Thursday, November 20, 2014

Blogging as part of a writing life

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Five years ago today I created my first blog post, which happened to be a poem. This blogging venture began with a Brazilian friend, Silvia Pandini, who did a guest post on Dec 17. We promised one another, "I'll start blogging if you will." By the end of the year, I'd logged ten posts and was enjoying myself. Silvia is still blogging too, in Portuguese. The following year, I realized this short form writing was habit-forming. I kept seeing getting ideas for posts. That year I posted about every two days.

In 2011 I entered the year-long Writer's Studio at SFU and decided it was time to step up and take my writing vocation more seriously. So I set myself a task of posting on a daily basis. To make this feasible, I often wrote several related posts at a time, and scheduled them to come up daily.

Wondered whether I would run out of topics, but I needn't have worried. As one series wound down, another inevitably suggested itself. More and more, I was taking pictures specifically to illustrate upcoming posts. By the end of the year, I had logged 371 posts, more than the 365 I'd promised myself.

After taking a lot of time off teaching to do the Studio, I had to work full-time again, so I decided to let myself off the hook and go back to a couple of posts a week. But that didn't happen. Ideas kept coming and I finished that year with 228 posts.

Last year, I was only 19 days short of a post-a-day tally. This year, I retired from my teaching work in the spring and threw myself into finishing my novel. Still blogging, though and on track for a similar tally. I've thought about quitting, but somehow, I keep on. Through this daily discipline, it' been useful and illuminating to discover favourite topics areas. The top three of the twelve headings under which I classify my posts are Books and Writers, Canadiana, and Cultures and Civilizations.

One more benefit: as I prepare another draft of my 120,000 word novel manuscript (Working title is The Habit of Secrecy), these simple, short and imperfect bits of non-fiction provide a fine counterpoint to the fiction task: keeping all those characters and story lines in my head.

There's good editing exercise too. As the pre-scheduled posts go up, I check for accuracy, brevity and visual appeal. But even if at some much later date I discover (or a reader does) some egregious error, I can go right back and fix it. Hallelujah! Recently I added a picture to a post done long ago.

Most popular posts to date:
Ammolite (2013) This simple post about a gemstone that has been officially adopted by the City of Lethbridge and the Province of Alberta has been read by an astonishing 4583 viewers. Go figure.
The top five posts also feature Chauvet Cave art, the Orient Express and Roses wild and tame, and a light bit of humour on the terminology of street signs, British and Canadian.

No idea what the above info tells me. Should I press on? Are my thoughts worth sharing? Am I learning? For now, I think I'll celebrate the five year effort by taking tomorrow off. Maybe. And then I may turn to waterfalls, or Canadian River Systems for inspiration.

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