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December 17, 2006


I don't think a sentence written for a purpose -- to someone (as I find I must write), on a blog, in a journal, even as a draft to work out an idea that's never published -- is ever wasted. You write wonderfully when you are blogging to make a point, but of course I'm something of a leech if I'm sitting here cheering you on when you might be doing something you need more.

I'm enjoying this fascinating series and the conversation, Beth. Your writing is always thoughtful and well-written and I follow it keenly. I never feel it gets boring or repetitive, even about "place".

Not being a writer myself, the blogging medium has been a challenge and a good exercise for me. It truly is like a sketchbook!! It's rewarded me with some wonderful online friends like you. The negative, as you speculate, is that it takes time away from one's serious work - in my case, my art work, just a little. Yet I feel that the positive aspects have contributed so much more than the negative. Like many artists and writers, I'm a loner, and blogging satisfies some of the needs for finding kindred spirits. There's always a give and take in balancing what's important in our lives, and somehow those "tiles" have a way of falling into place and even shifting again and again to fill our needs. And I think that this satisfying one's soul can only be a positive influence on one's creativity as well, like giving food to one's inner fire.

I like what Peter says (above) about a sentence that is written for a purpose is never wasted. The question with blogging, however, is usually one of purpose.

Beth, a lot of the ground you cover in this series rings familiar to me. I've been blogging for six years, and it is not uncommon for me to go through phases where I wonder what it's for, or why I bother to do it, or why I should continue. (Reality check -- when I am NOT thinking like that, it's a phase...) So far, I've just continue because it just seems natural to me -- even if it requires effort.

In my case, however, I have not published a book in the meantime. When I started blogging, one of my goals was to use the medium to hone my writing skills in anticipation of perhaps one day tackling a book project. That hasn't happened yet, and I don't know if it ever will. The kind of focus that you describe as being necessary for an "offline" project -- I don't know if I have that ability! That is one of the downsides to blogging -- it is easy to attune yourself to the "draft is good enough" mentality.

Someone mentioned in a comment on one of the previous posts that you could put that kind of focus into your blog. I suppose you could, but I also understand why you might be reluctant to do so. As rewarding as it is to see your words quickly published, and to read the comments, I think it is hard to muster the ambition to agonize for days over every blog post.

I have no idea where this comment is going, other than to say I've enjoyed reading this series, and it has stirred up a few bubbles in my own writerly soup.

Thanks, Marja-Leena. I agree with you - that's definitely where I come down about all this - that the interaction feeds my creative life in general, and the companionship definitely outweighs the negative aspects.

Now I see that the process of writing creates a person, and that this is more valuable than a growing pile of manuscripts or even published works – but that is a spiritual topic best explored some other time.

Yes, oh, yes.

The same might be said, I think, of the process of prayer -- though I am invariably more lax at both of these critical tasks than I might wish myself to be. Deep-down I understand these truths -- that the process of doing these things is what shapes me into who I am and who I want to become -- but some part of me, ego maybe, is a magpie attracted to things that are quick and shiny instead.

Well, yes, Rachel, but -- you do this and so do I -- if you hold on to what's quick and shiny and look at it long enough and thoughtfully enough, it can be a door, like any other door, and moreover one that will open to other people who like the same quick and shiny things. I don't think our job is to turn aside from what's quick and shiny. On the contrary, it's to keep our gaze on it until it's not so satisfying, not so complete. As my teacher (among many) is wont to say, when you're meditating nothing can arise in your mind that's not part of the practice.

Great series, Beth. I think it deserves its own category, at least, so we can find it in the future.

I'm too tired right now to manage much of a response, but I'm thinking that I did sort of the opposite thing from you: I researched and wrote a book (Cibola) the year before I started blogging. That was fun. I'd like to do it again sometime -- but I would definitely have to put most of my current blogging projects on hold in order to do so. Reminds me of keeping livestock. As soon as you get a few goats and chickens, it becomes really hard to go off traveling for six months.

Blork, thanks for that long thoughtful comment. Yeah, I don't have any answers either, and it's strangely comforting to know that someone who has been blogging as long as you have also struggles with this stuff!!

Rachel, Dale - thanks for picking up on what I thought was the most important part of the whole argument. There's much more to say about that - maybe we can talk about it more in another post.

Thanks, Dave. One of these days I will revamp my blog to include pages and will collect some of the "series" into links on the sidebar - that's actually more for the discontinuous ones like the writings about my father-in-law. But thanks for the compliment - I'm not sure I'm done with this subject yet either!

Beth, I've read your musings on blogging with great interest. I too have found blogging to be an absorbing pastime: "to publish my own musings and receive anything back, let alone these riches, was beyond my wildest dreams". The most amazing thing to me is that, as a professional writer who has written two books and countless treatises on medical/scientific topics, I have chosen photographs as the medium for expression rather than words. I believe I am instinctively trying to find a medium that is not so rigidly structured as medical writing.

I do understand that I am creating a little chronicle for myself of experiences that have somehow provided a flash of insight for me into the nature of being. Sounds strange but it's true. Usually I can't find the words to express what I've felt, so I just post the photo.

But the nature of blogging itself - the regularity of the structure, the interaction of the responses, the thought given to thematic content, the immediacy of reading others' real-time experiences - this is quite rewarding. Comforting, even.

And there is always for me the interesting question of: how will I ultimately organize all this? And is it even important whether I do or not?

I've enjoyed reading this series of posts. I think blogging is a really useful way to focus. My blog has really helped me to focus on my crafts and writing on environmental themes. Wanting to keep my blog going has helped me to write more and make more crafts and there is a focus for readers too though of course readers can see it as they want. As other comments here have said, blogging offers solitary writers and artists an easy way to find a community of like minded people.

Blogging reminds me of being young, when I felt like I had all the time in the world and could therefore pursue every path in the forest, picking up every shiny object that attracted my attention.

Well, *that* sentence rung in my chest like a gong.

Hi! What to say? I felt that I am meeting up with a soulmate when I read your series on writing. I have been blogging for only six months, but have been writing a life time. At 40 I have wondered where I am, what am I doing with my passion for writing -- there are several stories that I have written and put away, created books for my son, written stories for him when he was a child, written poems and am nurturing a tale for the big novel that I am meaning to write one day. True enough, blogging has given me a beautiful forum to write and publish, it has given me a purpose, I start writing in my mind lond before typing in, keep wondering what I am going to write next on and find that everything, even the smallest of things can find a voice in my blog. Above all it feels good to read blogs that I am fond of, it is like dropping in for tea at a friend's. Your blog for sure makes me feel thus.

this is so brilliantly put, beth, and is exactly the dilemma I am facing. One thing I am trying to do now is to find a time every day for my fountain pen, paper and I; to make notes or sketches that may or may not end up in a book, and if something that comes from what I write there can become a blog post, I try and distill it. In other words, I am going to try and use my blog as a place to improvise and practice, just like I would do on the cello - a scale and a bit of free flow to warm up!

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.