28 January 2013

“where i come from”: exploring the personal on our blogs

Today is the second to last post for the “I ♥ My Blog” challenge. It’s been a full month, with hopefully a lot of helpful information, resources, or (at the very least) food for thought! In this final week of January, our aim is to look forward, and continue to consider how we can shape our blogs and the content we share so that we continue to be in love with them, while at the same time inviting others to fall in love with them! Let’s get started!

"I ♥ My Blog": Exploring the Personal on Our Blogs

“where i come from”

In almost every stage of my life, from elementary school to college to my career, I’ve had people tell me I “have a story for everything.” It’s true. Of all the phrases I use, there’s probably none I use more than, “That reminds me of …” I can’t help it. I come from a family rich in narratives. More than that, I come from a family rich in narrators. My family is full of storytellers, each with similar yet unique styles of telling their own, and shared, stories over generations.

The funny thing is, as much as my family loves to share stories, we are at the same time very private people. You don’t go spreading family seeds in someone else’s garden. It’s sometimes interesting to see how a story will change dependent on the audience. With a stranger present, a story might be told in a matter of minutes … the same story it took a grandfather or great uncle or aunt or parent hours to tell before. And if you try to “urge out the details” in front of the wrong people, suddenly it’s like the story has never been told before: nobody seems to remember who said what, where they were, how it happened, or why. Maybe it’s just hard to spin the yarn on a stranger’s loom.

“sharing is caring”

When it comes to blogging, there’s a fine line between what’s public and what’s private. It’s usually pretty easy for us to know the difference: it’s the same line that exists between what we want to share and what we want to keep to ourselves. When it comes to our readers … the line isn’t so easy to draw. Sometimes readers come out of a curiosity not only for what they need to know (a guide to writing a novel, insights on poetry publication, tips on taking the best photographs, etc.), but also for what they simply want to know: who we are, what we do, how we think, where we’ve been, how we live, etc. Sometimes it feels downright intrusive.

The problem is that blogs are often (though, admittedly, not always) public space. And just like a lofty celebrity on the red carpet, once we’ve graced the public with our appearance, we’ve opened the floodgates for all kinds of inquiries. We start to ask ourselves, “How much is too much?”

“who are you”

Maybe, though, that’s the wrong question. Maybe instead the question for our blogs should be: “How little is too little?”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not telling you to spill your whole life story into your blog. But when we blog, we put ourselves out there. Even if I label my blog “for me,” unless I’ve blocked the rest of the world from seeing it, it instantly becomes “for us.” The personal elements of our lives become feed for our flocks.

That doesn’t mean, however, that we owe readers every. single. detail. Not at all. Sometimes it’s just letting the reader know, “I’m writing from experience.” Sometimes it’s just saying, “This happened, and I want to share it with you.” But when readers come to our blogs, they come expecting to learn a little bit of who we are, and where we come from.

I didn’t become a writer on my own. I come from a line of storytellers whose bloodlines keep the wells of my pens and pencils overflowing. I didn’t decide to write a poetry and writing blog out of thin air. I had experiences and ideas and thoughts I wanted to share that made it seem like a good idea. I came from somewhere. So did you. Don’t be afraid to let your readers see it … even if it’s only a little bit.

Your Turn

Today’s task is to write a piece in which you explore where you come from. Share a bit of the personal with your readers. For me there’s a difference between the “personal” and the “private.” The personal is the parts of you who make you who you are, the elements you can share with people to give them that better sense of you. The private is the parts of you that are nobody’s business. I’m leaving the line between the two up to you to draw; but once you’ve drawn it, begin to share!

How do you feel about sharing information about yourself, or exploring “where you come from,” on your blog? Feel free to share your thoughts, opinions, ideas, etc. in the comments below!

*****

Want to stay connected? I invite you to connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Please also sign up for the free email updates from Our Lost Jungle!

***** 

Don't miss out on the January "I ♥ My Blog" Challenge offerings!

13 comments:

  1. For me, my poetry was always more personal than my journaling. I don't know why that is but it is. Do you find that your topic (poetry) makes it more personal than you normally want?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a really interesting question, Heather! I actually find myself being more private in poetry than in "public writing" like blog posts or articles. At the same time, though, perhaps it is that privacy in poetry that makes me yearn for more personal sharing in other forms of writing!

      Delete
  2. Hmm, I thought about this and am feeling that the info I share is all personal, all the time. I mostly like that fly on the wall feeling I get when I read other personal blogs, like Jeannine’s or my friend Celi of thekitchensgarden, and so maybe subconsciously I’ve designed mine to be all about me! That sounds terrible, doesn’t it?

    So today Celi posted that it’s raining and all the farm animals are in the warm barn. But to me, there’s something reassuring and familiar about her farm still being there this morning, in the rain. Can I explain? Probably not. It’s a funny world this blogging isn’t it?

    Oh, just thought of something. When I took part in that grow your blog thing a week or so ago, I posted an about me post and said that the blog exists because it’s a wonderful creative outlet for me. And that might be the answer right there for why some people write in more personal or private elements and some don’t. It depends on what your blog is about and why it exists. Maybe some blogs are designed with a theme and posts which prohibit any personal or private elements. I’ve also read blogs where I really didn’t want to know about the uncle’s latest bunion operation, but apparently 45 commenters did. Lol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great thoughts, Veronica! I wonder how subconscious it is for many of us as writers that we focus in on ourselves, even if we don't say it ... And maybe at its heart all writing is, to some extent, "personal," in that at the heart of it is the statement, "This is what I needed to share and want you all to see/hear/understand/feel/etc."!

      Delete
  3. My poetry tends to be very personal... and I share because I know others can relate. Many have been there and done that, others are going through it alongside of me. Me as the poet and they as the reader can teach each other a little something about life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great way of looking at what you do, Dana, and I've noticed that connect-ability a lot in your poems!

      Delete
  4. "You don’t go spreading family seeds in someone else’s garden," is so like my mother's opinion, which I don't share. To carry on the analogy, lots of gardens are sprinkled with the likes of other seeds and are better from the sharing.

    About half the time I do share some semi personal stuff on my blog. Luckily for me my mother doesn't have a computer. When she is in one of my posts, my sisters will let her know and read the story to her, leaving out the parts they believe will get her going about "private" issues.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that carrying on of the analogy, Monica. My mother was a gardener, a lover of flowers, and I think one of the things that frustrated her to no end was the fact that for all her cultivation of the perfect beds of beautiful intentional flowers, my favorites were always the wildflowers and weeds! That's a beautiful analogy to relate to our lives as well! Thanks for that great extending of the metaphor!

      Delete
  5. When I first started blogging, I was subdued. Not myself at all! Now that I have released my sarcastic, honest self - I like my blog more, I feel better about expressing my true self, and my # of followers has increased.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's great, Karen! It's funny how blogging can often feel like being "the new kid" ... it takes us a while to find our element, but when we do, it's amazing!

      Delete
  6. Hmmm ... I started out writing about how I see "signs" in my surroundings that mean something philosophically to me. So in that way, I'm hoping that other people can relate to my experiences even though I'm writing about me. I have hoped to carry that through in my poetry posts, but not sure if it's happening. I need to go back through and read all your posts for this month, which I do plan on doing. Life just keeps me running! :-)
    Thanks for giving me something to think about. I enjoyed reading!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Linda. You really are a busy woman! I really like that idea of seeing the deeper meaning in things around us. Thanks for your food for thought!

      Delete
  7. Khara, I've not been following this particular series, but after reading this post I have a couple of old posts, one based on an exercise I learned about (included), that fit the "Your Turn" challenge...

    I have been blogging for a decade, and have witten a lot about myself, past and present..

    Feel free to respond, and let your readers know if you have any thoughts....

    New Year's Day 2008 - Prompting Yourself to Write 5: Where I'm From
    http://www.madmacedonian.com/2008/01/prompting-you-4.html

    4/8/12 - Prompting Yourself To Write 34: Dear Mad Macedonian: A Love Letter
    http://www.madmacedonian.com/2012/04/pytw-34-dear-mad-macedonian-a-love-letter.html

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for your comments! Please feel free to share your thoughts here; I look forward to engaging in conversation with you!

Featured Post

Sankofa: The Power of Known History

I recently took on two challenges in the sphere of political and cultural advocacy: understanding the roots of our democracy and national l...