Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thoughts on Blogs and Blogging

I've been blogging for just over four years now. I can't believe it's been that long! For those of you who started with me in Shimelle's class (and you know who you are), can you believe it either? For most of those four years, I've blogged daily about "my art, with a little life thrown in."  I love looking back over my posts - the photography, the craftiness, the stories (Does anyone else reread your own blog posts with fondness? I do it all the time!).  I have also met a group of amazing, supportive people on line and in real life. I laughed with Deb and Carrie when we found a unicycle at the beach; shared brunch with Karen; enjoyed London with Jacky; and toured Belfast with Sian and her amazing family. Alison and Craig saved us in Barcelona when we were stranded without lodging. Everyone pulled together to support me last year when Paul became sick; then pitched in to help Clara and I run a half-marathon and raise $7,000 to fight leukemia and lymphoma. Yes, I love blogging and all it brings to my life.
So I'm not sure why I've felt so meh about blogging lately. A bit in the weeds, if you will.  I know part of it is that I've felt physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted lately. I took on way too many projects at work this year, and there's stressful transitions going on there as well.  Clara's school, sports and other activities are in full-swing; Henry still requires tending, even though he is away at University.
Part of it is that I just haven't had time (or made time?) to create much. My craft desk is a disaster - piled with papers from my December Daily project, photographs back from the printer and shoes (placed there so Aria dog won't chew them when I'm gone). I have iphone photos and DSLR photos to blog about, but sometimes wonder if that's enough. Is my blog interesting enough if it's just about my life and my photos?
Probably. I think what makes my best posts (my favorite posts) really turn on the writing as much as the images. But for some reason I still need convincing of that. I need to remember that I blog, first and foremost, for me. And when a blog post makes me happy and satisfied, it will also likely be one that connects with my readers. 
Finally, I feel guilt every time I open feedly (my blog reader). Right now I have 725 unread posts there - 725! And that's down from 942 yesterday. I've always been a compulsive blog reader and commenter. I have always read everything in my reader and commented on most posts. I feel like there's a social contract of read-and-engage, a back-and-forth in the blogosphere.  It's part of what I love about blogging. But right now it's a stumbling block for me. How can I expect anyone to read and comment on my blog if I don't have time to read and comment on their blog? So I feel like I should read blogs before I post to my blog, but then I open my reader and get overwhelmed! I fell behind after the Scavenger Hunt (which corresponded with moving Henry up to University), and I have never been able to dig myself back out. . . .
So, those are my recent thoughts on blogs and blogging. And a bit of an explanation for my absence. I am not willing to give up on blogging. I love it and the community too much. I think I just need to find balance. Any suggestions welcome!


Amy said...

Rinda, I was one of the original bloggers from Shimelle's first class and I think one of the biggest things I took from that period of time was the concept of taking the time to comment and engage - previously I was only a lurker. Anyway, I now feel a deep sense of reciprocity, especially with a core group of women I went through that class with ... I almost feel as though I have grown up (in the blogging sense)with these wonderfully supportive people. In turn, when time is tight or the mojo is low, it those blogs I feel I want and need to support over and above any others.

I wonder if 4 years blogging is the same as the 7 year itch? I relate, quite strongly, to a lot of what you have written today and some of what Deb wrote about this week concerning writing for a particular audience.

After a pretty 'meh' period I am feeling slightly more rejuvenated and certainly a lot more motivated. What I do know is that I want to continue blogging and I am grateful to have met so many wonderful people throughout the world because of my blog. Unfortunately I don't have an answer of how to deal with 700+ in Feedly ... I'd probably mark all as read and start over!

BJ said...

Love your prickly close-up photo. When you say you have been "out of pocket" this month do you mean things have been tight financially or did you mean "out of kilter" or "out of sorts".
Just looked up "out of pocket" and it would seem a pond divide in its meaning - LOL

Jane said...

i have been feeling just the same, this year has been a hard one for us and when I feel down I don't blog. I feel my life is boring and anything I do not worth sharing. I think it's time to get the joy back in our blogging I've just got to find out how to do that!!

scrappyjacky said...

Rinda....if you're feeling overwhelmed by so many...just follow Amy's advice...delete them and start over....everyone who reads your blog will understand....that's what blog friends are for!!
Like Amy....there's a few blogs I always want to try and read and comment times of ultra-busyness and stress....the others fall by the wayside a bit....and I'm sure that's ok.
I always enjoy your blog....just as much when it's your life and write so well....something I can't do and therefore don't attempt to....and love the variety of things that you blog about.

Sian said...

I totally understand what you are saying about the "social contract" - I think that's an excellent way of putting it. I have always been a commenter and daily reader too because I have also felt that I can't expect anyone to visit me if I'm not going to spend time visiting blogs too. But there are only so many hours in the day and I can't spend every spare moment catching up, so I'm getting more relaxed. I read what I can, when I can - don't feel bad if you mark everything as read. You lead such a busy life and life is what it's all about.

helena said...

I agree with Amy. I sense a widespread meh feeling this year amongst the lriginal shimelle crowd and have wondered if it is a 7 year itch thing. If i had that many blogs in my reader i would mark all as read and start fresh, we all understand what its like. I always enjoy your posts and am glad to see you back amongst us

Cheri said...

I was going to come here and leave some sage advice, but everyone else has already said it. I would agree - mark all as read and just start from today, moving forward. As you have time, do a catch up with those you feel most connected to - that will allow you to fulfill that social contract. Let the rest go. Sometimes life just gets in the way and we all get that.

Deb @ PaperTurtle said...

Oh my sweet, Rinda. I could have written this exact same blog post! And from reading the comments that have been left so far, I see that we are not alone.

I smiled when I read that you enjoy going back and reading your previous blog posts. I do that all the time, and I love reminiscing about memories I've documented on my blog, and also seeing how my writing style has developed and my photography has improved. I also love when I hit on an old post that includes a comment from my mom! ♥

I have been struggling with keeping up on commenting on other blogs, and one thing I've had to let go of lately is participating in the monthly memes hosted by some of our common blog friends. I know that I won't have the time to visit/comment on all of the other participants that are linked up, and I certainly would feel even more guilty and obligated if they came and visited/commented on mine.

I wonder (a lot lately) what this is all for - who really cares about my simple life and photos of my garden and dog over and over and over? Who really cares what I did over the weekend? And do I really want the world to know what I did over the weekend? ;o) I wonder how it would be if I ever decided to give up blogging - what freeing up that space in my brain would allow for? I find myself constantly thinking in terms of writing a blog post, and quite frankly, it's kind of annoying sometimes.

Blogging has changed so much for me in the course of the past five years. Don't get me wrong, I do love it dearly, and I super love the friendships I've made through blogging. I think what is under my skin at the moment is the feeling of obligation toward blogging - to publish posts and to fully participate in commenting on others. With all of the other life obligations, you do start to think about what can be pushed aside.

Maybe we all need to reach an understanding that we are not obligated to comment on every single post - that an occasional "I loved this post!" and just checking in from time to time is more than enough. I do love your blog, Rinda, and I love the variety of art / photography / family that you write about here. I'm always happy to see a new post from you in my reader, but I'd totally understand if you were only able to post once in a while. I think I need to give myself permission to do the same.

And all those unread blogs? I vote that you mark them all as read and start over. :o) xo

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

I've been blogging for 7 years and my enthusiasm for it and the time I have for it has come and gone over the years. Sometimes I find it useful to sit down and reconsider what I am blogging about & why. Sometimes I find it helpful to make up a calendar of post ideas. Sometimes I find it helpful to walk away for a while.
And sometimes you just need to 'mark all as read' and begin again.

Annie Claxton said...

Hey Rinda, good to see yo uback in circulation and please don't feel bad about being absent for a bit - it's meant to be fun and inspiring and supportive, not another pressure! Sometimes life just gets in the way and I just know everyone will understand - just pop by when you can and don't beat yourself up about it.
I agree with the others - mark them all as read and give yourself a break :o)
Mind you, I'm just the same - tend to take on too much and then feel bad cos I can't do it all, then decide my blog is full of drivel and all my projects are rubbish!!!
That's when I turn to other blogs for inspiration - and you're one of them, so please don't stop, just go easy on yourself :o)xxx

Barbara said...

Rinda - I have been feeling the same way and neglecting my blog, I find it hard to find the time lately to devote to posting. I have made an effort this week to get going again as I do enjoy reading comments and visiting other blogs. I find your blog inspiring, I enjoy seeing your projects and reading about your family. Life does get busy at times and some things have to take a back seat even things that are enjoyable. My reader also has many unread posts but I cannot read them all and neither can you. Take the advise from the others and mark as read and start again.
Just keep going when you can. Take care, Barbara xx

Melissa said...

My first suggestion is to clear the blog reader & start over - post that you've done that so that if any of us have a really special post we don't want you to miss, we can let you know. Otherwise, move forward without any guilt or pressure.

I've felt the same way a couple of times this year due to some major illness, however I've been able to jump back in & truly appreciate the blogging community and the many friends I have around the world because of it! I think most of us blog for the fun of it, to connect with other crafters, and to share our crafts & lives.

Anne said...

Hello Rinda, thank you for your nice comments. I had noticed you hadn't written much lately and I was missing it too. I have been so busy, it's awful how life can get in the way. Glad that I (well Bubbles) made you laugh. I don't comment regularly, but I like reading your blog too, so please keep on writing !!! xxx

Irene said...

Hi cuz, from what I've read in your comments looks like your blog friends will support you in whatever you decide to do. Don't feel guilty about not reading or not commenting. We support and love you!

joy said...

I felt the same as you, must read and comment if I expect others to do the same for me, but sometimes there is just far too much to read and comment on, so now I'm quite choosy, I still view everything that appears in my blog feed, but I dont always read the whole post (but sometimes do, as in this case) if it resonates with me. I try to read at least some portion of each of the blogs I follow, and I also comment on different ones now and again, just so they know I'm still reading. It is hard, but I think we all feel the same, if time were unlimited then yes, we would read and comment on everything, but it isn't so we cant, real life gets in the way. My mojo is slowly returning after a very busy autumn period, hope yours will too. Joy x x

Missus Wookie said...

Hope that you have hit 'mark all as read' in Feedly and moved on. I have Feedly all in folders and there are several (mostly inspiration - house, cooking, gardening, science, etc) that I mark as read often. Then other friends are split up too... Sometimes it is easier to just mark one folder as read knowing I can get back to 'em at another point.

I'm not blogging as much - well as many indepth posts as I used to. I had to realise that at the moment there is just too much else on. But I blog for me, for family memory capture and view it a bit like my own Project Life ;)

Glad you've spoken out - it has caused a lovely bit of conversation!

Ladkyis said...

Mark as read and move on. There is no obligation in blogland. If I remember the class Shimelle led then she said that it must be fun and there is no obligation.

I have no shame when I say that when I came home from hospital I looked at the list of blogs to be read and decided to mark them as read simply because the stress I would feel if I tried to read them all would just stop me even trying.
Do as much as you feel like doing, live your life to the full and when there's something you NEED to write about then we'll read it. Hugs and soothing thoughts coming your way

Karen said...

I'm a blogger from Shimelle's class as well although I was already blogging---mostly on my own at that point. Unlike you, I cannot comment on all the design blogs I read. If I did, none of my volunteer commitments or other time-consuming commitments would get done. I've kept my circle of blogging friends relatively small compared to many of you, but that's the way it needs to work for me. I adore that circle of friends, and the community it has created. I think each of us has to work out how blogging works best for them.

Earlier this year there were some blogging about scheduling posts, and doing similar posts on given days. For a brief time, I felt guilty that mine are pretty random. One goes up when I have something to share, and it might be several days or a week before something else goes up. But that works for me, so I decided not to stress about it!

We're so glad to see you back, but you should feel free to take a break whenever you need one.

Anonymous said...

give yourself permission to mass delete and move on :)


Carola Bartz said...

Oh Rinda, how do you know my thoughts so well? I could have written this post! I don't know what it is with this year, but I probably was the least enthusiastic about my blog in 2013. Odd.
Ha, yes, I also read older posts of mine, I actually enjoy it. And I found that those I wrote with my heart received the most comments - because I was completely honest here, and that is felt by my readers. However, I don't always feel this honesty or think I don't have anything really interesting to say and am just an old bore.
Amy said it so well, I think. Just move on from here, and most of all, don't feel guilty. Writing your blog in the first place is for YOU.
As you said on my blog - what a coincidence that we both photographed thistles and put them on our blogs...

Miriam said...

Hi Rinda, I am sure/hope, by now you will have 'marked all as read'
I love to read your blog, I love your art, it inspires me, your dogs, they make me laugh, your family, growing and moving on and you, your thoughts and strength all keep you in my reader (& my heart) I think blogging is a bit of a one sided arrangement. By that I mean that there is no back and forth like a conversation. Although we blog for ourselves, it's those comments which equal readers that keeps us blogging and then when we can’t blog or comment the guilt seeps in. I don't like to post and not read and comment either. I like this thought,
"People say true friends must always hold hands, but true friends don't need to hold hands because they know the other hand will always be there." It is helping me blog for me, knowing 'you' will come by when you can.

Beverly said...

I just took about a month break from posting and reading and I knew the only way I could re enter fresh and excited was to just put it out there to my blog readers...I cannot play catch up, if something important has happened in your life please email me and let me know because I really do want to know. It has made re-entry much sweeter.

Unknown said...

Is it really 4 years! I too have not been blogging as much recently, due to health issues, but also a bit of a what should I be blogging about phase.

Anonymous said...

Oh Rinda, it seems you've been reading my mind - you've put into words what I've been thinking about my lack of posting lately. I find it funny that so many of us from Shimelle's first blogging class seem to be going through this right now - is it an Oct/Nov thing or 4 year itch or what. I hope you've marked all those posts as read and are going on from that date.