ing…hummmm. 🙂 Remember, keep it professional and tell a great story!

To read the previous guest posts follow the links:

Heather FitzGerald

Deanna Brown

Raelea Hiller

 

Guest Post: Raelea Hiller on Blogging

I started out with Heather Fitzgerald talking about blogging as a way to build a platform for an upcoming novel, then I featured Deanna Brown who talked about blogging as a way to share a personal story or journey. Today, I’m featuring a young writer, Raelea Hiller, who is going to share her blogging story with you. For Raelea, blogging is all about sharing who she is. Her story combines elements of both Heather’s and Deanna’s. She is a beautiful writer and I look forward to many years of reading her doddles, poems, and hopefully a full length novel. Check out her blog here. Read some of her poetry, check out some pits and pieces of her upcoming story, and even get a few peaks at some of her art work. This is one talented young lady! But, more than that, she’s a good friend.

Next Tuesday, I’ll feature Josh Magill who blogs more like a paper editor.

And now, Raelea Hiller:


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First, I’d like to thank Abby for inviting me to guest post on her blog. A new adventurer in the world of blogging, I was excited but also rather daunted by the task. Abby can testify to the fact that I tried to pick her brain concerning what to write about specifically, but, like a good blog host, she only smiled and refused to give me any particulars, other than “just write about why you blog.” Why do I blog? Such a simple, unassuming, and straightforward question… but not really. I could give you the short answer. Actually, let’s start there—it’s as good a place as any to begin. I blog because Abby told me to.

Abby heads up a writing group, whose members meet up on a monthly basis for goodies, coffee, writer accountability, a good old-fashioned gab, and sage writer-wisdom from Abby herself. The first time I attended, she spoke about blogging as way to gain exposure, connect with other bloggers, and receive feedback. I took her words to heart, and jumped in headfirst. And by headfirst, I mean that I dove off the edge of the cliff without so much as a pair of arm-floaties, straight into the torrential cascade pouring over the edge, praying fervently that there would be a nice deep pool at the bottom and no jagged rocks. The Starlit Forest is the first blog I’ve created. Why a starlit forest? Because I am a wood elf (or maybe a dryad) at heart. Because I spent my childhood pouring over old tales about Robin Hood and his band of merry men. Because the beauty of a starry night sky fills me with wonder and awe. And because there is something tranquil, peaceful, and a trifle melancholy about branching silhouettes stretched out against a dazzling masterpiece of light.

Made You ThinkBut back to the main question: why do I blog? I began blogging initially as a way to share my poetry—to get my work out into the open. It was hard at first. Because, let’s be honest, it’s difficult to take a little piece of your soul and dish it up on a platter for everyone to see and peck at. There was a horrible, deep-seated fear in my heart that no one would like my writing and that no one would want to read it. But do you know what? One of the most beautiful and encouraging things about blogging is that you discover you are not alone. Pause for a moment, and just think about how utterly glorious that thought is. You are not alone. You are not the only wacky, quirky, odd, creative soul in the universe. There are others as well—others who are ready and willing to process, contemplate, and reflect upon the barrage of creative matter you spew forth into the wide vastness of the universe. I began blogging as a way to gain exposure and to share my work, but that is no longer the only reason I blog. I also blog to keep myself accountable, to energize myself, and to keep my creative spark alight.

TypewriterI don’t have to tell you that writing is hard work. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. In many ways, the idea of writing is simple (like the unassuming subject of this blog post). As Ernest Hemingway so aptly put it, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” But the truth is, the simplest and most uncomplicated things are often the most challenging. It takes dedication and commitment to write and to keep writing. And that is exactly why I blog—because it keeps me accountable. A commitment to blog a certain number of times a week is also a commitment to brainstorm a certain number of times a week, and commitment to write almost every single day. Do you want to excel in writing? Then write. Write every single day, if you can. It doesn’t have to be genius level; just write about the little things. Describe the patchwork of blue sky behind the latticed branches of the tree on your front lawn. Write about the insufferable eternity of waiting in the 10 items or less lane at the grocery store, when the woman in front of you clearly has 32 items. Record the conversation you had with your best friend—the one that left you both wheezing and with cramped sides from laughing so hard. Explore the endless sea of faces as you walk from one class to the next. Notice the laugh lines crinkling at the corners of your father’s eyes. Recount what it felt like to lay under the vast and glorious night sky, the Milky Way a stripe of brilliant light framed by sharp mountain peaks. Listen to the chattering and merry voices of the stream, as it leaps from rock to rock, dashing away, speeding ever onward to the turquoise lake below. There are stories everywhere, if you will only pause a moment and take the time to notice them. Write. Write every single day. Pour out your soul in words and lines—even if you’re afraid that you’re not much good at writing. Even if you think your work is rubbish, and are afraid that no one else will ever want to read it. Write your bit of rubbish—explore a thousand ideas, and then explore a thousand more. You’re afraid your work is rubbish? All creatives are possessed by the same innate fear, so don’t let that stop you. Write.

Louis L'AmourAfter all, if you want a nice cool glass of water, you can’t get it by just staring at the faucet. You have to turn the faucet on. Go ahead. Twist both handles all the way, till you’re afraid you might fracture the chrome plating and tear the very handles themselves out of their sockets. Let the torrent of water gush out. It might be downright tepid at first but, sooner or later, if you let it run long enough, that water will grow cool and refreshing. If you want to be a writer, you must write. Let the ideas spew out, and write them down as they do. Why do I blog? I blog because I claim the title of writer—because blogging forces me to write, even on the days when I don’t feel like writing. I blog because it keeps the tap turned on, keeps the ideas flowing, and stretches me to assemble those ideas in ways I never imagined possible. Blogging reminds me how much I love writing, it reminds me that I am not alone, it keeps my creative spark lit, and it provides a way to share that little corner of my soul with others. And that, my friend, is why I blog.


Again, the main thrust of the advice from bloggers is Write!  And if this article doesn’t set your britches on fire, I don’t know what will. One thing Raelea keeps me constantly encouraged in is to write beautifully. We’re both Tolkien geeks and I think Tolkien must have believed in writing with beauty. I hope you enjoyed Raelea’s thoughts and found a bit of inspiration for your own blogging.

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.