Sunday, June 29, 2008

Please excuse me while I gaze at my navel.

I love to write. It's why I have this blog. Which is not to say that I consider myself a writer. It's a diversion. A hobby. Like tennis, except it doesn't require coordination. Or one of those itty-bitty skirts.

Praise God.

If tennis was my hobby and I had served and volleyed as much as I have blogged this last year I would expect my game to have notably improved. Which led me to wonder why it is that my writing has not. In fact, as I was looking through my posts from last summer I concluded that the opposite is true. The quality of my posts seems to be on the decline.

One reason for this, as I have mentioned before, is simply time constraints. And, if we're keeping it real, a bit of laziness. When I first started blogging I was so heady with the love of it I chose writing over sleep at night. Over snuggling with my children in the morning. It's understandable that I couldn't, shouldn't, keep up that level of obsession devotion. As a result my efforts had to be squeezed into smaller and smaller spaces of time making it harder to explore an idea past two paragraphs. Or to properly edit something when I did. I'm much less willing to sacrifice sleep than I once was, be that from a lack of iron or a lack of passion, I'm not sure.

So about a month ago, around the time of my blogiversary, I spent some time thinking about whether I really wanted to continue blogging if I wasn't going to have time to make it what I wanted. Pride was also playing a part in this. I couldn't rid myself of the nagging whisper that even when I had given it my best, it was never great. And I can admit now, that there was a time I thought it might be. It was hard for me to accept that I just didn't have that something - an education? talent? drive? - to bring my writing to the next level. And I was crazy intimidated by those bloggers who posted well composed, grammatically perfect brilliance day after day.

However, despite my struggle with pride and self-doubt I decided I really didn't want to give it up. It's addictive this blogging thing. The writing. The community. And amazingly, through learning to accept the limitations of my abilities, I started coming to terms with my own writing. I had been fighting off a nagging feeling that I could no longer hear my own voice through the cacophony of amazing writers around me. I found myself - not conciously, I don't think - attempting to emulate the styles of writers I admired. I was forcing funny, or satirical or analytical into my posts when it wasn't really in me. And then I read this post by Boomama and it really helped me nail this idea down.

I have finally started believing that there is power in my own voice. As unpolished and grammatically incorrect as that voice may be. And someday, if my children or, gulp, grandchildren spend some time reading some of this writing I want it to be my voice that they recognize in the words, not my poor interpretation of a "great blogger."

It's liberating this decision to stop worrying about being good enough and just finding my own path, even if the path is smaller and less populated than some others. The problem is that finding my way back from a place of intimidation and imitation has been harder than I thought. I recognize my voice in some of my earlier writings but I am struggling to get back there again.

As a result I am going to take a break from blogging for a week, or maybe two. I am going to work on writing again free of reading other blogs and the unrelenting pressure to post something new.

I will probably do some reposts of some things I wrote last summer and, stealing from Slouching Mom here, if anyone wants to do a guest-post (pretty-please!) I would be terribly honored. Just leave a comment on this post.

15 comments:

Marit said...

Thank you for this post! I too have a hard time sometimes trying to figure out what and how to write.

BooMama wrote:
Plus, a blog is easier to read if it has a reliable tone. People like to know what to expect when they click over. And if you’re happy one day, frustrated the next, manic the next, etc., people will get tired of the bloggy whiplash and quit reading.

I'm afraid that that just about covers how I write! Maybe I will rethink... and maybe that's just who I am :-)

Chaotic Joy said...

Marit,
I KNOW! I originally responded to that part of Boomama's post too. In fact I thought, well that's exactly what I do...What am I going to do about that? I thought about it for a while though and finally decided that my personality (and parenting in general, I think) is just very emotional and unpredictable. So I am not going to worry about that right now. One writing issue at a time. :)
Joy

Gotta GROW with it said...

i've loved your voice! and i applaud you for taking time off.

flutter said...

good for you!

karen said...

If I called you regularly to chat, I would stop doing so if you always sounded the same. Boring! I check in with the UberBlogs now and then, almost as a check on the status-quo, but what I crave daily are the many faceted voices of my friends. I wouldn't stop talking to you if you were having an off-day, nor will I stop reading your heartfelt, unedited posts. Bring on the two-fragment update to say your left fingers are superglued to Ben's hair!

Amy Wyatt said...

Joy,
I sooo needed to hear this today. I am struggling a bit with my ability to write or confidence in it. I don't feel l like I am a "writer" but love to do it. Thanks for the reminder to just be myself and remember the reason I write... to bring honor to God and what He has done in my life and to remind myself of the things He teaches me through everyday life circumstances.

Lori said...

Your voice is one of my favorites out there in Blogland. And it is your voice that I respond to, not the punctuation or grammar!

But I understand the need for a break, and the desire to maintain some kind of perspective. I have a feeling that I will be quieter this summer as well.

painted maypole said...

your voice is lovely, and your kids will be THRILLED to have this to read someday (I just wrote about that idea to day!)

I am far too busy and about to leave town to offer to guest write, although I think it would be great fun. maybe another time.

Kyla said...

Good for you, Joy! We'll still be here.

I'd volunteer for a guest post, but I'm having a hard enough time writing my own stuff! Ack. If I suddenly have some sort of writer's block breakthrough, I'll let you know.

Kandy said...

Joy,
Just wanted to let you know I LOVE reading your blogs! You do a fantastic job writing how your feeling from day to day. It's genuine and very touching. I look forward to reading your site everytime I am on the computer. I feel connected this way, although I haven't seen or talked to you in many years. I think you are an excellent writer and hope you find your inner peace with it and not give it up. Thanks for being there!
Kandy

Chaotic Joy said...

Kandy,
Everytime I see you comment on my blog it makes me smile. What an honor to know you are keeping up all my silliness. I wish I could do the same with you. I'd love to know how you are doing. Thanks for reading.
Joy

Lisa writes... said...

Oh Joy, we are two peas in a pod. I am currently struggling with the whys and the wherefores of my blogging, not to mention the deepseated insecurity...I too read Boomama's bloggy advice and left as unsure as ever! I have a post percolating on this very thing...

I love your writing, your introspection, your honesty and your authenticity. Enjoy your break, but come back, you hear? :-)

Scott Gibson said...

I just wanted to tell you to keep up the good work. I think you are an excellent writer and you give me insight into motherhood that helps me understand my own wife better. Thank you.

Cori@SAHMbles said...

I loved this post, heartfelt and I had much the same feelings at different times.

Have a wonderful, break, re-group, re-charge and we'll read-ya when you're back.

Genny said...

I happened upon your blog...glad I stopped by. I know what you mean about writing. I love it!