Saturday, August 29, 2009

Julie & Julia (& Carol)

I woke up at 10:00 this morning (because I stayed up till 3 AM watching The Pianist and then of course I couldn’t sleep), threw on some clothes, and took myself on a uni-date to go see the 10:30 showing of a far more uplifting move, Julie and Julia – which was wonderful and delightful and which, truth be told, made me pathetically jealous.

It’s not that I expect to be a Julie… or a Pioneer Woman (who started her blog the same month I started mine) or a Dooce, or a Smitten Kitchen – though I love all of them. It’s that I want to be good enough, interesting enough, engaging enough to have (oh god, I’m just about to mutter the word)…

…a Following.

The truth is that as soon as I began this all-consuming job as a Project Manager with Microsoft, I’ve had a horrible case of writer’s block and I’ve been suffering (and I do mean suffering) from an 18-month bout of writer’s block.

That’s actually not true.

If I were truly honest with myself I’d realize that an 18-month bout of writer’s block is not a block at all; it’s really more of a simple inability to write good stuff. The thing is that even if I’ve never been really good at writing, I was at one time good at stringing a whole bunch of words together to express my thoughts or tell a story-- probably because I assumed I had no readers and therefore the only person I had an obligation to please was myself.

So I just wrote. I strung words together daily because I love stringing words together. I hardly gave readership a thought and the whole notion of a Following didn’t even occur to me. I just plain wrote.

How ironic is that? As a blogger, I want a Following (with a capital F, please), but the reason I can’t write lately is because I’m paralyzed at the thought that I might have a Following. I sometimes stop typing mid-sentence (delete-delete-delete), wondering what my boss or my clients or my crush from 6th grade might think if I say that

And then I end up not saying much of anything.

Instead, I post photos – lots and lots of photos. You know why? Because I don’t need to dig deep for a photo. I don’t feel the pressure to create craft a photo like I feel the pressure to create and craft a paragraph. A photo just is. I see something, I capture it, and I express it – kind of how I used to write.

Maybe the problem is that my blog has no theme. I’m not cooking something new every night. I’m not a city girl turned rancher. I’m not a ballsy ex-Mormon. I’m simply – oh wait, let me copy this from my blog banner – a mom to four feisty and fascinating young adults, an avowed and loyal Seattleite, and (sniff… sob) an EX-producer and program manager of media for youth, who currently works for The Man doing stuff that, in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t really matter.

(There – I wrote something that I normally wouldn’t write!)

I really don’t care about analytics and statistics. Honestly, they bore me. And much as I’d love an extra income, I can’t even imagine making money from my blog, and make no effort whatsoever to do so. But I do care about the same thing Julie cared about: I do care that my blog makes the difference to some group of people, somewhere (a Following?!), who care that I write and who would miss Northwest Ladybug if I crawled off into oblivion somewhere. THAT matters hugely to me.

I think the only way I’ll get out of my literary slump is to stop posting photos as an excuse not to write, and to just start to write again, without giving a damn what my co-workers or my boss or my 6th grade crush might think of my post.

(Although I really have to post this photo from a party we went to last night. I just have to… maybe as a last hurrah or a test of my new resolution not to worry so much about what people think. Jonathan, who went to elementary school with Elisabeth and has been a friend of our family since he was a kid, is moving to Chicago next week to start a hoity-toity new job. At last night’s farewell party in his honor, he modeled an… um, interesting apron-with-a-flap-and-a-surprise that his friend made for him. I asked Jon and Tom to pose for a photo and this is the result:


I’m sorry, but this picture just cracks me up!

Don’t like it? Oh well!

Wow… how liberating!)

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Margaret said...

What a funny photo! It's been hard for me to write lately too--many of my blog friends have moved to FB and Twitter and have abandoned blogging. I like knowing that people read and care when I have important things or even silly ones to talk about! It makes me sad because that's where I get to know people,through the stories and venting!! I really enjoy your blog, Carol. I know I don't qualify as a following, but I am a FAN!!

Lilly said...

Yours is one of the five or so blogs I visit regularly. I think your blog is great, photos and all.

I've been following your blog for a long time so I remember that it didn't work out well when you blogged about your last job.
I think you should leave this blog just the way it is and perhaps start up a more anonymous blog where you can write absolutely honestly. In the new blog, leave out anything that would identify you or your family, but write from your heart, or your spleen, whatever you want.

And about the bloggers you mention. I really dislike the big D. I think she's way too mean spirited. Her writing is creative but it's so self-serving and negative. I'm sorry she's been rewarded with such success.

I think P Dub is wonderful. Love her blog. She seems dedicated to seeing the sunny side of things. But I'll bet sometimes that she would like to write things and doesn't because of her audience's expectations.

Anyway that's my 2 cents. Unless you're mean spirited like D, it's only natural to care about people's feelings and you can't be really honest as long as your friends, family, and people you care about read your blog.

Tonya said...

I love your blog! I'm always interested in what you have to say. Always. And I love your pictures. Even this one! (tee hee!)

(I also love Dooce. Oh, if only I could get away with half the things she says, I'd feel so free!)

Goofball said...

Carol, you do have a following! I do notice the same faces next to your comments.

And why try to "write" if it costs you effort? Blogging should be fun and reflect yourself and your life, so if your life is too busy for lengthy posts than so it is. I've never thought any second "oh geez another carol post full of pictures, where's the real stuff?". If you feel like just typing, go ahead and if you don't, don't??

Don't get me wrong....I'm a stats and comments whore. I check my stats constantly, I check if someone might have left me a new comment. I do love the attention. I sometimes postpone posting a new post a few days because the previous one was so good (in my opinion) and I have the feeling nobody has noticed yet (and since readers always seem to restrict themselves to the latest post...a new one intentiously get postponed a bit).

But I don't want to be bound by rules on MY blog. If I happend to have gone to music festivals every weekend, you might get music posts for weeks. If I happen to have read some really good books there might be a temporary concentration of book reports but then again I might go months without them. Sometimes I've been taking so many pictures I can't have enough posts to show them off ....the theme on my blog is "you get whatever is going on in my life at the moment".

I like blogging for the bond it has created with readers and fellow-bloggers. I said I am a comment whore, but I mostly value the comments of readers I know and that come back. I write and wonder if they'll like this post or not. I'm truly disappointed when "they" don't come by. A total one-time reader comming by isn't quite the same. What's the value of 2000 comments when you can hardly have the time to read them and value them?

For that same bond, I love blogs with no theme the most....those that simply post what's going on in their lives because that's what interests me. Getting to know these people...and hopefully they get to know me and care about what is going on in my life.

Half of my blogfeed are Belgian blogs, half of them North-American and I must say there's a clear distinction on them.
the North-American are full of meme's, comment etiquette, themes on specific days, formats to follow ....and also a lot of pondering on why and how to blog as well. The Belgians don't seem to run any pattern or theme. It seems so much more relax to me?

Heather Mundell said...

I've been following your blog ever since we met, 3 (?) or so years ago! It's fun, funny, touching, and always a good read.

I applaud your challenge to yourself to write more and post photos less. Although I do love the photos, I must say.


Rachel said...

I agree with your other commenters. There seem to be two camps to blog visitors - those who read for a "theme" and those who read to get to know you better. I don't think you need to choose one or the other, unless you truly do want to make a business out of it.

There's an article by David Allen (of the "getting things done" fame) that I really like and relates to a common theme in recent posts. "Finding Your Inside Time." It's about more than blogging, but I think relates nicely., go to his product store, it's a free pdf.

And I for one think you have some beautiful and poignant posts (pictures or a thousand words!) Your current job hasn't killed all the creativity in you yet!

azure said...

I also am in Seattle, parent to 4 young adults and I also have a daily blog.

It's really a discipline for me; I started in 2 1/2 years ago and I've posted most every day. Only days missed have really been when on a trip, etc.

I've also wanted a 'following' but don't have one much. Maybe 20 hits a day plus about 15 followers. Who knows how many from google reader.

I haven't been reading much in recent months but am glad to have stumbled on yours.

I most always post a picture and write about it. Some my own pictures or, if I have something on mind, I find a picture and steal it. Lots and lots to choose from.

My question is 'Is a 58 year old woman living just north of Seattle have anything interesting in her life?"

The answer is, of course, yes

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