I am such an insecure writer that it has taken me no fewer than seven sentence changes to decide how to open this article. And then, if that last sentence makes the cut, I will spend at least twenty-four hours worrying that I made the wrong decision for my opener. I will also relentlessly check my stats, wondering all the while if my content is strong enough, interesting enough, informative enough, or just plain old good enough. I will wonder why there aren’t more comments at the end of the post or, if anyone does decide to comment, I will visit their blogs and wonder how on earth they manage to get so many comments on their posts when I receive so few. I will agonize over what I’m doing wrong. I will question if I have any talent or if my grammar is correct or if I’m entertaining enough. And if, heaven forbid, my writing garners a response that is negative or opposes a statement or viewpoint I put forth, I will wonder why I chose that stance in the first place. When I see too few page views on a blog post, I will wonder why no one is reading what I wrote. If the numbers are high, I will worry that I may have offended someone, or – worse – given readers too much of myself.
So, if the whole process is so painful and agonizing for me, why do I write? What am I trying to achieve with all the hours I spend putting my thoughts in writing for anyone and everyone to read? What is the point?
I asked a friend of mine these questions, you know, just to try and get some objective input. And, since he’s a bit of a computer whiz, I also asked him what I can do to bring more traffic – and maybe even some money – to my blog. Thankfully, he was willing to provide some insight. He discussed SEO-friendly words and how he thought some bloggers intentionally use them in their articles in an effort to attract more traffic to their sites. He asked if I was willing to change the focus of my writing to include pieces that incorporate more popular words and phrases, in spite of what my preferred topic of conversation might be on any given day. In other words, am I willing to sacrifice my personal voice in an effort to draw more traffic and, potentially, sales to my blog? After some careful thought, I said, “no”.
Then he asked me another thought-provoking question: “Are you willing to be more controversial in your writings? Maybe you need to tackle some hot-button issues and argue a point of view?” Again, I thought on this for a while. While I definitely have opinions on some things (don’t we all?), I generally possess a pretty laid-back personality (I blame this on my early years spent in Key West). There really aren’t that many things that get me wound up. And, even when I do harbor a strong opinion about something, I tend to keep it to myself. I am not a person who seeks out controversy in my day-to-day living, to become a blogger that does so would make me dishonest not only to myself but also to my readers. The only things I will speak out about – as those of you who have read my writing may have noticed – are education and the safety of our children. This is because I believe that we adults are responsible for advocating for children. While I feel very strongly about the need to speak up when I see injustices toward children, even I would get bored listening to myself rant about these things over and over again.
Instead of constantly drawing attention to the negative and all that is wrong with the world, I prefer to concentrate my energies on the good that is happening. All around us people are doing great things. They are connecting with the world and working daily to help make it a better place. For those of you who embrace your spirituality, you will understand that this is what we are called to do. God can only work through us, and only when we allow Him - or Her - to do so. While many people work on a global scale, so many more people work locally in their own communities to help improve the overall quality of life for themselves and for their neighbors. Groups and individuals work to ensure children have their basic needs met in order that they may attend school regularly and receive an education. Organizations volunteer to help keep parks and other public areas clean. In Joplin, area nurses, doctors, and dentists volunteer at our Community Clinic to ensure that people have access to affordable and quality health care. Artists donate their time and energy to educate others about the benefits of artistic expression. These things happen on a daily basis, and yet they are seldom deemed “newsworthy”. And, maybe they’re not. But when all we read are stories about child abuse or murder or robbery we are bound to think the world is an evil, ugly place. And while it’s not an ugly place, there are definitely people who are hurting. And there are also people who are trying to help alleviate some of that pain.
Toward the end of our conversation, as I explained to my friend what I felt the purpose of my blog is, he told me the following story:
“Once there was a man who went out onto the ocean on a small boat. As he got far away from the shore, he looked all around him and said, ‘Look at this beautiful ocean! It’s so big and beautiful! I think it is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen!’
A fish overheard what the man said and looked at him in wonder and asked, ‘What ocean? Where is this vast, beautiful ocean?’
The man said, ‘Why, you are in the ocean! Can’t you see it?’
The fish was so caught up in his world and his own problems that he was unable to see the beauty surrounding him."
My blog and my writings are my ocean. While sometimes I get frustrated that I don’t have thousands of readers or my posts are not always as eloquent and beautifully written as I might find elsewhere, it is still beautiful. It is beautiful because it is what I choose to do – it is a true, honest representation of who I am and what I want to do in my world. Like the ocean, my writing will, hopefully, grow and evolve over time. I may not ever make a living from writing, or maybe I will pursue different avenues that will allow me to use my talents and bring in some cash, too. Right now I have no idea. What I do know, though, is that I will remain true to myself and relish the beauty around me. I will remember to take time to step back and appreciate the vastness of my ocean. I will keep writing about the world around me through my eyes and hopefully this vision will touch someone else and – dare I hope – inspire him to see his own ocean and grow to appreciate the vastness of its beauty, also.
How about you? What are you trying to achieve from your blog? Do you have the traffic you want? Do you make money – or do you even aspire to do so? What is your ocean?
Thanks so much for reading!
For more posts like this, come see me at www.sinceyouaskeddawn.com
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