October 2015

a conversation about blogging with sarah…

Sarah and I have been friends a long time, and our acquaintance began when she found my blog, and then I found hers and we have continued along this path together for almost ten years. I dream of getting to New Zealand one day to visit in person, always imagining us sitting together in some wildish place and looking out to the sky and horizon together. She sometimes appears in my dreams, which will do in the meantime. : )

Sarah wrote this recently at her online home

“I have kept online journals for several different reasons over the years, but these days, my primary motivation is to give a little something to the world – just a little beauty, or a little thought, or some of the quiet lessons I learn in my own life. And it helps me too; it trains my eye and heart on loveliness.”


Sarah, you’ve been blogging even longer than I. Do you remember what inspired you to begin and how it felt then?

I began blogging in 2005 as a homeschooling mother, wanting to join the community of those who shared their homeschooling experiences and lesson ideas with others. I loved being part of the homeschooling online community, learning from others and being inspired. Like many others, I found myself being more mindful about my teaching and homemaking in order that they may be more “blogworthy.” Although that probably sounds terrible, the sense of something like accountability was actually quite helpful. Blogging lifted my homeschooling game.

After I finished writing on that subject, I moved my blog around a lot, changing its name and its focus, trying to find a comfortable home online, slowly defining my writing purpose.

How did the reading and the writing of blogs used to fit in your days? Has this changed over the years?

I’ve generally always written daily, or every second day, because I find it a helpful mental exercise. However, lately circumstances have led me to a reduced blogging schedule for the time being. As for reading other blogs, I have fewer that I follow these days, partly due to time constraints, and partly because I’m no longer seeking homeschooling advice and inspiration but rather a connection with kindred spirits. That means not only fewer sites in my Reader, but also a deeper, slower kind of reading.

Do you have an easy relationship with comments (numbers of/responding to), stats, and those elements of blogging that can sometimes take too much of our attention?

What I feel to be more valuable than stats or even amount of comments is the community of friends which stands behind those numbers – people I have known for years, or lovely new friends; people who send me private letters or heartfelt comments, and who are beloved to me. They genuinely touch my life in a way stats never can.


In blogging’s “golden days”, there was little competition for our attention…perhaps some forums, as far as I can recall. How many other places on the web now vie for your attention (please name them, if you’d like) and how do you value them in comparison to blogs?

I don’t really read much on a daily basis apart from the newspaper, my small Facebook feed, and perhaps a dozen blogs. Other sources of information and entertainment flicker in and out of my life through links (most of which are supplied by the people on my blogroll or Facebook feed.) I do like pinterest and find the visual storytelling really valuable as my brain works best with images. But nothing online holds more value to me than the writings of the people whose blogs nurture my heart each in their own unique way.


When I contemplate whether or not I would continue blogging if I didn’t have my businesses to consider, I come back to the fact that I live (mostly from choice) a quiet, not-very-social life. On the internet, I’m able to find the kindred spirits that are harder to find in “real life”and find some connection with like-minded folk. How do you think your own way of connecting and being in the world influences your blogging?

I’ve never found value in friendship just for the sake of being with others. Online I have connections with people who love the same things as I, and speak the same soul-language, whereas in my community I’ve met no other adult with whom I can have a heartfelt conversation about my interests; no one who lives as I wish to do or sees the world in a similar way. Lucky are those who can find true kindred spirits locally. Blogging is my opportunity to express in community my love of wild magic, of earth dreaming, of old wise stories, without going somewhere like Dartmoor or the Hebrides.


One of the blogging facets I will explore is how they are often woven with the offering of something…books, online courses, kits, handmade things of all sorts. If you didn’t have your books to let the world know about, would that influence the way you post at your blog?

No, I don’t think so. Actually, I believe blogging has been tinder for my books, rather than merely a vessel for advertising them. It has strengthened and tuned my natural voice as a writer. It reminds me of the sorts of things I wish to write about, whether as monologues in blog posts or stories in books. And I love writing in community, I love sharing stories that are more fleet and small than anything in a storybook, I love words that tumble out wild and fresh. Blogging for me is like a living, deepening, always shifting, kind of book.


on comments

In between the Friday interviews I’ll be sharing here (sarah of knittingthewind is next!), I’d like to tuck in some posts about some of the facets of blogging that make me thoughtful, at times. Today’s thoughts, at least, will be rather stream-of-conscious in style as “consciousness” or awareness I have in plenty…answers, not so much…


Tho’ I can’t imagine blogging without the receiving-of-comments (tho’ that seems to be an approach I encounter more and more), I have yet to find a comfortable rhythm with responding to those left here. Answering questions is a different matter, but responding to comments in general leaves me drained and I don’t often do it. This is what I am like in real-life, so I suppose it makes sense…I am not so good at chatting at a party, but am happiest holed up in a corner with one person and heart-to-heart conversation. I know that in the “post office in the hedge” metaphor, my post is my gift to you and your comments are the gift I find when it is my turn to lift the lid…but it never feels as simple as that outside of Jo and Laurie’s world…


These days, when I visit blogs, my heightened awareness about it all has me thinking about the Whys of blogging. That will be one of the facets that will have its own post, but underneath the myriad reasons, it seems to me there is always a generosity about it. So I’ve been really troubled lately when I see how negative comments affect some very dear women on the web…Heather and Amanda come to mind. I admire how Heather handles it when it happens, with grace and honesty and a philosophical take on it that I don’t think I could muster (not ignoring the hurt and bother, by any means). The one hurtful comment I’ve received threw me off-balance for quite awhile. If I had to deal with it regularly, I’m not sure I would feel blogging was worth exposing myself to it.


My favorite comments are the noticing kind…when a connection is made…when a question arises from something I shared…when I know from the response that I’ve written something that someone else has also felt.


Tho’ comments are so precious and part of the exchange of blogging, I don’t leave as many comments as I would like. I haven’t put my finger on why. Sometimes, it is hard to find the words…sometimes, the internet feels too public and makes me shy…sometimes, I get so behind in my blog-visiting and am “catching up” and not leaving time to form a response…sometimes I write a private email rather than respond in the comments. I say I am only going to sit down to read blogs when I have time to respond, but then I sit down and read blogs when I want some company or inspiration and don’t leave a comment. Sigh.


I’m still puzzled that no one shared a response to my experience of listening to Audrey lay an egg. : )  I’ve wondered many times since if it didn’t seem profound to anyone else…or you pondered it in private…or…what? This is the way it must often seem to those who are moved to write posts and don’t receive many replies.


As I very much  understand the dilemmas commenting poses, I added the little heart button at the bottom of my posts as an alternative to commenting. It lets me know that you are there and reading and enjoying, even you aren’t up for leaving a comment. But it doesn’t get used much, usually, so I wonder…are all the many readers who don’t comment or even click reading and not enjoying?


Some people say that the lack of blog comments has much to do with our use of devices, which allow us to read easily but make typing more of a challenge. I don’t know…there is plenty of commenting going on in some places. I think the reasons are many and varied (but having so many more places to be online plays a part) and are probably very similar to all of the reasons we find it more and more challenging to get to many things these days.


Despite all of these thoughts, I am much less concerned with comments than I have been in the past. I think most bloggers go through a period, long or short, where you are checking stats a lot and longing for more response/connection. I was in that place for a few years. Now, I am just trying to understand how blogging and all that is attached to it fits in the current state of online life for me…as a reader and a writer.

What are your thoughts about blogs and commenting?