Monday, June 29, 2009

Musings: On Blogging

A big rain came through last night, giving the morning a fresh, clean feeling when Koko and I went walking as nene honked overhead and the fragrance of unseen citrus blossoms wafted through the air.

Venus and Jupiter were still visible, and for the first time in the two weeks since I moved, Waialeale revealed herself — initially just her notch, and then her flat, sloping summit, overscored by a long, thin, pink-gray cloud, and then, as the sun rose behind a gilt-edged puff, her full face, flushed delicate rose.

Now that made me happy. As for Koko, she was already dancing at the end of her leash, rarin’ to chase the hens that skittered across her trail. She might have been happier if I’d let her loose, but then, I would have been less happy, as would the people whose yards she dashed through and dogs she set off while in hot pursuit. So she stayed tethered.

Mornings like these are part of the reason why I blog, a topic I’ve been thinking about ever since I read Ian Lind’s own musings on the subject and got my first request to run an ad.

Like Ian, it’s definitely not for the money, in part because there isn’t any, per se, although I have gotten paying work as a direct result of this blog. As Ian so aptly described it:

It’s not a business, that’s clear. But it’s more than a “hobby”, since I feel that need to publish daily and, at least now and then, produce original content and useful documents and information. It’s an expression of that journalistic impulse that hasn’t been either constrained, or supported by, any economic sense. In other words, somewhat unsustainable except in this crazy world of blogging.

Regular blogging does seem to fall into the realm of addiction. Some days I don’t plan to blog, or even especially want to, yet before I know it, I’m blogging, a habit that occasionally makes me late to early morning appointments (don’t tell the acupuncturist) and has prompted friends to leave telephone messages like, “you, step away from that blog,” and “Koko, is mommy blogging?”

Still, it makes me feel good to share nature’s beauty, as I hope it will encourage other people to appreciate it, or at least notice it, and so take better care of it, and also to pass on bits of information that I think people need to know, which leads to the other, undeniable aspect of blogging: ego.

Of course, ego is a part of any published writing, and perhaps even more so with blogging, because it’s all about what I want to write, and how I want to write it, with no pesky editor tossing in his two cents or worse, rewriting it into something he thinks is better, but usually isn't

Not to mention that I likely would have no other place to publish many of the things covered in this blog, especially in the current dismal market.

But aren’t you trying to educate people and change the world? asked an equally idealistic friend when i discussed this subject with her.

Most definitely, and that drive has earned me such nicknames as Messenjah, and intrepid reporter Joyce Babbage, and the less kind Terri, which is short for a frantically barking terrier. But when you get right down to it, even that lofty objective is ego-driven, based entirely on the premise that my ideas on how the world should be/could be are not only worth considering, but implementing, and while I really hate to admit otherwise, when I’m totally honest, I have to.

Besides, those leaving comments often force me into that realization, which leads to another reason I blog: spiritual practice. Noticing what’s going on in the world around me as I walk is a very pleasant way to live consciously, be present in the moment. And there’s nothing quite like the anonymous comment section of a blog to drive home the lessons of humility, patience, compassion, kindness and tolerance — and all the opposites of those virtues.

I’ve learned a lot about myself, and even more about people, by blogging. Several friends have remarked on the “really weird people” who seem to read my blog, but I don’t mind, because I like quirky people, although there have been times, fortunately in the more distant past, when I was almost afraid to look at my blog because of the unruly comment section.

But that, too, taught me valuable lessons about setting appropriate boundaries and not taking things personally and letting stuff go rather than stewing.

I’ve also learned a lot about writing. Like any craft, it gets better with practice, and practice is best when it’s fun, which blogging usually is, and it’s helped me free up my public writing from the constrictive forces of mainstream journalism that shaped it.

I figure the educational aspects alone are worth plenty, and would cost a good bit if one could even find such curriculum at a university, so I keep blogging, even though it takes a good bit of time and doesn’t earn me any money.

I also keep blogging because people keep reading, and commenting, and to all of you have participated with me in this venture, I say mahalo. I’m glad to have you along for the ride.


Anonymous said...

mahalo to you joan, for it's not just the reading and writing exchanged but the wealth of information and expressions of humanity that is often exchanged because of your efforts. funny to imagine that in the past reading and writing was only available to the rich and powerful; now the meek and the lowly may enjoy and partake in the pastime. write on, mahalo nui for your efforts!

Ed Coll said...

Joan Wrote, "and it’s helped me free up my public writing from the constrictive forces of mainstream journalism that shaped it."

I have this perspective - you can make money by reporting what other people pay you to report, or speak freely for yourself. Now the printing press, worldwide publishing, and home delivery are affordable and no longer a barrier to access for people of modest means and something to say.

Your energy and time is the cost of exercising your freedom and right to become an actor in transforming the world.

Ian tried adverts for awhile but discontinued it. If you want people who value your efforts enough to support you consider accepting donations. Wikipedia does this successfully as well as free/libre software developers.
I contribute to both Wikipedia and free software. There are several technological methods and models through which this can be done.

"I figure the educational aspects alone are worth plenty, and would cost a good bit if one could even find such curriculum at a university,"

You figure correctly. Academia top to bottom is facing an emerging crisis that newspapers are currently not surviving. When information is like air we all can breath a little easier about abuse of power. Mahalo for being a authentic human being (and a good citizen).

Sandhya said...

I read your blog in the morning along with a cup of tea, enjoying the images of the sunrise and hearing about Koko before launching into the day's offerings. Best of all your blog can be read from anywhere my laptop travels. Thanks for writing.

Dawson said...

"Mahalo for being a authentic human being (and a good citizen)."

I couldn't say it any better.

Kathy Stanley said...

Joan, I have been a regular reader of your blog since I contacted you over a year ago regarding some research I did on the HSF. Since then, I've been hooked. You have been one of my blogging inspirations. Mahalo to you for bringing the exquisite Kauai landscape alive with such artful segues into the issues of the day.

Joan Conrow said...

Mahalo. I really appreciate all the kind words.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the editors also make sure your facts were correct. A fact checker as well as the spell check would be a handy tool.
And that you didn't stray into a rant rather then a report.