The Dog Days of Blogging

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The Green Study is on hiatus until September.

As the smell of tar drifts in through open windows and the cicadas drone on, I wrestle with decisions and consequences. Anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time, knows this is a constant state for me – the wrangling of life out loud, never settled, never quite comfortable.

I started writing for this blog in January of 2012. The intent was to get in the practice of writing out loud. I went quietly about my business, writing about things that were of interest to me in the moment. I gained a small readership and began to enjoy the interactive facet of blogging.

In August and November, I went through the Freshly Pressed brouhaha. Fantastic and brutal, complimentary and misleading all at once. There were numerous missteps on the part of my ego and the numbers started to matter. The writing veered off course, I started to repeat myself and subjects. I wrote a lot of posts about blogging. To change things up a bit, I ran a couple of contests in December 2012 and February of this year. Fun, but a great deal of work.

This blog has never had a real focus. On occasion, I’ll get fired up about a subject and try to really cover it, but even I get bored with it after a few posts. My series seem to drop off. I haven’t yet gotten my fiction site up and running.  I’ve written many more drafts than posts – there were a lot of nonstarters.

In November 2012, I participated in the National Novel Writing Month, which I learned about only through reading other people’s blogs. This led to quite a few posts about writing a novel and the consequences that followed. One of the consequences was an eye condition that has put some speed bumps in my blogging path.

A small fear has been planted that my vision may permanently be affected. I am a reader and writer and impaired vision (beyond my lifelong nearsightedness), at the age of 45, scares me. My body has begun to feel the wear and tear of intense workouts and Taekwondo. My brain is starting to drift mid-sentence and I am constantly struggling to focus.

It is not just the dog days of blogging – it’s the dog days of my life. I am restless and edgy. The clear vision I had for myself less than a year ago, has, like my sight, eroded. This is not a dramatic moment or a major epiphany – merely a need for course correction.

I’ve tried to take breaks along the way, to get my mojo back or put some spring back into my step. I will forever be a writer and I hope to blog for the long haul, but I’m at a turning point. I hear “blah, blah, blah” in my head every time I write. The navel-gazing has put a crick in my neck and a circle in my thought process.

canstockphoto6534612Writing. I’m taking the month of August off from online blogging to give my eyes a chance to heal. The next step for me is surgery and I need to do everything I can to avoid that. Until then, I will continue to write off line in the hopes of developing stronger material. I must acquaint myself with some old school utensils, as well as remembering why writing left-handed with gel ink is a bad idea (smears galore!).

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Traveling. I am also getting out and about – visiting Niagara Falls, the Chicago Jazz Festival, a trip traveling to wildlife sanctuaries, conservation centers and botanical gardens. The trip has the hallmarks of getting perspective, clearing up my vision, giving my brain a rest.

canstockphoto0615677Reading. I am midway through The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers and overwhelmed by the beauty and strength and intensity of his storytelling. It makes me hungry to push myself as a writer. I’ve been too timid, too afraid. I have fierce opinions, but in writing I feel compelled to be reasonable. I don’t think reasonable is going to get me where I want to go. And I won’t know where I want to go until I write without a leash.

canstockphoto11858226Resting. I’m off for a few weeks from Taekwondo and am focusing on some haphazard yoga, long walks and plenty of sleep. It has gotten more complicated with this eye condition, sleeping with bandage contacts, ointments, eye mask and humidifier. I’ve got a serious case of The Princess and the Pea going on, having to have so many things just right to get some rest.

canstockphoto9552766Family. We’ve all been taken over by work or lessons or extended family obligations. I realized the other day, with a shock, that my daughter has grown nearly as high as my shoulder. I want to capture some of the time before there are Cat’s in the Cradle -like regrets. That’s my mantra these days: Do it now, no regrets later.

canstockphoto13602210Gratitude. But here’s what I’d like to say most: Thank you.  You’re one of the reasons I keep coming back. Thank you for reading and/or commenting. Our conversations have been encouraging and thought-provoking and I value the connections I’ve made here.

I wish you a wonderful month ahead

and look forward to returning in September!

55 Comments on “The Dog Days of Blogging

  1. A wonderfully honest reflection of your blog journey to date – thank you. It does feel like a roller coaster ride at times, doesn’t it? It sounds as though everything you are planning to be doing will refresh and enhance other pursuits. I look forward to seeing you back in September.

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    • You’re right about blogging being a rollercoaster. I find that true of writing in general – oh those wonderful highs, oh those terrible lows! Best hope is to try not to get sick over the side and that you still have some land legs when you’re done!

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  2. Enjoy your August. You have some great trips and other assorted activities planned. See you in September, as the song goes — hopefully with a greatly-improved eye and a refreshed soul.

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  3. Happy August! This choice of a month off sounds extremely sane. It’s a kind of sabbatical after which you return re-invigorated … or not. Either way, perspective and inspiration have a chance to re-grow in an unhurried way. Have fun!

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    • Thank you for reading and commenting. You’re right – a month for self-care. Sometimes clearing the path for it is the most difficult step of all or, as in my case, eyeballs become globes of fire and the path is cleared for me!

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  4. Glad you’re taking time for yourself, and hope you rediscover the joy in writing.
    Have a blast, and looking forward to your return!

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    • Thanks for your good wishes. I really do hope that I find that joy again. Writing unfettered, with no audience, is sometimes the way back. Although I’m really going to have to learn to read my own penmanship again.

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  5. Ah, yes, such a great plan to find your center and get your mind, body and spirit back in tip-top shape. I wish you a fantastic month of “you” time and focusing on your health… and I look forward to your return in September. Take care!

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    • Thanks, Jess. As a fellow super-ninja, I’m sure you understand how demoralizing all those injuries can be – it’s taken me forever to understand that “working through them” is not always the best policy.

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  6. Michelle,
    Do what you need to do for those eyes. And for your health (mind and body) as well. Listen to yourself.

    As for blogging, it is a mixed bag, isn’t it? A complete time sucker but a great tool for honing writing/storytelling/wiseass-commenting skills. I originally wanted to do a political blog, then a humor blog, then a storytelling blog. Now it is a mishmash. It’s become a “whatever” blog. I like it better that way!

    Have a great rest.

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    • Thanks, Elyse. I have to say that I’m a little excited to have some time off with fewer obligations. I think that was the tip off for taking a longer break from blogging – it started to feel like a “should”, which is ridiculous for an unpaid hobby. And well, the damned eyes. My hope is that I can just sit back and breathe for a bit.

      From one “whatever” blogger to another, enjoy the month ahead!

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  7. What, no Green Study for a whole month? !!! You will be missed. I’m glad you are taking the time to get well, get rested and enjoy your family. We will be waiting when you return.

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    • Thanks, Diane, for your well wishes. I threw in a load of links for handling all those Green Study withdrawal symptoms! I’m reader-oriented, I tell you. Hope your summer (and garden) is going well!

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  8. I can really relate to the part about the difficulty of taking the work to fruition. Many years ago, I went through something that sounds much like what you describe, but with regard to music. I ended up pretty much walking away from it, and I’ve always regretted it!

    It’s the things you miss when you don’t do them for a month; those are the things in your heart! But sometimes it’s tough separating the things you really want to do from the things you really feel you ought to do. Love and duty blend together a bit, I think.

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    • I’m trying to take less drastic measures, since I really don’t want to give up blogging. I figure a longer break might do the trick, especially since the month ahead is sure to be rife with new material. And you’re right, we’ll see what I want to do at the end of the month. It is sure to be an indicator of the way forward.

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  9. Take it easy on those eyes – you’re gonna need them for a long time. I think I started following you when the tattoo piece was FPd – but I stayed around because I like the way you can dissect your introspection and summarize things – you find new truth and that’s compelling. Of course your writing is ever-so-readable so a reading of your interpretation of the phone book might even be interesting 🙂 Take care, rest up, enjoy!

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    • Thanks for your generous words, Lorri. I’m getting serious about the eyeballs. Within the course of a week, I went from hearing that I was 100% again to a full-on erosion. I was completely disheartened. I got back up, though, formulated a new plan and that’s where I am now. I think August will be win-win: I hope to come back with happy eyes and clear vision. I hope you have an enjoyable month and lots of traffic at the feeders!

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  10. I loved your brutally honest recounting of your blog journey. It’s different from mine although I recognize several things, like the issue of focus.Great to hear you’ll be doing “you stuff” in August! I trust the rest, family and new experiences will do you good. Looking forward to seeing you here later. Take care

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    • I have high hopes, but trying hard not to have too many expectations. I just want to be open to what comes and less beholden to obligations. Letting go, just to see where I land. Thanks for your kind wishes and I look forward to catching up on my return.

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  11. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one going through a waning desire to blog. I hope you have a wonderful August and look forward to hearing all about it in September.

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    • It truly is a waning desire right now and until I could come up with a “plan”, I was feeling a bit melancholy, thinking I might have to give it up for good. Apparently I don’t really want to – I just want to get some spark and inspiration and not have it be this joyless, forced march through writing. This should be the fun place to write and the offline is suppose to be a little more torturous, so I just need to switch things up. Thanks for your good wishes, Molly – I hope the same for you!

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  12. The first paragraph in this post implies exactly the reason I read your blog. I wish you well on your hiatus, I’m one who’ll be awaiting your return. I love that you just write. Unlike me, I still have to get back on. You inspire me! Have a wonderful journey.

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  13. Enjoy your month off. I decided in early July to take August off, our reasons may be a little bit different but I think I am looking to get get some movement in some areas that are important to me. Good luck with your eyes; I hope the time off helps you.

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  14. I can’t wait to see you back online, better, writing again, and sharing news on your next project. I need to thank you Michelle for giving me hope/faith in this forum as a real community, with real people. I keep your postcard by my desk at work as an occasional reminder, as an inside-prompt to me, to remember my dream of writing. I wish you well, and I know you are not a fan of hugs, but consider this a virtual squeeze on the shoulder, gal! And glad to see you’re giving that Yoga a try. Best to you and yours, – Bill

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    • Thanks, Bill. I’ve made so many lovely connections blogging – it really is a great community filled with creative, funny and thoughtful people. I often think about the dimension that it adds to writing – having a kind audience. It carries me through the creative lows and makes me want to do better work.

      I’ve been doing yoga off and on for years, but some of the pleasure I get out of it is the contrast of uptight, hostile me in a class of serene yogis. There’s something perverse about it all that makes me laugh. However, it does bridge the disconnect between my mind and body and that makes my every sad attempt at shoulder stands worth it.

      Have a great August and I look forward to catching up with you and your writing upon my return!

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  15. We have to breathe in sometimes, otherwise there is nothing left to breathe out except some sporadic sputtering. Due to an inborn lack of social grace and etiquette when I need a hiatus as a necessary part of respiration it seems to just happen. I wish I could bend my lack of couth into something perceived as perhaps callous charm or at least eye rolling eccentricism, but I must confess it is simply a lack of manners. Enjoy August well, breathe it all in. I look forward to seeing you back here in Sept.

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    • I’m much more polite with my blog than in life on the ground. Phone calls, texts and emails go unanswered when I’m in a “funk” and need a break. If I can’t go to an isolated cabin on a pond, then at the very least, I won’t pick up the phone. I’m more delusional than you and have come to think of it as an eccentricity. It makes me sound more artistic that way! Thanks for the good wishes.

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  16. Michelle, have a wonderful, restful, relaxing, and regenerating month!

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    • Thanks, Sandy. I like the unintended pun – there are so many to make with sight. I’ve been using them like crazy over the last few weeks, but I’m the only one who laughs.

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  17. Too bad we don’t know each other for a visit over coffee. It sounds like we’d have a lot of the same things to hash over. The Yellow Birds is even near the top of the my list to read. Enjoy your break.

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    • I know I just started following your blog, so I haven’t had time to read and comment much, but I plan on reading more upon my return. I look forward to getting to know you!
      I am really enjoying The Yellow Birds, but I made the mistake of reading some reviews prior – it seems to be a mixed bag. I sometimes wonder, when I read a bad review, if I’m just not critical enough in my reading.
      Have a great month ahead!

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  18. I will be looking forward to reading more from you in August. I understand the need for a break, and am a bit late in responding to your post since I took a few weeks off as well. Best wishes to you!

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  19. I was using my green study mug today, and it made me think of you and how I miss your blogs. Hope you’re having a wonderful month off!

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  20. Michelle, I hope you’ve had a *superb* break. I’m pretty sure they’re allowed in blogging more than a tiny bit of the time, especially in a place like your blog where we can come and be enriched by previous posts any time if we’re hungry in your absence!
    xo,
    Kathryn

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