What Speaks to Me

What Speaks to MeIn analyzing “How I Got Here,” and where my mission of self-reflection, personal development, writing and sharing is taking me, I dredged the Internet for bloggers of like mind and similar practice. I wanted to make comparisons and definitions of success, as well as find blogs I actually care to read.

In all honesty, I mainly searched through WordPress blogs. On search engines like icerocket.com, I get lost. On sites like Tumblr, I get overwhelmed. When choosing which blog platform to publish Attention Anonymous, I researched several and spoke with fellow bloggers and writers and found WordPress to be the most user-friendly and manageable.

Now that you know even more about me—I shamelessly admit my need for control and knowingly make decisions based on my personal comfort—let me share some of the blogs speaking to me.

One of the first blogs I stumbled across on WordPress when leafing through Freshly Pressed one day (no doubt to distract myself from actually writing or posting for my own blog) was Must Be This Tall to Ride. I have no idea how the blogger, who self identifies as single, divorced, a father, and bad decision maker, and refers to his blog as his journal, has time to be so prolific. Matt has posted three times in the last week, compared to my zero. He also gets lots of comments, and replies to almost all of them. I judgingly determine he must benefit from being a single dad in a way only a once-single mom can understand—he doesn’t have his kid all the time.

He shares a lot about his son, writing about being a parent without writing a parenting blog. His intuitive reflection on his life appealed to me. A recent post I really enjoyed is “The Truth About Lying.” I distinctly remember the first time my son lied to me on purpose, and I was not nearly as gentle and understanding as Matt. I took it personally and punished him not for the act (he lied about wetting his pants) but for the lie. Matt hugged his son and related to a story from his own childhood and to an understanding of why we lie.

 “Because self-preservation is one of our greatest instincts.

Because no kid wants to get caught doing things they’re not supposed to, or more specifically, punished for the behavior.

Because we don’t appreciate the freedom of honesty when we’re too young and innocent to know how poisonous dishonesty really is.”

I write a lot about parenting, but do not want to have a parenting blog. I also write a lot about healthy living and decision making, but do not want to have a self-help blog. More recently when searching for blogs focusing on mental health and personal reflection, I discovered A Mind Divided. In a recent post, “Saying Yes,” the bipolar author Sandy Wyatt Sue takes a new trek in her adventure of recovery:

“This is new territory for me, this saying “yes” business.  It’s different than galloping after compulsions or riding a manic wave.  Saying “yes” comes from a loving place, a place of plenty and safety.  When the depression was darkest last week, it meant holding myself and saying, ‘Yes, this is part of me, too.  I’m not broken or wrong.  I am simply this, too.'”

The literary vividness, as well as the open honesty of how the author addresses her own mental illness and daily struggles with how best to live, drew me to the blog. I hope to do the same in my own writing. To not only share beautiful stories but to mean something to myself and the reader. To walk away into a better world of my own making.

I also sought out blogs with long histories and an established style and well-defined sense of purpose, which I also desire for myself. Having decided a successful blog is not about theme—what the blogger writes about—but about purpose and voice—what the blogger expresses and evokes—I was delighted to find Butterfly Mind. A flowing memoir-esque blog reminiscent of its author’s self-professed tendency to “flit,” I felt particularly drawn to the blog as its author recently moved to Virginia and her content is relatable and relevant to my life.

In a post she lists in “Best of Butterfly Mind” as top memoir post, Andrea Badgley re-posts a piece “A Small Thing My Dad Never Knew” from years before, and the simple beauty of it is profound:

“Throughout our hundreds of hours on the rivers, the clank of my dad’s ring on that steering wheel was as much a part of the weekend soundscape as the buzz of the motor, and it always, always made me feel safe, and secure, and loved.”

I feel I can learn from her writing style, as well as be intrigued by her life and how she shares it with the world.

Another reason I seek out blogs—in addition to finding like-minded people, challenging my personal preconceptions, and pursuing inspiration—is for writing and life advice. As someone who has long found identity as a writer, and is now trying to make sense of the blogging world, I struggle with creating a writing habit outside of weekly or bi-weekly posts.

On her blog Writing Through the Fog, Cheri Lucas Rowlands simultaneously muses on writing and blogging (without giving unsolicited advice or advertisements for writing clinics). In the post “A Memoir is Not a Status Update“, she succinctly identifies why being authentic and being current as a writer on the Internet is challenging if not impossible.

“The readers that are just a Publish button away. And the endless opportunities for release. All of this at a memoirist’s fingertips, even if she is not ready. Even if she tries to be alone.”

In The New Yorker article referenced in the blog post, Dani Shapiro muses if writing memoir is possible in a world of constant communication, oftentimes with acquaintances (at best) and strangers. He suggests status updates and social media starve a memoirist of the self-reflective time necessary to create the simmer that ultimately boils over into a story.

“Literary memoir is born of this explosion. It is born of the powerful need to craft a story out of the chaos of one’s own history. One of literary memoir’s greatest satisfactions—both for writer and reader—is the slow, deliberate making of a story, of making sense, out of randomness and pain.”

As I continue to work on developing a writing habit and research blogs worth reading, I will also continue to define what I want from my work.

Send reading suggestions and unsolicited blogging/writing advice to ruth3of5@gmail.com.

 

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  1. […] with literary emphasis. This is part of my effort to take my blog to the next level. Read “What Speaks to Me” to see what I’ve found so […]



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