In the peculiar, lonely world of blogging, there is nothing like writing a good post that hits the mark in some way for someone else and then to hear about it. An incident that absolutely made my week was in connection with a recent post I wrote in tribute to my yoga teacher, Diane. After reading it, Diane wrote me a sweet note, delighted that I captured the essence of her teaching and expressing how much the post meant to her. Which utterly warmed my heart. Then, last week she sent me an email saying she loved the post so much she forwarded it to her husband to print on special paper, and HE was so impressed that he had it enlarged, printed and framed for her, and it is now hanging on the wall in their house. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
Those glorious and infrequent moments aside, blogging is a rather odd experience. I easily think of countless potential topics each week (in fact, I often find myself viewing life events with an eye towards how they would play as blog posts) and just as easily discard most of them. I spend hours writing and re-writing my posts, sometimes composing in my sleep (I never write and post the same day as some of my best work happens in my subconscious).
Then when I’m at least 95% satisfied with a post, after pouring my heart and soul into it, I press the Publish button, sending my latest fragile masterpiece, my recently birthed baby, careening into a cyber-universe of mostly complete strangers, asking them to read and judge my work. It is an odd, one-way, vulnerable, terrifying, intimidating, and exhilarating moment. I worry about over-sharing personal information and experiences. I worry about violating the privacy of my friends and family. I worry that an axe murderer will figure out where I live.
After publishing, my posts are answered, for the most part, with a deafening quiet. I receive a few likes and comments, typically from a small, loyal, vocal and much appreciated core group of followers, but mostly radio silence (which I suppose is good when I think about that axe murderer). Or, another creepy aspect of blogging is that, more than a few times, I have been with friends or acquaintances who reference things about me that I am pretty sure they shouldn’t know. Then it suddenly hits me (it happens every time) that they’ve been secretly reading my blog (should I be flattered or not since they’ve never said anything?), and that my life is a potentially unhealthy, semi-open book. So why DO I blog?
One of my favorite websites, Brainpickings, recently discussed Elizabeth Gilbert”s new book (now on my reading list) Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, which seeks to empower creative endeavors. A quote from Gilbert that particularly resonates with me:
“This, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?
Surely something wonderful is sheltered inside you. I say this with all confidence, because I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure. I believe this is one of the oldest and most generous tricks the universe plays on us human beings, both for its own amusement and for ours: The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.
The hunt to uncover those jewels — that’s creative living.
The courage to go on that hunt in the first place — that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one.
The often surprising results of that hunt — that’s what I call Big Magic.”
I love the notion of “Big Magic” and it helps me understand the artistic drive. For me, writing is my Big Magic. I find that during the creative process, I grapple with experiences, discover things about myself and often come to surprising conclusions. Frequently, I will start writing a post, only to find it going in an entirely different direction than I anticipated. There is a deep satisfaction in finding the right combination of words that most fully captures my thoughts and emotions. It is the joy of finding my “buried treasure.” When Gilbert challenges us to have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within us, I think of the trepidation I feel each time I push the Publish button. Blogging makes the creative process frightening, invigorating and more rewarding by openly sharing my “strange jewels” and my personal journey of finding them.
Another quote from the same Brainpickings article:
“When you’re an artist, nobody ever tells you or hits you with the magic wand of legitimacy. You have to hit your own head with your own handmade wand.” – Amanda Palmer
It took me awhile to understand that, notwithstanding the occasional Diane mutual admiration moments, my blogging is ultimately for myself. I quite simply love to write. I love to write about the random things that peak my interest. I enjoy the creative process and I push myself to produce the best writing I can. I take pride in the end product. I hope that others enjoy reading and experiencing my journey, but at the end of the day, I would be horribly disappointed if my ultimate goal was affirmation and recognition. I have to hit my own head with my own handmade wand and consider myself a legitimate writer. Blogging is largely a one-sided, lonely form of communication, but one that also carries an unexpectedly deep internal richness and connection with self. However, if there’s one thing I learned this week, as a writer (and I will strive to remember as a reader), it is that the occasional (and heartfelt) affirmation is treasured indeed!