Me on Blogging, and My Childhood, AGAIN

comments: 120

Thankyoupcs2This blog is becoming rather meta-blog, I know. But I read a really poignant post yesterday called "To Blog or Not to Blog" by Autum. She was talking about blogging in a way that I thought was so sincere and interesting, and important to consider, especially at the beginning of this season of joy and fun and, let's be honest, busy-ness and potential stress. Blogging can be lots of things. Most bloggers will say that they enjoy the sense of community; the inspiration; the ability to share and be shared with; the nice, neat feelings of being organized somewhere, at least; the profoundly moving experience of being listened to. But almost everyone that I've ever talked to about blogging feels, at some point, something else, something . . . not as wonderful.

I obviously don't know what those un-wonderful things are for everyone — I think they probably vary more for each individual than the positive aspects do. I know that for me, blogging itself — the actual writing of posts and taking photos — comes pretty easily. But I went to school for years to learn how to write and, you know, I actually worked for a photo-essay-book publisher for several years. So . . . that's helpful. The blog is the first time I've ever written about myself, in first-person; I hadn't known how much I'd needed to do or would enjoy doing that. Many times I write things that I never set out to say, and I do wake up every day wondering what the hell might come out of my mouth. The medium seems to fit the natural . . . environment of my brain. But I must admit that the most important thing about blogging for me is just doing it. I love the real-life friendships I've made, I love the supportive community that I'm lucky enough to find myself in, and I love feeling connected to so many people from other countries, regions, and cultures I never knew anything about.

But mostly I really like the sense of organization and expression that my own blogging has given me. I am someone who has always been easily overwhelmed; and expressing oneself in our family was really not encouraged. It actually wasn't even allowed. The smallest of dissentions was typically met with my father becoming hysterical and threatening (seriously) to have a heart attack, the guilt from which (he avidly threatened) would haunt us forever. Many, many times I thought that exact thing would happen, and it definitely did serve to keep us in line. The only conversation I clearly remember having with him about an opinion I had that didn't end in me crying alone in my room happened around 1977, when we both stood in the living room and agreed:

Me: "I love bell-bottoms!"
He: "Yeah, they're pretty cool."
Me: [Smile smile smile smile.]

That's exactly how it went. I still remember it. For years of my childhood I would also say dialogue that was not my own; it was how I tested out my theory that there was something wrong with the way my family communicated. I read often and everywhere, and I knew a lot about fictional families. I studied them. I memorized their habits. Then I'd walk into the kitchen, take off my boots, and say, "Snow, which was fun in December, is just boring, dirty, and downright cold in February." I liked that line. It was from A Summer to Die, by Lois Lowry, one of my favorite then-and-now young-adult novels. But whereas in the novel it was clear that when Meg said things like this, her father pleasantly agreed (and probably even thought "My! How clever, her!"), people in my house would look at me as if I'd just farted, say "Shut up," and then go back to what they were doing. I tried this experiment many times, with dozens of different lines, and I never got the same kind of reaction the characters did. In fact, if some twelve-year-old started spewing stuff like this to me now I would know exactly what she was up to, and I like to think we'd be sitting down and having a nice talk about her life. (Actually, if someone else in my family had walked in and said something like that I probably would've told them to shut up, too.) (And actually, there was one time when I insisted that my family gather 'round to do a dramatic reading of Eugene Ionesco's The Bald Soprano and that did not go over well, but if you know that play you might know that they really can't be blamed for that one!)

But my dialogic experimentation was helpful in a lot of ways, because I thought that mostly the books were right and mostly the way we did it was wrong, and so from a very early age I started trusting books to show me other ways of being, and I feel lucky that I was able to do that. So while being a regular blogger has helped me stay organized within my life in a way I never have been before, it's also fostered a voice and a place where it's no big deal to lurch about, saying this or that, whatever it is, testing things, figuring out what I think, what lots of other people think. And that is something that has been invaluable to me, something I'd not experienced much before.

Minilanterns On the other hand, I think that for many Reserved (one of the best descriptions of introverts I've read) persons like me (and, I expect, many other crafters) the challenges that come with having any audience at all can be difficult to manage sometimes. All of us want, I think, to be able to respond to everyone's comments and questions, to check-in on our friends, to give help and advice when its needed. But the reality is that there is only so much time in a day — especially at this time of year — and only so many . . . relationships . . . one can do well. The nagging feeling that certain things, people, and opportunities have fallen through the cracks can be frustrating but . . . inevitable? I made a promise to myself early on in blogging that I would give what I could, when I could, because the important thing was to find a way to keep doing it — happily, without it feeling like a burden or another bundle of expectations to be dealt with. As women, I think we are well-trained to do whatever we have to do to meet anyone and everyone's expectations, and blogging can create even more of those. But to me, there are lots of kinds of blogs, and I don't mean genres like "craft" or "political"; I mean: some are sporadic posters, some are personal, some share tutorials, some gather work from others, some show only one's own stuff, some are brilliant at sourcing products, some have ads, some invite conversation and debate, some just put it out there and leave it be, no comments necessary. There's room for them all. I hope we can allow ourselves the freedom to let our own, and each other's, be just whatever they are.

As the postcards say, thank you. As always. For listening, and contributing, how-ever you do.

120 comments

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts in this post, Alicia. I find them very touching and insightful.

Alicia, thank you for another inspiring post. And for your beautiful blog about the good and bad in life. The bad stuff isn't fun when we're going through it, but it really does shape who we are.

I finally started my own humble little blog yesterday and can only aspire to having such interesting and beautiful posts as yours.

Thank you for your honesty and sincerity.

Good job you don't live anywhere near me, because I might just have to lick you all over.
:D

This post has struck such a chord that I can barely even read it. Really, I have to sort of just skim and let my eyes alight here and there, esp. after the sentence about trusting books more than your own parents. I still do this. And thank God for it, because my own childhood was so wildly dysfunctional that I don't think I'd have trusted myself to go out into the world & be a particpant in it, without my faith in the "real" world that I knew was out there, away from the strange sphere of reality at home.

I've already said too much here. I should just cut to the chase and say, re the entire post: ditto, ditto, ditto.

My book group meeting is this Friday. You recommended a couple of books for me to read that were written in journal format. I tried a few books (the ones you suggested and a couple of other ones), and couldn't really get into any of them. Not because the books were good or bad, but because I am not really in a book reading mode right now. I've been stressing about this all week, that I will be the only one that didn't read a book for the meeting.

Then, I read your post today, and realized that I read journals every day. As you mentioned, there are many different types of online journal writers (aka bloggers) and many different voices that I find interesting and inspiring daily.

The members of my book group do not understand what blogging means to me. Usually I just get embarrassed trying to explain why I blog, and it probably sounds to an outsider like a loser thing to do. What I would like to say is that it is a very helpful way to direct my thoughts, work on new projects, and help me meet deadlines. More than that, it is such a wonderful way to network with people that have similar interests. I may not be able to sit down with a book this month, but I would feel like a lifeline got cut off if I couldn't blog and read others' blogs.

So, that is the journal I am going to share with my book group. I'm sure you'd have a much easier time describing "the community" to a group of non-bloggers. I'll try my best! My Mantra: WWAS - What Would Alicia Say?

Very well put as always. I definitely, sometimes, feel a kind of "pressure" when it comes to blogging. It's hard to describe, maybe I mean I feel pressured to keep up with blogging, even when I feel I've already have spread myself so thin. But, then again, I love organizing my thoughts, activities throughout the day (week/month..) and I admit, I love getting comments, emails too.

I am not even stopping to read the entire post or any comments but I just have to say: you are a beautiful soul.

I really appreciate what you've said and that you can relate. Blogging has been an interesting journey for me; I've learned things about myself I didn't know, and learned that I could do things I never ever dreamed. Blogging has also given me this weird sense of being an introvert/extrovert. I love to be alone in my thoughts, but I also enjoy writing my thoughts down and have a desire to share. But then it is hard when others don't share in the sentiment or don't laugh at a joke. Or worse, don't interact at all. Part of me wants to put myself out there and another part wants to stay within myself. And I wish that I could be as candid as you. I try, but with a very small blog readership, I sometimes feel stupid putting anything out there at all or showing things I've made and then, nothing.
In any case, I enjoy reading your blog and appreciate what you do.

my experiences with blogging have been overwhelmingly positive, however there are times when my competetiveness rears it's ugly head and i become frustrated by the fact that i don't have as many readers as i'd like. that my posts aren't clever enough. that my writing sucks (it does i know) and that my pictures aren't good enough. and my attempts at crafts are half-assed. for me, that's been the challenge. putting a side of me out there that isn't necessarily me at my best, whatever that is.

anyway, i just wanted to comment. your blog is one of my favorites.

I like your writings. And I pay attention to every word and sometimes have my dictionary to help me out. I agree with you, there are a place to everyone that would like to blog and we must feel free to post whatever we wish in an unique way, of course and people are free to read or not.
Cheers!

I like all kinds of blogs but of course have my favorites. I think sharing your work is wonderful, sharing ideas, thoughts, family, getting compliments, building blog-ships that may only ever exist thru blogging, making real life friends, looking at photos, and the kind of post that make you think...I love it all. I am a stay at home Ma, never finished college and not so very confident and blogging gives me an outlet and a chance to explore who I am. Your blog always makes me think and I am sorry this is the very first time I have ever left a comment. Being introverted is mostly good but it makes many things hard. Thanks for sharing yourself and your thoughts...I really apprecitate and admire it. xoxo

Well and wellywell said - to which I say a hearty "yup!" Thanks for writing this. :)

My husband's father said similar things. And I think he really thought that they were trying to kill him by upsetting him. So awful and sad for everyone.

I have a copy of "A Summer to Die" upstairs in my bedroom. I think it was a good book to feel sad to, if I was not supposed to feel sad about what I was sad about.

I really enjoy your blog. I'm glad you are doing it.

This is my first comment, but I have been reading your blog for a few months now. It is the highlight of my morning, while I am doing my typing for my job, to check in and see all the beautiful photos and surf all the links you put up. Just wanted to let you know how much your blog is a bright spot in "cyberspace".

Ooh Alicia, once again you have me shaking my head from side to side...what an amazing character you are. I adore the varied spectrum of posts you share with us. I always walk away from your blog with so much.

Thank you for sharing these memories...such incredible pieces to the posie patchwork.

Have a happy winter evening!!
Say hello to Andy and Auds!
xoxo Jenny

ps.... I was so incredibly inspired by your darling wallpaper collaged closet door...and have been waiting for the proper canvas...last night, inspiration met a fitting subject! If you'd like to have a peek at the results:

http://journals.aol.com/jennyeveryday/everyday-is-a-holiday/

xoxo Jenny

thanks. this gives me a bit of relief. i keep feeling like i'm behind in my blog correspondences and everything else in life.

What a great post! I've really enjoyed reading your blog and your honesty that shines through every post. Its very encouraging. :) Lately I've been feeling a little down about my own blogging, but your post has given me a new way to look at things. Thank you. :)

Great post! Very thought provoking and timely as I celebrate my one year birthday of my blog today:)

I'm not really familiar with the blogging community/ethos/tradition and I just stumbled here a couple of months ago rather by accident, so my perspective is rather narrow. Peeking into your world and heart everyday is now part of my life. Who knew? I don't really understand the whole thing, I just know that how you write, and what you write about strikes a chord deep within my crafty soul that I didn't know was there. So while resonating with your thoughts on blogging, since I'm so unfamiliar with them (how does one find out where they are and who's writing them and how do you figure our what genre they are? see I really am a clueless wonder....) what I take from your musings feels more to me what it felt like coming to crafting. A whole new orientation to the world. I never knew until I started my craft how much I NEEDED to make things--and mostly just for the process itself (I'm a cardmaker who almost never sends cards---hmmmmm.).
Hugs to you and dear hubby and the doggie. I'm so, so very glad you're in this world and we get peek through your lens.

That was a great thought provoking post. I myself have blogging issues. Sometimes I have a hard time finding inspiration for my blogging or I feel like I sound silly to others. I guess we all have our insecurities.
And thank you also for bringing up one of my favorite books from my youth, A Summer to Die was very special to me. Her images still burn strong in my mind, the bleeding nose, the bowl of peas, the painted eggs. All very vivid although I read it over 25 years ago.

I look forward to your blog journal every day - the photos, the writing and the feelings that come through the words and pictures. My family did not communicate much, I also lived in books and animals and crafts and my father, though I moved out of the house decades ago) can still make me sometimes cry with his words and actions. I am an only child and thankfully I have the dearest friends who are like sisters to me. Also, thankfully, I have your posts to look at - thank you so much.

Ok, so there is no way I could read all of these comments, but I wanted to say that I am sorry to hear your relationship with your family/father felt so, restricted and confining and not terribly happy. This was an interesting post, thank you for sharing.

It's nice to know we are not alone when we feel overwhelmed by blogging! Thanks for such a well-written, interesting post!

well said, Alicia. thank you.

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About Alicia Paulson

About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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