10 Things I’ve Learned From Blogging (So far!)
1. I can’t do short.
Let’s just get this one out there, as a disclaimer, before you read anymore! These blogs tend to be hopelessly long. (Surprising, I know…hashtag gasbag). In my defence, however, I tend to save up stories and only write when I think it’s relevant. So, you get more but less; instead of less but more… if you can hang on that long.
2. I can’t do regular.
See above! According to various blogging guides, you’re supposed to churn stuff out as regularly as possible and interact with anyone you can online, in order to be successful. I hereby accept that this will never be a successful blog! Ain’t nobody got time for that!
3. I can’t do consistent.
One of the main reasons I’ve never publicised Starsinclayjars before is that I didn’t really know where it fit. I look at other successful blogs, and they tend to have a distinct theme. There’s the designated Mummy bloggers- (you know, the “do what I do” camp, or the “anyone else do the sh*t I do?!” camp). Faith bloggers- (the apologetics, the arguers, or the inspirational devotional types); as well as the online diaries from other Vicar’s wives and such. I’m afraid this page can be all of those things or even none at all. Which means that, while some poor soul signs up for a funny story and gets a follow up of Jesus-fandom; another follows for Spiritual enrichment and then gets an instalment of poo! In my defense, however, life is genuinely like that – which is what I think I’m trying to reflect. (See number 10!)
4. I’m a perfectionist. (No, really!)
A friend recently said, “I couldn’t write the way that you do- unless it took me hours.” It was a lovely thing to say, but, just in case anyone is also under the same illusion… It does take me hours. More often than not, I’ll publish something after a week of painstaking perfectionism… Only to find a grammatical error right after the email has gone out. And the sad thing is… it really bothers me! So if you spot one, point it out!
5. Copyright is a thing.
My mother-in-law is a writer (like a proper one); and was concerned when I told her I was writing online. I guess it also concerns me a little too, because the blogs are anonymous. However, when I did eventually look into this, it was my own infringing behaviour that came to light! See, it turns out you can’t just copy and paste any pictures you like from Google, even for a small time blog. So, eventually, I just spent an hour creating my own images to replace all of those on my previous posts; which, of course, Husband mocked me mercilessly for.
“Seriously… No one cares!”
Well… I care. As with most things in life, it’s about integrity, isn’t it? I just like to think that my integrity is worth more than a few stolen images, you know? So … he can stick on his dog collar and stop laughing, thank you very much.
6. The Internet is a nicer place than I thought.
In the past, I’d always assumed that bloggers were just people who push their opinions on the world; get trolled; and come out with thicker skin or whatever. That’s the deal. So, as one quite comfortable in my thin, flaky skin, I thought I’d best leave it well alone. Husband, my online minder, quite agreed. It would only be a source of negativity; I can’t handle negativity; and, more importantly, he can’t be arsed with my non-handling of negativity. So, we decided against it. Blogging absolutely, definitely wasn’t for me.
I started following a few friends’ blogs and was surprised to find that their interactions were, on the most part… positive?! So, I bit the bullet and wrote my first post, Privately Public – showing it to Husband as a kind of campaign presentation. He liked it; and we agreed to an experiment. I could publish it… so long as I remained anonymous, showed him everything first, didn’t allow any comments, but was prepared for some backlash anyway!
So I did. And the response was… overwhelmingly positive. I got the bug and started to write more and more; each time nervously bracing myself for the fallout – only to be surprised at how genuinely nice and encouraging people were.
I guess in this way, the Internet is a fair representation of the world itself. Yes, there are those who do and say evil things; but they are a noisy minority. Most people tend to be, actually, rather nice- they just draw less attention than the rest.
7. That said… There is always the risk of misinterpretation.
My fourth post, Secondary Sadness, was the first to be written out of a place of genuine, but conflicted, pain. I was surprised then that this particular post was the first to be completely misunderstood. Unfortunately, someone construed something I’d actually written in tears, as completely heartless and unsympathetic. Proving that, no matter how pure your intention; things can always be misinterpreted online. A lesson one just has to accept, I guess. Nevertheless, it does hurt to think I could have hurt someone, anyone, with something I attempted to write for healing. Such a difficult thing to try and do; never to be taken lightly!
8. Not everything is for sharing.
One of the other, more difficult things to manage, I’ve found, is the tension between sharing in a way that is helpful; and oversharing in a way that is not. To strike the common chord; rather than beat the egotistical drum. As such, I try to write reflections rather than updates, so that there is a clear point to putting it out there. The point may just be because it’s funny – as there’s nothing wrong with laughter for laughter’s sake! However, more often than not, it also has to be insightful, encouraging or just plain informative too. As such, I’ve deleted countless half blogs, because they’re just not worth sharing. In fact, I have also taken posts down, even after they have been published; because it’s taken a little while to realise, that those ones were just for me.
For writing to be understood is therapeutic; and so everything feels helpful, to a point. But it’s worth considering that sometimes, actually, it’s not.
9. Facebook has the power!
When I wrote my first post, I decided I wouldn’t put it on Facebook and just let it hang out on WordPress, cold and alone. For three days; no one read it. I finally gave up, shared it and, lo and behold, my stats exploded. Within twenty-four hours on Facebook, over three hundred people had viewed it; in countries as far and wide as Japan, Spain, Canada, and India. Flipping heck! (Of course, I now know this to be beginner’s luck, as I still haven’t written anything as popular since!) After a few months, however, I decided to separate my blogs from my personal Facebook account. At the time, I didn’t feel ready to set up a page; so I scraped a few email followers and shrank back into the quiet zone. This was fine, for a while; but I did miss some of my regular readers (especially as it takes so long to write!). So this, and a few other prompts, led us here; to phase two of this blogging experiment! You can now follow on twitter @starsincjars and on Facebook @starsinclayjars… Let’s just see if the Internet remains as nice!
10. Finally… God is in the detail.
So, I write about God a lot; even in the daft stuff. Maybe that’s predictable for a Vicar’s wife, but it took me a while to work out how and why. See, I know that my audience is varied. Firstly, there are fellow parents, fellow Christians and fellow Vicar’s spouses; and those who are all of the above. So sometimes, I do write with them in mind. I write after conversations, to put into words how a lot of us are feeling. Or sometimes, I write simply to encourage them that I haven’t got it together either, and I doubt many of us have.
Secondly, however, I know that there are also non-parents, non-Christians and non-spouses who also follow this blog. I guess in a similar vein I am writing to inform them that I haven’t got it together either, and I doubt many of us have.
See, being a friend with faith is one thing; but throwing all of your eggs into the proverbial basket and giving your life to the ministry is quite another! I appreciate that the dog collar can be alienating; and the idea of all-out faith a little bit strange. So I guess, in response, I wanted to give a bit of an insight; especially to those who love and support us, even though it’s not their thing. I wanted to describe the ins and outs, ups and downs, of an everyday life of faith; you know, from an arguably normal human being!
How have I learned to approach this? Well, Jesus calls us to be witnesses. Rick Warren helpfully explains that witnesses are not the judge or jury; nor are they defence or prosecution. My intention then, is not to defend the faith, or argue the cause or convince anyone to come round to our way of thinking. My intention is simply to tell stories; describe experiences; and reflect on the glimmers of God I see in everyday life. For I haven’t got it all figured out; and I struggle so much too; but Jesus is the reason for the life we’ve chosen, and He is reflected in everything we do.
So… There. Now you know what you’re in for! Thanks for reading- I do hope you’ll stick around for more! 🙂