Once upon a time, I belonged to a Google writing group consisting of members from an on-line writing class. As with all writing groups, the purpose was to provide a safe place to share our writing. If we were brave enough to post our work we would be rewarded with constructive feedback, encouragement and support. But there came a time when I posted a story I wrote and no one commented. I was confused, and a little hurt. I understand that everyone has a life and may not be able to participate on a day-today basis. But there was activity going on within the group. This went on for about a week and I grew angrier by the day. Why isn’t anyone reading my story? I asked myself. Then one day, I came across a comment that slapped me in the face with my greatest fear. In defense of a comment not well received, this person wrote, “if your writing was crap, I wouldn’t comment at all”.
I left the group.
Being a blogger is like the proverbial island castaway who stuffs their message into a bottle and casts it into wide-open sea. They know not where the message will land or who will read it. Or if it will even be read. When we write publically we put ourselves out there, naked and vulnerable. We fear all sorts of things. Mostly, is what I write any good? But secondly, is anyone evening reading it.
I am sure my fear of oblivion is felt by many new bloggers, and maybe some seasoned ones as well. Which is why the Blogging 101 Assignment “Meet your Neighbors” is one of the most important assignments any of us can do. Blogging is not just about our own writing. The communication channel is circular. You write but you also read. You read to learn, you read to connect, you read because you are part of a blogging community and it is your responsibility to help a fellow blogger develop confidence by reading and providing constructive comments.
As novice bloggers as part of a group like Blogging 101, it is not too hard to find people to connect with. I believe it is true that the more you comment on other’s blogs, the more likely someone will reciprocate and read yours. We start by being followers and over time, others follow us. The hard part is finding the time to seek out new blogs, to learn who the writer is, to read blogs on a consistent basis. But it is time well-spent for the serious blogger.
One of the interesting things I found from this assignment was how randomly selected blog posts could somehow come together and give you what you need to hear. The blog post Silencing the Censor Within, gave me the inspiration for this blog. In Autumn of Our Life, a mid-life female, like me, writes of the transition of the seasons, not only in nature but her own life. She reminded me that the changes of growing old are not to be feared, but to be embraced. I too am in the Autumn of my life. Another positive take on seasons in general was found in Autumn Leaves. This simple blog reminded me that blogging doesn’t have to encompass a long dissertation (which can lead to an excuse not to blog). It’s simply sharing our thoughts and a 100 words will do. In Just Passing Through, I found wisdom in a young woman who could be my daughter. She reminded me, a workaholic and perfectionist, to slow down and smell the roses. And last but not least, a little humor to brighten my day with When In Doubt, Grab a Beer or a Blanket.
If you have not completed this assignment, I encourage you to do so. Not only will you get great ideas for your own blogs but you will begin to create a connection that will make blogging all the more fun. I leave you with some words from one of my favorite actors, Alan Alda –