Monday, April 11, 2005

Blogging and Real Life

Blogs serve some interesting uses, don't you think? Some people use them to rant and carry on about whatever injustices the world has served them with lately. Some use them as a political or religious platform. Some show off their fabulous photography skills. Some blog their personal life in hopes that their friends and family will read it and thus keep up on the news. Others hope no one they actually know will read it. Some use their blogs as learning tools, or as essays on various subjects near and dear to their hearts. I'm sure I've missed a few reasons!

Why do you blog?

Why do I blog?

I've been thinking about that lately (mostly on days, like today, in which I avoid doing any Real Work). In the course of the past few years since I've known about the blogging phenomenon, several bloggers I've known have shut down their blogs, or turned comments off of them. Why? They were becoming dependant on the feedback, feeling overly conscious of the impression they were making on others. The blog had taken on a life of its own, and it was threatening to get away. I can see that.

I started blogging in May of '04, and moved to Blogger in January after comment spam had taken over my site, with no way for a non-techie to turn it off without turning the comments off completely. I like comments (hint, hint...). I do not write here simply to entertain myself, though that is surprisingly easy to do (grin). I *am* aware of my audience, though I don't actually know who all visits here on a regular or semi-regular basis. I do know that the folks who comment are just the tip of the iceberg. Why do you come here? What do I have to say that keeps you coming back?

I'm a Christian. Most of you probably know that. I don't exactly hide it, but I also don't make a big deal out of it in my blog or at FM. That may partially be a result of conditioning from FM's strictures onsite regarding political, religious, and war debates. This blog isn't specifically about my faith, it's about my writing (with a few other things, faith included, thrown in from time to time). Yes, the two are irrevocably intertwined. If I wasn't a believer, I certainly would write differently.

I think what I want (through the blog and online) is to build relationships with people, and let my faith shine through the relationship. It's a very vital part of who I am, but I'm not into pushing it at people constantly. I think that in most cases it only serves to push the folks away. I'm the same way in my Real Life. Most of my acquaintances know I attend church, and I'm certainly willing to share specific experiences and beliefs with anyone who wants to take the conversation a step farther. But I don't want to turn people away by being pushy, either. I'm not all that confrontational.

I grew up with parents who were very vocal about their faith. My mom still doesn't think any conversation is complete if she hasn't been able to *witness* to somebody. Three of my four sisters are missionaries, with some of their kids following along in those footsteps. I think it's great. The last few months my sis and I have been working, on and off, on the family history scrapbook. In the Mennonite culture my parents were raised in during the 20s and 30s, you didn't talk about your faith. At all, really. People should be baptized, people should obey the rules, people should *be right with God* but no one could explain what it meant. When I think about their background, I understand better why, as they left the Mennonite church (when I was 7) to become missionaries to the native people of Canada's north, they became so very vocal. But it's not me. Is that wrong?

I see the same trend in my writing. I am unwilling (possibly unable) to write a *preachy* novel. In the science fiction I've written, I've explored some future Christianity. *False Perceptions* takes the idea of a Christian group fleeing earth, and having no contact with outsiders for generations. What would that do to their faith? Would it remain strong and vital? I doubt it. I would guess that for the most part it would become stale and legalistic. I might be wrong, but that's the possibility I based the story on. Now I am exploring the idea of God desiring obedience of the heart more than outward sacrifice in the fantasy novel, *Marks of Repentance* (aka Shann). I think faith is a strong element of the story, but it won't hit the reader upside the head. I hope. A *look at me* theme is more likely to get the book tossed against the far wall, in my personal opinion. A subtle theme may stick with a reader for longer, and cause a few actual brain cells to bump into each other as thoughts. I think that's a good idea, whether the theme is actually *Christian* or not. Even though we mostly don't read novels in order to think about issues, the issues are there, underlining the stories, and they'd best be integral to the story and not be tacked on.

Was that a tangent to the original question about why to blog? From my mind, it was a logical progression. I share my writing progress, and bits of my life (though why you all are so fascinated with Canadian farm life mystifies me...), and bits of my faith. I believe that if any of my readers had questions about any of those things, they could contact me to discuss them. I'm not on a platform. These are the things that are important to me. This is my life. Welcome in.


Maripat said...

What a nice entry. While I know you're Christian you don't beat me over the head with it, and I'm betting you don't do it in your stories either. (I'll even crit one when you're ready.) I suppose as writers we run the risk of beating our potential readers over the head with themes or morals. Many feel being a juvenile writer means putting a moral in the story. Yeah, right. cough.

What it really means is having the same thing as an adult book. A good theme, strong characters, and great plot. That's what all genres need.

And you know, besides you, I don't think anyone reads my blog. But hey, I've seen what happens when you get too noticed so maybe it's a blessing in disguise.


lindaruth said...

I do pop in now and then (and I also follow your comments at FiF). I'm so new to blogging I don't get many comments, but I appreciate the ones I do get. It's a good question -- why do I blog? I may have to address this at my blog. :)

Valerie Comer said...

Thanks for the comments, Maripat and Linda. And I followed the link back to your place Linda (mwahaha, I found you) and see that you DID address the issue...

Margaret said...

Hmm, guilted into a comment...that's a new one ;). You know I lurk here. Only occassionally poke my head up though.

On the religious topic, I have to say that most people have absolutely no idea how religious I really am for a couple reasons: 1) I don't talk about it cause of pushing from my parents in my teens and 2) because it's just a little different from traditional Irish Roman Catholic, but not so different that I'm comfortable in other churches and such :).

In my writing however, I think religion of some sort is almost always present. I truly believe belief is a critical component of human and even alien nature. If a person/creature does not ask questions, it would never come up, but if they do, then I think belief would be at least explored if not adopted. Though rarely overtly based on any current religion, and not always positively OR negatively portrayed, I can't think of a single novel length piece (besides my romances oddly enough) that doesn't explore that aspect in one form or another.

So there you go. My position on this question safely here where my parents will never find it ;). Which answers the other question too.


Jean said...

Hands are feeling better today, so I'll risk a response.

Why do I blog? It's an experiment. I started with PBOTL, and I try to keep that in character. Then I didn't always want to be in character, and I wanted to discuss various things, sometimes only tangentially related to writing, so I set up my own blog. My husband detests that I do this, so I strive to keep him and attributable personal stuff out of it--really, not a bad idea. I have a tendency to stray toward that arena, so I have to keep an eye on what I write and remain sensitive to his concerns.

As for religion, I believe that's a very personal subject, and I've never believed in dealing with that publicly. A public statement--fine. Witnessing to someone who hasn't asked? Not so much.

My blog is mostly for my writer friends. If other friends or family have ever stopped by, I have no evidence of it. (Except for that one time hubby found it on a web search for something else--that wasn't pleasant, but he was right; I've tried harder to separate blogging from personal life since then.)

Valerie Comer said...

Thanks for the comments, Mar and Jean. I find it interesting that I'm not the only who blogs mostly for strangers (well, e-friends!) My kids have my url, but rarely visit, and my hubby knows I blog but doesn't care, so long as I don't post our town, address, phone number, whatever. As far as he's concerned it's just one of those *writer things* that I do.

Paula said...

You know, I don't like preachy, boxy fiction, but I do read to learn something even when I read fiction. I want to come away feeling like I've grown from the inside out . . . I want to be touched somewhere, stretched, grown . . .

Valerie Comer said...

Paula, *coaxed* into learning something, perhaps, rather than being hit over the head with it repeatedly? LOL