Blah-gging: In Search of the Joy

canstockphoto1323495The upcoming new year also coincides with the two year mark for this blog. For the last few months, I’ve felt fairly disconnected from the blogging world. Online friendships have ebbed and waned. The writing has a joyless edge to it. I’ve started feeling envy for those bloggers who have so immersed themselves in this world that their tendrils of communication are seen everywhere. Like offline friendships, I am slow to warm, tentative to trust, unable to fight my own nature of needing to observe before engaging. It’s too slow a pace for the internet.

As a developing writer, blogging has served the purpose of habit. One would think that repetition would also carry some improvement, but if anything, the cuddly soft world of WordPress blogging has made me complacent. I write about subjects that strike me in the moment, focusing on my own perspectives, experiences and feelings. It is not a bottomless well and perhaps this is important. The reservoir feels like a puddle.

Since my time on WordPress, I’ve been Freshly Pressed 3 times. Unfortunately, this served to make me a little too self-satisfied. I have avoided writing about controversial or risqué topics, because I’m too thin-skinned and don’t have enough energy to be thoughtful for every nut job comment. I know this about myself, but I also know I’m getting hungry for a challenge. Perhaps the challenge for blogging is like running – hanging in long enough to get that second or third wind.

I’ve spent the last year taking a stand against drains on my time and personal energy. What gives me pleasure and energizes me? And if something doesn’t, do I let it go or do I work harder to make it matter? I’ve watched as blogs I follow go through permutations – some have turned into blogging rock stars and are everywhere. Others are consistent apologies for not writing more as they begin to fade away. Still others have become marketing tools for books or products or have begun to ask for money.

And then there are the brand new shiny happy blogs, which remind me of my first tentative step into what was essentially an echo chamber. It was rife with possibility. A blog is what we make it and often, with little intent, it becomes a reflection of our lives. My blog says that I’m slow to change, too civil to be controversial, too polite to sell products or ask for money and just arrogant enough to think anyone actually wants to read what I’ve written. I don’t know if I or this blog will ever be much more than that in the online world. The question is, in absence of all that, what do I want it to be?

The one thing I do know is that for me, the writing is the thing. Structure, grammar, rhetoric – these are areas where I can challenge myself. I am not a niche writer, choosing instead to write indiscriminately. As such, it’s time for me to up my writing game. The joy is in the challenge of writing – the lyrics and the flow and the stretch beyond my comfortable, cozy borders.

This blog is practice, a rehearsal and a workshop for finding my way as a writer. As much as I enjoy “meeting” and interacting with other bloggers, I know it is sometimes an easy distraction from doing quality work. Many times, I found myself posting halfheartedly because I missed the interaction. To live, to write, to blog with intention is, I think, the way back to joy and to being engaged.

Thank you to the kind readers and subscribers who have taken time to read, like or comment on posts. It is my intention to work hard in 2014 to be a better writer and blogger and to be more engaged. I don’t see any point in continuing, if it’s going to be half-assed. I’d prefer to be a complete ass.

Have a lovely holiday season canstockphoto0162178

& I’ll be back in 2014!

MichelleSig copy

Until then, here are some of my 2013 favorite posts to write:

38 Comments on “Blah-gging: In Search of the Joy

  1. Enjoy the holiday season. I hope 2014 brings you all the happiness, peace and fulfillment (creative and otherwise) you want! I look forward to your return.

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  2. For what it’s worth, I started out intending to do a humor blog. Lord knows what it is now … I write what I feel like, when I feel like it. It entertains me, and helps me craft my stories or my funny pieces better, because I learn what readers like. Not what they want to hear, but what gets my message across most effectively..

    Happy Holidays, Michelle.

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    • I started reading blogs again over the last week and found myself thinking a lot about intent. I haven’t been sure of the point of maintaining a blog in the last few months. Since it does take a great deal of time and energy, I realized I’d better figure out intention pretty darned quickly or I would need to put my energy elsewhere.

      Enjoy the season, Elyse and I look forward to reading your posts in 2014!

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  3. I understand your confusion about what your blog can and/or should be. I am in the same place, sort of, with 2014 goals of expanding my writing, which I have already begun. Good luck with your new focus and have a wonderful holiday time.
    Happy New 2014!

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    • When you’re a shy writer, blogging is a good way to start, but I’ve found it can also be a big distraction. I don’t know the trick to integrating or balancing the on and offline writing, but I’m going to work at it a bit more. Happy new year to you as well!

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  4. The sphere is what you make of it. I’ve done some not-very-good posts, but just about all of them are me, and I have no regrets about putting them up.
    As long as you enjoy doing this, I look forward to reading. but yeah, when it becomes a chore, it sucks.

    A merry christmas and a Happy new year to you and yours, and I hope the coming year brings everything you’re looking for!

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    • I have few regrets about posts, in that whatever arises from them tends to be a lesson. What I would like to see of my own writing is stronger editing, better structure and writing about things that perhaps aren’t all things me. Also, as a blogger, I’ve dropped the ball when it comes to fostering a sense of community – skipping award postings, getting behind on reading fellow bloggers, etc. I’m returning with a renewed sense of vigor and irreverence (there simply can never be enough of that!).

      Enjoy your holidays and here’s to a happy 2014!

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  5. I often find myself wanting to reblog your posts with the line “Yeah, what she said.” This one is no different. You say it so well, Michelle. You truly do. See you in 2014. Peace.

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  6. Hi Michelle, well I can sure relate to this. I retired my site a couple months ago for these exact reasons. Mine lasted roughly four years and I reached that day where I just thought, I’ve said everything I can say here. Not that I didn’t love the interactions but there was really no goal for me other than writing something that would gain the next subscriber, generate some comments, maybe hit the Freshly Pressed jackpot again. But there was really no direction (not that there had really ever been) other than that. I thought I should focus on something concrete, which of course I have not figured out yet! I do stil read blogs as I enjoy the social part of it. What the blog does provide, as you highlight, is a place to practice. But you can spend a lot of time “practicing” when you could be “writing”. It’s finding that balance between the two that is so challenging. Wishing you the best of luck finding your way in 2014!

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    • I’m sorry to hear that you retired your site as I enjoyed your writing and sense of humor, but you have pinpointed exactly the issue for me. When it’s a blog about nothing in particular, that well can run dry fairly quickly. I’ve been choking every time I type the word “I” in a post. Yet without a niche or focus or plan, this is what I’m going to write about in order to post regularly. So, as with all chaos, I am trying to come up with a plan. I do value the interaction, but you are absolutely correct in that blogging cannot take the place of potentially paid and heaven forbid, literary writing. If I cannot find a balance, something will need to go.
      I wish you luck in all your future endeavors and I hope to hear more from you, in whatever format you pursue. Happy 2014!

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  7. You’re so hard on yourself, Ms. Michelle. Blogging can be so many things. For me it is good to force myself to write regularly and to be social an sociable ;). But it’s also a joy. So often I see or think something and my reaction is, oh that would be a fun blog post! I don’t write about 100 subjects for every one I write about. Blogging is a way of keeping the cup of imagination and interest perpetually full. But if it’s NOT like that, then it would be a big drag and drain on my resources. And it has not been (been?) like that a few times. That feeling passes quickly. I’m guessing that having a pretty tight focus for a blog could be a way to keep the juices flowing–sort of like writing with a writing constraint. OK, I am done rambling. Happy New Year and all that good stuff.

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    • This is a really great and inspiring comment, Luanne. I think that will be key for me moving forward – a little more focus in terms of writing and not just stream-of-consciousness blathering (there have been more than a few posts like that at The Green Study this year!). And I’ll be the first to admit that I like the social aspects. I’m working on a list of subjects that I’d like to write about and I’m also putting together a posting plan. It sounds rigid, but I think it will give me a little boost in terms of challenge.

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful commenting. I hope you have a wonderful new year!

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  8. You scared me; for a minute there it sounded like you were going to discontinue your blog! Happy to see I was mistaken.

    So that being said, I certainly understand your feelings. My main blog languished for a few months, because I thought I had nothing worthwhile to say. But then my medical issues gave me another focus and I was off and running. And the Gratitude Journal continues daily, even though there have been those days when it was a struggle to find 3 things to be thankful for. My fiction has suffered through all of this, yet people still visit and read my fiction blog. I resolve that 2014 will give me new inspiration for my fiction, once the chemo is done and I’m on maintenance, which should up my energy levels.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and I’m looking forward to ‘seeing’ you next year.
    🙂

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    • Thanks, Ruth. I always begin writing with a question in mind and it does give that “will she or won’t she” tone. If success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, well…I just need a lot of deodorant. My fiction flailed about uselessly this year. I quit NaNoWriMo. I switched back to edits on my first novel while still writing the 2nd. I’m working on short stories now to suit my short attention span. And trying to figure out how to balance online writing with things I’d eventually like to see published.

      I’m sorry that you’ve got this new medical focus, but so glad to read your updates. I look forward to reading more fiction from you. You’re such a strong writer and person and I’m so glad we “met”. Here’s to a creative new year for both of us!

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  9. I am so far behind in reading some of my favorite blogs (including yours) — let’s face it, I am so far behind on all fronts right now! ’tis the season… I have been blogging not quite 18 months but find so true the descriptors of blogs coming and going, ebbing and flowing, changing colors, it is interesting. I come and go with my energy and interests, as well, such is life. Oh… and this post reminded me that I have fallen off the running machine and need to find time to work that back into the routine somehow too! So the quandary of too many interests, too many demands, not enough time, continues. May your new year bring that extra hour in the day :-)!

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    • You’re right about too many interests and demands. I’m trying to shift, shuffle or eliminate items that eat up time and don’t render much reward. It’s a challenge to have some sort of vision moving forward, but I’m getting there and am looking forward to the new year with renewed commitment. I did a treadmill run at the Y today and will now spend the next couple of days recovering! Take care and I’ll catch up with you again in 2014!

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  10. I share your frustration. Blogging has its ups and downs, like everything else. Long as you like to write, it doesn’t matter what you write. All you can do is look for light for the next post. Happy Holidays!

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    • Lately, I’ve been feeling more of the downs and I’ve been trying to figure out how to turn it around. It really must be with the writing, subject matter and time spent editing. I love the interaction, but if that was all it was about, I’d be on Facebook!

      I wish you a wonderful 2014, John!

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  11. I feel your pain. For me, if I am not trying new things, new expressions, my writing becomes stale and boring, maybe not for the reader but for me. When I began in August, I thought I would focus on humor. But I found that I had stories and poems to present that didn’t fit that mold. I still do largely humor but I also have given myself permission to post what I call other entertainments. I am still struggling to find out what my blog is meant to be. But it is a happy struggle. For me, it’s the writing that matters. And I hear that in your voice as well. So here’s to 2014 for the both of us and the hope that you will keep on keeping on. I know I will.

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    • Usually a struggle is tantamount to throwing down the gauntlet for me – I take it as a challenge. When I initially started this blog, I wrote a lot about exercise – obviously that bored me (and potential readers) rather quickly. From a writing perspective, I want to spend more time editing this stream-of-consciousness writing I’ve been doing – moving from just writing to actually crafting what I write. Also, I really need some new material! I’m ramping up my reading list and spending some time “being”, which always brings on new ideas.
      Here’s to a creatively fulfilling 2014, Don!

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  12. I hope you find what you need from blogging in 2014. Writing it down is a good first step, I think, so often we don’t really know what we want. I would love to be a ‘real’ writer someday and am planning to treat blogging as discipline next year too… Though the interaction is one of my favourite things so I want to take care of my online relationships too. My blog went through many changes and now it’s part of a website in which I do sell services, but I want to be able to blog about everything, not just to make a sale.
    Hope to read more of you in 2014, I love your style. 🙂
    Happy holidays!

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    • Writing it down is always the beginning of change for me. Somehow I can’t figure things out until I write through them. I should say that while I seem to eschew moneymaking online, I admire people that can do it. It does become a problem for someone like me who would eventually like to make money with my writing. I don’t think that the typical writer can do it anymore without a significant online presence. However, early days – I don’t have to worry about that bridge quite yet!
      If I’m not mistaken, Joanna – you are already a “real” writer. I look forward to reading your posts in 2014 – enjoy the holidays!

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  13. Oh, thank God. I started to panic. The conclusion of this post could have gone another way entirely. Let me just say that I look forward to your posts. Always. I find them incredibly thoughtful and thought-provoking, even if they feel pedantic to you.

    I understand wanting to up the game. I understand being all about the writing. I can’t wait to see what you do here.

    I also consider myself one of your bloggy connections (Notice I didn’t say friends. I’d never crowd you like that!) and consider myself lucky in that way. So as we sidle past each other awkwardly, know that you are deeply appreciated.

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    • I didn’t mean to turn it into a dramatic moment, but I suppose I did start off rather indecisively – working out the issue as I wrote, as usual!

      And Sandy Sue, I value and appreciate you as my bloggy friend. I suppose my surliness about hugging and the holidays and family…okay, surliness about everything skips over the fact that I’m extraordinarily grateful for the connections I’ve made here, some of which will transcend blog land. Now, how is that for awkward?

      Here’s to new challenges and continuing friendships in the new year!

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  14. My interest in blogging has ups and downs too. Right now it is on the wane, but I still enjoy reading what others (like you) have written. I’ll look forward to seeing what you come up with in the new year.

    Happy Holidays.

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    • While I’ve missed doing much online reading over the last few months, I have always enjoyed your posts – clean writing, beautiful pictures and some terrific ideas. It is a challenge to maintain a blog over months, much less years and at some point, when it starts to feel obligatory, it either wanes or fades away. I’m trying not to let that happen and am hoping that bringing new energy and commitment will make it an enjoyable experience. I wish you and your lovely family a joyful holiday and a happy 2014!

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  15. So well said, as always. This from an INFP so I really do get it. Happy Holidays and I look forward to more in 2014!

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  16. Much joy to you, Michelle. You will get there. You are in the destruction phase where you tear down what you know and what doesn’t work so that you can build something better.

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  17. Hi there & Happy Holidays! I’ve been thinking about blogging very much the same way. I have observed the categories of bloggers you describe. And seen many excellent writes “fade away”, others have kept to it and evolved in their writing – some to stardom. For me it’s practice in writing, with the bonus of a few really good friendships. I’m also learning a lot. Although I have written volumes in my professional life, I think that my blogging experience gave me the courage to try to write a novel. You are such an excellent writer so I’m happy you’ve decided to do it whole heartedly – or to become a complete ass, as you put it. That’s good news for the new year!

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