On Writing (Part II) The Gifts of Blogging

After my trip to Onset in 2018, I resolved to take my own writing seriously, and explore blogging. It took a year, but when I returned from Onset after my 2019 visit, I began to keep that promise.

It was not without fear, though. I had thought that Blogging would be a good thing to do, but I wasn’t even sure if it was still a “thing” that people did. I worried that I wasn’t a good enough writer. There are a lot of good writers out in the world and lots of not so good writers. I wasn’t sure that the world needed one more writer.

What if no one was interested in what I had to say? But the only way to deal with “what ifs” is to act, or live in wonder. So, I decided to act. I had actually opened a free WordPress account back in 2014, but after writing a few sentences, it sat idle until December 2019.

Photo from Pixaby from Pexels

First Things First

Where to begin? I knew from Facebook that a colleague had started blogging and also had written a book, so I reached out to her for advice. She suggested a book on blogging by Barb Drozdowich, Blogging for Authors https://barbdrozdowich.com/. The book was really helpful, though being a-technical it didn’t all make sense. But Barb (imo) has a gift for making wise the simple, or making complex computer terms and directions straightforward and simple.

I took her introductory class on WordPress, and part way through it, I realized the only way I would really understand what she was saying was to do it, open up the blog and add things and write.

I was still anxious about whether or not I was doing this right, so I reached back out to the colleauge and she shared with me some of the writers that she follows. So I signed up to follow them, and of course follow her as well.

The only problem I had was that my friend did mostly book reviews, as did the people she follows. Now, there is nothing wrong with book reviews, and some of my blogging friends do them as part of their whole blogging work. But, I do not. I wouldn’t know where to start.

I may, from time to time recommend a book, as I did in a previous paragraph. But if the book is a work of fiction, what I am most likely to tell you, beyond, author, title, and publishing, will have little to do with plot, character or context.

I will tell you if I think the book has good character transformation, and I will hand pick several quotes that show the authors facility with words. Words that were seemingly gathered together and dropped into a shaker cup, like die in a Parcheesi game, swirled around in the authors mind and poured out onto the page.

So with no disrespect intended for those who write book reviews, and do them well, I went off in search of writers with similar writing styles or interests to my own. I needed something to compare my own writing to, to see if I was doing it right!

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Blogging friends, do you remember your first post, or your first few posts? The first time, after I had read, re-read, edited, added, subtracted, determined categories, tags, etc., and hit “Publish” I shook. I shook with excitement, but also fear, wondering what in the world I had done.

I have preached hundreds of sermons, presided at a large number of weddings and funerals, spoken in front of a lot of people, written countless college level and post graduate papers, but I shook.

All I could think of was what Martin Luther reportedly said after nailing his 99 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” Or, was it “Here I stand, and God help me!”

Yet to have finally started, and have something in writing, my thoughts, my heart, published in a blog and the hope that readers would find it, and find it interesting and somehow worthy. That was it. That was the goal!

But Wait, There’s More!

As it turned out, there were layers more, that I have found enriching, but could not have predicted. As I mentioned in the first post “on writing” writers need to be readers.

That expectation is at the heart of “link parties.” A link party is an organized system of sharing that is set up by an author or group of authors that sets out the number of posts a blogger is invited to post, and also lists expectations that said blogger will read, comment and share a certain number of the posts of participants.

There are a lot of things I have come to appreciate about these parties. Right now, there are only two link parties that I participate in, Midlife Share the Love (#MLSTL) and Esme’s Senior Salon.


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Some weeks I do both parties and some weeks I alternate. It takes a lot of reading and because it does, I appreciate every reader who takes the time to read and comment on my work.

The bloggers I read and follow are at different stages of their blogging journey. Some have only been blogging a year or more longer than I have, some have been at this for years. I have learned much from simply observing their content, writing styles and set up.

In general my paragraphs are long and my use of semi-colons can be sporadic. I am just never quite sure where to put those pesky things, and opinions vary. Nonetheless, I have been affirmed for my writing, but the “Grammar Police” have not gotten after my paragraphs or semi-colons.

Content and Community

Another important layer for me is what I have learned from the content I read. Some of the bloggers I follow are athletes, not professional athletes, but individuals who are dedicated to physical fitness and their overall health. Some are runners, some have extensive exercise routines, some bicycle, and I am none of those things.

Some of us wear our hearts on our sleeves, and I think that there is an implicit vulnerability to our writing. If you read the same writers consistently, a sharing of life happens. A love of grandchildren, of country, of surroundings, to name only a few themes.

Photo credit Matthias Zomer

O Humanity!

One of the things that has been very uniting in this wide world of blogging, is our common, yet differing experiences of life in the time of Covid-19. Regardless of anything politicians may have you believe, this did not just affect us in the United States, hence the word, Pandemic.

Everyone I have met through writing, has had to deal with the sorrow of missing or losing long planned vacations, just barely being able to be present for the birth of a grandchild, not seeing family in person, having to reduce communications to online gatherings. All of this, to say nothing of stress and depression that has been a side-effect of lockdown.

Perhaps it is normal that news media focus on their own country. When tragedy strikes in one country, there seems to be a direct link between how many “American” lives were involved or lost, and the amount of media attention that results. I suppose in many ways it a makes sense. But I want us to care and have compassion for sorrows beyond our own.

I can’t help wonder if the world would be a more peaceful place, if more people knew more people in other countries. Last year, when fires ravaged parts of Australia, I “felt bad,” for people I did not know. It was, as awful as it may sound, a very generic kind of feeling.

Maybe it doesn’t matter, but I want to think that it does. Because the next time I hear about something that happened in Australia, I am going to be looking at a map, and checking in, with Deb, Jennifer, Leanne, Sue and others to inquire about their well being.

From the early days of impending lock down, television, radio and media adds have proclaimed “We are in this together!” Yes, yes we are. But my hope now is the understanding that the “We” who are in this together, is a broader “We” than just US.

I know that I am a finite person and can only hold so many people in my heart, like a life raft. Family and friends first. Yet, because of a little thing called a blog, there is room to care about Deb, Sue, Leanne and others in Australia, Corinne and Pradeep in India, Enda in Ireland, Cheryl in Romania, Laurie in Pennsylvania and the list goes on and on. They have been my teachers, my role models in writing, my readers, and my writing community.

Who knew that all this could come from simply starting a blog?

Not holding back the tide,

Michele

Copyright 2020 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com

Published by msomerville2014

About: Michele Somerville is a wife, mother, stepmother, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin and friend. She lives with her husband and their dog Sheba. Sheba is their fourth rescue dog in 30 years. She is a retired ordained United Methodist Elder and serves two churches part-time in North Central Pennsylvania. She obtained her Bachelors’ Degree in 1999 from Mansfield University and her Master of Divinity in 2004 and Doctor of Ministry in 2016, both from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York. My Doctor of Ministry Thesis was:” Prophetic Words of Grace: Biblical Storytelling in the Local Church.” Michele began writing and performing character monologues for worship in 2008. She began by asking the question about nameless characters in the Bible, “What would they say if they could speak for themselves?” and then using her theological education and experience of the human condition to attempt an answer that is both academic and creative. Much of what you will read here are memories from growing up in a tourist town, in a bar, in the 1960’s, shaggy dog stories about our rescue dogs, life in a small town, and stories of faith and hope. Throughout her life she has lived in many states, including small towns, large towns and cities. She lived in Rota, Spain, for nine challenging months. Despite all the places she have lived since moving away from home in 1970,Michele is at the heart of all things Jack and Maggie’s daughter, and a beach girl from Onset, Massachusetts.

13 thoughts on “On Writing (Part II) The Gifts of Blogging

  1. Hi Michele, thanks for sharing your thoughts on blogging! I too started my blog then left it for a while due to feeling uncertain! I like how you wrote about so much here from content to connecting with each other!

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  2. My first blogging friends were book bloggers too. They were such a helpful bunch. They taught me about following other bloggers, link parties, putting my blog on social media (I am still not very good at that). I was so impressed with their kindness and generosity.

    One of the things I was not prepared for when I started this blog in January 2018 was the connections I would make. I pictured blogging as a solitary writing experience. It is so much more than that! I, like you, have met people from all over the world. I feel like I have friends I have never met in person. It is so rewarding! So glad our paths crossed, Michele. I love reading your posts.

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    1. Laurie, thank you for taking the time to read and comment, I appreciate it. I am glad our paths crossed too. hoping you don’t mind that mentioned you in this post. I debated including links, but I have that small town thing going, didn’t want to offend anyone by leaving them out, lol. I still have notes from an early conversation on Blogging from you, definitely from the early weeks of my adventure.

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  3. Congrats, Michele, on keeping your promise to start a blog. I felt blogging friends are like pen pals, except we use the internet and blogging platforms as opposed to pen and paper. Have fun blogging! #senisal

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! Thanks for writing this. Taking the first step is so important! I could relate to this a lot! Good luck to you, keep writing.
    {This especially stayed with me ” If you read the same writers consistently, a sharing of life happens.”}

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  5. Hello Michele, thanks for this post. I feel the same about the blogging community. I feel close to many of my blogging friends, and worry about them and their familes too. I also get inspiration from them, and sometimes it’s just nice to know that I’m not alone. It’s a wonderful world to be a part of. Hope you’re having a lovely weekend. 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Cheryl, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. It has certainly proved to be a pretty special connection, one that I am grateful for. Good to hear from you, I hope all is well.

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      1. Hi Michele, all is well, yes, thank you. We’re now in Bulgaria, having crossed the border from Romania 2 weeks ago. We’re in the middle of trying to get our residency applications approved, as we’ve decided to make Bulgaria our home for the forseeable future. It’s been a stressful journey but maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to be rid of some of that stress for a while and spend some time relaxing and feeling ‘at home’ after our long and adventurous trip from Moscow in March. I trust all is well for you. x

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