Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Why Do I Blog?

Many mornings, when I'm struggling to come up with a topic and put a few sentences together, I ask myself one simple question: Why do I blog? Why take the time and sometimes aggravation to do it? Who cares?

Although I've managed to be committed and only missed one day posting, which I made up for with two posts the next day, it's not like this is how I make a living. Even though it consumes a part of one of my most precious resources, there isn't necessarily any immediate return from doing so.

Sometimes it seems the only person that reads it is me. Occasionally a friend will tell me they enjoy it and I have a few dedicated readers. But blogs, by and large, unless they have a lot of helpful tips for dealing with something, are really self-serving, like keeping a not too personal journal that you share with the world. If the world wants to read it.

The fact of the matter is, I missed writing. Beginning one Christmas when I was a grade school girl with crooked teeth and out of control hair, when someone gave me a diary with a lock on it, I had written on a daily basis. For years I was faithful to those diaries, then I began buying spiral notebooks and using them. I don't suppose it should have come as a surprise when a college English professor told me I was a good writer. I rethought my career plans, fell in love with newspaper columns (in particular the work of a writer named Janet at my hometown paper) and changed my major.

When I started writing for that same paper and working with Janet, my goal beyond all the boring council and school board meetings, beyond all the interesting people I met for human interest, beyond all the drama of fires and wrecks, and beyond all the human tragedy of crime, was to write columns where I put things in perspective. Sometimes it was the things I was dealing with as a journalist and sometimes it was the things in my own life that could touch someone else by sharing.

I loved column writing, even though it was only a once a week adventure, first at The Galax Gazette and a decade later at The Mount Airy News. I still loved it at The Messenger, although I truthfully despised my editor and the parameters he set on my writing that didn't apply to everyone else.

Once I had newspaper writing, where in addition to the columns I churned out thousands of words a day for articles on those people and events to which I was a silent witness, I didn't keep my diaries or journals any more. During one of my so far successful attempts to avoid sinking into hoarding, I glanced through the stacks of writing and decided they were best consigned to obscurity. I burned them all in a trash barrel before my last move.

When my newspaper career faltered on the same rocky shores that stranded a lot of people at a point in their lives where they didn't expect to be jobless, I quit writing cold turkey. People would come up to me and tell me they missed my writing, some encouraged me to get back into the newspaper. But I had seen the future and knew that the newspapers were never going to be the same as the job I fell in love with 25 years ago. I said no.

I quit mentally turning the things around me into potential subjects for anything. There was no need to figure out how to describe something that only I saw or cared about.

But I missed it, like the hole left by a missing tooth that you continually explore with your tongue. I worried at my lack of writing, no matter how much I tried to leave it alone. I read blogs by other people and berated myself for not doing something, anything, with my love of the written word. I thought about the novel I wrote and had accepted for subsidized printing more than a decade ago, only to not have the $2,500 I needed at the time to see it printed, and I considered the new ease of ebooks.

After wrestling with all those ideas and reading some of the, not to put it too bluntly, crap, that was sold in ebook format on Amazon, I decided I really needed to pull out my old manuscript and rework it. I needed to see it in virtual print. It and the others bouncing around my head.

But first, like getting an unused muscle that has atrophied back into condition, I knew I needed to retrain my brain to roll easily through the conversion of thoughts to words. I knew I needed to carve out a time when I would write regularly. I settled on early mornings when the house is quiet and coffee and small dogs are my only companions. I went back to my disused PC and desk and prodded myself back into the game.

Naturally, I returned to my early love -- after all, a blog is mix between a journal and a column. I may grapple with a common theme, or be more personal. With no editor, I may make mistakes or I may write something (possibly this) that no but me really cares about. At the very least, it's a record of what's going on in my life and the thoughts rolling around my brain. Perhaps my descendants will read it one day and be amused, or shocked.

I found that, as I expected, writing wasn't as easy as it was a decade ago. Neglect had caused the synapses in my brain to dull and I think even my spelling had suffered. So the last six or seven weeks have been a retraining. I appreciate anyone who has been along for the exercise, and I intend to keep it up. It gives me a warm feeling when someone comments, either on my blog, on my Facebook page, or directly. My audience is small, but I enjoy it.

And my brain is better for it. Maybe soon I'll be adding another layer to my writing as well. When that comes, I'll be telling you to look for me on Amazon. I'm eager for the next page to turn.

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