As I was loading the dishwasher, it dawned on me how blogging is like swimming. People either know how to do it or they don’t. There are poor swimmers, good swimmers and everything in between. The same can be said for bloggers. Everyone and their brother (& sister, cousin, aunt, BFF, babysitter, mother, etc.) seems to have started a blog by now. For many years I was pretty much against the whole idea. At that time I’d only read 2 blogs and both bored me to tears. To put everyone’s mind at ease, these belonged to a relative and an acquaintance I met in 1997. These people wrote enough to pique my interest but divulged nothing that made me feel they knew how to write.
I’ve always thought everyone’s life is interesting, to one degree or another. You just have to know how to relay the tidbits in a compelling manner. I love reading memoirs and can enjoy reading about anyone’s experiences. It doesn’t matter if they mirror mine or are vastly different. I just think people are interesting. And STRANGE.
The progression towards blogging was very gradual. No one in the history of blogging has agonized as much as I have on whether or not to start a blog. Weighing the pros and cons left me torn. First I began delving into social media. I have fought with every fiber of my being against anyone who’s tried to talk me into joining Facebook. I have looked around on the site using a friend’s User ID and know I want no part of it. My own personal nightmare is having the people I went to high school with coming out of the woodwork and looking me up. My 30th high school reunion takes place in August 2010 on the weekend of my birthday. I can only think of 10 million things I’d rather do than meet up with the people I never liked anyway and hear them brag about their lives.
April of 2009 I joined the Twitter craze. I was open to it right away and loved it even more than I thought possible. I feel like I’m a Twitter cheerleader, I love it so much. My techniques in persuasion seem to be lacking because the majority of people I’ve tried to convince to get on it have refused. Twitter is just adorable–full of funny, smart, clever, incredible people I can read about, interact with but not look at or touch. It has filled a gap in my life I didn’t know I had. I want to adopt Twitter as my long lost relative and BFF rolled into one.
As soon as I got on Twitter, I realized what I’d been missing. It always amazes me that a person can go through a portion of their life (or all of their life) not knowing that something exists. I really was pretty clueless about the whole community of mommy-bloggers. I had never heard of BlogHer or even knew what it was. From tweeting, I found more and more blogs with ingenius names by mesmerizing personalities/characters. I don’t read every blog all the time, I try to check in with a lot of them as time permits. If I ever write something similar to what someone else has blogged about, dollars to donuts I’ve never even seen the other entry. One of the things I pride myself on is being original.
Anyway, after identifying a world of bloggers who were too cool for school, I knew immediately I wanted to be a part of it. As with swimming, you either jump in head first, do a cannonball or tip toe in gingerly from the shallow end. Being the tentative/cautious type, I don’t dive in swimming. Wading in from the shallow end is more my style. Usually after taking time to decide if I even want to enter the water at all. The same goes for blogging. I picked and registered my url in October 2009 and have pondered ever since if I should really do it. One step closer was me signing up with WordPress since I can’t figure out how to post my blog directly from my website. Even after all those steps, I wasn’t ready to get the ball rolling with my first post.
I am a private person but am also willing to share with friends what’s going on with me or things I’ve gone through. I have opinions but as a rule I don’t share them. I feel like everyone has something to say on any given subject, what makes mine more important than others, or even AS important? I don’t want to give an opinion if it is going to cause someone else to feel like they have to defend theirs. I don’t argue about politics or religion and dislike being around those who do. I was raised watching my father and brother heatedly argue both every time they were together. They were very close and to them it was a joy to verbally spar. As an innocent bystander (child), it just made me anxious.
I have come up with every excuse in the book NOT to start a blog. None of them really hold water. Prior to writing this, I wondered if I did start one, would I be able to continue it. I am not disciplined at all and know I couldn’t handle blogging daily. For some, blogging comes as naturally as taking a breath. I guess the only thing I can do it is to go back to the swimming analogy. I won’t know if I like it until I get wet.
I took swimming lessons at the YMCA when I was growing up. I hated them. I didn’t even pass the beginners class because I couldn’t open my eyes under water. I can swim the basics of dog paddle, sidestroke, backstroke, etc. The 2nd summer I went for swimming lessons, they made us swim across the pool and see how we did and then decide which group to put us in. They screwed up and sent me to the most advanced class. I knew it was wrong but being shy, I figured they knew what they were doing. The caliber of the other swimmers was about lifeguard level. The first thing they had us do was tread water in the deepest water (over our heads) without holding the sides of the pool. I was doing it but felt like I might go under at any minute. After about 5 minutes, one of the instructors came over and told me to go to the beginners’ group. I was relieved but also embarrassed like somehow I should have been good enough to be in that group and it was my failure that I wasn’t.
With blogging, I am going to ease my way into it and hope for the best. I don’t want to get overwhelmed right away. If I do, I am pretty confident I can find at least one lifeguard among the other bloggers to give me guidance or rescue me.
You can take lessons to learn to swim but are there lessons to learn how to blog? Probably. I am not one for organized classes though and have never liked being corralled in a group with others. I get too self conscious.
What am I hoping to get out of blogging? I am a wordy writer and hope to eventually learn how to cull the excess from my writing. If I could gain some self confidence, I would be thrilled. To really become part of the blogging community and go to Blogher 11 is my ideal goal. To fit in at said conference would be a bonus.
A person who can’t swim can only wade in the water, jumping around to look like they are swimming. Usually the non-swimmers confine themselves to the sidelines where they either completely ignore all water activity or they sit in judgement of those swimming. They entertain themselves by being critical of everything from the person’s body to their selected swimwear. The same could be said for bloggers. There are those who only read blogs with no intention of ever starting their own. Some blog for themselves, letting others enjoy the fruit of their efforts but don’t pay attention or care if others are blogging. The most active bloggers are constantly reacting to what others post, giving support or criticism of the rest of the blogosphere as they see fit.
In swimming, you swim for pleasure or as a competitive sport. I often think that bloggers approach their medium in much the same manner. Some blog for pure enjoyment, sharing the important events in their lives. The more competitive bloggers come up with things like blogging every day, or blogging about a specific topic and linking it to others. The bridge between the 2 types feels like a wide chasm but that doesn’t mean there is a wrong way to blog. I’m not sure which direction this blog will go but I hope you’ll be along for the journey. Please be kind since I’m a newbie at this. All comments and helpful suggestions are welcome.