Behind the Blog

“Persistence isn’t very glamorous. If genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration, then as a culture we tend to lionize the one percent.  We love its flash and dazzle. But great power lies in the other ninety-nine percent.’

“‘It’s not that I’m so smart,’ said Einstein, who was a consummate introvert. ‘It’s that I stay with problems longer.'”

From Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking,” by Susan Cain

Or, if you prefer the short, succinct approach:

“80 percent of success is just showing up”  — Woody Allen

What prompts this post?

Recently I’ve heard from two bloggers suffering from a common complaint: why are they bothering to blog? One laments the absence of inspiration, of anything really meaningful to say, “not like the rest of you”. The other is convinced that no one listens, no one cares, why don’t we fold our tents and silently steal away?

Both seemed to feel that my situation was different, that I had important (or at least interesting) things to say and am confident that there are those who listen.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. I bet there isn’t a blogger around who doesn’t suffer doubts on these two points a) all of b) most of c) a great deal of the time. Those of us who stay with blogging do so out of, oh, I don’t know exactly what. Sheer habit? Stubbornness? To enlarge our world? A keen desire to make contact, like someone stranded on a desert island tossing a bottle with a note in it into the empty sea? The sheer joy of producing words and images? (That’s a positive motive, isn’t it.)

Ogunquit SeaOr maybe it’s simply an intuition that Einstein and Woody Allen are both right, that persistence and perseverance count in life, that just plain showing-up is somehow its own reward. When drowning, go down three times, come back up four —

I’m talking to all of you, yes, but ultimately I’m talking to myself. Making sense of this for myself, at least for today. And what about you? Where are you in your blogging life? How is it for you? Ultimately I’m talking to everyone who writes. Why? How? From out there in virtual space, I’m craving a word —-

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This entry was posted in Doubt, Etcetera, Failure, Personal Essay, Writers and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Behind the Blog

  1. So true! We all find ourselves in at least one of these stages, from time to time. Just last night, I realized for the last month or so, the only thing I’d done in my blog is to post the weekly photo challenge — not a word had been said. That’s corrected now at least.
    I’ve been blogging since 2006 and it’s gotten to be almost like a compulsory disorder *kidding*. The camera/photography didn’t come into play until 2009! To me, it’s basically the social part that appeals the most.. I just read one blogger who said she liked to ‘share her neuroses with people she didn’t know’ LOL

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Funny, Rebekah!
      (Well, funny, your correspondent blogger. You and I being patently extraordinarily well balanced people, with no neuroses to share either with known or unknowns.)
      😉

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  2. I, for one, enjoy reading, looking at the pics and enjoying the lives and pursuits of my fellow bloggers, be the posts simple or complex, every thought and pic brings pleasure to the Tin Man.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      The ideal blogger, Tin Man!
      You love to post and share (that’s obvious to every reader of your blog) and are equally generous with your time and attention to the blogs of others.
      (Because of you, I look at Baltimore, for instance, in a new light. Still trying to figure out exactly where the Emerald City is, though!)

      Like

  3. mybrightlife says:

    My dear friend Leigh, who introduced me to blogging, told me right from the outset, ‘if you want to blog well then blog for youself first – the rest will follow!’ When I am feeling unsure about how something that I would like to post will be received, I remember these words and remind myself why I blog. It helps! But truth be told when I started this activity (which essentially is a broad record of daily life for me) just over a year ago, I had not the faintest idea about the marvellous returns – people, places, spaces, thoughts and ideas of those that I now follow…. a whole new world!

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      You surely named yourself well, though, Gwen, right from the beginning.
      Your bright life — which brightens the life of the rest of us! I could never have imagined learning about your part of South Africa from the inside before I began following you.

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  4. coastalcrone says:

    I like someone’s comment about blogging for yourself. I started my blog to get me writing regularly and to create a commitment to write. It has been fun and I have met amazing people along the way who share my interests and expose me to worlds I would not have known.

    Thank you for this post! I am grateful for all the support and encouragement I have received since I started about a year and a half ago.

    Like

  5. coastalcrone says:

    P.S. I love the photo!

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  6. Gemma says:

    A friend got me interested. I was going to use it for my classroom, but changed my mind. Then I was going to just write about nothing. Sort of like Seinfeld. But then I changed my mind. Then I fell into the world of challenges and discovered a love of photography. I am drawn to all the talent that’s out there in the blogosphere and am grateful for all the sharing of stories and photos. I’ve learned so much – about people, other countries, personalities, photography, and myself. And there’s still so much more to explore. If no one reads my stuff, oh well. I’d rather they did, but whatever. I’m getting too much out of it to change my mind now.

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  7. I blog mostly because I write and always have. Now i get to share that with others and I love the sense of community. I live way out in the country and work from home. Sometimes a week, or two goes by and the only person outside my home that I’ve spoken to IRL is the cashier at the grocery store in the village! So, I blog because I write and I blog as a member of a community of bloggers! And interestingly enough, for an introvert, in slow times, it’s not the posting I miss but the visiting others.

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  8. I don’t consider “blog” to be a verb, as in I’m supposed to be blogging or I didn’t blog today. For me, “blog” is a noun. It’s simply the canvas on which I paint my creative life.

    Did I ever tell you I published a “zine” back when that was the way we creatives put our thoughts and ideas out into the world? Being a “creative” means we MUST create, doesn’t it? Words, artwork, photography. It’s how we participate in the world, how we participate in life. The blogosphere just happens to be the way we do that today.

    It’s an added benefit that the blogosphere is a beautiful community where like-minded folks find their way to each other and support each other’s efforts. Which means, if we can’ show up to BE creative this day, we can show up and BE encouraged and inspired.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Hey, Jen — thanks so much for quite a post. It clarifies a lot of things for me. To name things is to make them more useful. More creative even, if you will. “Blog” as the canvas on which you paint your creative life: yes. Yes. YES.
      And the necessity for some people to create because, well, it’s who and what they are? I experienced that as an uncomfortable itch for far too long before I discovered what it actually was.
      Thank heaven for the blogosphere!

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  9. suitablefish says:

    I don’t have much to “say.” Photos & here and there a splat of poem. Let others do the ‘speaking’, like now–John Cage. Maybe to enlarge my world. You have written a lovely post, something keen, as usual, to think about. Thank you.

    I like that first quote. I think I might like that book.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      I was curious about the book myself.
      Your photos do a great deal of speaking for you, Susan. And in any event, I think the quietude of your presence is a gift to the noisier among us.

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  10. tms says:

    Again, the questions you stir up here are great, Judith. Thanks for offering food for thought.
    Here are some words from virtual space…
    As far as I can remember, blogging, for me, started with a wish to share what I am doing with those friends who are hundreds of miles away. When I first installed my blog, I also had a feeling that it might be treated as an online porfolio and come in handy one day.
    I had not been aware of this whole thing being so interactive. With the first comments coming in, I realized that there was this other side of sharing … receiving feedback, learning what people liked and – more important – what they saw.
    Having to come up with content on a regular basis also helped me clarify my interests, and it is helping me find a language. In the course of this year the mood somehow shifted from “let’s present a portfolio” to “let’s treat this blog as a space for experiments and see what happens”.
    Yes, I am certainly trying to clarify. Permanently. But I wish I will not forget to play either.
    So, as I think you said, there are two sides to meaningful: One is just about us talking to ourselves (in public), and the other one is about readers – or visitors – and the question what difference we make to them.
    As always, I hope my English is not too mixed-up…

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Your English, as always, is incredibly eloquent, Tobias. The content, also as always, provides much food for thought.
      I like your idea that your blog is helping you to find a language — your own personal language, I imagine. That’s an interesting thought, and one I intend to explore inside myself.
      What else I take from your reply as especially important for me is your wishing not to forget to play.
      That is such an important part of blogging! The sheer sense of play, the experimentation not as fearful or goal-focused, but as joyous exploration! For me it’s very easy to forget about playing, to focus on what’s SERIOUS. That’s when I start to get discouraged, or burned-out, or reluctant. When it’s play, the blogs are joy and freedom. So thank you for the vital reminder.

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  11. pauline says:

    I just love coming here to be prodded into thinking.

    When I started blogging it was to fill the void left by closing my weekly column space in the local paper. It has evolved into a participation in the ongoing conversation of the blogosphere. Comments expressing surprise at finding that fellow bloggers are “real” people always make me chuckle. We really show up in our jammies or robes or sweats, clutching our mugs of tea or coffee, ready to be enchanted, inspired, enraged, entranced, excited, educated, and to respond to comments on our own work. Blogging is more than a spectator sport – it requires attention and participation. It’s more inclusive than a book club or a coffee klatch, as informative as a classroom, and definitely more interactive than watching TV. I don’t believe it needs defending. It just needs all of us showing up!

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      BRAVO! (Well, technically, BRAVA.)
      All those e-words to describe us eager beavers at our computers — let’s spell inspired with an “e” and round it out nicely.
      I couldn’t agree with you more, Pauline, although I really hadn’t even reckoned the breadth and depth of participation you describe. So true! It’s our work, and our pleasure, and our growth —
      (But I still miss you in person; this will have to be attended to.)

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  12. karinjansky says:

    Just wrote a comment to this very good post, actually the “longest” I’ve ever written, about blogging. Then had problems with wordpro to publish and then I’ve lost the whole comment, took me nearly one hour to write it would you believe!

    Now, keeping it very short…….
    Being on your side when you verbalized my thoughts and feelings in your reply to “tms” comment above.

    And as I’m far away from being a writer, mildly spoken, especially in English, I tried/try to express myself via pictures and music.
    But…..doubts…..doubts…..doubts…..

    Here something I found recently about writing:
    “The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”
    ― Stephen King, Different Seasons

    However – again – “two souls and one mind”! After I’ve published my today’s post “A musical Sunday” which is partly dedicated to you, I found and read your recent comment on my blog.
    Here we are – we never met in person, divided by the Atlantic, and we’re thinking of each other!
    Very encouraging! There is always at least one person on this earth who feels and thinks the same way as we do, which proves that we’re never alone!

    let’s keep blogging – however – wherever – the whole world can/would be come together!
    very fondly, karin

    Like

    • Touch2Touch says:

      Oh, Karin, I know that awful sinking feeling when wordpress (or in my case usually your blogger or blogspot) loses the comment we’ve thought so hard about and labored so long to express! My heart truly went out to you reading about your misadventure — Now (when I remember) before I press the Submit button, I save the comment just in case.
      The Stephen King quote is absolutely perfect, right on target. That’s just what it feels like, certainly for me — the more important, the more difficult to say. (His book on writing is one of the three best I’ve ever read. I don’t read horror, so I haven’t read his most famous books, but evidently Different Seasons is just that, different from his horror work.)
      What you say about kindred souls is also striking, because so true. It can happen under any circumstance, and is such a gift when it does!
      One of the good things about having grown old is the sure knowledge from long experience that, whatever we think and feel, however strange or unusual or odd — someone else thinks and feels just the same.
      Thank you so much for persevering and sending along your wonderful comment, which cheers not only me, but all the other bloggers who may see this.
      And now I’m going to find “A Musical Sunday” on your blog, La Pouyette — and Things of Life. I recommend that everyone do the same — Karin’s is a beautiful blog devoted to life in the Perigord region of France.

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  13. This is why I love visiting your blog – you always have food for thought 🙂 I blog as an insurance against a really bad memory. I have the memory of a goldfish and since I rush around day to day, it sometimes feel like the days have all gone by in a blur. By using the blog to capture everyday moments, it helps slow things down enough for me to appreciate the little things. But blogging is hard work and I have to agree that it does require a certain degree of dogged persistence.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      That is so interesting! An unusual and very sensible — reason for blogging: to remember. But even more, to slow down and discriminate, so that what is first lived and then remembered is real and valued.
      Yes, hard work, but worth it, eh?

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  14. Thank you so much for your thoughts in this post, Judith, which seem to be just what I particularly needed to hear expressed. And your commenters here have given me so much to think about (as in Tobias’s blogging as space for play and experiment), and smile about (Pauline’s image of us all showing up in our jammies clutching our coffee mugs!), as well as many moments of acute recognition (Karin’s heartfelt comments on doubts, doubts, doubts – the permanent backdrop to my blogging ventures!).
    When I started blogging I imagined that a handful of friends and family members might be interested enough to check in occasionally on the small events of my life. What a surprise to find that instead I was making virtual friends in the form of complete strangers in different corners of the world, and that some of these would come to feel like real friends, and some of these now-real friends I would actually meet!
    So, like other commenters here, I think I persevere, despite the doubts, for the rewards of connecting with kindred spirits as well as the sheer interest and fun of discovering new worlds in other people’s blogs. Just right here in this post I’m sharing space with Karin who is one of those lovely people that I have come to meet in person via blogging, with you whose postings have become a part of my life and a source of connection, and having the pleasure of discovering someone new from my own former country! This is what I remind myself of when I start to bore myself to tears with lack of inspiration. As Pauline and Woody have said, sometimes just showing up is good enough.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Karen, I certainly thank you for showing up with this wonderful summation of the conversation!
      I nod ditto to everyone’s comments, but what I revel most in is exactly this, the conversation. The exchange of thoughts among kindred spirits who don’t technically even “know” each other. But in reality, the kind that counts, we know each other very intimately indeed.
      You are, each and every one of you, very dear to me. Your showing up at my doorstep (well, computer screeen) is a highlight of my day.
      I enjoy my own life, but like everyone’s, it is limited, in a world that’s vast and variegated. Every one of you enlarges my life, lends interest, incident, color, variety, knowledge. What a privilege, made possible by technology.
      And now I have to pull up my socks, flick away the buzzing doubts — they’ll never stop, I can but ignore them — and get back to trying to cobble together a post!
      (P.S. If I have a dream, it is that someday in my kitchen will appear one or many of you, with or without your jammies, and we’ll supply the coffee!)

      Like

  15. Patti Kuche says:

    I think we all have our days and weeks where we question what we do, another name for being “tired and worn out” and coping with the life that exists outside and inside of blogging. But then there comes a point when it all blurs and somehow a rich vein of support comes through to the point where we don’t even notice the pyjamas or whatever.

    My reasons for starting the blog have changed so much since first peeking out into the blogosphere. I grew up in a large family of dominating brothers and by the time I ever did get a word in it was always too late and an anti-climax. I learned to shut up, keep my head down and move away asap but it’s funny the habits you take with you.

    Thanks as ever Judith for space at your “kitchen table” where the company and conversation is always such a wonderful pleasure!

    Like

    • Touch2Touch says:

      Wow, it is hard to imagine you shutting up, keeping your head down and moving away asap —
      The Patti who photographs and writes your blog is an assured woman with great poise and aplomb (not to mention talent) who certainly doesn’t scare easy (in situations where I’d be outta there in a heartbeat). To quote the old Virginia Slims advertisement, you’ve come a long way, baby!
      What could be more interesting than people with their histories and their lives and their possibilities.
      🙂

      Like

  16. I LOVE this!!!!! It is an important reminder.

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